Agent Issues Amex introduces new category for affiliated agents: Travel Associate By Jamie Biesiada / February 09, 2016 Share 1 -- American Express Consumer Travel is changing its representative network structure to offer agencies the opportunity to use its tools and capabilities to serve card members without becoming franchisees.The company announced on Tuesday that the American Express Representative Network, the group of American Express-branded franchisees that provides travel services to card members, will remain in place, with members known as American Express Travel Representatives.It also announced the creation of a Travel Associate Platform. Yana Gutierrez, vice president of strategic partnerships and the U.S. representative network, declined to offer specific details, but she did say agencies that are members of the associates platform will pay a lower fee than agencies that are members of the rep network. She also said travel associates will not have access to all the lead generation tools and marketing programs that franchisees do, nor will they have all of the tools and programs franchisees do. They will not be branded as American Express Representatives."It really is about making sure that we are positioning ourselves and our agency partners to best serve our card members, whether it's in direct interaction with an agency who is carrying our brand or whether it's indirect interaction with an agency who has access to specific and unique card member programs and tools," Gutierrez said.The representative network has been in place for over 50 years, she said, and has evolved during that time. This marks the next step of that evolution."We know that American Express Travel services and benefits are a key reason that people have an American Express card," she said.For now, it's "business as usual" for franchisees, Gutierrez said. But starting later this year, as their contracts expire, they will be asked to review the two-tiered membership structure and pick the level that works best for their business.The new associates level does not require members to follow all of American Express Travel's guidelines that franchisees must follow, like call monitoring and recording."Agencies that represent the American Express brand must adhere to strict operational and compliance guidelines, and our rep agencies that carry that brand -- so, those that sit in the network platform -- will be held to the same operational, regulatory and compliance requirement standards that we hold ourselves to," Gutierrez said.