Travel Agency Accreditation 101 Go Back Button

What is Travel Agency Accreditation?

Funny you should ask. At its most basic, accreditation is a unique number assigned to travel professionals, so suppliers recognize their business as a travel agency. It gives travel agents the ability to book travel, receive commissions, and—with some accreditations—to issue airline tickets.

I like to think of the travel agency accreditation options like different credit cards — Visa, Discover, AmEx. Some accreditation numbers are accepted more widely accepted than others, but they all do the job. And just like credit cards, accreditation organizations won’t hand out their numbers willy-nilly to anyone who wants one; there are a vetting process and eligibility requirements. 

Who is Travel Agency Accreditation For?

Short answer: If you want to be recognized as a travel agency, you need an accreditation number. Typically, accreditations organizations market themselves to three different kinds of travel professionals:

  • Independent Travel Agent: For this article, by independent travel agent, I mean an agent that is not hosted—whether they are home-based or storefront. In short, an independent agent can’t sell travel without an accreditation number.
  • Hosted Agent: These are agencies under a host agency’s umbrella. (What is a host agency?) It gets a little trickier here. Because these agents use their host agency’s accreditation number, they do not need to have their own accreditation. In fact, that’s one of the benefits of using a host agency—you don’t have to worry about the financial and administrative responsibility of applying for and maintaining your accreditation. Also, with many host agencies, you will have access to multiple accreditations. 
  • Corporate Travel Department (CTD): Some accreditation agencies (ARC and IATA) have specific programs for CTDs (a wedding planner, for example, or any company that books a significant amount of air for their employees).

There you have it. As a travel professional, you can gain access to accreditation through a host agency and apply for your own. So let’s dig deeper because that’s where the gold is. 

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