At last, we are able to provide a final update about the Ontario Court of Appeal Ruling that is a definite game changer. (To recap, back in October, an Ontario Court of Appeal decision questioned the distinction between event planners and travel agents.)
Ontario event planners can breathe a collective sigh of relief now that an agreement has been signed between the Business Events Industry of Coalition of Canada (BEICC) and the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO). The final details, that were released late Monday, March 26, 2012, exempt most Ontario event planners from the need to register with TICO if and only if they meet certain requirements (The agreement was worked out during a joint BEICC-TICO meeting on Monday, March 12, 2012).
The terms of the agreement were brought to my attention on March, 19, 2012 but I thought it prudent to postpone this update until the wording for the agreement had been finalized and it had been signed by TICO and BEICC.
Under the terms of this agreement, which has clarified TICO's requirements, event and meeting planners do not require registration as a “travel agent” under the Ontario Travel Industry Act 2002 as long as they meet the following conditions:
Unless they are registered with TICO, Ontario-based event and meeting planners MAY NOT:
- advertise ANY services for booking accommodation or travel to and from events
- make reservations or book travel or accommodation on behalf of clients
- sign contracts on behalf of clients
- collect and disperse funds on behalf of clients (this includes obtaining credit card information and passing it on to airlines or event venues)
Ontario event, meeting and conference planners who are not TICO-registered MAY, during the course of planning events, business meetings, conferences, etc.:
- consult with clients about their requirements
- obtain information for clients from hotels, resorts, airlines, and other transportation companies
- conduct site inspections
- make recommendations
The client must sign the contract for transportation or accommodation DIRECTLY with the venue or transportation company.
All travel and accommodation on behalf of third parties MUST be booked through a registered TICO travel agent.
Accordingly, TICO registration is required if reservations are made or if funds (including credit card information) are collected and dispersed on behalf of clients.
The agreement includes three scenarios that clarify the circumstances under which TICO registration is required. The agreement did not address the issue of commissions.
The agreement indicated that:
"If an Event Planner is found to contravene the TIA, the individual or entity will be informed by TICO of the contravention, and will be afforded reasonable time to take corrective measures to either make necessary changes in how business is conducted or to become compliant with the TIA."
The agreement also announced the good news that TICO has invited a BEICC member to sit on its advisory board
Photo Credit: lucastheexperience