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Do travel Agents get better deals for themselves?

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Feb 13th, 2006, 05:43 AM
  #1
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Do travel Agents get better deals for themselves?

A friend of mine is thinking of becoming a travel agent. I understand the wages are not that good, and I feel that travel agents may soon be a thing of the past. BUT do they get good perks? Do they get a good rate on hotels and resorts for themselves?
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Feb 13th, 2006, 06:26 AM
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Kodi..My TA could write a book about The Perks...or the Non Perks as well...I think your friend will have a difficult time finding an entry level position.But to address your question, according to what I have learned over the 16 years I have been a regular client of my TA.Yes they get perks.Some hotel rates are "set" and some are a certain percentage off a level of rate available at the time they want to go.But these days, it coould be just as inexpensive to book a hotel on hotels.com, or priceline.Resorts seem to be the same.Maybe a set rate, maybe no rate.Cruises are usually a set rate, depending on the line, $25 or $35 dollars a day per person plus taxes.There is to the best of my knowledge any industry standard among the cruise lines.My TA gets invitations every week to go on cruises for drastically reduced rates.But he is with a worldwide travel agency.They do a big volume, they get more perks than a "Mom and Pop" travel agency.They also have access to promotions within various companies.Every time he books a Budget rental car, he gets points towards a MasterCard account in his name.Thats how he did his Christmas shopping this year!! Tour companies offer promotions, cash bonuses for bookings.Some travel agencies garner these perks for the company's use and some let the individual agents keep the points, bonuses etc.Best of luck to your friend!
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Feb 13th, 2006, 10:19 AM
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Yes - travel agents do get some perks - but it depends on what agency you work for, how much business you bring in - and what type of business it is.

However, unless the majority of your budget is spent on travel there's no way any reductions would make up for the miniscule salaries paid to agents (In this area starting agents make about the same as counter kids at McDonalds.)
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Feb 13th, 2006, 03:31 PM
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Thank you both so much for the detailed replies. I really appreciate it.
SO, the discounts are not across the board? Large international travel agencies get more 'deals' than the mom and pop agencies. SO part of the key would then be to try and get hired on with a large company. Correct? And the perks are based on sales?

What about just getting good deals on hotels? Would the same discount apply regardelss of the travel agency?

Thanks again.
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Feb 13th, 2006, 06:54 PM
  #5
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You seem to expect uniformity on a world-wide business with thousands of different suppliers.

It does not work that way.

Are you looking for deals that a junior travel agent could take advantage of on the two weeks a year vacation she will get?

Or are you looking for free / discounted trips she will take during the course of her business.

Destinations (the Itchybug National Travel Assocaition, for instance)organize whjat are called fam tours, for travel agency staff to come to Itchybug and tour hotels, restaurtants, night clubs, the jungle, and so on, so that they can tell their clients all about this great destination.

If Itchybug is a nice place, the owner of the agency, or the manager, will take the fam trip. If Itchybug is out of season, and it is rainy everyday, and the agents are supposed to imagine the sun, junior agents might get to go instead.

Fam tours usually start with a breakfast accompanied by a poorly delivered speech with slides on a screen that's in the light, so you can't see the pictures, and is followed by visits to six hotels before lunch; Lunch includes another speech. If there are several beaches, you get to look at them in the afternoon, in and out of the minivan again.

With luck, time for a drink -- with the people you've shared the minivan with -- before dinner and another speech.

If the destination host staff have any energy left, you might get to see half the show each at three nights clubs.

You may or may not like your room mate.

Depending on where your friend lives, she may find it is necessary to take courses and get some sort of license before she can get hired for any job more advanced than receptionist, too.

Manyyears ago I worked for a man who bought a travel agency, just so he could get the free trips. We owned several other businesses, too, and the boss was a little strange. I was named manager of the agency three or four times over the course of a year and a half; if I got busy with our other businesses, someone else would manage the agency for a couple of weeks or a couple of months.

About asking for deals -- there's no business in the world with more flexible prices than travel. Once morning arrives, if no one has been in that room there's no money in the cash drawer, so better to have rented it cheap. Same with an airplane seat.

So if she does go into the travel business, she should work hard to make friends with the airline and hotel and travel bureau staff on the other end of the phone, and have no shame in asking for deals when she is travelling on her own.

But first -- she should check the licensing requirement.

And finally, in our destination country, if real travel agents asked and if rooms were available, our tourist board made arrangements with hotels to offer deep discounts to agents who were travelling on their own time, and often we'd extgend the food discounts to a travelling companion, with the understanding that they were to tip as if the meals and rooms were at full fare.

This, at least, kept a revenue stream going for maids, busboys, waiters, etc.

BAK





A lot of the best deals for agents are in the off-season.

If a destination is
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Feb 13th, 2006, 07:12 PM
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You bet we get great deals...I have been at "mom & pops" agencies and at large well-known agencies and they always offer free nights at hotels, free cruises...etc.
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Feb 13th, 2006, 09:36 PM
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As far as trying to get hired - the travel agents around where I live have been laying off staff for years and some are even closing.

