Now, on to the next step – accreditation. You’re probably overwhelmed with all the unfamiliar acronyms and terminology, like CLIA, ARC, IATA, TRUE, etc. It’s like learning a foreign language. This article will help you understand the nuances among some of the most common accreditation organizations and hopefully help you decide which one(s) are right for you.
How to become a CERTIFIED travel agent.
Let’s start with the basics.
Why do travel agents/agencies need accreditation?
Accreditation is a unique number assigned to a travel agent or agency – like any other form of identification.
How you acquire your accreditation differs depending on if you’re an independent agent, working through a host agency, or both. A host agency is a licensed organization that acts as a hub for travel agents. Travel agents work as independent contractors, but all use the same accreditation number(s) as their host agency.
Different accreditations allow you certain privileges – similar to how you need a driver’s license to drive, or your passport to travel overseas. Some allow you to sell airline tickets, others to sell cruises, and so on. TRUE, ARC, CLIA, and IATA are the most common accreditations.
Let’s take a look at what each of these can do for you.
TRUE – CCRA Travel Agency Accreditation
CCRA is a travel commerce network that has been prominent in the travel industry since 1974. Now that you’re a travel agent, you will probably hear them referenced a lot. TRUE is a globally recognized accreditation. CCRA acquired TRUE in 2013. Since CCRA acquired TRUE, qualifying for accreditation has become more difficult, in a good way. Now, A TRUE accreditation is more prestigious than ever.
TRUE accreditation is for travel agents who want to book independently of a host agency and don’t want to share commissions. It’s ideal for leisure agents selling cruising, tours, packages, and flights through airfare consolidators. Many agents work for a host agency AND utilize the TRUE card to get direct commission payments from suppliers.
Here’s the breakdown of what you’ll need to do to become TRUE certified.
TRUE accreditation via CCRA:
• No application fee
• $300 annual fee
• $240 renewal fee
• Free photo ID
• You must be a sole proprietor and/or incorporated business entity.
• You must be willing to pass a background screening if needed.
• You must satisfy all seller-of-travel requirements for your state.
• States which currently require a bond and seller of travel license are California, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, and Washington state.
• You must be able to demonstrate at least 6 months of travel selling experience.
• You must have 3 business references to support your application.
• You must provide proof of an active business bank account in good standing.
To get started or for more info click here: https://www.ccra.com/join/true/
ARC (Airline Reporting Corporation)
ARC is an airline reporting corporation that has been around for more than half a century. It screens all airline ticket purchases in the United States. Basically, ARC is the middle-man between carriers and travel agencies.
ARC accreditation is for travel agents who want the freedom to book airline tickets. ARC accreditation is a universal identification number accepted by all vendors and suppliers. You can attain this accreditation through a host agency. However, you can independently acquire an ARC- VTC (verified travel consultant) number. This is a great option for new, independent travel agents who want to book airline tickets via airline consolidators.
Below are the stipulations if you take the solo route to become ARC certified.
ARC – VTC accreditation via ARC:
• $105 application fee
• $195 annual fee
• Background and credit check
• Submit tax ID number and state licenses
• Submit Personal History Information Form for owners and officers
• Institute a bank account with ARC
For more info and to get started, click here. http://www.arccorp.com/join/verified-travel-consultant-program.jsp
CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association)
CLIA is the world’s largest cruise industry trade association. More than 95% of global cruise line members are represented by CLIA. Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean International, and Disney Cruise Line are just a few examples of CLIA’s cruise line members.
CLIA accreditation is for any travel agent selling cruises. You must be a part of an already accredited CLIA host agency to attain any kind of CLIA accreditation. Once you’re accredited through your host agency, you are eligible (but not obligated) for an additional membership, CLIA – IAM (Individual Agent Membership). With CLIA’s IAM you get access to even more perks and discounts.
Once you join a host agency with a CLIA accreditation, here’s all you have to do to get even more benefits.
CLIA’s – IAM membership via CLIA:
• The host agency you sell through must be accredited.
• $115-$65 annual fee.
• Earn a minimum of $5,000 annually in cruise commissions (this varies agency to agency).
For more info, click here. https://www.cruising.org/travel-agent/become-a-member/agent-membership
IATA (International Air Transport Association)
IATA is a trade association representing the world’s airlines and 83% of total air traffic. It has been around since 1945. Needless to say, IATA is renowned globally by industry suppliers.
IATA accreditation is for nearly every travel agent. It’s the most basic need for travel agents because the majority of flights are booked via the IATA portal. It’s recognized globally by suppliers and is available for every type of agency, with some strict criteria. For instance, to even begin to qualify, the agency must have at least 2 years in the travel industry. If you’re a new agent, you can only get an IATA number through a licensed host agency. Most experienced agents also go through an already existing agency because setting up as an independent agent is very expensive.
But in case you ever get the itch to start your own agency, here’s the criteria.
• Application fee $195
• Annual fee $85
• Selling travel 2 years of the prior 3
• Verification of Business License
• Verification of Business Ownership
• Verification of Bank Account
• Proof of 5 years in the industry
• Two letters of recommendation
For more info click here. http://www.iatan.org/accreditation/become-accredited/Pages/ctd_ccl.aspx
So now what?
Find a host agency.
Working with a host agency is the simplest and most popular option among new travel agents. Not to mention, it increases your odds for earning higher commissions because you’re sharing an ID number with an entire agency. Vendors see this as more sales from the same accredited ID number and reward more sales with higher commissions. Essentially, the only time to forego a host agency is if you are creating your own agency, and that is after years of experience!
Now that you are knowledgeable about the most common accreditations and what they mean, find a host agency that fits your needs and interests. For example, if you know you want to book cruises make sure your host agency is CLIA certified. Also, keep in mind the accreditations you can apply for independently, such as the TRUE accreditation (allows you to make direct commissions) and CLIA – IAM (give you access to even more cruise line perks).
Here’s a list of trusted host agencies:
American Travel Bureau
Americas Travel Company
Archer Travel Group
Capital Travel Leaders
Cruise Inc – Cruise One/Dream Vacations
DDT Contracting Services Inc.
Destination 365 Travel
Dream Destinations Travel LLC
Family Fun Cruises & Tours
First Travel Alliance
Gifted Travel Network
Global Travel Alliance
Global Travel Express
Great Getaways Travel
Incentive Connection Travel Inc.
International Tours of Houston
KHM Travel Group
Kingdom Magic Vacations
Ladies & Luggage Luxury Travel Group
McCabe World Travel
Montecito Village Travel (Prev YTC Inc.)
OASIS Travel/Palm Coast Travel
OutsideAgents.com – Cruise and Tours-Asap Cruises
Pulaski Ticket & Tours, Inc.
Prestige Travel Systems
Pro Travel Network
Ships and Trips Travel
The Travel Society
Ticket 2 Travel
Travel on a Dream
Time Travel Flamingo Bay
Travel Planners International
TPI Travel Services
The Travel Society
Travel Pros Inc
US Tours and Travel
What a Trip Vacations
World of Magic Travel
Worldview Travel Advantage
You Deserve it Vacations
YTB Travel Network