I do and I'm a firm believer of what the industry has to offer and what it
brings to the table.
Q. What are some of the big issues that you think are going to be at the top of everyone's minds at the ASTA convention that's coming up here next month?
One is education for the agents and obviously creating value for the customer. Our industry as travel agents, that's where the change has been. It's a value proposition now. We're a fee-based and service-based industry. We're now like accountants, like attorneys, you need to justify what you do. It's education, education, education.
Q. I know Hillary Clinton will be speaking at the event. As a businesswoman and a businesswoman in the travel industry, what are the things that you really want to hear from her both with her background as secretary of state and the first lady and with her potential future -- whatever that turns out to be-- but rumored presidential run in 2016?
I think that what I would like to hear from her is not that much in the politics but more in our industry. How does she plan on supporting our industry, how does she plan on supporting the small business? How does she support the woman-owned businesses?
Q. Was that kind of a big get to have her speaking at your conference?
I think so, I think it brings national attention. I think it brings recognition to the association. We have varied topics -- I chair the joint ASTA and [National Tour Association] Hispanic initiatives committee and it's basically to get more Hispanics traveling in the U.S. Some reports say that Hispanics are not growing in their travel patterns like other populations are. I mean, there's a report from Nielsen that shows, I know it by heart already, in 2010 the purchasing power of Hispanics in the U.S. was $1 trillion. And Nielsen is forecasting that by 2015 it will grow to $1.5 trillion. So the travel industry hasn't really gotten that concept. Everybody else is after the Hispanic purchaser; the travel industry is still getting there and that's what this joint committee is doing. We're going to have Emilio Gonzalez, director of the Miami airport, as a speaker at our caucus. He was director of [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services] under George W. Bush. I'm hoping that in that part of the meeting, we get to discuss if the immigration bill passes, what will that do to our ports of entry. We can potentially have 11 million more people authorized to travel. If half of those travel, what's going to happen to our ports of entry as well?
Q. What is your theory about why that market isn't really being tapped by the travel industry?
I just think that there hasn't been an outreach. For example, the national parks in the United States -- they haven't reached out to Hispanics at all. I remember I spoke to former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar [about a year ago] and immediately he put a Latino heritage tour in the national parks. I think it hasn't been on anybody's mind.
Q. You said you still grew, the company during the recession?
Half a percent; a little bit.
Q. How did you see the recession affect your business?
It was smaller growth and also our growth was probably more in passengers, but people were spending less. So whoever used to go to Europe for two weeks maybe
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