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 How to become a Travel Agent?

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PostSubject: Re: How to become a Travel Agent?   How to become a Travel Agent? - Page 2 Icon_minitimeFri Jan 09, 2009 8:52 pm

thevacationstop wrote:
Ron,

If you are going to be at the NY times travel show with all of us agents, why not pick our brains then. I'd be happy to tell you all about how I got started, but it is much to long for me to type up while I'm reorganizing the forum.

Thats a good idea Steve!
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PostSubject: Re: How to become a Travel Agent?   How to become a Travel Agent? - Page 2 Icon_minitimeFri Jan 09, 2009 8:53 pm

Greta wrote:
Okay I leave for a few hours and now it looks like I'm the one getting picked on. Laughing Susan and I always stir up some kind of trouble when we are together. Usually it is good. At least noone can say we are boring!!!


as long as we are out of jail by December..it's all good!
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PostSubject: Re: How to become a Travel Agent?   How to become a Travel Agent? - Page 2 Icon_minitimeFri Jan 09, 2009 10:17 pm

thevacationstop wrote:
Ron,

If you are going to be at the NY times travel show with all of us agents, why not pick our brains then. I'd be happy to tell you all about how I got started, but it is much to long for me to type up while I'm reorganizing the forum.
Now that's assuming we have enough brains to spare.... Wink
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PostSubject: Re: How to become a Travel Agent?   How to become a Travel Agent? - Page 2 Icon_minitimeFri Jan 09, 2009 10:22 pm

Ivanova wrote:

Now that's assuming we have enough brains to spare.... Wink

I guess you two will have to rely on Steve for that! roflmao

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PostSubject: Re: How to become a Travel Agent?   How to become a Travel Agent? - Page 2 Icon_minitimeSun Jan 18, 2009 11:15 am

This is an interesting thread.

I have trained and mentored new agents, when I had a host. Now that I am completely on my own, I haven't taken on new agents recently... but not opposed to it either.

Feel free to ask questions...

Dolores
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thevacationstop
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PostSubject: Re: How to become a Travel Agent?   How to become a Travel Agent? - Page 2 Icon_minitimeSun Jan 18, 2009 11:20 am

Ronrocks wrote:
thevacationstop wrote:
Ron,

If you are going to be at the NY times travel show with all of us agents, why not pick our brains then. I'd be happy to tell you all about how I got started, but it is much to long for me to type up while I'm reorganizing the forum.

Thats a good idea Steve!

Since we aren't going to the NY Times show now, I'll try to put something together about how I got started. It may take a few days though. Please be patient.
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PostSubject: Re: How to become a Travel Agent?   How to become a Travel Agent? - Page 2 Icon_minitimeSun Jan 18, 2009 11:50 am

thevacationstop wrote:
Ronrocks wrote:
thevacationstop wrote:
Ron,

If you are going to be at the NY times travel show with all of us agents, why not pick our brains then. I'd be happy to tell you all about how I got started, but it is much to long for me to type up while I'm reorganizing the forum.

Thats a good idea Steve!

Since we aren't going to the NY Times show now, I'll try to put something together about how I got started. It may take a few days though. Please be patient.

Thanks Steve. Take your time I'm not going anywhere. At least I don't think I am.
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PostSubject: Re: How to become a Travel Agent?   How to become a Travel Agent? - Page 2 Icon_minitimeSun Jan 18, 2009 1:23 pm

You better not be going anywhere! You're running the show around here for awhile. Wink
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PostSubject: Re: How to become a Travel Agent?   How to become a Travel Agent? - Page 2 Icon_minitimeSun Jan 18, 2009 3:11 pm

Ivanova wrote:
You better not be going anywhere! You're running the show around here for awhile. Wink

I know...I know....are you scared?? You should be! I got the keys to the shop and the car!!! affraid
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PostSubject: Re: How to become a Travel Agent?   How to become a Travel Agent? - Page 2 Icon_minitimeSun Jan 18, 2009 3:12 pm

Naw, I'm not scared ... I'll just get even. lol!
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PostSubject: Re: How to become a Travel Agent?   How to become a Travel Agent? - Page 2 Icon_minitimeThu Jan 22, 2009 6:40 pm

MerryMeetingTravel wrote:
This is an interesting thread.

