The Alphabet Soup of Accreditation  

The Travel Institute team is often asked about requirements for success in the travel business. One of the first things someone new to the travel industry encounters is the overwhelming number of acronyms and accreditations available. To be successful, individuals new to the industry will need to ramp up and learn these acronyms and accreditations—and much more—very quickly.

In our role as a non-profit, industry-wide educational organization dedicated to advancing travel professionals, The Travel Institute provides you an unbiased, in-depth overview of these accreditations in our Travel Career Development textbook. This information is part of TRIPKitSM, a course designed to educate new agents, as well as travel counselors seeking greater knowledge of industry basics.

Start with A Few Travel ABCs

Before you can be recognized by suppliers as an appropriate agency to book travel, earn certain commissions and access other travel incentives, you must meet the qualifications established by the accrediting entities. Here are the most common from which to choose:

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is an association of airlines whose goal is to create stability in international aviation. The International Airlines Travel Agent Network (IATAN)—an IATA subsidiary—uses a screening program to appoint U.S. travel agencies to sell tickets for its member international airlines serving the United States. IATAN also sponsors the IATAN ID Card. To read more about the IATAN ID Card, click here.

CCRA Travel Commerce Network (CCRA) is a network that facilitates commerce between travel professionals and suppliers. CCRA uses a Travel Retailer Universal Enumeration (TRUE) code that was designed for independent agents who wanted a way to receive payments directly from some suppliers without sharing commissions. Because travel suppliers accept and recognize this universal code, the travel agent or agency can book travel products and services directly with thousands of suppliers. For more information on CCRA and its requirements for the TRUE ID Card, click here.

The Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) is a group owned by major U.S. airlines that regulates the distribution of airline tickets. It accredits agencies that sell tickets; supplies documents used in selling airline tickets, rail transportation, and related services; and provides a central sales-processing system. Any non-airline company that issues airline tickets must have ARC accreditation. To read more about the requirements, click here.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) is an association that promotes cruising to the selling agents and the buying public. It offers membership to both travel agencies and to individual agents. Travel sellers or departments of a travel seller actively engaged in the business of selling cruise travel can be CLIA agency members if they attest that they are meeting all federal, state, and local ordinances relative to conducting such sales. For more information, click here.

-Host Agencies. It is important to note that independent contractors can choose not to seek their own accreditations. Many travel professionals work with host agencies that already are accredited, saving ICs the time and money of becoming accredited. Andy Ogg, CTIE, at FindaHostTravelAgency.com, provides to agents a free downloadable Host Agency Checklist. Mary Stein at Host Agency Reviews has written an article that includes a clear and helpful infographic at Travel Agency Accreditation Options to help you choose among the various entities.

Clearly, there is much to learn in this industry. The Travel Institute’s goal is to support your learning at all phases of your career, and we believe TRIPKit gives a critical foundation of knowledge to those of you who are early in your travel career. It also is a resource that will remain with you and be referenced throughout your profession.

To learn more about the IATAN accreditation, register for the webinar:  IATAN Accreditation: To Get the Recognition, Get with the Program presented by Karen Herrera this Thursday, October 3, at 12:00 pm EDT.