ASATA and Diners Club South Africa has announced the winners of the ASATA Diners Club Awards 2014 at a gala event held last Saturday (February 28) at the Montecasino Ballroom in Fourways, Johannesburg.
And the winners are:
- Exceptional Commitment: Lidia Folli, Tourvest Travel Services Head Office, Johannesburg
- Tomorrow’s Leader: Minette Fourie, Club Travel Head Office, Cape Town
- Leisure Consultant: Marcha Lourens, South African Reynolds Travel Centre, Springs
- Corporate Consultant: Celia Kluever, Sure African Imprint Travel, Pretoria
- Key Accounts Executive: Shanell Mowers, Tourvest Travel Services, Johannesburg
- Independent Travel Consultant in association with eTravel: Janine Corry, 24Point7 Travel Studio, eTravel, Cape Town
- Wholesale Representative in a Tour Operator: Enid Maullin, Beachcomber Tours, Johannesburg
- Wholesale Consultant in a Tour Operator: Kuben Moodley, Thompsons Holidays, Durban
Otto de Vries, CEO of ASATA says the association is honoured to pay tribute to those who are involved in this multibillion rand industry. “Last year the IATA figure for air tickets issued for domestic and international travel was in the region of R25 billion,” he says. “This amount excludes accommodation, car rental and the ancillary services connected with travel bookings.
“Today ASATA represents more than 85% of the industry in terms of market share, including the head offices of most of the major travel consortiums. We’re privileged to have a strong industry with travel agents and members who firmly believe in the continuous upgrading of their skills in order to keep pace with current trends.”
Ebrahim Matthews, managing director of Diners Club South Africa, adds: “Diners Club is proud to be associated with ASATA and its commitment to the travel industry through continued efforts to promote growth and development. We are once again delighted to sponsor these prestigious awards, where winners are nominated by their peers, judged fairly and independently, and duly recognised as being the elite of the travel industry.”
Otto concludes, “ASATA believes these awards are of great value to the industry in creating a professional environment. This industry awards programme is reflective of the excellence that we have in South Africa’s travel sector. The awards recognise those travel professionals who continue to offer excellent service with passion and due care, and who improve the perception of this exciting industry.”
The best way to avoid fraud is to memorise the red flags that could indicate a scam and double-check any customer who shows ‘red flags’.
However, here are some tips and tricks that you can use as a travel agent to dodgy those dodgies:
Google is your friend
Although not foolproof, Google Maps will help determine whether an address is real or just an empty lot. The information might not always be 100% perfect, but at least a review of the cardholder’s information can assist in your review of whether or not the transaction may be suspect and require further investigation.
Credit Card must-dos
- Never process payments on a credit card without having the card/s present at the time of the transaction
- Check signature against original card/s
- Obtain required authorisation
- Take an imprint of the card – A FAX COPY IS NOT AN IMPRINT
- Ensure validity of expiry date and check that security features appear on the card
- Please be warned: Any invalid expiry dates entered for approval through one of the Global Reservations Systems that results in a fraudulent transaction, will be charged back to the agency
- A great way to check whether the card is valid is to check the issuing bank of the card on https://www.bindb.com/bin-database.html
Authorisation alone is not enough
Although travel agents should always obtain an authorisation code for a credit card transaction, this code only indicates that the cardholder is in good standing with the bank (and is usually supplied automatically) but is no guarantee of payment.
It simply verifies that there are sufficient funds in the account. It can’t confirm the identity of the cardholder, or guarantee that the card and/or transaction are genuine.
Having said that, travel agents should always get an imprint of the credit card as well as obtain an authorisation number. Failing to do so will result in charge backs and the travel agent will then be liable to settle the loss due to fraudulent transactions.
This warning extends to the larger travel agencies issuing on behalf of agents who do not have IATA licenses. Failing to comply with the above will also result in the issuing agent being held liable for any loss incurred.
Don’t skimp on the paperwork
Never get complacent when it comes to paperwork. It could safe the agency a lot of money. Travel agents should always ask for an identity document or passport and take a copy of the document.
The ugly face of fraud continues to rear its head from time to time in the travel industry and this time it appears to be in the form of a host of scammers posing as staff from international offices of South African corporates contacting their respective TMCs for travel arrangements.
Concerning is how these fraudsters know which TMCs are linked to the corporates they are pretending to work for, but there are many other examples of fraud that can hit your agency, no matter what size, or how vigilant you remain.
Never fear though. There are definitely some red flags you should be watching out for:
Know your client
Agents report receiving emails and telephone calls from unknown persons requesting airline tickets and using credit cards as the form of payment.
