The National Association of Career Travel Agents has set stricter criteria for new members as well as for current members going through the annual renewal process.
NACTA’s new-member application now includes the following requirements:
• The applicant must be a professional travel agent who actively sells retail travel to the general public.
• The applicant must be in compliance with all government, federal, state and local laws, including relevant state seller of travel laws.
• The applicant must certify that his or her business has Errors & Omissions insurance coverage.
• The applicant must provide a valid travel industry booking number or travel seller ID, such as a CLIA, IATAN or ARC number.
Evidence now required
While the application asked for this information in the past, applicants were not required to supply evidence such as a booking number to support it, said Bob Duglin, director of sales for NACTA.
“Now when applicants fill out the form online, they will not be allowed to proceed with the process without supplying the requested information,” he said. “This will enable us to verify things on our end.”
In setting the new criteria, Duglin said that NACTA is ensuring that the organization will be comprised of “people who are truly selling travel, not taking travel.”
“It will help our credibility as we move forward, helping us grow our membership with high-quality travel agents,” he said.
“It also allows our members to raise their credibility and visibility. And it helps our supplier partners recognize that we are true professionals.”
So far the feedback from agent members and suppliers has been positive, he said, adding that suppliers who have issued statements of support include Starwood Hotels & Resorts and Celebrity Cruises.
An obvious benefit is that the new criteria will guard against abuses such as “card mills” that have plagued the industry for a long time, Duglin said,
“There are a lot of fake certifications that exist, that people can buy for a few hundred dollars and use for their own travel purposes,” he said.
In requiring evidence of Errors & Omissions insurance, Duglin said he is hopeful that this will prompt agents to consider the importance of having insurance themselves – and not just through a host agency. However, members are not required to have their own E&O as long as their host agency provides it.
“We encourage everyone to have their own E&O insurance, because the host agency may have a policy that has to cover 3,000 agents,” he said. “It may not be nearly enough to provide you with the protection you need.”