Week in Review – September 6, 2013

The problem of unqualified travel agents topped the news this week with an editorial from John McMahon calling for more standardized testing and accreditation to prevent fly-by-night agents from ruining the reputation of the industry.

Many readers agreed. In the comments Heather Hice-Mitchel wrote, “You are 100% right! I understand that some states have toyed with the idea of requiring agents or consultants to be licensed. Many agents I’ve talked to cringe at the idea but I welcome it. Would you go to an insurance agent, lawyer or doctor who isn’t licensed…NO!”

Susan Schaefer wrote, “I’d be inf avor of agencies imposing standards on employees – and vetting independent contractors before bringing them onboard – and consortia vetting agencies before allowing them to join…Getting the government involved is a scary slippery slope, because they’re usually in the game of licensing for the revenue stream. Realtors and travel agents don’t sell (or have the potential to sell) in all 50 states like we do, so they are licensed in one state, the state where they work. Travel agents on the other hand can potentially have clients in all 50 states.”

On our Facebook page some agents pointed to the CTC designation as the best defense the industry has right now. Marion Orgettas wrote, “Glad I have my CTC…certification and continuing education is the key for a good and competent agent.”

In other industry news, the chairman of Sandals Resorts International weighed in on the CareerCast controversy, in which the jobs board had dubbed travel agents a “useless” profession in a blog post.

“The role of agents in our success cannot be underestimated,” said Gordon “Butch” Stewart, chairman of Sandals Resorts International, in a written statement. “We have invested heavily in this partnership [with agents] and will continue to do so because we believe it essential to our ability to delight guests, to exceed their expectations and to welcome them again and again.” 

In the Caribbean, this week as part of our cover story we rounded up the latest hotel and air travel news in the region. Top news included new developments at Sir Richard Branson's private island, refurbishments at the Cap Juluca in Anguilla and the first Couples Resorts property outside Jamaica in Barbados.

In air travel, this wee saw the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck program expand to 60 new airports, bringing the total number of airports taking part in the program to 100. Industry groups, including the Global Business Travel Association, Airlines for America and the U.S. Travel Association, applauded the measure.

In cruise news, this week saw the halfway mark for the Carnival Conversations travel agent outreach program. Our cruise editor spoke with executives on the line for their take on how the program is going thus far and what’s in store for the future.

Finally, this week saw the return of our Emerging Destinations feature. This time we’re polling our readers for the most buzzworthy destinations of 2013. You can find and vote on the nominees on our Facebook page.

Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for the latest travel industry news, trends and updates.

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