I have trained and mentored new agents, when I had a host. Now that I am completely on my own, I haven't taken on new agents recently... but not opposed to it either.

Feel free to ask questions...

Dolores

Delores, & Steve,

I would love to read all about you both got started in the business. Something that has always been in the back of my mind for years. But you never seem to hear much about how to get started, you know? Thanks for starting this thread, very interesting...

~Jackie
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PostSubject: Re: How to become a Travel Agent?   How to become a Travel Agent? - Page 2 Icon_minitimeThu Feb 12, 2009 11:30 pm

thevacationstop wrote:

Since we aren't going to the NY Times show now, I'll try to put something together about how I got started. It may take a few days though. Please be patient.

Okay, so it took almost a month. Sorry for the delay.

Here then is the story of The Vacation Stop.

Back in 2001, some friends of ours mentioned about wanting to do a cruise for their 25th anniversary. Nobody in either of their family wanted to go with them, so we decided we would. We had a blast. We did another cruise combined with my 25th High School reunion the next year, and another cruise the year after that. We used 3 different travel agents for the cruises.

I got to wondering the same question that you have asked. What does it take to become a travel agent? So, being the computer geek that I am, I started researching on the internet. I read just about every article on home-based travel agents I could find. I bought Kelly Monaghan's books, "Home-Based Travel Agent" and "The Travel Agent's Complete Desk Reference." Then I researched some more. When I finally decided this was something I could, I started looking for a host agency that would take beginner's and that I thought would both help to educate me and not charge me an arm and a leg for doing so. After reading through Host Agnecy lists from OSSN, NACTA, and others, as well as contacting a number of Host Agencies, I settled on Coral Sands Travel. Peter Stilphen was very supportive, and I took just about every free online training class I could find. Eventually, I enrolled in and completed the Accredited Cruise Counselor program from CLIA. I earned Commodore status with Cunard (one of the first 250 agents to do so) and Princess, as well as completing many of the other suppliers programs.

I am currently working on NCL's latest program as well as Celebrity's program. I am also enrolled in the Master Cruise Counselor program from CLIA. (Shameless plug - if anyone wants to book cabins through me to help me reach the minimum sales requirement, I would appreciate it!).

I changed Host Agencies twice in 5 years (different reasons, not relevent here). Eventually, I wised up that Host Agency E&O insurance is not all it is cracked up to be, and got my own policy. I also joined OSSN and got my own TRUE number so that I could book things totally independent of any Host Agency. While I do still have a relationship with a Host Agency, I book many things through my own numbers. While I earn less commission that way, I am much more comfortable having total control over the whole process.

I also decided that since I am doing this part-time until I can retire from my full-time job, I would put my business to helping the public good. I started the Travel For charity program. I donate 50% of the commissions I earn to charity. Customers can choose the charity they want the money to go to from a list that I provide. This allows me to help clients find the best deals on the travel they want, help them decide where to go, where to stay, which cruise line to use, and at the same time contribute to the public good.

For those that think there are a lot of benefits for being a travel agent, such as free travel, I hate to disappoint you. There is really no such thing. There are what are called Familiarization or FAM trips. These are not free, but generally at a reduced rate. They are not vacations. The suppliers that invite you on these do so that you will become familiar with their properties, ships, etc. and you are expected to take tours and classes while you are there. Most of these are also made available on rather short notice, so you really need to be flexible. For those of us with a full-time job, that means the FAMs are going to have to wait.

The goal I set for The Vacation Stop when I founded it in 2004 was to slowly grow my client list over time so that it would be a good business for me in retirement. So far, each year has been better than the previous, though it is nowhere close to competing for day job in salary terms. Basically, I'm right on track for where I want to be. I continue to take training so that I can provide the best possible service to my clients, and most of them refer me to their friends. I have done very little actual advertising, and none that was worth the money spent. If my business continues to grow at this kind of rate, then maybe by the time all my kids are out of college in 10 - 12 years, I'll be in position to go full-time.

