Deconstructing what CCRA really does for members one product at a time.
Written By Maggie Fischer, Chief Marketing Officer, CCRA
Recently, my colleague Holly Carrig, Director of Membership Services, and I returned from a great few days in Fort Lauderdale at Travel Weekly’s GTM Flagship event. Over the course of a few days, we met with approximately 100 top performing travel agencies through a combination of one-on-one meetings and boardroom presentations. The one question we got over and over again, was WHAT ARE YOU GUYS?
In an industry dominated by acronyms and labels, it can be tough to break out of the well-understood boxes like “host agency”, “consortium” or “association”. They’ve been around forever, and with a single word you can sum up exactly what they do for agents. That’s just not the case with CCRA, and as we blaze a new trail in the industry, it can be tough to capture our entire offering in one word. We tried our best with “consortiation” but we needed to do better! So what we wanted to do for you was to break us down with some pretty simple descriptions of our most popular offerings, and who takes advantage of them:
Accreditation and the TRUE Code: CCRA owns one of the “big four” accreditation types in the travel industry for agencies. Alongside ARC, IATA and CLIA, there is the TRUE Code. The TRUE code is a bit different from ARC and IATA, because while it allows you to connect directly with thousands of travel and business suppliers, it does not allow you to ticket directly on the major airlines the way a full ARC Accreditation or IATA would. Instead, it works the same way as CLIA, ARC’s VTC Program and IATA’s IATAN program in that it helps you brand yourself as an accredited agency, elevates your status as a professional seller of travel, and allows you access to lots and lots of industry tools and resources. It really is your industry “social security number”.
Now with TRUE being the only one not owned by a controlling airline or cruise line interest, it gives us a bit more flexibility in that we are wholly owned by a travel industry organization made up of travel agencies. NACTA shares that independence, but does not offer accreditation – only advocacy, tools and resources for agencies, which is a great thing on its own.
When you apply for TRUE and are accepted, it opens up your access to a number of other products and services from CCRA:
- The award-winning hotel booking portal, CCRATravel.com
- Our industry-leading website, social media and email marketing tool, TRUESites
- Eligibility to take part in TRUELeads, launching later this year
- A professional photo ID card
- Access to CCRA’s calendar of FAM trips
- Free admission to PowerSolutions regional travel events
- Access to PowerSolutions Online, a library of hundreds of on-demand educational tools
- Invitations to local chapter meetings to connect with industry peers and suppliers
Since acquiring TRUE and OSSN in 2013, CCRA has redeveloped many aspects of the program, including the vetting process for agents who apply. Applications typically take anywhere from 30-45 days, and business credentials are thoroughly vetted to ensure the integrity of the program. Agencies who are unable or unwilling to undergo such a stringent vetting process have been encouraged to join CCRA at the associate level, which gives them access to a wealth of marketing and educational resources, but does not allow for an industry ID, photo card or access to advanced tools.
CCRA’s beginnings were on the corporate side, so many of its core products were designed around the needs of larger corporate travel agencies and their activities and transactions in the GDS. AirSelect was launched in 2013 as a way to combine the purchasing power of ARC accredited agencies to drive higher commissions and enhanced benefits for the participating agencies. CCRA’s commissions for international flights on over 70 carriers are some of the highest in the industry, which is why the program has grown from the low six figures to well over 45 million dollars in business annually. While the program is open to both leisure and corporate travel agencies, it does require that you hold a valid ARC or IATA accreditation and are able to book air in the GDS. For more information, check out www.ccra.com/air
The Global Preferred Hotel Program:
This is still one of the best known offerings that CCRA has – our hotel consortium is linked to over 4,000 travel agencies around the world who use our 3 rate codes to book more than 37,000 properties around the world. Because all of this happens in the GDS, most of our agency customers are larger leisure and corporate agencies; but our hotel booking portal CCRATravel.com runs on the same GDS technology and allows agents operating outside of the GDS to access the same inventory, services, amenities and more. If you haven’t tried it, you should! It’s free to sign up and book, and the commissions are fantastic! www.ccratravel.com
24/7 Call Center:
CCRA pioneered the emergency call center in 1974 for the world’s largest corporate travel agencies. Today, we handle over half a million calls from travelers all over the world who need assistance while traveling due to a world event, weather emergency or other situation where our travel agency customers need extra support. Today we service clients for more than half of the Travel Weekly’s Power List!
Soo… what happened to OSSN?
We get this question a lot too. We basically took all of the best parts of OSSN like the chapters, the support and online resources and combined it with everything CCRA has for agents under one roof. We’ve maintained and grown the TRUE brand – but felt that the management of three separate brands was a lot to juggle. Speaking of growth, since just the start of this year we have accredited over 1,000 new travel agencies!
Here’s a helpful guide to our pricing:
|$300 for 5 Agents
|TRUE Host Accreditation
|$595 for 25 Agents
|$49 for 1 Agent
|Hotel Booking Portal
|Global Preferred Hotel Program
|24/7 Call Center
|Varies By Agency Size
While CCRA has been the presenting sponsor for a number of years, we actually do not own the Travel Agent Forums… but we rely on them as the largest bi-annual gathering of our members and our most trusted suppliers. If there were a CCRA convention, this would be it. We offer very special rates and amenities to members, so even if you’re only considering membership, please check out the show and when you’re ready, be sure to register with code 8264 to unlock those extra benefits.
In addition, we’ve developed a series of smaller shows that travel regionally around the world – we feature about 20 suppliers and invite around 150 travel professionals for a night of education, training, great food and drinks and of course amazing giveaways. PowerSolutions LIVE has been a smash success for CCRA and our members, and we invite you to take a look at our remaining dates in 2017 at www.ccra.com/powersolutions.
So at the end of the day, we really think of ourselves as an open network of powerful resources for travel agencies and suppliers at all experience levels and with almost every model. Whether you need training, education, support or to broaden your portfolio of suppliers, we can help. If you need to accredit your agency and build the foundation for a strong independent agency, we’ve got that too. And of course for agencies who transact in the GDS, we’ve got some incredible tools you should be linked to so we can help you ensure you’re driving the most amount of revenue possible on your air and hotel bookings.