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Career as a travel agent

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
[This was cross-posted to TGR Since the two forums are so drastically different I felt it was appropriate to post here as well. Apologies to those of you who see it twice.]

I've been thinking about starting a career as a home-based travel agent. These are basically traditional travel agents that work for themselves out of their homes. Instead of having a traditional office, customers are served over the phone, via email and out of your/their homes. To make this work, there is a "host agency" that prints airline tickets, and collects the commisions. They obviously take a cut of the commisions (anywhere from 10% to 50% depending on the deal).

It seems that to make real money, you need to find a decent host agency, a dedicated clientel, and some sort of niche. Most people getting into this appear to like high-end cruises as a niche (making that a very crowded corner of the market). Needless to say, my niche would be the ski market. I'm thinking that I can stand out, since I actually have knowledge of the sport and the destinations. Unlike a traditional travel agent, I'm not going to send a group of beginners to Snowbird just because the hotel is awesome, nor would I send a family to Whistler during a season like this past one.

I've been surfing around the web looking for advice, and while I've found a couple of useful sites, I've been having trouble finding unbiased opinions. I'm looking for some sort of contact that might provide me with some advice. A travel agent forum would be great, or maybe someone who is/was a travel agent (either home based, or traditional). It would be even better if I could find someone with experience selling winter travel. I'm sure that someone somewhere in the Epic network has some experience with this, or has a friend with experience.

At the same time, I'm curiuos to see if anyone has any thoughts on this as a career move. I'm currently a ski instructor, so this would fit in nicely providing me with some income during the fall season.
post #2 of 23
Expedia has made travel agents unnecssary. It amy be the only career that has less earning power than a ski instructor.

BK
post #3 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bode Klammer
Expedia has made travel agents unnecssary. It amy be the only career that has less earning power than a ski instructor.

BK
Don't fool yourself- there are plenty of rich lazy people out there who need someone else to do it all for them.
post #4 of 23
it is a career where jobs are sharply contracting. Straightforward travel plans will be dominated by online sources. The travel agent niche will be for complex, customized and exotic vacations.
post #5 of 23
I own a travel agency. A small one, just me, working from my home since 1997. I have a niche market, I sell First Class & Luxury Caribbean All-inclusives as well as some ski destinations here and there.

First of all, don't do it! The travel industry is totally in the crapper and probably won't come back out for about 5 more years...if it ever comes out. Business was excellent until 9/11, now between the economy and the internet agencies such as priceline, expedia etc, they are killing the industry. People don't want to spend money, so they buy dirt cheap trips on these sites.

I'm closing my agency this Fall when my advertising contracts expire. It barely makes part time money anymore and that's before paying the monthly expenses.

My advice to you, is don't do it. The money is bad for someone who is already set up, running and has a clientele...how bad do you think it will be for a fresh newbie to start? Also, since the travel is down so much, the resorts, tour operators, etc. all have cut backs and we as agents are the cut back. less comissions, travel perks withdrawn or made so difficult to redeem that it's not worth it.

Find another job, travel is dead.
post #6 of 23
Have to agree with Taylormatt. My husband and I owned a travel agency and had to sell it because it just wasn't worth it any more. It was very small and while we loved it, it no longer made sense to stay in the business. Good luck in whatever path you choose.
post #7 of 23
As for the business travel agents, they are an industry (occupation) in decline also. Most big corporations got rid of their in house (whether out sourced or not, but physically located in house) travel agents in 1999-2001 time frame.

Evidently some penny-pinching genius in corporate accounting decided if that cost could be eliminated, a corporation would save X millions of dollars per year. Then he went on the lecture circuit and sold it to other corporations. and they all adopted it. But he forgot to consider the lost time business travellers spend making their own travel reservations, chasing down a workable flight to save your employer or client $100, and trying to get into always-booked-solid hotels in popular business travel destinations. I can sometimes spend one hour a week at this when I have to travel. Some times it's less.

But, I suspect that same nameless accounting genius will come full-circle, and there may be an uptick in the number of big corporate in-house travel services offered in the future. But don't count on a a groundswell of demand for this.
post #8 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Taylormatt
I own a travel agency. A small one, just me, working from my home since 1997. I have a niche market, I sell First Class & Luxury Caribbean All-inclusives as well as some ski destinations here and there.

