Just because you’re already a hard-working and successful travel agent, doesn’t mean you can immediately make the jump to your own home-based travel agency business.
In Ontario, for example, an individual cannot take the TICO Education Exam and then become a home-based agent. That is a myth.
The travel agent must be associated with a Registered Ontario Travel Agency. There are also restrictions on how the home-based individual can operate.
The registered travel agency is responsible, in all respects, for the actions of the home-based travel agent/travel counsellor. There are specific rules on how business can be conducted.
Electronic commerce has advanced rapidly and continues to do so. It has outpaced the current travel industry legislation.
TICO is aware of this and has taken a proactive approach by issuing guidelines for travel agents / travel counselors / outside sales representatives, which can be accessed on TICO’s website.
The intent of the Ontario Travel Industry Act 2002 is to protect the consumer. But it also protects the travel agency, by informing the agency of their legal requirements and ‘best practices’ that will protect their business interests.
It’s important for the travel agency to be aware of the pitfalls that could arise, if they are not careful about how they train and control the travel agents employed or contracted by them.
Ultimately, if something goes wrong, it is the registered travel agency who is on the hook. This is becoming more of a problem as the shift in the business model advances.
Bottom line advice for Ontario travel agents looking to go home-based? Make sure you are complying with the rules and requirements of Ontario’s Travel Industry Act 2002. If you’re not sure, check with TICO’s Registration staff. They are there to help. Call (905) 624-6241 or 1-888-451-8426. Get legal advice before entering into a contract and read all of the fine print and conditions.
Michael Pepper was Registrar of Ontario’s Travel Industry Act for 23 years and president and CEO of TICO for 17 years.