In my home state and many states across the country travel agents are not regulated. There aren’t any education, licensing or insurance requirements. Travel agents do not have to submit to criminal background checks. Anyone can be a travel agent. The infiltration of “card mills or MLMs” is out of control.
Other professionals in my state such as cosmetologists, massage therapists, plumbers, real estate agents, accountants etc. all have to meet mandatory certification requirements and be licensed. Why are travel agents not regulated? Travel agents are allowed to handle thousands of dollars without mandatory licensing, no educational requirements or meet minimum financial standards. Nor, are they required to have errors and omission insurance.
If ever there is an industry that needs regulation– it is the travel industry. Travel generates a vast amount of money. Travel is sexy, travel is glamorous. The ads are all over the internet. Travel like a rock star. Get free travel. Earn commissions on your own travel. Travel like a travel agent. Learn the secrets of traveling for free. Earn money in the trillion dollar travel industry. Fly first class. Retire & travel for free.
We sorely need standardization, testing and licensing that will be recognized not only in our own states but across state lines. This will not only create professionalism but gives us the respect we deserve. In addition, it will help protect the consumer. Who is the logical choice to do this? ASTA? IATAN? The Travel Institute? The industry is already fragmented. We have multiple sites that offer cards such as CLIA, IATAN, OSSN. Do we need federal regulation? Or, do we need tougher state seller of travel laws? Lots of tough questions but no easy answers.
(Editors Note: For TRO’s official editorial position on the topic of travel agent regulation, please see this article).
Mary Stephan is the President of Allons Travel based in Powell, OH. For more information, you can contact Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org.