Is There a Travel Agent in YOU?
I have to admit, when I started researching becoming a travel agent from home, I really had no interest in it. I'm not much of a traveler. Sure, I like to take trips – but also have some anxiety issues when it comes to flying. I'll 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 or being on a plane in the middle of the sky are mine.
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.
Also, I've 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 startup business option for those wanting to work from home as a travel agent.
Experienced Travel Agents vs Unexperienced Travel Agents
I will say this from the get-go — it seems both these companies above 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 downright 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?
If you want to start your own website, dedicate time promoting in social media… etc — that's going to be a bit more. (BUT, as a blogger – I want to tell you that creating a website these days is so easy, you'll be dumbfounded. Read my post, Create My Own Blog (Right Now!) – Step by Step – SO Easy and I will walk you through it. You'll love how easy and affordable it really is. You might even kick yourself for not doing it sooner.)
Who Offers Travel Agent Training and Affordable Start Up Fees?
– 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
– 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 there 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.
– 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. A big drawback for someone like me is that I 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.
Three Plans to Choose From;
– 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 for 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. (My suggest, create your own site or just create a Facebook page for your travel biz.)
Agent Sign-up Fee*: $300
Included in the sign-up fee:
New agent training
Errors and Omissions insurance for 1 year
Commission direct deposit set up
Agency support fees for one year
Every new agent must sign a contract, pay the sign-up fee, and complete training. *Sign up fee must be paid by credit card and is non-refundable.
Renewal fees billed annually:
Support fees $180/year. Your support fees may be reduced or waived based on sales for the previous 12 months.
Errors and Omission insurance renewal $50/year.
Proof of Citizenship or Residency – Dugan's Travels only accepts U.S. Citizens or U.S. Residents residing in the 50 U.S. States including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. At time of sign-up, you will be required to submit a copy of a valid U.S. state-issued driver’s license or identification card, U.S. Passport or U.S. Resident Alien Card.
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're already really 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 you're new to a community or you 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 and 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.