ARC laying plans for daily sales reporting

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ARLINGTON, Va. -- ARC disclosed that it is working to facilitate daily sales reporting through its Internet-based IAR Interactive Plus system as early as next year.

ARC president and CEO David Collins said, "It is not a change that is going to happen overnight."

As part of the effort, ARC said it also intends to clamp down on agents that report fraudulent voids.

ARC said it would open a dialog with travel agents through its Joint Advisory Board-Airline Reporting Agreement and other agent forums, to discuss the plans for daily reporting and voids.

Both initiatives are being pressed by the airlines, which want better sales data as they struggle to overcome a soft travel market and significant financial losses, particularly in wake of last year's terrorist attacks.

According to Collins, under the current sales-reporting system, it typically takes two weeks before agency sales reports are transmitted to the airlines.

"In this day and age, you need data on your desk the following day on what went on the day before," Collins said in an interview with TWCrossroads.

If ARC and agents don't keep up, he added, the airlines could shift to a different distribution system, as they already are able to get such data from their other sales channels, such as Web sites.

They could "put more of their effort into different distribution channels," he said. "I want to make sure that the airlines see [ARC and agents] as an attractive way of doing business."

Along with daily reporting, ARC is working on new procedures designed to bar agents from voiding certain sales transactions. The new procedures could be implemented by the middle of next year.

Collins said fraudulent voids cost the airlines millions of dollars each year. Many often involve agents voiding cash sales.

"We are not going to eliminate the void capability," Collins said. "We recognize errors take place. What we are talking about here is shortening the void window."

News of ARC's plans, particularly for daily reporting, will likely be greeted with some acrimony within the agent community, which has long suspected that IAR -- "initially a voluntary program before it became compulsory" -- would eventually lead to daily reporting. Over the years, ARC repeatedly denied that it had such plan in the works.

Collins reaffirmed that ARC never had daily reporting in mind when it launched IAR.

"I have been on public record many times that the end game of IAR was not daily reporting," Collins said. "That statement remains true to day. The end game of IAR was to convert the paper reporting system to an electronic reporting system. And we have reached the end game. There was no hidden agenda. But what has gone on in the past few months has changed everything."

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Look for additional details on this article in the Nov. 18 issue of Travel Weekly.

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