Travel Industry

Becoming a travel seller has never been easier

Becoming a travel seller has never been easier
Javier Gallego
Javier Gallego
17 March, 2021

Duffel's accredited agency network manages the regulatory, administrative & financial hurdles required to sell flights.

Start selling tickets immediately using "Duffel's Content Services" and avoid the cost and complexities associated with obtaining and maintaining your own accreditations.

Background

The aviation industry has a set of standards that enable it to be operational and that must be accepted by all parties in the industry. These standards are developed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) which regulates the aviation industry and provides the umbrella network that facilitates the distribution of air travel products. For instance, IATA codes are used throughout the industry for identification and operational purposes including for agency reservations, ticketing, scheduling, location coding, and many others. All airlines have an associated IATA code, e.g. British Airways, BA, IATA code 125.

Originally, when travel agencies began distributing flight tickets they acted as intermediaries between travellers and airlines and, in addition to selling air tickets, they were responsible for remitting funds to the airlines. IATA took over these processes and now manages their administration on behalf of the airlines.

This is how IATA accreditation was introduced more than fifty years ago. So, today, in order to get access to full service carriers (FSC) inventories, a travel agency is required to undergo verification by IATA to obtain the accreditation to sell flights (this process is managed by ARC in USA). If a travel seller is IATA accredited, it is considered as a reliable partner within the industry. On top of that, IATA processes all travel agent sales through its Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP), a system created to streamline reporting, billing and settlement between travel agents and airlines.

What does it take to obtain IATA/ARC accreditation?

IATA’s “Go Standard” accreditation package is for travel & tourism retailers worldwide that support air ticket issuing and accept all forms of payment on behalf of airlines. As a comparison, "Go Lite" accredited agents can issue tickets using only Credit Card as an accepted form of payment (the airline acts as credit card merchant). However, a "Go Lite" agent can also accept other methods to get paid from their customers (e.g. cash, cheque, AliPay, PayPal, etc.).

Accreditation is necessary in each country of operation to sell flights. ARC provides similar services to IATA in USA, including accreditation.

The requirements to be IATA/ARC accredited can be summarised as follows:

  • Learn general rules, standards and applicable regulations to a given market
  • Proof of business operation. Local legal incorporation. Specific government activity license
  • Proof of financial viability. Audited accounts are required to be analysed
  • Provide a bond per country (average 50,000 USD per operation)
  • Proof of qualification and experience (ticketing, PCI DSS, etc.)
  • All documents should fall in line with the local criteria for each country
  • Additional Costs. Application fee (nearly 1,300 USD) and annual fee (nearly 200 USD) / per country
  • Time. No less than 90 days to be fully accredited

What do I have to do once I'm accredited?

Like with many other industry regulations, IATA also has its own singularities to be aware of. Besides the "one off" accreditation work described above, there is also lots more work to do to maintain the accreditations moving forward.

  • Time and resource consuming. The level of interchanges of documentation with IATA is continuous: annual audit, additional financial information, change of ownership & change of address information, PCI DSS certifications of compliance, Remittance Holding Capacity requirements -credit limit assigned by IATA to "Go Standard" accredited agents-, etc.
  • Local licenses maintenance. Besides obtaining IATA/ARC accreditation per country, a big number of jurisdictions require local Travel Seller licenses which requires providing and maintaining insurance/financial bonds to cover consumer risks. For example in USA and Canada Local Travel Seller licenses are required at State/province level so the complexity is greater. This process alone can take many months and requires consultation and engagement with lawyers.
  • Annual financial reviews. After an agency is accredited, IATA will regular check up on its financial health. IATA conducts annual financial reviews but could perform ad hoc reviews as well. All agents must submit their audited accounts after each financial year-end. The agency financial statements will be analysed as per the local criteria approved by airlines and agents via the local APJC (Airline Passenger Joint Council). All agents must provide a financial guarantee during the first two years as an accredited agent and as from the third year the maintenance of the financial security will be subject to the result of the annual financial review. If IATA sees any hint of financial instability, they may start a further review period for the agency to prove its viability.
  • No guarantee for sales growth. Being IATA accredited doesn’t imply sales and revenue growth - the revenues don’t directly depend on your accreditation. Unfortunately, in many cases, all the financial requirements and application costs may even exceed the agency revenues.

As a travel retailer, is IATA accreditation my only option if I want to sell tickets? Duffel Content Services.

For many travel & tourism retailers, it's hard to decide between securing your own IATA accreditation or using a host agency. “Duffel Content Services” provides customers, in addition to the API, the possibility of using our global IATA accredited network to sell flights.

Why use Duffel’s content services? What are the benefits? As the person in charge of building and maintaining our global accredited agency network, I can briefly explain its benefits to help customers make the right decision!

  • Plug and Play. As soon as the integration with Duffel’s API is completed every travel seller can start issuing tickets
  • Global Reach. Access to the whole global Duffel travel agency network and to all Duffel partner airlines in each country
  • Reduced Cost Base. No set up costs. No need to provide financial guarantees
  • Save Time. No need to understand ticketing and passenger resolutions and rules and pass courses
  • Administration. No need to deal with IATA’s day-to-day administration
  • Licenses. Local Travel Agency license is a prerequisite to be accredited in the majority of jurisdictions. Re-sellers need to evaluate local requirements in each jurisdiction.

There are multiple benefits of using “Duffel Content Services”. It's a great way to kick-start your travel agency and have both the capacity to start selling tickets immediately and also have built-in support - with low risk, low start-up costs, and a plug and play solution.

Duffel is already accredited in the following markets: Australia, France, Ireland, United Kingdom and United States and we will continue to expand our agency network in the coming years to maximise our presence globally.

Start Selling Today

  • Javier Gallego
    Javier Gallego
    Experienced senior international executive with in depth expertise in the Aviation and Travel Industries, specialised in the area of Distribution, Payments, Clearing and Settlement Services