From what I know, the cost benefit ratioo may not make it worthwhile. You work really hard for little pay and maybe get a samall deal on travel.

Sounds like it would be less effort to get a better paying job in another field and pay to travel
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Feb 14th, 2006, 05:24 AM
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kodi...There simply is no "set standard" of what a TA gets from the agency they work for.Benefots may change year to year.My TA worked during a transition period for American Express.From what he had access to, at the time, he could work travel one week a month,have most of it paid for by either AE or the suppliers he had the opportunity to visit, and still make his usual salary.He has a running buddy who works for a Virtuoso agency, the nationwide cosortium of agencies who cater to the super rich and celebrity travellers.There is hardly a week that this friend cant go on a safari, an exotic all expenses soiree to the islands of the South Pacific,or visit voirtually any Ritz Carlton hotel and be winded and dined 24/7.So many agencies are demanding more and more of their agents in terms of commissions earning potential.Since that is how agencies make money.Best of Luck to your friend!
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Feb 14th, 2006, 06:33 AM
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If you want to make a decent living and get good travel perks, I highly suggest you get into the Group Sales Department with a hotel.

The bigger the hotel group the better. Example, most hotel groups, Hyatt, Starwood etc., give great employee discounts.

Also, being a Group Sales Manager requires pretty extensive travel throughout the year.

Wages are fairly good, entry level, depending upont the market should be $38,000+ per year plus commission.

The really good jobs are being a Meeting Planner but unless you are completely detail oriented, on the mark with deadlines, and love living in a pressure cooker, forget it.

Meeting Planners get the best perks however they are usually too exhausted to use them.
 
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Feb 14th, 2006, 08:08 AM
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My thought when I read this thread yesterday is similar to Gail's... wouldn't it be easier to get a good paying job with generous vacation benefits? I never traveled more than when I stayed at the same company long enough to have a great salary and 4 weeks off/year.

I can't imagine as a entry level travel agent that you would have enough time off from work or enough money even to take advantage of free trips if they were offered.
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Feb 14th, 2006, 02:45 PM
  #11
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YOu guys are great! Thak you so much for all the great information and advice. I will pass all of it along to my young friend. I do agree that the wages probably won't be good. But so many young people seem to want to get into this business. It all seems very glamorous to them.
I'm not at all convinced that it's the way to go, with so many people booking over the internet and not using travel agents.

I'm sure she'd have to start at a small agency and hope to work her way up. The groups sales idea sounds like a good one.

Thanks again.
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Feb 14th, 2006, 03:12 PM
  #12
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kodi, it doesn't work like that. Agents don't start at small agencies and work their way up. They stay wherever they go.

I'd try my best to get on with American Express Travel. One of the largest and most stable.
 
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Feb 14th, 2006, 03:16 PM
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Agreeing with the above, try to start big, i.e., large corporate setting.

Personally I believe TA's to be basically a thing of the past, and the Mom & Pop shops referred to will have a very tough row to hoe.

I can understand why a young person might find this a glamorous idea, but in my opinion it is simply not a practical way to get where they want to go.
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Feb 14th, 2006, 05:00 PM
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I was a TA for 5 years, but only got to take advantage a handful of times. Only got 2 weeks off,and alot of the packages and cruises were confirmable only a short time before departure date. Smaller agency,but high volume, so we really couldn't just up and leave with short notice. Now, on the other hand, the owners of the agency traveled much more frequently...
I can't imagine being in the field anymore.It used to be both challenging and fun. After 9/11, 13 of 15 packages I had booked cancelled. I knew it was downhill from there.After commissions were cut,alot of customers thought the fees that were charged were rediculous. It became a lot less fun,and I knew I needed a steady paycheck and benefits.
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Feb 15th, 2006, 05:42 AM
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kodi...My TA is solidly corporate...95% of his customers are regular, corporate travellers/companies.Tell you friend to post her resume on monster.com.I have friends who have done that and I am amazed at how many "offers" they get.Not necessarily for Travel Agents per se, but in the tourism industry as a whole.Most ads in the local papers that read as I travel require at least one year experience, usually meaning at least a year on an airline computer system.I cant imagine that a travel agency would hire a total newcomer and have the time to train them.Best of luck to your friend.
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Feb 15th, 2006, 11:28 AM
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Agreed that the ones who probably get to travel the most are the meeting planers. But having employed a bunch of them I can tell you that their "travel" requires being on call 24 hours per day and working a solid 16 to 18 hours per day of the meeting.

If you're lucky enough to be able to attach a day or two vacation before or after the meeting - or the site visit - the hotel will undoubedtly cut you a great deal. But in my experience they're so busy they rarely have time for this (usually back in the office only a couple of days before the next meeting if you're a senior person - and the juniors are sent back right after the meeting to do the grunt work for the next one).
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Feb 15th, 2006, 01:00 PM
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Once again, thank you all so much. I do feel that this is not a good career choice and perhaps with all this wonderful advice, my young friend will rethink her future. It's surprising how many young people I talk to that want to go into the travel/tourism business, but I don't think they think it through enough.
My friend has not yet started any courses, so perhaps she will rethink it and head in another direction.

Thanks again. You guys are great.
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