Mostly, the email sender or caller requests tickets for someone other than himself. They identify themselves as a large corporation wanting to establish a corporate account with you.
Beware of departure and destination
Fraudsters tend to opt for a departure airport that is not local to the travel agency or is an international departure. Destinations will often include high-risk airports such as Accra, Lagos, Abidjan or even Sao Paulo.
When it comes to domestic-only itineraries, the caller will often use a story to entice you to want to provide the service (i.e., grandchild just born, death in the family, etc.).
Timing is everything
Requests for immediate travel or travel within a few days of the reservation from new customers should always raise a Red Flag and agents need to be careful about issuing tickets for these types of bookings.
Don’t trust jargon
Double-check customers who use travel agency lingo like “JNB” rather than Johannesburg in their emails rather than the name of the city.
When price is not an issue
Fraudsters are usually quite casual about price of the flights, no matter how exorbitant, or about the price of the service fee.
Free e-mail addresses
Don’t trust travel demands made from a free, web-based, email, address, which is also often not traceable. Often when dealing with demands from web-based e-mail addresses, the name on the e-mail address is totally different from the name signed at the end of the e-mail.
Scammers tend to use poor English. Their e-mails are often badly written with numerous spelling mistakes and tend to be short and to the point.
It’s all in the name
Fraudsters often create email addresses similar to legitimate corporations and dupe agency staff into believing they work at the corporation. As an example, fraudsters can create an email address like xyzcorp-us.com, while the proper corporate client address is xyzcorp.com to make the agent believe they’re dealing with legitimate employees.
Check the card
Most fraudulent customers will opt for 3rd party credit cards, and will rarely be the actual cardholder. The same card will also be used for different passengers and routings.
At our recently held AGM, ASATA elected its new Board for the coming year. With our recent adopted funding model in place, it was the first time we applied the new voting process to elect our Board Members, based on market share. We also used the opportunity to call an Extraordinary General Meeting to approve several motions, including the securing of two additional Board positions to include representatives from our Wholesale and our Partner Sections.
ASATA’s new Board Members are:-
|President:||Claude Vankeirsbilck – Chief Sales Officer of Tourvest Travel Services. In this role, Claude leads the New Business Development division and is responsible for building and maintaining executive-level relationships with the TTS corporate client base.|
|Vice-President:||Vanya Lessing – CEO of Sure Holdings Ltd. Vanya’s key responsibilities are to look after the commercial interests of the Sure Group stakeholders; being shareholders, licensees and suppliers.|
|Treasurer:||James Sedgwick – comes from a financial background, having worked in the auditing profession before moving into the financial services sector. His involvement in travel comes through his directorship of Fishhoek Travel as well as the Sure Group.|
|Chief Executive Officer:||Otto de Vries – CEO of ASATA. He was previously Managing Director of Holiday Tours and Holiday Travel and has been in the travel and tourism industry for over 25 years.|
|Members – Retail:||Garth Wolff – CEO of E-Travel.|
|Bronwyn Philipps – Managing Director of HRG Rennies Travel.|
|Member – Wholesale:||George Argyropoulos – Managing Director of Cruises International.|
|Member – Partners:||Charmaine Hardwick – Group Sales Director at Protea Hotels.|
The new Board not only represents consistency as we work through the implementation of our strategy of Compliance, Consensus and Confidence, but also includes 3 new Board Members, each bringing with them invaluable experience, input and guidance and helping to ensure that our vision of championing ASATA members as the consumer’s channel of choice when buying travel products and services, is achieved.
For photo’s and detailed biographies, please visit our About the Directors and Staff page.
It is with great pleasure that we announce our ASATA Conference 2013
taking place in Dubai in August.
The theme of this year’s Conference is “the hub of your travel business”. Our goal is to deliver a first class Conference that will allow senior members to network and be briefed on key industry matters and activities of the Association and to re-enforce the message of confidence. Our focus is on engaging industry, so attendees can look forward to relevant business panel discussions and guest speakers who are experts in their fields, sharing and engaging attendees on various topics. Of course the work will be interspersed with leisure time and activities and functions that will further enhance the opportunity to network.
I strongly recommend that our Members make every effort to attend. It is through participation that the real value of your Association is revealed. Our collective power through the input and involvement of our Members is what creates the framework within which our industry regulates itself and operates, in the interest and advancement of a professional industry and to the benefit of the traveling public.
We look forward to welcoming you and hosting you in Dubai! Please visit our ASATA Conference 2013 website for full details and to register.
Otto de Vries
Chief Executive Officer