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Are Royal's Phone Answerers Legally Required To Be TAs?


Suite Snob
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8 hours ago, Suite Snob said:

Makes sense.  But, aren't they also selling airline reservations (Air2Sea, or what ever it's called)?  Or is that a specialized number and person you have to call?

Air2Sea is an entirely different organization. Those folks would indeed be TAs, albeit specializing in air arrangements.

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12 minutes ago, twangster said:

The simple answer is no.

Legally there is no requirement for any one to be a travel agent who is employed or contracted to work in the travel industry. 

 

Ok, maybe "LEGALLY" was too strong a word.  But, to get into many of the travel industry's reservation systems, don't you have to have certain Certification No's that require X amount of hours of training, testing, and certification(s), maybe not by a state or government agency but by the industry?  That's not intended to be an argument, it is what it is, a question.  Many decades ago, I was a TA and to get into SABAR (I can't remember the exact acronym for it), at the time the generally used airline reservation system, you had to have a Certification No., or what ever they called it at the time.  

To be clear, I was a TA only for the purpose of getting cheaper tickets for myself and family.  I never sold anything.  I never traveled as much as I thought I would have, so I let it go.  

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Now we are deviating from the original context.  "Are Royal's Phone Answerers Legally Required To Be TAs?"  removing the legal condition from the question...

A person who is hired to work in a contact center (phone answerer) for any company does not necessarily need to be industry certified to work as a contact center agent.  The company will likely establish policy and training requirements that an individual should meet before they begin to interact with customers.  That's just basic business sense, but those are defined within the company.  In the context of Royal Caribbean a contact center agent can access Royal's reservation systems and not be certified by a 3rd party to do so.  

Royal doesn't use SABRE, Royal uses its own in-house reservation system so no 3rd party can impose requirements for accessing their system.  Unlike legacy airlines that tended to outsource their booking and reservation platforms, cruise lines mostly have their own in-house platforms.

 

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29 minutes ago, twangster said:

Royal doesn't use SABRE, Royal uses its own in-house reservation system

In the context of the original example, though, Air2Sea was mentioned. The agents at Air2Sea most definitely DO access SABRE to make the reservations, unless they are booking the same way that we would if we made an online booking directly with the airline or through a website like Expedia or Travelocity. That raises the question as to whether Air2Sea is an agency or a booking site with more restrictions than a traditional TA would have.

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5 hours ago, Spang1974 said:

Not here in the UK. However we have extra consumer rights when booking cruises in the UK, so maybe that makes up for their lack of expertise, LOL.

You still get someone in the Philippines or India though! 

I have learnt if calling RC or BA avoid meal times in Asian countries as you get through quicker! 

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15 minutes ago, HeWhoWaits said:

In the context of the original example, though, Air2Sea was mentioned. The agents at Air2Sea most definitely DO access SABRE to make the reservations, unless they are booking the same way that we would if we made an online booking directly with the airline or through a website like Expedia or Travelocity. That raises the question as to whether Air2Sea is an agency or a booking site with more restrictions than a traditional TA would have.

They may not have direct SABRE access.

I can make Air2Sea reservations through Royal Caribbean's website as a guest booked on a cruise.  You can too.  Anyone can.  We are not accessing the reservation platform for each airline.  We are not directly in the SABRE platform. 

The original post mentioned nothing about A2S.

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28 minutes ago, twangster said:

The original post mentioned nothing about A2S.

It was in the clarifying post by the OP.

 

12 hours ago, Suite Snob said:

Makes sense.  But, aren't they also selling airline reservations (Air2Sea, or what ever it's called)?  Or is that a specialized number and person you have to call?

 

29 minutes ago, twangster said:

I can make Air2Sea reservations through Royal Caribbean's website as a guest booked on a cruise.  You can too.  Anyone can.  We are not accessing the reservation platform for each airline.  We are not directly in the SABRE platform. 

So Air2Sea is just Royal's Expedia or Travelocity. 

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10 minutes ago, twangster said:

I don't know the actual structure of the A2S department.  Is it outsourced?  Is it staffed by Royal employees trained specifically on air?  Do they have direct access into each airline platform?  How deep in each airline platform can they get?  I don't know.  

