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    Joel and

    Throughout his life, Joel M. Abels, Travel Trade's editor and publisher, made it his mission to keep travel agents from going it alone in business... (more)


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    What's In Your Wallet?


    Rusty Pickett


    Mary Brutscher
    Former Host Agency Owner &
    Travel Educational Instructor


    Do you ever feel like you are a major character in a Capital One commercial? Well, let's hope you never see a group of barbarians bearing down on you, or a huge boulder rolling your way, but could there be someone else this applies to?


    What is in your wallet?
    Are you or your Hosting program keeping your wallet on a diet? Do you feel like your wallet is shrinking instead of getting fatter no matter how hard you work? Do you feel like you are paying so many fees that you never see the light of day? If so, you are not alone.

    While attending a travel convention recently, I had the opportunity of meeting many agents from across the country and quite a few had complaints regarding the fees collected by their Hosts.
    Some agents also expressed concerned regarding what they see as "shrinking commissions" paid by their Hosts, along with high membership fees. Yes, some Hosting programs are nothing more than card mills, but there are several agents affiliated with what we consider mainstream Hosts who are feeling more than their share of the pinch.
    While I am thrilled to see more and more agents deciding to leave some of these card mills, I am concerned about those agents who feel they need to leave what should be a good Hosting program because they believe they can't make a profit, given all of the fees combined with low commission.
    Most of these agents leaving their Hosts are either getting a CLIA or a travel seller's identification number through NACTA or OSSN. This is fine, but what we are going to see are a lot of small independent agencies struggling to grow their commission levels and compete with the larger agencies. It is tough to go it alone and my hopes are that these agents who are breaking off to do just that will do extensive research and align themselves with a Hosting program that will support them when support is needed.
    Another concern some of these agents have is with discounting and the encouragement some receive from their Hosts to do so. (Unfortunately, this is not isolated to Hosts as I found out when I sat in on a recent LEADING travel membership organization and the lecturer spoke of discounting to clients.) Prior to completely severing ties with your current Host (especially if you are affiliated with a strong and reputable one) be honest with them, address your concerns and ask if you can work together to resolve some of these issues.
    For example, if your issue is not receiving commission payments in a timely manner, stress that this is income you count on for your monthly support and late payment is creating difficulties for you in meeting your obligations.
    For a Host that treats its independent agents as employees, remind them that you are a contractor and not an employee. If they become angry and threatening, walk away.
    Are you another reason your wallet is shrinking? Don't rely on your Host to support you. You love the business you are in and have a passion for the work you do. You care about your clients, but don't think new clients will just come into the fold. Not true. If you want good sales, go out and get them!
    You qualify your clients to find out their interests, now do the same with yourself and tap into that interest and grow new business. Join some business support and lead groups. If you are a wine enthusiast, tap into that market by visiting local wine stores, wine tasting groups, etc. and talk to the owners or managers about working together on a promotion. Most agents are friends with other agents, so why not get together and do a joint promotion and split the commission? I've done it many times. It does work and can be very profitable.
    Agents who are dissatisfied with their current Hosting program need to stop and take stock of which direction they want to go. One of the first things you need to do is sit down and create a game plan. While you don't need to do a full business plan, you do need to give yourself direction.
    Decide what your overall goals are for the immediate future and make projections for at least three years down the road. Determine the best course for reaching these goals. In order to do this, you will need to compare the costs of going it completely alone (including lower supplier commission levels), or affiliating with a new Hosting program.
    Research, research, research. Find out the costs of the Hosting programs you are interested in. It is perfectly acceptable to ask the commission levels each Host has with the suppliers. Find out what the initial fees will be as well as what the yearly renewal fees will be. Are there going to be monthly fees? What about mailing fees? Get everything in writing.
    Will you be penalized if you do not reach a specific goal, or terminated by the Host? Express your concerns to any and all Hosts you are interested in. Be honest with yourself. If a Host has specific requirements in sales and you know you will not be able to reach those goals, don't affiliate with that Host.
    There are many wonderful Hosting programs out there and if you align with the right one to fit your particular needs, you can save yourself a lot of work and costs. Don't be afraid about talking to agents who belong to different programs or to those who have gone it alone.
    If you are still intent on gaining your complete independence, please investigate membership in a consortium. I cannot begin to stress the benefits of a good consortium, such as marketing dollars, special promotions for your clients and support and assistance with supplier issues.
    Some agents have expressed a bit of confusion in differentiating between a Host and a consortium. Please keep in mind that when you align with a Host you use the Host's affiliations. The Host is the one that has the supplier reps for their particular state. When you have your own CLIA (or other travel seller) number, YOU have your own affiliations and no matter which consortium you join or do not join, you will still have your own identity and your own supplier reps. A consortium is primarily a membership marketing association and a good consortium is well worth every penny of membership.





