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ARTA moves forward with TRIP Program

Representatives from all travel industry sectors including air, hotel, car, rail, cruise, tour, and insurance, as well as U.S. and Canadian agency representatives have been convened by the…

Representatives from all travel industry sectors including air, hotel, car, rail, cruise, tour, and insurance, as well as U.S. and Canadian agency representatives have been convened by the Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA) in Dallas, to review progress on ARTA`s initiative to create a more effective travel agency accreditation and identification system.

The Travel Retailer Identification Program (TRIP) calls for the creation of a joint, industry-managed, non-profit partnership to establish a more effective and useful system of providing recognition and credentials to accredited travel retailers in the U.S. and Canada, including the implementation of a new travel agent ID card.

We were extremely pleased with the valuable input which all the travel suppliers brought to the meeting, and we are convinced that we are proceeding correctly to bring about much-need change in this important component of an effective travel agency distribution channel, said ARTA Chairman Barry Richcreek.

The focus group considered various elements of a new industry designation of Accredited Travel Retailer (ATR), an alternative to the current TIDS and TSI programs managed by IATA today.

The ARTA group has put a lot of thought into the discussion document they presented to us. They are definitely moving in the right direction to offer the professional sellers of travel a certification program that is total travel industry supplier related (not just airline) and will weed out those who want to be in this business for the wrong reason. If successful, suppliers will feel confident this system is not just another numbering scheme but a certification program that has teeth and will give suppliers the opportunity to target their marketing efforts, said Fred Miller, CTC, Vice President, Travel Industry Relations for Marriott International.

In addition, the focus group reviewed an initial budget and pro-forma organizational documents to incorporate the non-profit business entity, The TRIP Partnership, which will manage the program on behalf of the industry.

ARTA`s initiative is extremely timely and very important to the industry. After seeing so many others now taking a closer look at agency accreditation and ID cards following ARTA`s announcement in mid-January 2007, CSTAR wanted to see for itself if the industry would support a jointly-operated not-for-profit system. I must admit I was overwhelmed by the high marks given by suppliers from every sector of the industry at the Dallas meeting. It`s not every day that senior vice presidents and key industry decision makers from all quarters of travel distribution not only convened together to discuss this initiative, but also were so supportive of wanting it to succeed. CSTAR will lend its support as well, said Bruce Bishins, CTC, President of CSTAR, the largest agency-only trade association in Canada.

The focus group will now become an official working group and meet again in two weeks time. The next step thereafter will be to invite additional industry leaders and potential stakeholders to a mid-June 2007 meeting to validate the progress made and to legally incorporate the partnership.

Theodore Koumelis
Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.