I'd be happy to answer more specific questions, either online or via email.
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PostSubject: Re: How to become a Travel Agent?   How to become a Travel Agent? - Page 2 Icon_minitimeFri Feb 13, 2009 1:27 pm

Steve... Well written!

I am in the same boat as you, so to speak with not sticking with a host.

I began in 2005, I was a stay at home mom, retired Registered Nurse...and was bored! I began with a small host agency, did all my training etc. This small host agency just wasn't cutting it for me and I went to a BIG host! That turned out to be a bad decision, except for the wonderful network of agents I have met and continue to be in contact with.

I too have ACC, enrolled in MCC, should be completed in April, but I needed one more cruise, which is one week after my deadline, ughh! I have Commodore status in Cunard and Princess, University of WOW Expert Plus, enrolled in NCL U...belong to OSSN, TRUE, CLIA...OMG, the list goes on...

My travel agency has really grown over the years and the and my agency qualifies for IATAN ... which I am in the process of doing the application and putting together the necessary paperwork for. I am very proud of this achievement. I hold an IATAN card from my previous host at an agent level...and my goal was for my own agency to meet the qualifications at an agency level.

I do work full time at my agency though. I have expanded quite a bit. I currently have one agent that works as an independent contractor with me, and I am hoping to get more.

There are so many resources on the internet... read, read and read!

Good luck,
Dolores
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PostSubject: Re: How to become a Travel Agent?   How to become a Travel Agent? - Page 2 Icon_minitimeWed Feb 18, 2009 10:14 am

Thanks Delores and Steve for taking the time to explain all of that. Very Happy

Delores, when you say you "need one more cruise"...does that mean you have to have one more booking on that line?

And this idea of an independent contractor. There is someone in my area that has that. So how does that work?
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PostSubject: Re: How to become a Travel Agent?   How to become a Travel Agent? - Page 2 Icon_minitimeWed Feb 18, 2009 11:22 am

crusinmama06 wrote:
Thanks Delores and Steve for taking the time to explain all of that. Very Happy

Delores, when you say you "need one more cruise"...does that mean you have to have one more booking on that line?

And this idea of an independent contractor. There is someone in my area that has that. So how does that work?

The requirements for ACC (Accredited Cruise Counselor) and MCC (Master Cruise Counselor) require a certain number of actual cruises taken by the individual of different lengths and on different cruise lines. This is in addition to the educational requirements and the sales requirements (# of cabins sold within a certain time frame). You have 2 years to complete either program. You must have ACC before enrolling in MCC.

An Independent Contractor is how many agents work and how even more got started. They do not have their own accounts with the travel suppliers, but work as an IC for another agency (known as the Host Agency). They are not employees. There is no salary. There generally is a split of commissions, part to the agent and part to the agency of anything sold by the IC. Some host agencies charge yearly and or monthly fees to the ICs, others don't. The commission split varies as well.

There are Pros and Cons to this kind of arrangement. The Pros are that it does not cost as much to get started. You have an office that can provide you with educational and back office support. You generally will get a higher commission percentage as an IC with a host agency, due to the volume of the host.

The Cons are that documents for travel are issued in the name of your host agency, not yours. You don't have full control of everything (that might be a Pro!). If your host agency is distant, you may never be able to speak to a local DSM (District Sales Manager) for a supplier.

There are, of course, other differences as well, such as Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance, licensing in the various states (primarily FL and CA, but there are others) that require agent licensing (just to sell to people that live there, even if you don't), and more.

What Delores and I described is really just the tip of the iceberg. The books by Kelly Monaghan that I mentioned go into a lot more detail.
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PostSubject: Re: How to become a Travel Agent?   How to become a Travel Agent? - Page 2 Icon_minitimeWed Feb 18, 2009 11:50 am

Thanks Steve! I will get that book.
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