ICTA has expansive membership ideas


BOSTON -- The Institute of Certified Travel Agents said it will broaden its membership base to include industry professionals who have not completed an ICTA certification program.

David Preece, ICTA's newly named president and CEO, said the group "needs to be as inclusive as possible" to broaden its appeal, but "there have to be criteria" for membership that will maintain and enhance the organization's role as the industry educator.

He said ICTA may settle on multiple levels of membership, with each level providing relevant access to services and education. He said ICTA will be ready to announce a membership plan by the time of its annual Forum, set for September in Orlando, or maybe sooner.

In anticipation of the membership changes, the September Forum, for the first time, is open to anyone who wishes to attend. ICTA counts 5,500 dues-paying members, about three-fourths of them CTCs and the remainder CTAs.

Liberalizing membership rules is part of a broader ICTA growth strategy announced last fall that focused on unbundling educational programs and making them available to individuals or organizations outside the context of a CTC or CTA certification program.

Since that time, according to ICTA chairman Matthew Upchurch and his colleagues on the ICTA board, the Institute has indeed unbundled all educational materials and three-fourths of it has been refreshed.

Looking ahead, ICTA expects to sell more services on a bulk scale to travel agencies, suppliers and travel organizations.

Some travel industry organizations already have begun to "embed" ICTA course material into their own educational programs, the board said. For example, American Express last month said it will include ICTA destination specialist courses as part of its regular curriculum for travel counselor training.

Materials, because they are maintained only in PDF form now, could be readily customized for specific buyers, Preece said.

ICTA vice chairman Scott Ahlsmith said ICTA "could sell any education program to any organization; we may even do certification for other organizations; or we may just sell testing services."

In another example, Preece said ICTA, which has 13 destination specialist courses, could provide back-of-the-house services to help tourist boards manage their ongoing relationships with agents who have completed the programs.

The ICTA name would not necessarily appear "all over these things," Ahlsmith noted.

He added that ICTA "has been doing some whimsical things." For example, he said, because some agents sell on eBay, ICTA opened an eBay store so it could gain experience and talk intelligently about it to its constituents.

One thing ICTA learned, Ahlsmith said, is that it is not so easy to find things on eBay; sometimes ICTA staff cannot even find the ICTA store.


From Our Partners

2021 Hawaii Loves Travel Advisors
Hawaii Loves Travel Advisors
Register Now
USTOA 2021 horizontal
USTOA 2021
Read More
2021 Alexander Roberts Webinar USE THIS
Experience Japan Without a Crowd
Register Now

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI