The CCRA Travel Commerce Network announced that, beginning May 1, any travel agency member who carries the TRUE certification code will need to meet new criteria or lose their accreditation.
In a statement, CCRA said that “effective Apr. 1, 2018, any travel agency with an assigned TRUE code who has not met the accreditation standards for any reason will have 30 days to bring their account up to date or face having their TRUE code both purged from the database suppliers use to check and verify active TRUE codes, and have their former code added to a deletion bulletin that will be sent to CCRA's network of travel suppliers, advising an immediate deletion.”
CCRA accreditation requires agents be a corporation, LLC or sole proprietor; have a business bank account in good standing; pass a background screening, if needed; satisfy all seller-of-travel requirements for their state; demonstrate at least six months of travel selling experience; and have three business references on file.
Additionally, CCRA agents must pay a $240 annual renewal fee due after their first year of membership.
Maggie Fischer, CCRA's chief marketing officer, said the standards and requirements have always been in place, but now, member agents need to continuously demonstrate that they comply.
“There was little active enforcement to ensure that once you join, you keep your credentials updated. It was an honors system. Now, we are actively monitoring all of our TRUE agencies to ensure that their credentials are upheld all year.”
If an agency is purged from the supplier list, Fischer said, “they will show up on checkatruecode.com as no longer valid, and they will not be permitted to use any CCRA-owned branding elements (logos, etc.) in their marketing.”
Following moves by ASTA and Avoya
CCRA joins the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), and Avoya Travel Network, which in the last two years have tried to heighten the attention travel agents pay to their businesses, requiring more stringent education and business standards.
In August 2017, ASTA launched the Verified Travel Advisor (VTA) program, which requires agents to study and pass a series of educational modules to enable them to be better business owners. The VTA course costs $399 for ASTA members, and $598 for nonmembers who are independent advisors, such as home-based agents or ICs. ASTA also has a $729 fee for nonmembers who work for large agencies and hosts.
In November 2016, host agency Avoya Travel announced it would no longer provide sales leads to member agents who do not operate as limited liability companies (LLC) and have their own errors and omissions (E&O) insurance.
At the time, the company said that by requiring agents to make the formal move to stricter business standards, Avoya would be able to promote travel advisors better to the public, and help hobbyists in the business consider whether they were truly serious about being business owners.
Focusing on quality not sheer size
In its announcement, CCRA President & CEO Dic Marxen said "What we're aiming to do now is to take even greater care in properly removing inactive codes from not only our systems, but also that of any supplier partner in our network. This ensures that our suppliers can trust the holders of any active TRUE code with their business and that our amazing TRUE agencies know that no one out there is getting a free ride and not meeting industry standards."
Agencies who are not in compliance with CCRA's requirements for TRUE will be given notice by Apr. 1 and will be given 30 days to rectify any issues keeping their accreditation from maintaining good standing.
“We are moving from being reactive to proactive in ensuring that our TRUE network is about quality and production — not just sheer size. This is better for all of our agency customers and our supplier partners. It may just hurt our numbers in the short term, but that's what we have to be ready for in order to really elevate the TRUE brand,” said Fischer.