First of all, don't do it! The travel industry is totally in the crapper and probably won't come back out for about 5 more years...if it ever comes out. Business was excellent until 9/11, now between the economy and the internet agencies such as priceline, expedia etc, they are killing the industry. People don't want to spend money, so they buy dirt cheap trips on these sites.

I'm closing my agency this Fall when my advertising contracts expire. It barely makes part time money anymore and that's before paying the monthly expenses.

My advice to you, is don't do it. The money is bad for someone who is already set up, running and has a clientele...how bad do you think it will be for a fresh newbie to start? Also, since the travel is down so much, the resorts, tour operators, etc. all have cut backs and we as agents are the cut back. less comissions, travel perks withdrawn or made so difficult to redeem that it's not worth it.

Find another job, travel is dead.
If they had a hall of fame in the "Value and Uniqueness of EpicSki" thread, this is the kind of honest, informed, succinct post that should go there.
post #9 of 23
My friend was a travel agency/operator, not only he had the agency but he also had a fleet of buses and a bus depot. He will charter ski trips and had a city/long distance scheduled tours in addition to a government contract. He also ran a bus route between SF and LA. As a large operator he had full page ads in the newspapers as well as full color front page ad in the yellow pages. He lives in a multi million dollar home in Palo Alto. However, the heat is on after the 911 and he had to get out, did not get any intricit value out of the agency, but made a few bucks from the real estate(bus depot). Basically he broke even or took a small loss on the business side. The agency is now closed.
post #10 of 23
I think Rdy2ski owns a travel agency - maybe get in touch with her.
post #11 of 23
To add to the comments posted by others in this thread, I would also advise going into this line of business.

Traditional travel agencies have been hit hard by the advent of the internet, as most people are saavy enough to check their prices out before visiting their local agent. This puts pressure on the already razor-thin margin that agents receive for reselling package vacations. It would seem that the only way to survive these days is by doing big volume, which would likely not happen with such a small market you would be catering to.

BTW, a family friend of mine just sold his full-service travel agency because it wasn't making any money. This just goes to show that the travel business is hurting everywhere, not just in the post-9/11 US market.
post #12 of 23
Perhaps a more successful option along the same vein might take you down the road of becomming a wholesaler for ski vacations.

The basic idea of a wholesaler is that they operate as a conduit between groups and resorts. They sell the group on different resort experience options and work with ski resort sales to make a package "fit" their client's needs. Buying bulk air may play into the entire scope of the transaction.
post #13 of 23
I have been a travel agent for the past 6+ years working in incentive, corporate, vacation and cruise only travel. If you do not have any experience an agency would most likely not hire you. There are scams on the internet that charge 500+ US dollars to become an "outside" travel agent working from home. Please avoid these at all cost!

Someone in this thread said that travel agents are not needed. This is entirely untrue. People with an upper level of income do not spend time on expedia, travelocity, hotels.com and so on. Travel agents take the pressure off the client. I have traveled to almost every US state, 13 european countries, 12+ cruises. Can a computer give you personal examples of this? Unlikely.

Travel agents are here to stay.
post #14 of 23
With gas prices on the rise, maybe it's bring back the horse and buggy business.
post #15 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prestigious
I have been a travel agent for the past 6+ years working in incentive, corporate, vacation and cruise only travel. If you do not have any experience an agency would most likely not hire you. There are scams on the internet that charge 500+ US dollars to become an "outside" travel agent working from home. Please avoid these at all cost!

Someone in this thread said that travel agents are not needed. This is entirely untrue. People with an upper level of income do not spend time on expedia, travelocity, hotels.com and so on. Travel agents take the pressure off the client. I have traveled to almost every US state, 13 european countries, 12+ cruises. Can a computer give you personal examples of this? Unlikely.

Travel agents are here to stay.
I don't vacation often, and i certily do not have a upper level income, but I use agency's. If something goes wrong or you need a change, you have a point of contact, but more importantly a voice! As well as someone who knows you. I rember when i was going to Disney world there was a problem with the lodgeing i called my agent and he dealt with it.