    How Americans Roll — Study by Enterprise Uncovers Gender Preferences and Travel Trends


    Whether we’re heading out for a simple change of scenery… hitting the road to see the changing fall colors… or donning our school colors for some football and tailgating, autumn is a prime season for weekend getaways... (continue)



    NEW! MiFi Rentals With Airfare Packages & Hotel Services in The UK, France, Italy & Germany From Auto Europe!

    Auto Europe is featuring customized Auto  Auto Europe’s tour division, Destination Europe is offering MiFi units with any European travel package including air, hotel and car rental in the UK, France, Italy and Germany; you only pay $5.00 USD per day to access data.... (continue)


    Auto Europe Features A-ROSA 2015 Family Friendly Cruises On The Danube Including Children’s Programs

     Auto Europe in conjunction with David Morris International, is offering A-ROSA Family Friendly Cruises onboard the A-Rosa Donna. The Donna starts out in Passau, Germany visiting a classical route including Slovakia, Hungary, Austria and returning back to Passau.... (continue)


    Enterprise Holdings Hires More Than 4,000 Military Veterans Since Joining 100,000 Jobs Mission Coalition

    Enterprise Holdings announced today that it has added more than 4,000 military veterans to its staff since joining the 100,000 Jobs Mission coalition in 2012... (continue)



    Auto Europe Offers A-ROSA 2015 Crusies, Larger Selection of Options, Early Booking Savings

    Auto Europe is featuring customized Auto Europe in conjunction with David Morris International, is offering A-ROSA Cruises for 2015 with now over 200 departures including Rhone/Saone, Rhine... (continue)


    Fall Packages to Spain From $1,017, France $1,057 and Italy from $1,207

    Auto Europe is offering customized packages to Spain, France and Italy to suit every traveler with Economy, Premium and Luxury options. These services are offered through Auto Europe's tour division, Fly International... (continue)



    Host Agencies

    Avoya Travel Partners With Award-Winning Digital Advertising Agency

    Avoya Travel®, an American Express Travel Representative and one of the world’s leading travel companies, today announced it has hired Piston as a new advertising agency partner....(continue)


    Registration for the OASIS 2014
    Sales Meeting is Now Open

    Registration for the fifth annual OASIS Sales Meeting & Get-Together is now open. The OASIS meeting will take place Nov. 4 & 5, 2014 at The New Tropicana...(continue)


    TRAVELSAVERS Worldwide Independent Network Expands
    Into Romania

    TRAVELSAVERS Worldwide Independent Network (TWIN), a leading global travel management company, has expanded its European presence in Eastern Europe with the addition of Danubius Travel. This marks TWIN’s debut in Romania..(continue)


    American Marketing Group Inc. Raises $50,000 For Autism Speaks At Its Global Conference

    American Marketing Group, the parent company of TRAVELSAVERS, NEST, The Affluent Traveler Collection and 15 other global travel brands, recently raised more than $50,000 for Autism Speaks...(continue)




    Joel M. Abels • Rusty Pickett • Scott Koepf• Cruising • Airline • Europe • Hotels • Luxury Cruising • Paull Tickner • Mitchel J. Schlesinger • Sherry Laskin • Les-Lee Roland • Mary Brutscher • Sue Shapiro

    Royal Caribbean • Travel Industry • Travel Social Media • Travel Technology • Travel Trade News • Vacation • Home Based Trade • Home Based Travel Agent •

    Professional Travel Agent • Travel Agent • Travel Agent Professional • Independent travel agents • Tour Groups •

    Host Travel Agenices • Cruises

    This website is dedicated to the memory of Joel M. Abels