Manager, Agency Participation Programs
Last year, I wrote an article on ARC participation and how two of our customers had successfully made ARC participation theirs. The decision to join ARC as either a Ticket Reporting Agency (TRA) or a Verified Travel Consultant (VTC) is a decision based on an agency’s needs and business objectives, but agencies joining ARC for one,single reason is clearly a thing of the past.
The value your agency puts on ARC—or any other affiliation, for that matter—is based on the utilization of benefits offered. In the case of ARC participation, the offered products, services and programs not only provide support for your business, but also result in positive and measurable returns – i.e., revenue.
ARC participation, as a whole, continues to grow each year. And with this participation growth comes the growth of our service, product and program usage. From 2012 to 2013, TRA usage growth of 25 percent on ARC MarketPlace,while the average per agency sales on ARC MarketPlace grew 28 percent. VTC’s usage on ARC MarketPlace has also grown tremendously, year-over-year, at 36 percent, with an average per agency sales growth of 10 percent.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t share the growth of our credit card and service fee processing services, Travel Agent Service Fee (TASF) and Agent’s Choice. From 2012 to 2013, TRA usage on TASF remained relatively flat. However, the average per agency transaction growth was10 percent. We saw the same for VTCs: The use of Agent’s Choice grew just under 5 percent, but the average per agency transaction growth was 38 percent.
What does this mean? ARC products, services and programs, such as ARC MarketPlace and TASF/Agent’s Choice, have proven that ARC participants can and do offer a valuable experience and commissionable products to travelers (with bonus commission opportunities on ARC MarketPlace for ARC participants), as well as facilitate a welcomed stream of revenue in the form of credit card processing and service fees. ARC participants are embracing these value-added tools and the revenue potential ARC provides, and thus, the days of looking at ARC as an entity that only provides airline settlement services and an ARC number are definitely over.
For years, ARC has been accrediting travel agencies that provide air-ticketing services through a GDS through our TRA program. And in 2007, ARC introduced the VTC program for travel agencies that book air for their clients through industry intermediaries. While air may not be a primary focal point of VTCs, their heavy concentration on leisure sales (e.g. cruise and tour) almost always leads to an air component.
As ARC continues to dedicate itself to providing products, services and programs that are valuable in the day-to-day lives of all kinds of travel professionals, it is my hope that all travel agencies—regard lessof their size or business model—consider ARC as a viable travel partner that can help promote independence and provide meaningful operational and turn-key, revenue-generating benefits.