New Association of Black Travel Professionals Set to Elevate Black Travel Advisors

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On Martin Luther King Day, it seems appropriate that we take note of the launch of a new group, the Association of Black Travel Professionals (ABTP). In the making for a long time, according to its founders, ABTP is led by Gai A. Spann, Shawnta Harrison and Veranda Adkins, who collectively have 35 years experience in travel on both the travel agency and supplier side.

The three women say they noticed certain trends such as a lack of Black travel advisors being recognized and invited to participate in high profile events, Black travel professionals in leadership positions as business development managers or higher positions with suppliers, images lacking a Black presence included in marketing materials and more. They also believe there is a significant gap in the achievement of Black travel professionals resulting from the specific demographic being overlooked.

Like most industries, the travel industry is coming to terms with a disparity when it comes to diversity, though not as rapidly as many would like. Without much diversity in leadership positions, companies have struggled with how to find Black and minority executives to promote. ABTP says it is in a unique position to be a solution for the industry. It says it will be able to identify issues and assist companies in addressing them positively. Black travel advisors should know that ABTP is focused on elevating them and making them successful.

Of course, ABTP isn’t the first organization that has tried to serve the needs of Black travel professionals. Travel Professionals Of Color (TPOC) was founded in 2002 to reach minority travel professionals and provide them the necessary tools to help make them more profitable and bring about an awareness of minority travel professionals within the travel community. The annual TPOC Conference brings together top travel executives, travel agent owners, managers, sales staff, industry suppliers, hospitality professionals and students in travel to an educational and networking environment specifically for the advancement of minority travel professionals.

Then there ‘s the African American Travel Conference (AATC), association of 2,500 travel planners, serving the African American community. AATC acts as a source for travel planners and the travel industry. It also holds an annual AATC Conference to increase the travel skills and to reach the travel groups of this vast audience.

But ABTP aims to do even more to elevate Black travel professionals. It says it will provide proprietary training on its members only learning management system. Members receive an ABTP industry number, specialist certification through the ABTP Certified Program, and a consumer website to promote their business. Advocacy for the progression of Black travel professionals in the industry, Beyond Travel Leadership Forum and the first Awards Gala celebrating the success of the best Black travel pros and recognizes companies making strides in diversity.

ABTP will put a lot of focus on educational initiatives for its members with training seminars held each Tuesday. Each week focuses on one of four topics: business development, supplier training, destination training, and cultural exploration. All three ABTP founders want suppliers to know that their members mean business and are invested in their industry knowledge and success.

ABTP’s founders did their research to determine what statistics existed in terms of the number of active Black travel advisors and the impact in terms of revenue in the travel industry. But they quickly found out there is no source to validate the number of active black travel professionals and no one had measured the impact of those professionals.

A recent study released by MMGY Global tracks Black consumer travel spending at $109 billion. While this number is significant, the study left out the impact of the Black travel professionals responsible for booking a majority of this travel. ABTP will survey qualified Black travel advisors to find out about their travel bookings. The ABTP survey will aggregate all Black travel professionals’ bookings and provide a way to show the impact of such sales on the industry.

In the end ABTP intends to change the dynamics of Black travel professionals in the travel agency sector? Through its motto, “Connecting Expertise, Excellence and Culture,” it will focus on elevating the profile of its exceptional and talented membership base. For more information, visit www.abtprofessionals.org.

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The Association of Black Travel Professionals (ABTP) was established as the premier organization focused on the development, growth and certification of Black Travel Professionals. 

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