Build a Home Business As a Travel Agent

Going on holiday is something that many people look forward to every year, the excitement of choosing a destination, then the anticipation of waiting for your departure day to arrive and then the holiday itself. People see their holidays as a reward for all their hard work throughout the year, and that is why they need the help of a travel agent to get them the very best holiday that they will talk about the years to come. Many people think that being a travel agent is quite an easy process, you just apply for a job in a travel agents and away you go.

Today as the demand to work in a travel agent’s is rising more people are realising that they can become a travel agent and build their own business working from home. To do this there are many different travel agent courses that people can go on, many of which are online. Taking one of these courses is an excellent way to become a travel agent as you will learn all the necessary information relating to the holiday industry, in your own time. Once you have gone through this you will then be able to start your own website and take bookings on behalf of the larger travel companies. When a home based travel agent works this way they usually receive a commission on each holiday that they sell, and the amount they receive is based on each holiday. Some of the home-based travel agents earn around 20 to 40% commission on each holiday that they sell, not bad if you are selling around 10 holidays per day.

One of the advantages of being a home based travel agent is that you get to establish your own working hours, and many people with young children see this is a valid alternative to having to work set hours in a 9-to-5 job. Using websites and your e-mail address so that potential customers can contact you means that you are, in effect contactable 24 hours a day seven days a week. This means that you will never miss a sale as a travel agent working from home, something that many of the big high street travel agents are unable to do as they close for weekends and during the evening.

To be able to set yourself up as a travel agent who works from home you will need a PC, a broadband Internet connection and a telephone. These will form the basis of your home business and these will enable you to keep in contact with clients and with holiday companies. Some people then go on to have headed paper made and even business cards, but this is entirely up to you and you do not have to spend any of the money initially. Anyone who has an interest in travel and would like to have the freedom that working from home provides should certainly look into becoming a home based travel agent as it can open many different doors.

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Negotiating Rates and Fares With Travel Agents

A whole generation of travelers, it seems, are so conditioned to use the Internet for travel booking that they’re not even sure how a travel agent operates. These travelers use the hunt-and-pick method to find the best rates and fares online. And if that method doesn’t reveal an affordable price, they might start wondering if a travel agent—a real, live person—could whip up a price reduction. Many an agent has received an anonymous phone call from a would-be traveler who wants to negotiate fares and rates.

While agents do have access to unpublished discounts and pre-negotiated travel fares, most do not have the ability to negotiate pricing. Agents do not set travel fares; they quote them. When they find a better price, it usually isn’t because they lowered the fare to get your business; it’s because they literally found a lower price.

There are exceptions, of course. Every agency has different policies, and some agencies allow their agents to make a case for offering discounted fares in certain situations. To get the lower fares approved, the agent would probably have to present a competing bid that’s lower and make a strong argument for why the fare should be discounted. To be clear, this type of discount comes out of the agent’s and the agency’s commission. So the agent and agency would need a very good reason for even considering it. At a minimum, the standard commission on the vacation in question needs to be sizeable and the customer must be strategically important in some way.

In other words, a $29 hotel rate is not negotiable.

When you ask an agent to negotiate, you are essentially asking the agent to subsidize your vacation—the same way a newly engaged couple might ask the groom’s dad to fund part of the honeymoon. Many agents will respond to these requests by saying, “I’ll see what I can do.” And then the agent will search, often successfully, for a lower fare.

Real stories from the trenches

Every agent has her own set of stories involving customers who misunderstand how travel agents operate. Here are a few of ours:

Customer finds a below-market rate for a hotel room during an event weekend through our online travel agency. The customer books the room online, but does not select the right room type. The customer calls the week before the event and asks to switch the reservation to a larger room at the same room rate. Unfortunately, the hotel did not have any larger rooms left. We could not remedy the lack of rooms at the first hotel, but we did locate another room at a different hotel.
Customer calls and asks for a discounted rate on a hotel in Cabo. The dates and hotel choice were not flexible. We find the discounted rate, at a prepay rate. The customer says great, he’ll take the rate, but not a prepay basis. Hotels, like airlines, do offer discounted rates for prepaying customers. Generally, an agent can’t book a prepay rate for payment-on-arrival.
Customer calls and says she’s found a travel agent rate at a resort and would like us to book her vacation at that rate. Travel agent rates are for agents traveling; anyone booking under such a rate would have to show agent identification to the hotel or resort upon check-in. An agent cannot book a travel agent rate under someone else’s name, nor can an agent buy the room at that rate and then resell it to a customer.
The gist of it is this: agents can save you money on your vacations and business travel, but sometimes there are limitations to what they can accomplish.

(c) Catherine Brock

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