By Dean Long, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Federation of Travel Agents
As you have seen this week in Travel Daily, in the past 6 months of 2023 ATAS Accredited travel agents and tour operators have called on the services of our Compliance team for expert support to resolve more customer disputes than in the entirety of 2022. At the current rate, the ATAS Compliance team will triple the number of disputes resolved this year compared to the 12 months prior. This follows a significant change we made last year to provide proactive support for ATAS businesses in managing a complicated complaint.
We know most ATAS businesses may never call on this service but is a significant program that seeks to improve outcomes for ATAS travel agents and tour operators and their clients.
At its core, ATAS seeks to elevate the standards of the travel industry to ensure travelling Aussies choose an ATAS business when booking travel.
ATAS is the only accreditation scheme that provides this level of service to both our members and their clients, and this is something that as an industry we can be proud of. Industry regulation is about making decisions that are focused on supporting members now and into the future. That means balancing the requirements of business, clients and other stakeholders when considering and making decisions on the standards we set. For ATAS, the multi-faceted approach of completing financial assessments and daily director checks alongside managing consumer complaints in a proactive and reactive manner is what makes ATAS the standard bearer for travel agents, tour operators, wholesalers and consolidators.
This month we have also opened NTIA nominations, which will showcase the best our industry has to offer. NTIA is back with 36 categories, a Friday welcome event and the return of the after party, held under the same roof as the awards at Crown Melbourne. Of the 36 award categories for NTIA, there are 27 “Most Outstanding” judged categories, 7 “Most Popular” voted categories and 2 “People’s Choice” awards held in partnership with Newscorp and Escape. Nominees in the “Most Outstanding” Awards will follow a 2-step process, with finalists determined from submissions to a judging panel selected by the NTIA Custodians. For the “Most Popular” categories industry voting will take centre stage, with the top 5 voted companies confirmed as finalists, and the top voted suppliers announced as the winner at the gala dinner.
Excitingly as of writing this column, we now have 433 nominations within the first week of them being open, which runs until 15 July 2023 if you haven’t had your say already.
As this year is peer nominated, it is critical you nominate those individuals and businesses that you believe are the best at what they do. This ensures they have the chance to be recognised at this year’s gala dinner.
Finally, I want to thank our inaugural NTIA Custodians Ann-Catherine Jones, Barbara Whitten, Tony Gothard, Jean Summers, Damian Borg, Dick Webster and Chris Fundell for their ongoing help in shaping the NTIA’s. Their leadership and insights have meant this year’s categories truly reflect the current landscape our industry operates in.