ACTA in ACTION

URGENT ACTION REQUIRED BY TRAVEL AGENCIES. 

IATA’s PCI Compliance and NewGen ISS Implementation is NOW IN EFFECT. 

Travel Agency concern over the implementation of IATA PCI Compliance and the New Generation of IATA Settlement Systems (NewGen ISS) issues explains why ACTA has been working diligently for more than a year to raise concerns and affect change with IATA, and to prepare ACTA Members for the reality that both initiatives may have significant consequences on the way you currently do business.

PCI compliance and NewGen ISS are game-changers that agencies cannot ignore or wish-away. 

Ready or not, IATA implemented global PCI Compliance and the rollout in Canada of NewGen ISS on March 1, 2018.  On March 22nd, Canadian agencies started to receive notice from IATA outlining the requirements and process of submitting proof of PCI compliance as well as the deadlines. With the implementation of NewGen ISS some travel agencies were immediately affected causing ticketing suspensions for cash transactions and credit security increase demands.

Becoming PCI Compliant – Solutions to the Problem

(Meeting global credit card security requirements)

  • Due to the time commitment and complexity many members are experiencing with becoming PCI compliant, as a member benefit, ACTA has negotiated a reduced rate for members with ACCEL-PCI, a Canadian company that has developed an online tool to assist ACTA members in becoming PCI compliant. 
  • If you choose this option you can register at http://www.accel-pci.com and a confirmation email will be sent to you outlining your next steps. Services including employee training are available in both French and English.
  • Members who wish to obtain compliance on their own can refer to the guidelines on the PCI Security Standards website, http://www.picsecurity.org 
  • IMPORTANT: Failure to comply with IATA’s requirements will result in an “Administrative Non-Compliance” notice, which must be remedied within 30 days or face further consequences for non-compliance including restrictions on the use of credit card payments. 

Working on Your Behalf

  • Actively participates as your voice in IATA joint committees, and industry meetings
  • Negotiated a deadline extension from Oct 2017 to Mar 2018, for PCI Compliance
  • Consistently raised concerns that agencies need better information, tools and processes for PCI compliance 
  • ACTA developed and hosted multiple webinars in both French and English to introduce online tools to assist Members in becoming compliant
  • Negotiated reduced rate with ACCEL-PCI to assist members in completing and submitting proof of compliance (AOC)
  • Provides tools and resources in the Members Only section of http://www.acta.ca /PCI

NewGen ISS – Faster, Safer and More Cost Effective?

IATA developed the NewGen ISS program with the intention to provide travel agents with more personalized products and services, enhanced customer support and more cost-effective solutions. The phased rollout of NewGen ISS on March1, 2018 has already changed the way agencies do business – and caused major problems for some Members. Changes to the platform are mostly a response to concerns over cyber security issues and reducing airline vulnerabilities to cyber attacks.

NewGen ISS also begins the movement to new payment options for travel agencies and the introduction of new accreditation models. Although there are positive aspects to the NewGen ISS roll out for many travel agencies, please pay close attention, as there may be negative impacts to some travel agencies. As the new program rolled out, many agencies were automatically assessed as Risk Status B (failing either their financial review or risk history assessment), and as a result, additional financial security was required. 

We strongly recommend Members review the accreditation models to determine which option works best for your situation. IATA has a NewGen ISS microsite https://newgeniss.iata.org/ with specific information for Airlines and for Travel Agents and NewGen ISS eLearning will be available soon. 

  • Agents have the flexibility to choose the Accreditation option best suited to their business and may voluntarily convert as their business evolves,
  • Each Accreditation model has different requirements, payment options and risk management 

We are paying particular attention to new maximum ticketing caps also known as the Remittance Holding Capacity (RHC) included in NewGen that can negatively impact ticketing capacity and payment requirements. Over the past year, strong advocacy efforts by ACTA and the World Travel Agency Associations Alliance members have resulted in significantly more reasonable caps than first proposed, and we continue to discuss what adjustments to the platform will work best for all concerned parties. 

Closely tied to NewGen ISS is a soon to be launched IATA initiative called Transparency in Payments, which allows for the acceptance of travel agent cards by airlines but only with the condition if the airline gives consent. We anticipate this will become a contentious issue and ACTA will provide you with more details on the program and actions we are taking as more information becomes available to us. 

Look for ACTA updates on all matters related to PCI Compliance, NewGen ISS and other issues affecting your business in the Members Only section of our website. We are in constant touch with IATA and our global industry partners at the WTAAA (World Travel Agency Association Alliance) to represent your interests and bring you timely and relevant information. 

More on IATA Based Matters… 

Agency Debit Memos (ADM) – Help is on the Way!

ACTA has been working with IATA since last fall on the shockingly high number of Agency Debit Memos Canadian Travel Agencies are receiving, ranking us fourth worst globally. We have discovered that Commission error is the number one reason for ADMs in BSP Canada, however, Canada is also one of the few countries where Airlines are not applying automated BSP Commission control set-ups. After lobbying IATA about the critical need to improve the debit memo situation in Canada, IATA had recently advised us it is working with a company to market a web-based platform in Canada to expedite payment of incentives and dramatically reduce ADMs for our Members. This solution is expected fall 2018. IATA is also working on other automation tools that should have a positive impact for Canadian Travel Agencies and ACTA will report on these tools as more information becomes available. 

Local Financial Criteria (LFC) – Changes Expected with NewGen ISS

ACTA’s LFC Travel Agency Committee is negotiating with IATA member airlines to reduce the financial and administrative burden on small to medium sized Canadian Travel Agencies. The committee completed its review in December and is now considering how the implementation of NewGen ISS factors into Canada’s LFC. Expect an update from us in the June ACTA in Action Advocacy Report. 

