The Professional Association of Travel Hosts (PATH), took critical aim at ARC’s recently announced Helix program in a statement that PATH described as a "collaborative response" from a majority of PATH’s Board of Directors. PATH members represent a majority of host agencies and their member independent home-based agents.
"When word first came out about Helix, PATH opted to take a wait-and-see attitude," the association said. "We used the time to better understand the initiatives and details of Helix. However, after reviewing all of the recent press releases and seeing what Helix had to say during their launch at the recent conference in Las Vegas, it has become apparent that the nature in which ARC is structured has many competitive aspects, conflicts of interest, not to mention breaching trust issues."
Anita Pagliasso, Ticket to Travel , is the newly named president of PATH.
"In a recent statement made by ARC’s Chris Flores, he indicated that Helix will also be considering offering air-ticketing services," PATH said. "The thought of ARC fulfilling airline tickets for non-ARC agencies shows that they are setting their sights to be in direct competition with consortia, franchises and host agencies. The biggest issue is that ARC is an airline-owned company and should maintain a level of neutrality on agents, agencies and agency organizations. They should not favor one group of agencies over another. This clearly crosses the line.
"Joanie Ogg has been contracted by Helix to put together their training, and at the same time she collects advertising dollars from host agencies. The fact that most PATH members spend their marketing dollars on her site should be critical for her to remain neutral and not use her role to promote Helix on 'host agency panels.'"
ARC identified Ogg is the principal owner of Joanie Ogg Marketing Group and said she will lead Helix education and training program that will include online business courses, webinars and destination and regional symposiums for Helix members.
"The way Helix is positioning themselves is in direct competition with the Host Model. PATH members address the differences...host agencies offer so many tools and resources for agents that Helix does not have. PATH members have taken years to create programs for the Independent Contractor and we provide so much more than a booking number and supplier relationships," PATH said. "PATH is disappointed that ARC has chosen to compete with the agencies they serve. ARC should leave the hosting business to the Agencies that specialize in hosting."