What is IATA?
For many years, the absolute industry standard was for travel agents and other travel companies to belong to the IATA – the International Air Transport Association. Currently, almost 85% of all of the available seats are IATA seats. (In the United States, the IATA is known as the IATAN). The IATA has a program, BSP, which allows for payments between agents, airlines, and other member agencies.
The IATA provides a lot of support to the various member companies, including training, consulting, and accrediting of travel agencies. Full members can only be airlines, but the accrediting agency option is available to other travel-related companies. IATA travel agencies are able to book tickets on any and all of the IATA member airlines for domestic or international travel.
An accreditation from IATA gives travel agents a Travel Industry Designator code which then allows agents to book across tourism groups and other industry companies. When booking international travel, that designation gives foreign companies a level playing field. All participating companies will recognize each other and sales of products will be identified properly.
To become an IATA member, an agent typically goes through a class to understand the reservation and ticketing processes. The training includes the Global Distribution System, or GDS, which includes Amadeus, Galileo, Sabre, and Worldspan systems. Then there is a three-month apprenticeship in an approved agency. All of this can be quite expensive.
There is a considerable number of travel agencies dropping or not going for the IATA due to the financial impact. A travel agency can operate normally without IATA certification, however, they cannot issue tickets making it a bit more difficult.
What does it take to be a non-IATA travel agent?
The number increase of non-IATA certificated travel agencies has had a clear impact on the consolidation business, making it grow as never seen before. A Ticket Consolidator is an IATA certified travel agency that does for the non-IATA the ticketing operation on their behalf. In the traditional way, the non-IATA travel agency would send the booking to the IATA travel agency that would issue the ticket and return it.
The way the majority of the consolidators/travel agencies work is based on a very manual process. With the increase of this type of business, new travel agencies are being created.
Technology solutions built from the ground up with this type of business in mind have leveraged travel agencies operations, making the ticketing issue something totally integrated into their operational flow without downsides, actually in some cases it even boosts the travel agents’ productivity.
A solution for the consolidation business
The perfect example of such a solution is TTS Consolidator. It enables any travel agency to do ticketing even if they are not IATA certified and they can do so without being forced to any changes in their business model. It’s available any time, day or night, so regardless of where the agency is in the world, agents will be able to book tickets, reserve rooms, and coordinate conferences. No GDS knowledge is necessary, but if an agent needs to use both GDS and the TTS Consolidator, that is also possible. All the ticketing is uploaded in real time so there is no lag time to worry about.
It’s available in a number of languages for the human users as well as the computers, including English, Spanish, and Portuguese. The GDS computer systems include Galileo and Apollo.
Users will be able to issue IATA-like tickets regardless of whether they belong to the association or not. The search feature is able to search broadly, whether a budget minded customer needs to book the least expensive trip possible, or someone needs to have an exact schedule. This can be done by booking a series of one-way tickets if need be, or a more traditional round-trip.
Financial information is also accessible through TTS Consolidator, including fees, accepted credit cards, and fares.
Thanks to the internet, the days of needing to belong to the IATA are diminished. Solutions like TTS Consolidator make it possible to bridge the gaps that non-IATA members currently face.