February 29, 2012
On Tuesday, Feb. 28, the Business Events Industry Coalition of Canada (BEICC) convened with its industry association partners to discuss the implications of 2010 case law on the Ontario planning industry, after the issue surfaced through social and traditional media channels.
It appears that many independent and third-party meeting planners have been unknowingly operating illegally, by not being registered as a travel agent through the Travel Industry Coalition of Ontario (TICO) in accordance with the Ontario Travel Industry Act, 2002.
The new case law, created with the 2010 Court of Appeals ruling in the David Gray case has broadened TICO’s definition of a travel agent to include all independent and third-party meeting planners who not only sell travel services but book travel on behalf of their clients, regardless if money changes hands.
Here’s what you need to know:
If you are selling travel services to a client (accommodation, transportation) in Ontario, you must be registered with TICO.
With this ruling, if you are booking travel on behalf of a client, you must now be TICO registered (which requires a significant investment, upwards of $40,000), or write the TICO exam for a fee of $35 and align yourself with a travel agent who is TICO-registered.
Association, not-for-profit and corporate planners are exempt, unless you hire a non-TICO registered subcontractor.
The BEICC’s meeting with its industry association members – Site, CanSPEP, MPI, PCMA, ISES, CAPS – comes one week following MPI Toronto Chapter’s Town Hall, where planners were invited to ask compliance questions of Mark C. Woolgar, a corporate lawyer in Toronto.
Compliance questions were addressed at the BEICC’s Town Hall, culminating in a suggestion made to small independents to join forces and pool resources to help with the sheer cost of fully registering with TICO as a travel agency – but ultimately the conversation shifted toward what the BEICC will do, in collaboration with the industry, and on their behalf. The newly created BEICC task force, headed up by Helen Van Dongen, CMP, CMM, KPMG, will investigate what other options the meeting planning industry has long term.
In the meantime, all independent or third-party planning companies in Ontario that sell or book travel services should comply or risk being charged the $50K and two years less a day jail sentence or $250K fine (if incorporated).
Watch MeetingsCanada.com and the BEICC for more on this topic in the coming weeks.