Magazine article American Banker

Travel Agent Group Looks to Recoup Lost Income with Banc One Link

Magazine article American Banker

Travel Agent Group Looks to Recoup Lost Income with Banc One Link

Article excerpt

Banc One Corp.'s TravelPlus Visa has been named the official card of a leading travel association that is seeking to recapture lost commissions for its agents.

American Society of Travel Agents, which has more than 25,000 members, said it wants to compete with the popular cobranded credit cards that have hurt commissions in recent years.

"Travel agents have been cut out of travel business by airlines that have put more restrictions on how customers can purchase tickets," said Mark K. Tonnesen, president of the Banc One Credit Card Services Co., Columbus, Ohio.

Consumers using these cards have been able to redeem their free travel points through an 800 number, "leaving the travel agent out of a nearly $20 billion segment of the business," said Jeanne Epping, president of the association, which is based in Greenbriar, W.Va.

"There has never been a card program through which customers were able to book frequent-flier points in a way that was commissionable to the travel agent," said Nancy Gravatt, a spokeswoman for the association. This is important now more than ever because airlines have been cutting back on the commissions they give agents for booking flights. "The TravelPlus agreement means that ASTA agents will have the opportunity to sell this product and create closer bonds with customers" while earning a higher commission on ticket sales, Mr. Tonnesen added. It remains to be seen whether the association's primary value to Banc One will be in boosting sales or enhancing visibility.

"It will enable Banc One to reach a lot of customers who don't travel frequently, because the card can be used to purchase items such as groceries and gasoline, which all goes towards travel miles," said Tammi Scheetz, research director for Inside Flyer, a magazine in Colorado Springs. …

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