If your thinking of becoming a home based travel agent you might want to look at the following things. Most home-based travel agents are independent contractors who work with a host agency. You use the host agencies resources and established relationships to tap into their network of travel vendors and suppliers. When considering a host agency you want to find out things like your commission split when profits come in from your bookings. Will your commission be paid in a timely manner? Find out how long your host agency has been in business and if they’re reputable.
Getting up to date under the best places to travel, tourism, and how to fulfill the requirements of your customer is critical to your travel business. Find out if the firm offers comprehensive training and courses on various travel services, products, marketing, etc. You want to establish a good expertise and become a knowledgeable resource for you customers. For some host agencies, taking a course or training is necessary to qualify for certain travel credentials, although it isn’t required to book travel. As a home based travel agent you’ll need certain credentials like the CLIA card. CLIA stands for the Cruise Line Industry Association. This industry recognized credential allows you special agent rates on discounted cruises and offers a whole range of benefits to you and your customer. To be recognized as a travel agency most host agencies are usually bonded and accredited through ARC/IATAN. ARC was set out by the travel industry to provide prompt, efficient, and secure distribution and settlement of travel purchased in the U.S. IATAN-International Airlines Travel Agent Network endorses travel agents and provides the IATAN ID card, which identifies you as a US based travel sales professional. Most agencies will provide you with their IATAN/ARC number for you to be in a position to use outside travel vendors and suppliers that do not have established relationships with your host agency, however for some other credentials like CLIA, training is required but not a requirement to book travel.
Most travel companies offer some assistance with marketing your travel business. Check to see if they provide a turn-key website or online booking engine for your clients to book travel on. Do they have auto responders to handle email campaigns and promotions? Find out to determine if they provide ready-made templates to print business cards, postcards, flyers, etc. These are all the tools in your marketing arsenal that will allow you to get the word out about your home-based travel business.
Most host agencies handle all the booking and travel details for your clients, but what if a name is misspelled on a plane ticket? Or your customer wants a refund? Find out what type customer support is available and read their policies. Do they offer 24hrs/day 7 days week telephone support? Is it email based? You want to know these things so you can give a quick turn-around should a problem occur in the booking process or later. Customers like to have speedy resolution to their problems so make sure you know what kind of support is in place.
Continuing The Business Travel Expense Discussion
Customization: Customization of the existing ERP system is crucial to ensure efficient operation of the business processes and expenses related to it vary with the changing market scenario. Lack of customization can impede the business functioning while excessive customization may damage the product. Customization often results in heavy expenditure.
Since you’ll be working out of home and on your own, medical insurance plans or group coverages are sometimes offered. Check to see if they have group plans that you will be able to buy into. There are relatively cheap and will save you a great deal of money versus buying a medical plan on your own.
There are some employers that offer their employees discounts on wireless phones. This is a discount on your personal cell phone and it’s given at a group rate. This can save you some extra money although it is not a job related expense, but rather a benefit of the job. Enrolling in a flexible spending plan with your employer can also save you tax money as the money that is deducted from your paycheck for this medical spending credit card won’t be taxed. This is another way of maybe counteracting some of the costs that may not be deductible and put some money back in your own pocket. Some employers offer discounted car insurance in some states. This is discounted for those who’ve near perfect driving records though.
When buying business expenses such as brief cases, planner pads etc, you may wish to try wholesale chains to save some money. You may have to stock up a bit on some items but you’ll save money in the long run.
Saving money on business expenses takes a well thought strategy of balancing what things will work for your own unique situation.
The opportunity to go on a FAM trip is the most appealing benefit to travel agents. Fam trips are short for familiarization. These are special trips specifically for the travel agent. These trips are provided by hotels, convention and visitor bureaus, tour companies, and cruise lines. The intent of the trip is to familiarise the agent with the product or service in order that they may then sell the department or product to their clients. Agents can sell it more effectively by experiencing the product. These trips are either completely free or have a small cost involved to cover the cost of the trip. These fam trips are offered at a vast discount compared to what it would cost to the average consumer.
If you are going on a business trip, below are some recommendations on how to morph your business trip into a mini vacation. Follow them closely and you are trip will not be all business.
If you want to make the maximum of your trip, the first thing you’ve got to do is clearly list all business-related items that need to be done on your trip. That includes writing an itinerary for all meetings, business lunches, conference calls, travel time, and seminars needed to go to and from each event. This will help you find any free time you will have in between your business functions. By writing out your business itinerary and identifying your free time ahead of time, you will be able to schedule side trips and tours to examine the state or country you are in, and make the most of your trip.
The one thing to remember when you are on a business trip is that you are there to work. Your trip is not a free pass to go exploring, clubbing, or site seeing. You’re being sent to a particular location to do specific work. If you have a chance to do anything that is not work-related, it’s going to be small. There will not be time for day trips to the campaign or wine tasting. You may have time to visit a few local sites and perhaps a museum or two. However, nothing too involved. Don’t expect too much personal travel time on a business trip. Remember, you are not there to site see.
After you have made your business itinerary for your business travel trip and identified your free time, check with the coworkers you are traveling with (if any) before you go to determine if they ‘d mind if you visited a local attraction or point of interest on the trip. This does, however, open up the opportunity of your coworkers asking to accompany you on the side trip, but remember; there is power in numbers. If multiple coworkers are going on a side trip, the better your chances are of writing off the excursion as a business expense. You can say it was a team building’ exercise. Informing your travel companions ahead of time will also eliminate the option of causing waves when you suddenly disappear during a 3-hour break to visit a local attraction.
If it turns out you will have a couple of hours in order to view the sites on your business travel, be sure to book in advance. Some tours require reservations. So, before you leave for your trip, call ahead and see if you’re gonna make a reservation to view a site or take part in a tour. It will save you time and enable you to better balance your time on your business trip.
Even though you have identified your free time and got the OK from the remaining part of the travel group in order to view the city, it may be that you will not be able to see the sites you planned on seeing during your business trip. Remember, you’re traveling for business, so unscheduled or unexpected meetings, business dinners, or conference calls might pop up. You do not want to cancel on a client lunch just to see Alcatraz. Be flexible with your plans and be sure to put business before pleasure.
Business travel is something everyone will experience at least once during their lifetime. However it does not have to be all business. Plan ahead using the above mentioned small business travel guide and turn your business travel into a mini vacation.
Owning your own travel business you can take advantage of many tax breaks. Deductions are allowed for you initial investment, home office expenses, cell phone and land lines, car, computer, insurance, fax machine, and other equipment. In addition from now on, when you travel in any part of the world, it is a business expense.
Overall becoming a home based travel agent has some major perks and benefits. The important thing is to search for a good host agency and be familiar with your product so that you will be able to offer the best travel experience for your customers. Doing this will keep a consistent flow of repeat and new business.