Perspective – May 2013

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Ian McMahon

 Not a moment too soon

GARY O’Riordan has arrived at AFTA not a moment too soon. He took up the position of general manager-accreditation just four weeks ago, only 14 months ahead of the phasing out of the Travel Compensation Fund (TCF) and its replacement with a voluntary accreditation scheme.

Agents are hanging out for details of this scheme. The best informed of them are barely aware that there is to be one while there are some still ignorant of the fact that the TCF ceases to exist on July 1, 2014.

Incidentally, the TCF did nothing to dispel ignorance and confusion when it recently sent out its renewal invoices with no notification that it is now winding down.

The fact is that considerable work has been going on behind the scenes, involving representatives of agents, suppliers and consumers, on the formulation of an accreditation scheme and associated code of conduct.

As you can read on page 5 the AFTA board is likely to sign off next month on a draft proposal for the scheme with the working title of AFTA Travel Accreditation Scheme (ATAS).

That will then enable O’Riordan to mount a series of workshops around Australia enabling all agents to hear the proposal and to give their views.

Agents who don’t participate will have only themselves to blame if they don’t like what ultimately emerges.

Meanwhile it is vital that governments agree to allocate sufficient of accrued TCF funds for a high-powered campaign that will drive consumers to accredited agents.

And it is to be hoped that reasonable premiums can be negotiated for supplier insolvency insurance that will protect both agents and their clients in the event of a supplier collapse – including cover for agent credit card charge-back losses.

Scholarship worth $40,000

THIS month’s announcement that travel consultants can now apply for the 2013 Avis Travel Agent Scholarship calls it the “Australian retail travel industry’s most enduring and prestigious award program”.

I can’t think of another that rivals the Avis award for longevity and the accolade has certainly conferred prestige on winners who have gone on to achieve much in their travel industry careers.

Now in its 17th year, the scholarship rewards excellence in customer service and its winner collects over $40,000 worth of travel and education.

Headlining the rewards are two Qantas business class return tickets to New York, six nights luxury hotel accommodation in Manhattan and seven days Avis car rental.

There were will also be a tour of Avis World Headquarters in New Jersey and site visits to US agencies.

Other opportunities include a first-year tourism scholarship to study at Southern Cross University’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, with financial support of up to $10,000 towards the first year of a three-year Bachelor of Tourism Management course; four cruise training modules from CLIA Australasia; Polonious Resources profile, feedback and coaching; and admission into the TIME (Travel Industry Mentor Experience) program.

The scholarship holder will also take up a one year honorary position on the Avis Travel Agents Advisory Board. Consultants can get further details at