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Is There a Travel Agent in YOU?
I have to admit, when I started researching being an at home travel agent, I really had no interest in it. I'm not much of a traveler. I like to take trips – but also have some anxiety issues when it comes to flying. I still fly, but it's not like I LOVE to fly or anything. And the idea of taking a cruise…. well, I just can't get past the movie Titanic. I know, it's ridiculous. Some have a fear of heights, some spiders – for me… being on a boat in the middle of nowhere and being on a plane in the middle of nowhere only in the sky.
With that being said though, I am finding this at home travel agent business to be quite fascinating. I've had a few people email over that last few months asking about two companies specifically and if I know anything about them. One is KHM Travel and the other is Outside Agents. I have no experience with either company – but both have good reputations and seem to offer enough comprehensive training for people just like me that have never been a travel agent. I also discovered Dugan's Travel – and they have a lot to offer for those wanting to start a home based travel agency too – and they seemed geared toward those with little or no experience in being a travel agent. ( I think many of us fall into that category!) I also found a company called Oasis that offers a start up business option for those wanting to work from home being a travel agent.
I will say this from the get-go — it seems both these companies cater more toward seasoned travel agents. Most of the review I have read that are positive are from those that had been working as travel agents already before joining KHM Travel or Outside Agents. But that doesn't mean you can't become a travel agent with no experience. On the contrary – I found information for experienced agents and non-experienced.
You Don't Have to Figure Out How to Be a Travel Agent on Your Own
That's good – because I wouldn't want to. Many travel agent program sites offer training. There does seem to be fees involved with all the companies I found, BUT – these fees compared to starting a travel company completely on your own are not only affordable, but down right reasonable.
At the most, I would say have $500-$1000 set aside to start your business. The fees for joining an established agency, along with errors and omissions insurance, business cards and some marketing would be easily covered by this amount. Yes , you could start for as little as $200 or less – but my thinking is, if you aren't marketing yourself then how will you grow your travel agent clientele?
Who Offers Training and Affordable Start Up Fees?
KHM Travel – They offer start up training (New Agent Training Series is offered) and ongoing training through weekly online webinars and live events. Their site states that they pay 80%-90% in commissions – just depends on how much you've sold. They also offer agents a personal TravSearch Private Label website (this is great for marketing your new travel agent business!)
Registration fee $99
Monthly fee (which provides access to all the booking modules/technology) $49.99
Outside Agents – They offer comprehensive training from the start. They too offer ongoing tutorials and they offer one-on-one mentoring. They have 7 day-a-week support and real expert online seminars. Their site states they offer 80%-90% commissions and their are NO enrollment fees. They also offer marketing help that includes one-on-one development coaching.
Registration fee $0
Monthly fee – I couldn't find one on their site.
Oasis – They have a training program called F.A.S.T. (Future Agent Sales Training). This program includes an 8 part training curriculum on marketing alone. I think that's important because marketing is a key part of being successful with a business like this. BUT – that training will cost $399. Big drawback for someone like me that simply cannot fork over money like that. They offer three different plans to get started and all of them are very affordable. They have a lot of great technology as well – which includes giving you your own personalized website to promote your business.
Basic $29 a month
Pro $59 a month
Elite $79 a month
They also charge commission processing fees. The site states: If total commission is less than $150 then it is an 80/20 split (Agent/Agency) and no processing fee.
Dugan's Travel – They seemed to be geared toward those with no experience. They offer 75% commissions and 80% commissions if you're with them for 3 or more years. They offer training not only on booking clients, but also on marketing. They stay current on all technology and updates in the industry. They do not offer a personalized website, which is a bummer – but they do have a vendor that will build a website for you at a discounted rate. It looks like it's around $299 for a 5 page site.
Registration fee $150
Direct deposit set up fee for commissions $20
Annual fee $50
Monthly fee for support $15 (waived if you earn $3000 per year in commissions)
Choosing to Become a Travel Agent – Think It Through
As much as I like the “idea” of being a home based travel agent with my own business and great discounts on my own travel – I have reservations. Many of them. First, I think there are probably more costs to this than you realize just looking at it from the outside in. Secondly, YOU are in business for yourself. No one will “get” clients for you. Sure, you're going to get marketing training – but ultimately it's you getting the word out and building a clientele. If you already real involved or connected in the community through say, church, the schools, sports, your current job or another business you run – then it's going to be much easier. If your new to a community or your are somewhat shy — it's going to be tougher.
Something I like to do is pretend my husband, a friend or one of my kids is a prospective client. How do I feel going up to them and talking to them about whatever it is I am trying to sell. I did this before I signed up with Avon. My thoughts on this – if you feel funny trying to sell something to someone that loves you no matter what – you're gonna feel even MORE uncomfortable doing this with a stranger. It does NOT mean you can't overcome this and push yourself out of your comfort zone for the sake of success the your business's success – but this IS something to think about.
I don't think the technology part of it would be a stretch for anyone. If you're using a computer already, you're probably going to be ok. But because this isn't something you can just “try out” it makes it a tough decision. Don't you wish you could just shadow someone that works from home doing something that interests you so that you could see if it's something for you?
Unlike direct sales businesses – this is a much bigger leap. It's worth taking the time to really think about it and not just fantasize about it. I'd like to “think” I could do this — and if it were all free and I knew the training would be enough, I'd go for it. Easily. But the jury is still out for me personally.
I'd love to hear from those that ARE agents at home already. If you're with one of the companies I mentioned or have been with them in the past – love to hear from you too.
And those seriously considering becoming an at home travel agent – what are your reservations? Do you even have any? Lets discuss below.