MYASTA Mentoring Program for Young Agents Launched by ASTA

September 13, 2012

For me, one of the great finds of ASTA’s THE TRADESHOW this year was the new MYASTA program—an acronym for Mentoring Young ASTA.

MYASTA Mentoring Program Launched by ASTA
Meeting of some of the MYASTA Mentors and Mentees


Patching a Big Flaw in the Travel Industry

Why am I excited about it? In an industry with a low barrier to entry and no formal training process to be classified as a travel agent, something is missing. There is no base knowledge you are tested on. There is no personalized guide to show you the ropes. We’re losing a lot of people that would otherwise be successful with this approach.

The more—er—‘everyone is welcome’ approach of the travel agent field is great in terms of helping our industry grow. However, you can see how the lack of a formal training process for U.S. travel agents could be problematic. It not only dilutes the knowledge of the industry as a whole but there’s also the problem of “Okay, I’m officially a travel agent. Uh, what’s next?”

Technically, I advocate for a formalized industry-wide training process. But, in reality, getting the different parties of the industry to agree on a training process could very well take … well, forever.

The MYASTA program isn’t a formalized training program but it’s a step in the right direction and a great resource for younger agents—both new and more seasoned ones.

ASTA's formalized mentoring program attacks two problems facing our industry:

• Attracting and retaining younger agents

• Giving new agents a deeper understanding of the industry that only time or mentoring can provide

Kari Thomas, Will Travel Inc.
Kari Thomas

The Skinny on the MYASTA Program

MYASTA is the brainchild of Kari Thomas—the founding member of the ASTA’s Young Professionals Society (YPS)—and it’s been a long time coming. MYASTA was an idea that Thomas envisioned 10 years ago, has been in the works for 18 months, and has now graduated into its pilot year.

Described as “a program to connect young travel professionals with veteran travel agents in an established, formalized mentor program,” the MYASTA program aims to strengthen our industry as a whole.

In the packets distributed to attendees at the launch the MYASTA committee—consisting of Kari Thomas (President, Will Travel Inc.) and Samarah Meil (Owner, Amarillo Travel Network)—detailed some of the benefits of the program:

Mentor Benefits

  1. Satisfaction in sharing expertise with others
  2. Re-energizing career
  3. Gain an ally to help promote your organization
  4. Increased networking with industry members outside your company/area

Mentee Benefits

  1. Gaining from mentor’s experience
  2. Receiving mentor feedback
  3. Adapting more quickly to industry culture
  4. Increased networking with industry members outside your company/area

Benefits to the Industry

  1. Gives young people a sense of belonging in the industry
  2. Revitalize the industry
  3. Keeps agents in the industry for the long-haul
  4. Helps break down the “us vs. them” mentality

The hope is that mentors and mentees connect at least once a month via phone/Skype/FaceTime while also participating in less structured communications through email/text/Facebook.

The MYASTA program will provide quarterly webinar calls on a variety of topics, networking events at all national ASTA meetings, and a private Facebook group for mentors and mentees.

Requirements to Join MYASTA’s Mentoring Program

Travel agents interested in becoming a mentor or mentee in the MYASTA program need to meet the following requirements:


  1. Member of ASTA for at least 5 years
  2. In travel industry for at least 10 years


  1. Member of ASTA
  2. Member of ASTA’s Young Professional Society (YPS)
  3. Under the age of 40

ASTA memberships start at $277/yr, joining YPS is free. Click to join ASTA.

In Closing

The MYASTA mentoring program is new and looking to expand. If this is something that might interest an agent you know, pass it on. If you have questions on the program or are looking for more information on how to join, I encourage you to drop a note in the comments below or stop by the YPS Facebook page. As for me, you can find me on Facebook and Twitter (and occasionally the YPS Facebook page).

About the Author
Steph Lee - Host Agency Reviews

Steph Lee

Steph grew up in the travel industry, helping on and off with her mom's homebased travel agency. She has worked with thousands of agents in her role as a former host agency director before leaving in 2012 to start HAR. She's insatiably curious, loves her pups Fennec and Orion, and -- in case you haven't noticed -- is pretty quirky and free-spirited.

If you’re looking for Steph, she leaves a trace where ever she goes! You can find her on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn (her fav) and Pinterest as 'iamstephly'. 🙂 You can also catch her on her Substack, Bumblin' Around, where she writes on things outside the world of HAR.