There are many things that agents and agencies need to think about and one of them, if you operate in Ontario, is TICO compliance. TICO is the Travel Industry Council of Ontario.
There are many requirements of a travel agent in the TICO rules and regulations and some of these can be quite costly if you find yourself offside with the law. But really, the TICO regulations that pertain to travel agents are really just good old customer service and diligence. They represent best practices for travel agents everywhere.
And these days, travel agents must be seen to be adding value, as it is so easy for clients to just go online and make their own bookings. So I’m suggesting you embrace the TICO regulations and make sure you know them well and are practicing them in your dealings with all of your clients.
Of course, TICO registration is a matter for the agency or host agency, and that takes a lot of red tape off individual agents’ plates. In order to be registered, agencies must put proper trust accounting in place, have sufficient working capital and adhere to all of the regulations required of an agency, among other things.
For smaller agencies, this can mean a lot of extra work and some are opting to work with a host agency to escape all of the administrative work associated with the record-keeping and accounting procedures required.
TICO spends quite a bit of money each year on its Consumer Awareness Campaign. You’ve likely seen the TV spots and the ads. There’s a good reason for this. Not only is TICO required by the government to make consumers aware of their efforts in the area of consumer protection in Ontario, but in so doing, TICO is effectively telling the public, ‘Work with a registered travel agent, and your investment is protected’.
Agents should always promote that they are part of TICO and of course, should always make sure they are following the rules. In particular, the requirement for full disclosure to the customer about what they have bought, the price paid, taxes and service charges, what the cancellation policies are, and most important, what the documentation requirements are for everyone on the booking.