The airline market is a major part of the travel and tourism industry and numerous online travel agencies focus on this market as the sole niche. The travel industry comprises more than 60,000 IATA certified travel agents globally, selling airline tickets worth $220 billion on behalf of about 250 airlines. With this arises an important question of whether it is mandatory to be certified by IATA and how to become an IATA travel agent.
If you have an online travel portal or are thinking of starting one, it is important to know that while it is not mandatory to have IATA certification, your business can benefit with a professional certification from IATA. International Air Transportation Association (IATA) is basically a trade association of airlines around the world with 290 airlines from 117 countries. These numbers would give you a basic idea of how important an IATA certification is if your online travel agency provides flight booking services.
So, before we come to the steps to become an IATA agent, we should understand why is IATA good for travel agents and what are the benefits it offers.
Why Do Travel Agents Need IATA?
A travel agency that has an IATA accreditation is recognized worldwide as a professional agency. The IATA certification helps build credibility amongst customers, boost the revenue of your travel business significantly and builds a strong link between airlines and travel agents. IATA certification benefits travel agents in multiple ways:
- It provides online travel portals access to IATA airline members which enables them to sell international and domestic tickets after a Sales Agency Agreement.
- The travel agents receive a unique identification IATA Numeric Code which is used for the global travel industry.
- The credibility and brand visibility of the online travel agency is enhanced through the IATA Accredited Agent logo.
- .The IATA BSP which is a billing and settlement plan facilitates efficient invoicing and payments between travel providers, airlines and the travel agency.
- IATA certification ensures that the dealings with the airlines are fair and go through standardized procedures.
- The IATA ID card also provides special deals and offers of over 1000 suppliers to the travel agents.
How To Get IATA Certification?
To become a certified IATA travel agent, the following steps need to be followed:
- You need to meet the criteria specified in the Travel Agent Handbook such as:
- Evaluation of Financial records and standing agent
- Identification and accessibility of premises
- Staff qualifications
- Security and procedures
- Show evidence of being a legally registered travel agent or business, including business licenses, insurance records, tax forms, etc.
- Provide sales records relating to hotel arrangments, airline tickets, and individual or group tours.
- Provide insurance records of your work as a travel agent. However, this may not be required if your travel agency has 5 years of experience.
- Pay the fee for IATA accreditation which is higher for corporate travel business as compared to private agencies and individual travel agents.
- After all the requirements are fulfilled the travel agent receives a accreditation as a licensed IATA travel agent.
How Much Does It Cost To Become IATA travel Agent?
The main cost to become an IATA travel agent is the accreditation fee. The self-employed and private travel agencies are required to pay US$165 whereas corporate travel companies are required to pay US$360 to receive IATA accreditation.
Who is Eligible to Apply for IATA accreditation?
Apart from Cargo, GSA, MSO, Travelseellers.com locations and TRUE are not eligible to apply for IATA/IATAN ID Card, the others that are eligible to apply for IATA certification are as follows:
- Independent Consultants working for a travel agency and have a written agreement or contract complying with the laws and regulations.
- Managers, Directors, employees or any other person from marketing, administration, finance, operations or sale in the travel business who receives remuneration.
- A sole owner, stockholders, partners or shareholders of a travel agency provided that they are listed in IATA agency records and own at least 20% of company shares.
What is the Eligibility Criteria?
The eligibility criteria for the travel agency applicants is as below:
- The applicants must be above 18 years of age while applying.
- The applicants must be in a remunerated position working for a travel agency.
- The applicants must be working at least 20 hrs/week at the travel agency.
- Applicants from Canada must have earned a minimum amount of CAD 10,000 in the last 12 months of the ID card application.
IATA registration though not mandatory for starting an online travel agency, proves to be beneficial for travel agents in the sense that it boosts revenue and provides credibility. Therefore, to become IATA travel agent, just follow the above guidelines and steps and witness your sales skyrocketing after you have received the accreditation.