The Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) has updated its policy on hosting supplier advertisements on its website following criticism that the banner ads were linking users to direct booking sites and, therefore, bypassing the travel agent community.
Wendy Paradis, president at ACTA, confirmed the news with PAX this morning (May 23rd) in an emailed statement.
“Based on feedback from some members, we worked with our travel partners to ensure that all banner ads aligned with our objectives and were modified when necessary to ensure there was no conflict,” Paradis wrote. “Any ads that in the past inadvertently led to supplier sites with direct booking capability have been modified.”
PAX brought the issue to Paradis’ attention last month after discovering that clicking supplier banners on ACTA’s website led to direct booking engines, an approach that bypasses the travel agent community altogether.
The revelation raised questions about ACTA’s intentions in the travel marketplace with some questioning ACTA’s role as an advocate for travel agents.
At the time, when pressed on the issue, Paradis told PAX that ACTA was “taking a clear look at it” and that “if we need to make changes, we’ll make changes.”
The supplier ads on ACTA’s website now direct users to trade-specific landing pages, such as travel agent portals and training sites, instead of sites that encourage direct bookings.
Paradis says this approach was always part of the plan.
“Our intent has always been to provide links to the pages that benefit/enhance travel agent knowledge and training,” Paradis wrote. “Many of the training programs highlighted can be used as credits towards the Certified Travel Counsellor (CTC) designation and Continuing Education Credits.”
She added: “We have clarified with our advertisers that ads should not in any way lead to direct booking pages, but to sites for travel agents.”
Strategy moving forward
ACTA is currently unrolling a website enhancement initiative led by Marco Pozzobon, director of marketing, communications and partnerships at ACTA.
Part of the enhancement will be to separate pages that consumers can access, such as ACTA’s Consumer Resources sections, from the members’ website.
Although this initiative is still underway, it will take time to complete “as it is a lengthy project,” Paradis wrote.
Paradis also confirmed that supplier ads will continue to run on ACTA’s website.
“We have always intended to carry ads on our site that are directed at travel agents and we will continue to do so,” Paradis wrote, ensuring that all advertisements, moving forward, will “comply with our objectives.”
All revenue that comes into ACTA goes towards supporting travel agency education and advocacy, Paradis told PAX in a previous interview last month.
ACTA is a national, non-profit member-based trade association that represents the retail travel sector of Canada’s tourism industry.
According to its website, more than 12,000 travel agents across Canada work in its member agencies representing more than 80 per cent of the travel business booked through a travel agency in Canada.
For more info, visit acta.ca.
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