IATA Markets Non-Air Settlement Plan in U.S.
IATA is reintroducing its Travel Industry Exchange Settlement Solutions, an e-billing, e-settlement solution for non-airline travel industry suppliers and travel agencies.
The system is based on IATA’s billing and settlement plans, which handle the financial settlement of airline transactions in every country except the U.S., where the function is fulfilled by the Airlines Reporting Corp.
IATA is applying those processes to Travel Industry Exchange Settlement Solutions (TIESS) to build an end-to-end paperless system that will distribute, validate, collect and process sales and commissions for rail companies, tour operators, consolidators, hotel chains and other travel companies.
No cost to agents
Travel agencies do not pay to use the system. The cost is borne by participating suppliers, who pay a transaction fee.
For suppliers, the system cuts costs and reduces labor-intensive tasks, said Mohamed Bhanji, director of marketing technologies for VIA Rail Canada, a partner in the re-launch.
Commissions are paid monthly directly into the travel agency’s bank account in the agency’s home currency.
Agents can monitor their sales of TIESS suppliers on a portal and see how much commission they are owed. Any discrepancies can be addressed immediately.
IATA’s first attempt to roll out the program in the U.S. in 2009 went largely unnoticed: Of the 19,000 travel agencies in the U.S., only about 200 to 300 signed up for TIESS.
Part of the problem was that U.S. agencies aren’t as familiar with IATA’s billing and settlement system, Bhanji told Travel Market Report.
The system “works very well,” he said. “When it comes to the transfer of funds, the integrity of the process is of paramount importance.”
According to Bhanji, each supplier will have visibility into its own transactions only.
Bhanji said the program has new leadership at IATA, and there is renewed enthusiasm for marketing the program to U.S. agents.
IATA and VIA Rail are initially reaching out to agencies in the rail company’s most important U.S. markets.
“We are hoping to have communicated with all U.S. agents by the end of June,” Bhanji said.
Will U.S. agents buy in?
“I consider anything that will facilitate payment to a supplier and commission back to me, through a trusted source, a very good thing,” Lucy Hirleman, president of Berkshire Travel in Newfoundland, N.J., said.