Be your own travel agent?

Old Jan 16th, 2002, 02:20 AM
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Be your own travel agent?

I posted a question about becoming a travel agent and enjoying the freebies that agents get. The post is on the travel agent thread. Has anyone done it. Is it worth the trouble?
Old Jan 16th, 2002, 04:48 AM
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I am a TA, and we don't get "freebies", we earn everything discount we receive, believe me! I have been a TA for a few years now and I have been to Europe twice, on several cruises and major cities in the U.S. and Canada. England was practically free because I earn points for each client I book, so I earned a free trip! The airlines are trying to get rid of us, but they still need us and reward our efforts with free tickets.

I won't lie, the work is demanding. Clients can be very unreasonable and you spend much time educating them on the biz. They come in clutching those 99.00 airfare ads and you have to explain to them that they need to READ the small print, which says the airfare is for a flight leaving 2 days aways at 6am in the morning. Other clients are great and really appreciate my expertise in helping them plan a trip.
We work on commission, so someone can come in, have you do a lot of research and hold bookings, only to cancel a few days later. You learn to weed out the shoppers and concentrate on the more lucrative clients. I do make good money and the job is ever changing. One minute you're working on Vegas, the next you're answering questions about river barge cruises on the Danube!

We get great discounts at hotels, usually half off, free parking at the aiport, and free theme park tickets like Disney and Universal. The perks are there, and I do make good money. But it is a very detailed oriented job that requires patience, technical skills, and a vast deal of knowledge on the fast-paced, ever-changing travel industry. Hope this helps, good luck with your decision!
Old Jan 16th, 2002, 10:11 AM
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With airlines cutting travel agents commissions and the internet cutting into their profits, the days of travel agents making VERY good money are over. And the agents that are in business are now charging fees for their services. Mark my words, travel agents will become extinct in another 10 years....
Old Jan 16th, 2002, 10:35 AM
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Are you considering entering this profession? If so, then I would visit with an agency owner or two or three, in your area and let them tell you?

As for "freebie", nothing is free anymore these days, most the time the published fares are so much more affordable than the agent discounted fare. Hotels and cars, can be more affordable, depending. And sometimes our vendors will offer incentive programs to push a certain product, mostly hotels, and like a previous poster said, we can earn points towards free nights...but they usually require a lot.

You would also need to decide what type of agency work you would do, leisure, corporate, international, with a/l tickets w/out, packages only, cruises only...there is a lot to consider than just the "perks".

If your asking can we get better prices than the consumer trying to book on their own?

That is contigent on several things. Where your going, how your going, how many are going, etc...

Make your own decision, but, get all the facts first from those that know so agents.
Old Jan 16th, 2002, 11:11 AM
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This CLIA thing sounds tempting. You get a card for a few hundred dollars, and you get steeply disocunted hotel rooms and car rentals. With some luck you can get cruises cheap. Our favorite Crystal Cruises offers CLIA members cabins for $100 per person per night. It may not be the best cabin, but wow that's cheap.

As mentioned in the travel agent thread, St. Regis in NYC and the Century Plaza Towers in LA offers a rate of $139 to CLIA members. The rooms usually go for $400 a night.

Old Jan 16th, 2002, 10:04 PM
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Barbara, I was a travel agent for a lot of years and I can tell you that you don't get a lot of freebies or even very good bargains anymore. True you can get discounts with a Clia card, but many places only take IATAN cards which you can only get after working for an IATA credited agency for a certain amount of time and averaging a certain income. I hardly ever got a better deal as a travel agent, then just finding a good promotion. Travel agents work really hard at what they do for not much money, so it's discouraging when some people try and capitalize on that and take away from legitimate agents. If you really plan on working as an agent that's one thing, but to try and get a card stating you're an agent just to get freebies is tantamount to fraud and one reason many hotels insist on IATAN cards. In fact I know of some hotels that will try and prosecute some false travel agents for defrauding an innkeeper. I think it's better to learn to bargain shop. The travel agent perks are few and far between.
Old Jan 17th, 2002, 03:05 AM
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I tend to agree with Sandy. Travel suppliers think of discounts to travel agents much like they think of other discounts. Just another way to fill space that would go unused.

Many cruise lines offer 50% discounts to agents but only on a space available basis. That means that you get space that's left over at the time of embarkation. This may be less than the eye can see when compared with a 40% discount provided by discount cruise brokers who allow reservations at any time.

That having been said, CLIA and IATAN cards offer some benefits. Many hotel chains offer substantial discounts again often on a space available basis. Most of the Luxury Group in the Starwood chain offer a rate of $139 per night. These hotels often sell for $300 to $500 per night.

Many of the major car rental agencies give a 25% discount on the cheapest published rate you can find.

The informal standard of travel agent identification is the IATAN card. It's provided by the airline industry. Agents are eligible after they earn $5,000 in commissions. It's unique feature is that the card entitles the holder to discounts on air travel. The catch is that the discounts are usually off standard coach fare. So holders can generally do better by buying discounted tickets.

CLIA is a cruise line association which provides cards to its members. It's roughly comparable to IATAN cards in acceptance, but it's advantage is that you can deal directly with the cruise line and buy net of commissions. The starting commissions are anywhere from 10% to 13% and reaches the 20's depending on volume. Often discount cruise agencies provide better net deals than you can get dealing directly with the cruise lines. The reason is that the discount cruise brokers have various techniques for getting the price down. Working directly with the cruise line works best when the cruise is in very high demand and no other discounts are available.

If you flip out these cards at the right moment, you'll often be upgraded.

The CLIA card is available from CLIA for a few hundred dollars. All you need is a business license and some stationary. You must do substantial travel to make it worth while.

The IATAN card is tougher to get. Agencies often sell them to family, friends and neighbors. You occasionally see them on Ebay for about $500.

This thing about getting throw in jail is silly. The supplier usually doesn't ask. If you have one fine, what's the big deal.

Is it unethical, I don't think so. The line between a "real" travel agent doing business in an office and a travel agent playing in his garage is becoming hazy. ents retreat to their garages because of the changing structure of the travel industry, agents who really are trying to make a living and those who are having some fun and saving on their own travel is disappearing.

How do I know about all this? I have a CLIA card. The ancillary benefit is that you learn a good deal about the industry through all the mail you receive and it's a subject to regale your friends with.
Old Jan 17th, 2002, 10:48 AM
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How do I find out more about a CLIA card?

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