As a Member of ACTA, you are part of a national trade association of more than 12,000 Travel Agents who represent over 80% of the travel business in Canada. On your behalf, we focus our activities on four key pillars: Advocate, Educate, Promote and Connect, to represent your interests and provide you with key resources to elevate your standing as a travel professional with governments, industry and public stakeholders.
ADVOCATE – We have aggressively worked on your behalf on the issues you have identified as most relevant to you as a travel professional. Our focus is on achieving results on matters that impact you, your business and your clients.
IATA – A significant segment of our Advocacy has centered on IATA related initiatives and/or issues. While not all members are IATA appointed agencies, many agencies still make air bookings through other distribution channels and consequently, it is essential that ACTA is at the meeting table with IATA’s members, the airlines, ensuring that the issues of the agency community are heard and recognized.
Agency Debit Memos (ADMs)
- We have been working closely with the IATA ADM User Group. Initiatives are underway that will improve the ADM situation in Canada.
- ACTA, in collaboration with Air Canada, is currently working on hosting a webinar that will provide travel agencies with best practices to help reduce ADMs.
- Net Remit 5 (a method of supplementary commission and considered a special filing system for contracts) has been introduced and is currently being tested in Canada. Completion is due by the end of 2018 with the expectation to help travel agencies reduce ADMs.
PCI DSS Compliance
- The March 1, 2018 implementation of PCI compliance required immediate and extensive interventions by ACTA on behalf of Members to help them understand and meet their requirements to meet the new global credit card security requirements. In addition to frequent information updates to our Members, we sourced an online tool to assist Members in becoming compliant to avoid penalties for non-compliance.
- The phased Canadian roll-out of Next Generation IATA Settlement System (NewGen ISS) began in March and immediately caused problems for some Members. We provided a report to IATA based on Member feedback and insisted on improvements in their customer service, citing lack of communication, timing of training and accessibility to IATA personnel. ACTA’s report also clearly pointed out the administrative and financial burden IATA’s initiatives were placing on Canadian Travel Agencies who are not a risk to airlines given the high usage of credit cards. We have faithfully communicated to Members about our discussions with IATA as well as provided Members with valuable information about accreditation models that could help save time and money.
Local Financial Criteria (LFCs)
- ACTA has aggressively lobbied for alternatives to the costly Review Engagement process, and that audited financial statements should not be the required financial measurement for Canadian Travel Agencies as it is in other countries. ACTA succeeded in keeping audited financial statements out of the reporting requirements for Canada and Travel Agents now have options to Review Engagements achieved through the implementation of NewGen ISS. The proposed new LFC was approved locally in July, with the expectation that it will be approved at the airline conference being held this fall.
- ACTA jointly leads the Canadian Travel Fraud Prevention Group, together with IATA and are pursuing tools that ACTA can share to help agencies take preventative action against fraud. One such tool (3DS 2.0), will permit a fraud liability transfer from the merchant (travel agency or supplier) back to the card issuer.
NFC’s and Supplier Issues – ACTA’s strong position is that fees and surcharges that are not taxes should be in the base fare and all ancillary fees should be commissionable.
- Over the summer months, ACTA addressed concerns from Members with suppliers regarding imposed fuel surcharges and currency fees by Airlines, and the abuse of “Friends and Family” discounts by tour operators. ACTA continuously lobbies our position with suppliers and emphasizes the value travel agencies bring to the distribution channel.
Provincial Regulators – We share information with Members on our lobbying efforts with provincial regulators knowing that developments in one jurisdiction could quickly spread across the country.
- The election of a new provincial government in June 2018 interrupted work in progress on a new Travel Industry Act. Discussions on next steps concerning draft regulation and lobbying efforts resumed in October. ACTA’s key message is that the Ontario Travel Compensation Fund should not be funded by travel agencies and that the Travel Industry Act should be modernized to reduce financial and regulatory burdens.
- We are monitoring and updating Members on the impact of new travel regulations that took effect in August.
- The ACTA BC subcommittee is heavily engaged in compiling scenarios that require regulatory changes.
- While efforts continue in working with other organizations including the Travel Health Insurance Association (THiA) to work toward the goal of harmonization in the travel industry, ACTA is heavily involved with addressing insurance issues with provincial insurance regulators.
For the past year, ACTA and members of the ACTA Regional Council Insurance Sub-Committee has addressed ongoing concerns with the Alberta Insurance Council (AIC), specifically on the restrictions placed on Independent Contractors and their ability to sell travel insurance. ACTA’s dialogue improved relations and resulted in a recorded an interview with AIC officials from AIC on how independent agents of a host agency can sell insurance more efficiently considering the legislative constraints in Alberta. Recently however, ACTA member Independent Travel Agents have expressed concerns that their AIC insurance license is in a “holding pattern” and that the AIC is going back to the applicants and asking for more information in order to get their license. ACTA followed up directly with AIC. AIC referred to the new online application process versus the traditional paper process and acknowledged that some back-up documentation was not being provided. It was also acknowledged that while E&O audits have been conducted for other industries for some time (AIC covers more than the travel industry), they have launched a targeted audit campaign on E&O with travel agency Independent Contractors. Three areas where AIC are seeing non-compliance were identifed:
The name of the E&O policy does not match the name on the Certificate of Authority,
Advertising/business cards/phones, etc are being used and not in the same name as the Certificate of Authority, and
The agent is not providing a copy of the contract that they have with their insurance provider, which is in the name of the agency listed on the Certificate of Authority.
This is a serious matter for our members in Alberta and ACTA has taken immediate actions, and is working closely with our insurance partners to address the issue with AIC and where possible, expedite the processing of licenses.
Federal Government Relations – We have raised ACTA’s profile and the value of travel agencies with the federal government in the past year, with Ministerial meetings and active participation in the development of an Air Passenger Bill of Rights.
Air Passenger Bill of Rights
- In August, ACTA submitted recommendations for proposed air passenger protection legislation. We conducted extensive research and consultations with stakeholders and the CTA Review Committee toprepare our recommendations, which favour a balanced approach across Canada for passenger rights and ensure that there are no unintended consequences to the agency community.