By Emily Peters
Contributing Writer
Montrose Travel

Joining a new industry means learning a new lingo, and travel is no different. For a new home based travel agent, navigating the endless alphabet soup can be particularly confusing. Luckily, that’s where this week’s blog comes in.

For the jump start you need to talk like a pro, here are definitions for 10 must-know travel industry acronyms.

1. ARC: Airlines Reporting Corporation
ARC is a nonprofit airline-owned corporation that accredits U.S. travel agencies with the ability to sell airline tickets. When you book an air ticket for your client, ARC processes the payment from your travelers to the airlines. If you join a host agency like MTravel, you’re automatically accredited to book flights under our ARC number, so you don’t have to get your own.

2. BDM: Business Development Manager
A BDM is a supplier’s sales representative. (A supplier is any vendor who provides a travel product that you can sell to your client.) Strong relationships with BDMs provide insights to their brand, promos and helpful travel wisdom to build your business.

3. CLIA: Cruise Lines International Association
CLIA is a trade association with exceptional cruise specialist accreditation programs and promotional info for travel professionals. A CLIA number allows you to book cruises and earn commission (again, you use your host’s number). A CLIA card can be obtained to represent your expertise and gain access to FAMs (see FAM below).

4. CRM: Customer Relationship Management Tool
In its simplest form, a customer relationship management tool is a program that lets you store and use client data. MTravel’s hosting program includes a free CRM to help you segment client information, automate emails and stay top-of-mind with your travelers.

5. FAM: Familiarization Trip
A FAM trip is a complimentary or reduced-rate trip or tour offered to travel professionals to acquaint you with a destination, service or facility. FAM trips are not vacations, but a way to build your knowledge to become a stronger salesperson.

6. FIT: Foreign Independent Tour
Though somewhat of a misnomer, an FIT is any customized independent tour arranged by a travel agent. This can be foreign or domestic, but ultimately means that you’re designing a trip piece-by-piece instead of booking a package.

7. GDS: Global Distribution System
A global distribution system is a program that allows you (the travel agent) to make an automated reservation with a supplier. Learning to use a GDS is a little bit like learning to code—it looks similar to old-school DOS.

If you aren’t booking a lot of air, you won’t need to learn to use a GDS. MTravel plugs their GDS into the back-end of the free consumer website we provide to make your life easier.

8. IATA: International Air Transport Association (IATA)
IATA is the world trade association of international airlines. They appoint and regulate travel agents who deal in international ticketing. You’ll use your host’s IATA number when booking international air.

9. IATAN: International Airlines Travel Agent Network
IATAN is the wholly owned subsidiary of the International Air Transport Association. They’re responsible for accrediting U.S. travel agents for member airlines. But they’re best known for the IATAN card which indicates your status as a professional member of the travel community once you net $5,000. The card gives you access to some travel discounts and FAM trips. P.S. IATA and IATAN are not the same thing, so be sure to note the difference.

10. IC: Independent Contractor
Travel agent, travel professional, travel advisor, travel consultant—there are many ways to define your services. However, if you join a host agency like MTravel, you’re working for yourself as an independent contractor or IC—not as the host’s employee. You’re fully self-employed, baby!

Although there are plenty more, these travel industry acronyms should go a long way towards helping you feel more comfortable as a new home based travel agent. Good selling!

Are you ready to start your independent travel business with MTravel? We are here to help! Contact us here or call us at 800-870-5799. Be sure to check out our website at and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.