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ARC VTC Program Grows, Strong Benefits for AgentsJanuary 5, 2010 By: George Dooley
ARC's Verified Travel Consultant (VTC) community reached 1,000 approved entities including home-based agents by the end of 2009. ARC also sees signs pointing to record growth in 2010.
VTCs consist of store-front and home-based entities generating an estimated $300 million plus in annual sales. ARC believes its VTC success is in part due to travel agencies finding it a fit for new, emerging agent business models.
“2009 was all about increasing industry awareness of the power of the VTC distribution channel,” said Christopher Flores, VTC program manager, “and we're proud of our VTCs’ success in making that happen."
As the VTC community has grown, so has their use of ARC’s products and services, ARC notes. VTC’s service fees exceed industry averages, and VTC ARC MarketPlace transactions and commission payments have increased substantially year-over-year.
"VTCs clearly see the value of the program beyond the ARC Number," said Flores. "Our agencies are using the tools and taking advantage of the opportunities that come with their participation – VTCs can actually measure the return on their investment. Sixty-five percent of our VTC participants are home-based and a recent survey of VTC agency owners shows that more than two-thirds have been in business for over five years, while average annual sales for VTCs exceed $400,000. These professionals have found a niche within the Program. They are serious about their businesses, and so are we. We look forward to welcoming more home-based travel agencies in the future."
Dave Rosenthal of Daydream Excursions, said "The ARC Number is important to my business identity as my suppliers recognize it as an industry standard for recognition. However, there is more to VTC participation than just the number, and I've already profited from the service fee capability and other ARC MarketPlace products."
“Travel suppliers have long recognized the value delivered by ARC agents, and trust our accreditation process," said Lauri Reishus, general manager for ARC industry products and services. "VTCs go through the very same vetting as their counterparts on the fully accredited side, sustaining the levels of integrity travel professionals and suppliers appreciate."
With Marriott International now accepting VTCs, they join a host of Industry suppliers who have been recognizing the ARC Number for years, including the likes of Royal Caribbean International, Princess Cruises, Classic Vacations, and Club Med. "ARC's stability and reputation within the Industry were major factors for my consideration in the VTC Program," said Jennifer Kruse, owner of Journeys Travel.
With guidance from the VTC Advisory Board, ARC said it looks forward to maintaining a focused and effective growth strategy in 2010. The popularity of the VTC Program among travel professionals can be attributed to several factors, including fully accredited agencies changing their business models away from airline ticketing with a retail location, agents within accredited agencies starting their own businesses, and new home-based travel agencies looking to establish their businesses within the industry.
The success of ARC's VTC program also underscores ARC’s evolution and service expansion based on solid technology, including providing transaction settlement and data information services. Airlines, travel agencies, corporate travel departments, railroads, and other travel suppliers process up to $70 billion annually through ARC’s world-class settlement system, making it the financial backbone of travel distribution.
ARC COMPASS has emerged as a leading, trusted source for travel transaction information, powers data and analytical tools that help ARC customers make confident business decisions.
The VTC program was created to provide non-ticketing travel professionals with the opportunity to benefit from the VTC Tool Kit, which includes the ARC Number, as well as ARC products and services including ARC MarketPlace and ARC’s Agent’s Choice service fee program. VTCs consist of store-front and home-based entities generating an estimated $300 million plus in annual sales, ARC says.