In my profession, there are always questions about how someone can get into the 'business' of Travel. Some people think it is a glamourous job, and want to be a part of it. I'm very glad that I am able to make it look glamourous and easy, but actually neither are true!
It is long hours, tedious details, long times on hold, and lots of work! But the rewards are wonderful! I love what I do! I get to hep people live their dream getaway! Sometimes it is Disney, a cruise, Universal, or something completely different. Sometimes the money is fair, but rarely is it the reason I do it! First of all, you have to love helping people. Simple.
I want to start by answering a few questions. Please ask if you have any additional questions.
What does it take to be a good Travel Professional?
Foremost - a desire to help people. A love of travel A self motivating attitude. Ability to see the joy of planning a trip.
What equipment do I need?
A computer with a good internet connection. A separate phone line, and ideally a separate office space away from noise and distractions.
What can I expect when I respond to an ad about becoming a Travel Professional?
What should I look for when I’m looking for an agency? Where do I start?
This is a very complicated, yet basic, question. You’ve no doubt seen the ads for ‘work at home and get free travel”. I have never met anyone who gets ‘free’ travel or who make $2500 a week when they start! If you see these types of things, run as fast as you can from them. They are either sugar coating it to get ‘bodies’ signed up, or are out right schemes
There, I’ve said it. Schemes! Unfortunately, in the travel business, MLMs are very rampant. An MLM is simple a Multi Level Marketing Scheme. The money is not in selling a product, in this case travel, but in signing people up for membership in a travel club. In order to get ‘free’ travel, you have to sign up ‘x’ members into your club. They use promises, half truths and downright lies to get you in!
If you are truly interested in a career as a Travel Professional, then first you need to know that it is hard work. Not always glamorous. You don’t see the money until AFTER your client travels. And there are no free lunches, or in this case ‘free’ travel.
I know a lot of people go into the MLMs thinking it sounds legit and really wanting a career in travel. They are disheartened quickly when they discover that they are not taken seriously by the travel industry as a whole, and are basically shunned by Professional Travel Agents. Do a bit of research before you join any organization. Ask questions. Make sure you know what you are getting into. Don’t decide and sign up in the same day!
There are basically two ways to be a legitimate Travel Professional. Either go out on your own and open your own agency without any knowledge, support or resources (translation, expensive and hard if you are not already in the travel business) or to join an established agency or host agency. The main difference between these two options has to do with size and organization.
Let’s start with a Host agency. Host agencies are large travel agencies that may or may not be actually selling on their own. They can have hundreds of independent contractors working under them. Almost all require a start up fee or a monthly fee. In exchange for this fee you get the ability to book travel under their industry IDs. Some other benefits can be a CRM (Customer Resource Manager), intranet, training, email, and back office support.
They have strength in numbers! Hundreds of agents booking with a specific supplier can put them in a position to negotiate higher commissions on those bookings. In return the hosts give these suppliers Preferred status and prefer that you book with them. It is in your best interest to book those preferred suppliers because your bottom line is directly affected.
This is also one of their downfalls. You never get a chance to know your direct representative with the supplier. Why is this important? Let’s say supplier A has a training session in your town. It is by invitation only. Your direct representative is based in a different state. Not the one putting on the training. There is no incentive for the one doing the training to invite you. Let’s say you have an issue with Supplier A. You have no rapport with your direct representative, and in most cases they don’t know who you are. Many times, hosts do not want you to contact the direct representative, instead preferring you go through them. This makes the host agencies customer support EXTREMELY important.
Most of the training you will take is self guided and done on the supplier’s website. A host agency may offer some one on one training, but it is primarily on their private systems. Some hosts offer sales training (that could be expensive on your own) and some hosts offer basic newbie training (which could be invaluable!)
With some hosts, you have your own business, your own business name and can even hire your own subagents to work underneath you. Each host operates a bit differently in this respect. Some cover you under their E&O Insurance (Errors and Omissions), some require that you have your own. Some will cover you under their various state SOT licences (Seller of Travel), but most hosts will tell you that you have limited coverage under theirs and need to get your own as an agent. Whatever they tell you, make sure you do your own independent research on these two items. These SOT laws change frequently on a state by state basis, and ultimately you are responsible for the hefty fines not your host!
That is enough for part 1. Stay tuned for another part next Thursday where we will take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of working with a smaller established agency. In the meantime, check out this site to join our team!
Most of the content is written by people at JMorris Travel. Every once in a while we will have a guest blogger, usually it is part of our 'family'.Always with a nod to Family Travel!