ARC's recently announced decision to maintain its annual travel
agency fee, $150 per location, and raise its requisition fees for
paper ticket stock as interim measures comes as a slap in the face
to retailers, many of whom already are struggling to maintain their
fiscal equilibrium on the steep slope of declining base rate
Despite earnest proposals by ASTA and ARTA that the fees be
eliminated as a way to lighten the agency community's burden, the
airline-only ARC board chose not only to maintain the status quo
for now but also to throw another brick on the load for good
We suspect that ARC president David Collins' explanation that
the increase in requisition fees, in particular, is somehow
connected with the spectacular growth in electronic ticketing and
reporting does not bode well for a significant break for the trade
any time soon.
After all, electronic reporting already accounts for more than
50% of transactions and dollar volume, according to ARC, and,
despite reservations by some agents, appears well on its way to all
but universal acceptance by the trade.
Moreover, the recent adoption of a new requirement -- one that
was opposed, again, by both ASTA and ARTA -- that most agencies
accredited after Jan. 1 report sales electronically presupposes
that servicing retailers with paper stock is likely to get more
expensive for ARC, not less, as demand declines.
Collins says the ARC board has directed management to review the
schedule of fees, with trade input, and come up with new, and we
would hope, less burdensome charges.
But for most of us, unhappily, the experience is that fees --
like taxes -- are far more likely to go up than go away.