Anyone who wants to be a travel agent in Europe should learn the vocabulary that comes with the job. There's a number of acronyms that are specific to Europe and the travel industry, as well as terms that a layperson may not know. Whether the travel agent decides to join the ECTAA or the IRU, he or she should surely understand the rules associated with the Schengen zone and Eurorail if to ensure customers' confidence.
The Schengen zone is an area of 15 countries in Europe that have entered an agreement to ease up on boarder restrictions. Because of this, tourists can freely travel between countries with just one visa.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) monitors and regulates the airline business. While only airlines can join the organization, it also offers accreditation programs, which allow travel agencies to print tickets and receive special discounts.
ASTA certified specialist
Despite its name, the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) is a worldwide organization. The society offers certification for different types of travel as well as specific destinations. Being an ASTA certified specialist gives the travel agent an extra dose of credibility.
Rather than making reservations over the phone, most travel agencies in Europe use a computerized reservation system, or CRS. This allows agents to have real time access to flight and hotel availability and rates.
ECTAA, ETOA and IRU
The European Travel Agents' and Tour Operators' Associations (ECTAA), European Tour Operators Association (ETOA) and the International Road Transport Union (IRU) are the three associations that represent the travel industry. Serious travel agents in Europe belong to at least one of these organizations.
Value added tax (VAT)
While rates vary, most European businesses must pay a value added tax, or VAT, on the goods that they purchase. This is similar to a sales tax, except that is charged at every stage of production.