I will never go it alone a freind did that and got screwed, i'll pay the little extra.
post #16 of 23
No one says Travel Agent is not needed, its just less needed compare to for example 20 years ago. The question is should you get into travel agency right now without experiences? My thinking is no, not worth my time.
post #17 of 23

Jonged

Quote:
Originally Posted by SoCalSki
[This was cross-posted to TGR...
Haven't checked it out but I imagined you got JONGED over there pretty hard. Probably comments like, "why you tryn' to become the man" and "don't need mo money to ski all day every day, just eat ramen and dog biscuits and get with the Utards."
post #18 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prosper
Haven't checked it out but I imagined you got JONGED over there pretty hard. Probably comments like, "why you tryn' to become the man" and "don't need mo money to ski all day every day, just eat ramen and dog biscuits and get with the Utards."
Wow, equating a travel agent with the "man" is pretty moronic. Sounds like you are a wee bit jealous of people who actually live near mountains, and get to ski often... But making generalizations without having actually checked it out yourself is perfectly respectable... For instance -- people who live in New Orleans are complete raging idiots for living below sea level. See, now does that sound productive?
post #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prosper
Haven't checked it out but I imagined you got JONGED over there pretty hard. Probably comments like, "why you tryn' to become the man" and "don't need mo money to ski all day every day, just eat ramen and dog biscuits and get with the Utards."
My the way I love Ramen noodles. I bet I eat 4-5 packages a week. : I only touch the dog biscuits when I notice my teeth are gettin alittle yeller ;p
post #20 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by BakerBoy
Wow, equating a travel agent with the "man" is pretty moronic. Sounds like you are a wee bit jealous of people who actually live near mountains, and get to ski often... But making generalizations without having actually checked it out yourself is perfectly respectable... For instance -- people who live in New Orleans are complete raging idiots for living below sea level. See, now does that sound productive?
BB, Relax. I'm just poking fun at the TGR forum regulars and their irreverence for anyone trying to live anything other than a true ski bum lifestyle. I know no one's getting rich being a travel agent. Of course I'm envious of all of those who get to ski all the time. I'd imagine most flatlanders are. Sorry for taking the thread off topic. A thousand lashes with a wet noodle to me and to anyone else in the future that does so. From now on, no further discussions not directly related to the topic at hand.
post #21 of 23
I know no one's getting rich being a travel agent.

I know many agents that made 100K + in one fiscal year. Sure this is Canadian dollars but still much higher than our national average (and mine too )
post #22 of 23
Thread Starter 
Yeah, they're totally going to JONG me over there, cause I only have like 1000 some posts :

Anyway, I'm pretty sure that adding a second ski related career to my already "successful" career as a ski instructor, makes me core enough to post over there.

I got a similar response from the maggots as I got here. Most people seem to think that travel agents aren't needed, but I know I plan a lot of travel through an agent. It doesn't cost anything extra (important when you're living on funemployment) and it saves some time.

Despite the generally lukewarm response, I've decided to go ahead with this plan. The start-up costs are minimal, and it looks like I should be able to break even, if I can book somewhere between 5 and 10 trips this season. Needless to say, I'll make an announcement (translation: spam the message boards) once everything is finalized.
post #23 of 23
SCS, I saw your thread on TGR, and didn't see a JONG. In fact I saw some pretty good ideas. Good luck.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SoCalSki
Yeah, they're totally going to JONG me over there, cause I only have like 1000 some posts :

Anyway, I'm pretty sure that adding a second ski related career to my already "successful" career as a ski instructor, makes me core enough to post over there.

I got a similar response from the maggots as I got here. Most people seem to think that travel agents aren't needed, but I know I plan a lot of travel through an agent. It doesn't cost anything extra (important when you're living on funemployment) and it saves some time.

Despite the generally lukewarm response, I've decided to go ahead with this plan. The start-up costs are minimal, and it looks like I should be able to break even, if I can book somewhere between 5 and 10 trips this season. Needless to say, I'll make an announcement (translation: spam the message boards) once everything is finalized.
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