By Andrew Gee and Eric LiThe Washington TimesDec.
19, 2017 4:35 p.m.WASHINGTON — For travelers, the most important part of choosing a travel agency in the U.S. is whether it is a trusted traveler agency, a travel agent that is part of a trusted travel network or an independent travel agency.
The American Travel Association is asking its members to do a better job of identifying trusted travel agencies, independent travel agencies and trusted travel agents, which are used by millions of Americans each year, and to ensure that they comply with federal regulations, according to a report released Wednesday.
The report, “TSA’s Transparency Report: Find the Best Travel Agents,” is part and parcel of a broader effort by the association to better inform consumers about the best travel agencies they can choose from.
The group also is calling on U.T.A. members to make a voluntary commitment to use more trusted travel agency names, such as Travel Agents.
Travel agents and travel agents who are part of trusted travel networks are often listed on consumer websites as the source of travel services for the traveler.
The consumer is often led to the agency’s website by an agent who has already signed up for a trip or to a website for a trusted business.
However, the TSA is calling for independent travel agents to use the agency name only and to provide consumers with information about the company and its products and services.
The TSA does not endorse the company’s products or services and is not responsible for them, said TSA spokeswoman Michelle Burchfield.
The group also recommends consumers look at the travel agency’s mission statement, which is listed on its website.
The statement is meant to give consumers a sense of the organization’s mission, Burchfields said.
Travel agency names can be confusing, said John E. Dickson, a professor at the College of William and Mary and author of “The Business of Travel.”
“There’s no real consistency on the list, so consumers are going to have to be more vigilant when they’re choosing a company,” he said.
The TSA says consumers should also consider the fact that independent travel agent names may be different from the name of the agency, and may refer to a different company, Dickson said.
“When you’re choosing an independent agency, you have to take into account their history,” he added.
Travel agencies and independent travel companies often are affiliated with travel agents.
However, independent agents are independent contractors and are not owned by the agency.
Travel agent names should also include the name and phone number of the travel agent’s manager or CEO.
“If you’re buying an airline ticket or a hotel room, don’t be surprised if you find that there’s a travel-related name that’s different from their business name,” said David Nevin, a senior lecturer at Washington University in St. Louis and a former TSA employee.
Travel-related names are generally used by independent travel operators because they are more easily identifiable than travel agent companies’ names, Denton said.
They are often used by travel agencies because independent travel businesses are easier to identify and use.
Travel agents can have different names depending on the business, he said, and are typically easier to differentiate from travel-associated companies.
“The travel-specific name is a very good indication that they’re not part of the same network,” he told The Associated Press.
The Associated Press is a nonprofit news service.