Canada Fraud Prevention Group – Tips and Best Practices Available

ACTA is preparing a member webinar for June to share the latest tips and best practices for protecting your travel agency from fraud. ACTA plays an active role in the Canada Fraud Prevention Group along with IATA, CATO, ATOQ, and the RCMP. Our next meeting is in May. 

ACTA on the National Front

Transport Canada and the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) – Understanding ACTA’s Role

On February 28, 2018, ACTA presented to the Senate’s Standing Committee on Transport and Communications in Ottawa on Bill C-49, an Act that includes the amendment to the Canada Transportation Act. Bill C-49 includes the ability to introduce a Passenger Bill of Rights, which ACTA is making the focus of our advocacy on this bill. ACTA is seeking a reasonable approach to a Passenger Bill of Rights that offers travelers quality service, and at the same time enables Canada to continue to build a healthy and sustainable travel industry. ACTA’s CTA committee is gathering research from a travel agency (and our clients’) perspective before we submit our recommendations on the Passenger Bill of Rights in the regulations to follow.  

Insurance – Working with Regulators 

In addition to working with other organizations including the Travel Health Insurance Association (THiA) toward the goal of harmonization in the travel industry, ACTA is heavily involved with addressing insurance issues with provincial insurance regulators. 

Alberta Insurance Council (AIC) - ACTA (and members of the Alberta Regional Council Insurance Sub-Committee) has addressed ongoing concerns with the AIC specifically on the restrictions placed on Independent Contractors and their ability to sell travel insurance. We learned from the AIC in late January that the Alberta government will be looking to move to a single financial regulation similar to FSRA (Financial Services Regulatory Authority) in Ontario. At this time, the AIC does not know the impact on the Council but an AIC Steering Committee will draft recommendations for the government and then stakeholder consultations will follow. Legislative change does not happen often in this industry so ACTA will be certain to stay very involved during this process. In the meantime, ACTA and AIC are working together on educating members on how independent agents of a host agency can sell insurance more efficiently considering the legislative constraints in Alberta. 

Insurance Council of Saskatchewan (ICS) – Following an inquiry made by an ACTA member, ACTA has learned that there is a new Act coming into effect January 1, 2019 in regards to insurance that may impede the sale of travel insurance by independent contractors/home based Travel Agents. In follow-up discussions, ICS has advised ACTA that while the language in the Act does read similar to what is in place in Alberta, there are some differences, and more flexibility for independent contractors than what currently exists in Alberta’s legislation. No formal communication has been sent from ICS; however, ACTA is included as a key stakeholder in the communication plan. We expect more information from the ICS in coming months, and ACTA will keep our members updated on any pertinent information.  

Key concerns identified within other regions:

Review of the Ontario Travel Industry Act and Bill 166 – Drafting New Regulations 

Bill 166, the Strengthening Protection for Ontario Consumers Act, 2017 (which included changes considered during the Review of the Ontario Travel Industry Act, 2002), passed and received Royal Ascent on December 14, 2017. Unfortunately it does not include a much-needed consumer-funded Compensation Fund. That could change. The regulatory phase of Bill 166 is now underway and ACTA and members of the ACTA Travel Industry Act (TIA) Review Committee participated in a consultation meeting with policy advisors within the Ontario government. While the Compensation Fund is not on the agenda for this meeting, ACTA is not giving up on lobbying the government to make the change to a consumer pay model. ACTA is aware that there could be another opportunity for proposed changes to be brought in under another Bill in late 2018. In the meantime, outreach has begun for member feedback similar to what was conducted during each of the three legislative phases in 2016-2017.

Consumer Protection BC – New Fees Taking Effect in May

In mid-March, Consumer Protection BC announced to all licensees a new model to calculate administrative monetary penalty amounts that will take effect May 15, 2018. Once effective, every contravention will now have a base penalty amount, based in part on the seriousness of the infraction. According to the Consumer Protection BC, this will help the regulated businesses in BC understand what to expect from them. Amounts will increase which is part of an overall effort to deter non-compliance, intensify the consequences for serious infractions and to respond aggressively to the delinquent operators. Consumer Protection BC reached out to ACTA as an active industry stakeholder with meetings scheduled for April and May. 

Supplier Issues – What’s Old is New, Again! 

Travel Supplier Taxes, Fees and Surcharges 

This issue has reoccurred over the years but has become top of mind of late because of the Fuel Surcharge. At the time the fuel surcharge was implemented, it was intended to be a temporary measure to address the sudden and dramatic rise in the price of fuel. In 2010, the Canadian government imposed advertising rules, which forced airlines to disclose the amounts of taxes and fees that are being charged. While the amount is now disclosed, it does not change the conversation that an agent has with their client and having to explain the fact that a fuel surcharge is being added. Today, the price of fuel has come down and stabilized yet the surcharge remains. In the December 7, 2017 edition of ACTAVision, http://acta.ca/news-releases/acta1207, an article on Airline Taxes and Fees was included and those airlines that eliminated this surcharge were commended. This topic is an agenda item at an upcoming meeting in early April between the ACTA Quebec regional council and CATO and ATOQ. 

Friends and Family Discounts by Suppliers 

While not new, the practice of suppliers promoting a Friends and Family discount has raised great concern with ACTA regional council members. At issue today is that the discount is being promoted by many through social media and without discretion to more than just “friends and family”. ACTA has collected additional information from members across the country and is in the process of following up on these concerns with travel suppliers.