STARS, an organization for professional travel agents, will debut in February, founded by Billie and Peter Stilphen, who is CEO of Coral Sands Travel and served as president of PATH. STARS wants to "separate the highly professional travel professional from the many would-be and pseudo travel agents."
Stilphen believes that these "pseudo" agents are doing "great harm to the professionalism of those who consider the selling of travel products serious business." STARS considers the "real travel professional as one who has successfully obtained their CLIA or Travel Institute designation or can demonstrate their achievements."
The new agent group will operate via a member advisory board to ensure the needs of all STARS members are being met. Requirements for membership are strict and include background checks.
STARS membership is open to only individual travel agents and excludes agencies, consortia, hosts and suppliers. There will be an opportunity for some suppliers to be listed as preferred suppliers, with direct access to the membership base, STARS said. Visit http://www.thebrighteststars.com. (GD)