Mark Pestronk
Mark Pestronk

Q: Business is so bad right now that I would like to close my agency's office and move the business into my home, at least until things get better. Do I have to give up my ARC appointment? I always thought that you need to be "open and accessible to the public," and obviously my home isn't. If I can't keep my ARC appointment, what options do I have for airline ticketing?

A: ARC repealed its "open and accessible" rule a decade ago. Now, the only location-related requirement is that, "Agent's location must have the licenses required by the jurisdiction in which it is located. Required licenses include, but are not limited to, any and all licenses mandated by federal, state or local authority, which enable agent to lawfully conduct business at each of its locations."

In other words, you can keep your ARC appointment if operating a home-based travel agency is allowed by zoning laws and if you have any needed local or state business license. You would also need a state seller of travel registration if you are in one of the five states with seller of travel laws: California, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa or Washington.

You don't need a sign outside your house; nor do you even need a separate entrance or separate operating area of your house. You can conduct all of your business in person, by phone and email or online.

As far as personnel are concerned, all you need is one employee who is responsible for the agency's operation and relationship with ARC. That person can be yourself. You also need one person, who can be an employee, independent contractor or yourself, who maintains the ARC Specialist accreditation.

If you can meet these requirements, you can file a change-of-location application with ARC. The change is effective immediately upon ARC's receipt of the application, although ARC reserves the right to check to see if you meet the requirements.

If you don't meet the requirements, you may still be able to keep your agency's ARC number by converting from a fully accredited ARC location to a Verified Travel Consultant (VTC). Although you can keep your ARC number as a VTC, you can no longer issue airline tickets.

If you have an Iatan appointment, you can keep accreditation by converting to a Non-Ticketing Location, which would enable you and your staff to keep your Iatan cards. Other than having the cards, I know of no benefit to having an Iatan appointment of any kind.

To obtain airline tickets, you have many choices. You can sign up with a host agency, and most hosts would be happy to have you and offer to share any airline commissions they get.

You can buy tickets through a consolidator, using its online booking tool, which would enable you to mark up the ticket price when you sell to your clients.

Finally, you can buy tickets from the airline using the airline's own website for travel agents, although you would not earn any remuneration for doing so. 

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