How is being home-based working out?

Nancy Pole-Wilhite, Terra Nova Travel LLC, Portland, Ore. After working as an agency employee for 20 years, I became an independent contractor in April 1999. I am currently an associate of World Travel Inc., which pioneered the “rent a desk” concept more than 10 years ago. In light of most airli


Nancy Pole-Wilhite, Terra Nova Travel LLC, Portland, Ore.

After working as an agency employee for 20 years, I became an independent contractor in April 1999. I am currently an associate of World Travel Inc., which pioneered the “rent a desk” concept more than 10 years ago.

In light of most airlines eliminating commission and the fear that other industry sectors will follow suit, many of us are trying to grapple with how to make a living.

The success of the home-based agent depends upon several factors, including the agent’s:
" Client base
" Speciality/niche markets
" Marketing skills
" Business acumen
" Mastery of desktop technology
" Affiliate agency services (i.e., overrides/contracts with travel vendors, operational services ticketing, accounting and networking with outside agents)
" Ability to budget income during slow periods, withhold taxes and save for retirement.

Although I strive to follow my own advice, I find that I’m constantly reinventing myself. I believe that the major advantage of independent agents is our ability to react quickly to fluid market trends and to offer superior service to our personal clients.

Chris Morse, Corporate Travel, New York

We have taken a $1.5 million agency and moved into a home location for both of our branches, in Glendale, Calif., and New York City. We have given up our ARC number, which is no longer needed, and have IATAN and CLIA affiliations for booking with all travel vendors.

If you can prove you are in the travel business, you can get numbers from vendors who do not like to support home-based agents. OSSN is offering home-based professionals a TRUE (IATA) number, which is taken by travel vendors.

We have saved on overhead, especially GDS charges, since we do not need CRS contracts.

Most travel agencies in the United States do about 85% to 90% of their business over the phone and e-mail.

Moving into a home-based environment is a sound business decision, and our overhead was reduced by almost 75%.

There isn’t anything we cannot do from home that we did at our expensive offices in California and New York. The only factor that you will have to overcome is working at home, with all the distractions, personal business and family obligations.

It seems that when you are home, family does not realize that you are trying to make money and honor your home business hours.

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