In an interview with Travel Agent, Ogg responded to a feature in the May 26 edition, and offered details on how he believes TPN will work and why it is important for professional agents to get involved.
Formed in response to the lack of professional recognition of agents and the proliferation of multilevel marketing groups, card mills and pseudo agents, TPN wants to recognize true professionals, Ogg says.
TPN participants must pass a test, show proof of sales and document their expertise while subscribing to a code of professional ethics. They will also pay a nominal one-time processing fee. “Professional agents must be in control of TPN,” Ogg says.
One of three founding organizers of TPN, Ogg notes that the new group was set up so that agents pay no fees. “This was a critical element demanded by the agents who formed TPN,” he says. “They did not want to be required to ‘belong’ to an association or other ‘membership’ business that required them to pay ongoing revenues to maintain their professional designation.
“The original funding for the hard costs to launch TPN were acquired through donations from the founders. There are no ongoing expenses whatsoever to continue TPN’s mission. And, as TPN gains traction, it is logical that many folks will also want to contribute time and effort to achieve TPN’s objective.”
Ogg also believes that TPN will acquire the leadership and support it needs to survive. “As an agent initiative, TPN will require the skills of all its designees to succeed. Travel professionals have the power to distinguish themselves from the rest given the opportunity to do so. I suspect that professional travel agents are becoming action-oriented regarding this topic and I also believe that it would be a mistake to underestimate them.”
What benchmarks can be used to measure achievements? “The fact that Travel Agent magazine is talking about TPN and questioning the need for industry standards to perfect travel professionals is a good enough benchmark for me. TPN would like to see all associations and educational organizations require similar components as TPN does in measuring who is and who is not a travel professional. If that happened, TPN would be wildly successful on behalf of travel professionals everywhere.
“TPN recognizes that many different distribution models are likely to evolve. It is TPN’s mission to document professional travel agents as an identifiable distribution channel so that those interested in communicating with revenue-producing travel professionals may do so.”
Ogg notes that TPN is not in competition with other organizations. “Agents do not want to have their professionalism determined by someone who is also selling them education or memberships. They strongly believe that the travel agent community should control TPN and that no one should benefit financially by doing so.”
TPN can also benefit from new online communities to communicate TPN’s goals, Ogg says. “Travel professionals cannot wait around for someone else to promote their value to consumers. They must take charge now to control their own future and TPN may be a viable vehicle for them to do so. A front-line travel professional sells travel. If there are no travel sales, they are something else. It is that simple.
“All I know is that someone needs to do something to change the outlook for travel professionals,” says Ogg. “If TPN sparks this reality for our industry’s associations, media, suppliers and educational organizations, then TPN will have been a huge success.”
For details of the new TPN program, visit www.travelprofessionalsnetwork.com.