The RC hotel search is a wrapper around Priceline so it wouldn't surprise me if their airline booking engine is just a wrapper around Priceline or Kayak or one  of the other companies under that Booking umbrella

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A2S can be a little more than just a wrapper.  In some cases RCG is contracting with airlines to add specific flights for the purpose of getting cruisers on ships.  Both Celebrity and Royal have benefited from flights being added to specific gateways cities that the airlines were not offering before.  RCG committed to seats on these planes and sold them at lower prices through A2S compared to what a consumer could find on the airline's website directly.  It happened in the Bahamas, Barbados and in Europe for Apex cruises.  There may be other examples beyond these.  They also did it for Bermuda but then that restart itinerary was cancelled and with it the A2S flights they sold.  There was a wholesale agreement that involved A2S (or the Celebrity version) and the airlines.

One thing A2S can't do is predict or override an airline that cancels flights on short notice.

Not even the employees of that airline can manage the chaos created by the airline industry right now.  A2S isn't a magic fairy that can sprinkle pixie dust in the air and overcome the issues created by airlines in these current times.  Anyone who has that expectation has the wrong expectation. 

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4 hours ago, Suite Snob said:

Ok, maybe "LEGALLY" was too strong a word. 

3 hours ago, twangster said:

Now we are deviating from the original context.  "Are Royal's Phone Answerers Legally Required To Be TAs?"  removing the legal condition from the question...

 

Well yaaaa, I said so.  

So, reading over the posts in here I believe what I get out of it is that NO Royal's don't have to be Certified TAs from any industry certifying agencies, only their own training and possibly their own certification.  As far as air travel (A2S) is concerned, I'm still not sure/clear.

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4 hours ago, Suite Snob said:

Ok, maybe "LEGALLY" was too strong a word.  But, to get into many of the travel industry's reservation systems, don't you have to have certain Certification No's that require X amount of hours of training, testing, and certification(s), maybe not by a state or government agency but by the industry?  That's not intended to be an argument, it is what it is, a question.  Many decades ago, I was a TA and to get into SABAR (I can't remember the exact acronym for it), at the time the generally used airline reservation system, you had to have a Certification No., or what ever they called it at the time.  

To be clear, I was a TA only for the purpose of getting cheaper tickets for myself and family.  I never sold anything.  I never traveled as much as I thought I would have, so I let it go.  

I don't think there are any requirements at all, just call yourself "Suite Snob Agency", and have a tax ID number in that name. (in CA, FL, WA, and HI there is a state fee for a Seller of Travel number, but no requirements other than the fee to be paid)

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13 minutes ago, TXcruzer said:

I don't think there are any requirements at all, just call yourself "Suite Snob Agency", and have a tax ID number in that name. (in CA, FL, WA, and HI there is a state fee for a Seller of Travel number, but no requirements other than the fee to be paid)

Yes, an upfront answer, easy to understand, I like it.  

Hey, "Suite Snob Agency", that has a great ring to it. 

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TAs are independent contractors who either hold a CLIA number and other industry certifications or work for an agency (I think almost all are 1099 contractors with them) and have been trained. Customer Service reps with Royal are trained by the cruise line and can't book outside their company's system.

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I can't really answer your exact question, but no you don't need any type of certification to be a TA. Most do work under a host agency with a CLIA/IATA number. Some TAs are paid a salary, but I don't know how that works as they are employees and not ICs. Royal's phone reps are most definitely salaried employees. They are call center employees and don't necessarily work for Royal Caribbean either.

Some of us get more training/certifications to learn more and look more professional, but it's not a legal thing to do. 

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50 minutes ago, Sharla said:

I can't really answer your exact question, but no you don't need any type of certification to be a TA. Most do work under a host agency with a CLIA/IATA number. Some TAs are paid a salary, but I don't know how that works as they are employees and not ICs. Royal's phone reps are most definitely salaried employees. They are call center employees and don't necessarily work for Royal Caribbean either.

Some of us get more training/certifications to learn more and look more professional, but it's not a legal thing to do. 

Nice/good answer.  But, it creates another question.  In order for me, independently, for example, to access an industry reservation system, whatever it may be, or call Royal and try to make a reservation as a TA, don't I have to have some kind of a Certification No. to access the reservation system, either by computer or by calling.  Again, as an independent TA, not working for an agency of any kind.  I remember when I was a faux TA (my term), I had to sign into the reservation system (Sabre, or whatever), I had to put in my Certification No., or whatever it was.  That was a long time ago, I think like the late 1900s or very early 2000s.  

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