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What is a home based travel agent?

Working as a home based travel agent offers many commission based incentives and can be a great career choice for those passionate about travel.
By Jennifer Dugan
Certified Travel Associate and Owner of Dugans Travels

A travel agent books travel for customers and is paid by suppliers a commission on the booking. For things that suppliers do not pay a commission on, a travel agent also can charge the client a service fee for his/her time. An example is if you were to book a hotel for a client, the hotel would then send a check to the agency after the client checked out. Most hotels pay 10% of the price of the hotel before taxes and fees. A $100 per night hotel reservation would mean $10 a night for the travel agent who made the booking. This hotel would cost the same whether the customer uses a travel agent or books through the hotel directly. In many cases the travel agent can get a better price. It costs the customer nothing to use the travel agent unless the travel agent charges service fees.

Can anyone do this? In order to work with suppliers, you must have an account set up with the supplier. Most require an agency to hold an IATAN, CLIA or ARC number. IATAN stands for International Airlines Travel Agent Network. CLIA stands for Cruise Lines International Association. ARC stands for Airline Reporting Corporation. Each of these memberships requires different things including sales, money in the bank, experience or training in the industry, and membership fees. Many will require Errors and Omissions insurance of $1,000,000 or more.

For the average travel agent, membership is not a possibility with some organizations so the agent will team up with an agency and work as an independent agent or outside agent. There are also advantages of working with an agency because most travel agents cannot make enough in sales with a particular supplier to obtain higher commission levels and bonuses. Working with an agency with many agents can increase the commission percentages the agent gets because of the joint sales of all the agents at the agency. Support is also a very important aspect of being a successful agent. Agents who do not work with others tend to feel more isolated and have to learn to do it all solo. Since no agent can have the experience of being everywhere in the world or staying at every hotel or resort, having others that you can get advice from is really helpful.

The future of travel agencies is always questioned. The truth is the industry has changed in many ways. Some changes were for the better, some for the
worse. Many airlines have cut commissions for travel agents. However,
there are many other suppliers who are paying travel agents more than they
were ten years ago. Cruises used to be booked by only the rich and now
people in every income book cruises. Each year more and more people go
on cruises. Most people say they want to go on a cruise at least once and
many who go on their first come home to want to book another.

You can earn commission on many travel reservations.

  • Hotels
  • Rental Cars
  • Tour Packages
  • Cruises
  • Some airline tickets
  • International airline tickets
  • Travel insurance
  • Ground transportation including limos
  • Attraction tickets
  • Train tickets

People all need travel arrangements at some point in time. Those who take
road trips need hotel reservations. Those who need to travel for business
need airline tickets, rental cars, and hotel reservations. Families want to
experience vacations with their loved ones. People visit family and relatives.
Most people who win money say they are going to spend it to take a nice
vacation. Newly married couples go on honeymoons. You are not selling
something that is hard to sell. People contact you for help, you are not calling
them or approaching them trying to sell them something they dont want.

Educating the public is the main thing any travel agent must do. Most people
put travel agents into the same category as real estate agents. They believe it
costs additional to use a travel agent. This is untrue. In many cases a travel
agent can get a better price than the general public through the suppliers who
work only with travel agents. Many people do not know all the options for
booking a vacation. A good travel agent does. Once people are educated on
how a travel agent gets paid, they are more willing to work with travel agents.
If a person knows that if he or she let you book a hotel and it will cost the same
price regardless, she or he will work with you. It is important to let people know
how you can help them save time and money on their travel arrangements.

So how do you get into the industry? Many people think they must go to school
or become certified. This is not true. You can get into the industry and begin
training. I dont recommend anyone spend thousands on a travel school until
he or she knows this is a career that he or she will really want to pursue. The
truth is you do not have to spend thousands to get trained. There are many
courses free to travel agents from suppliers. There are also organizations such
as ICTA (Institute of Certified Travel Agents) who offer courses as you get
more years experience in the industry. CLIA also offers courses. There are
some agencies that will offer training. Even if you decide this is a career you
would like to pursue, you do not need to spend thousands to become an
educated and competent travel agent. There are many courses you can take
with suppliers and organizations to get a better education in travel. I truly
believe a hands' on approach is the best way to become a better travel agent.
Learning to work with suppliers and how to find the information your clients
need is an important part of becoming a good travel agent.

How can you find an agency to work with? There are a few organizations
dedicated to independent travel agents. NACTA and OSSN are the top
organizations. NACTA stands for National Association of Commissioned Travel
Agents. OSSN stands for Outside Sales Support Network. You can also search
online for home-based travel agent programs. I would never recommend anyone
spending a lot of money to start this business. It is key to first try and see if it is
something you would really want to do and get training before you invest too
much money into it. Get involved in the industry first and see if it is really a
career that is best for you.

For more information, you can visit

I also have an ebook and website on this topic available. You can get more details at

Books I recommend are:

Jennifer Dugan
Bizy Guide To Operating A Home Travel Agency

Kelly Monaghan
How to Choose a Host Agency and Home-Based Travel Agent

Tom and Joannie Ogg's
How to Start a Home Based Travel Agency

Jennifer Dugan
Email: [email protected] Looking for a host? We pay 75% commission!

Please check out my ebook on becoming a home-based travel agent at

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