This question, or variations of it, I’ve seen on many VA forums. It gets hashed over and over again and in the end, there is no foregone conclusion.
Personally I don’t know why it keeps getting raised. I could understand it being raised back in the mid 90s when we first began to use it. I was really against the term at that time. It had come hot on the heels of ‘virtual reality’ and I wanted people to know that I was very real and not make believe.
However, over time, the industry has grown considerably and we now have Virtual Assistants in many, many countries operating from their home bases and servicing clients the world over. It’s been made well known in publications that have become popular in helping people set up their own businesses (such as The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss) plus numerous interviews, articles, podcasts and so on. Sometimes these publications get it wrong or don’t completely portray the industry as it really is, but it does make people aware of us. And many have now got registered business names and domain names that reflect the industry.
So, why would we want to ditch the name? Some may feel it doesn’t accurately reflect what they do, and that’s ok, then call themselves whatever they want, to reflect what they do. But generally I feel that ‘Virtual Assistant’ accurately portrays us in a general way, i.e. we virtually assist others in the operation of their businesses. Yes, I know that other ‘industries’ have hopped on the bandwagon and ‘stolen’ our name. It’s used to describe applications in some hardware and it’s also used to describe virtual workers employed by agencies. But all in all, I guess that’s because they are describing that the app or worker is virtually assisting whomever is making use of their services.
I believe it’s here to stay, it’s the name of our industry and people the world over recognise it as meaning someone who assists on a virtual basis. You don’t have to call yourself a Virtual Assistant but you can say you are in the Virtual Assistant Industry. After having a love/hate relationship with the title back in 1996/97 when I first became aware of it, I wear it quite comfortably these days and am happy with it. You might be interested to know that my business name is “A Clayton’s Secretary”. I still wear the’ secretary’ badge from the 70s/80s and my business name reflects it (named before the VA industry birthed). People can search on old and new terminologies and will find my website as a result.