House Calls

Kenneth Shapiro This issue’s cover story, “There’s No Place Like Home” (page 16), has been a long time in the making. We began asking industry insiders their thoughts regarding home-based agents over a year ago, and what we found was a vast range of opinions on the subject even though few in the industry

By: Kenneth Shapiro

This issue’s cover story, “There’s No Place Like Home” (page 16), has been a long time in the making. We began asking industry insiders their thoughts regarding home-based agents over a year ago, and what we found was a vast range of opinions on the subject even though few in the industry had any hard facts about the group. What was needed was an in-depth survey of agents and suppliers that would become an industry-wide benchmark.

As a result, Northstar Travel Media, our parent company, approached the venerable researcher Stanley Plog to partner up on a comprehensive study for us as well as our sister publication, Travel Weekly. To look even further into the subject, however, our editors sought out agents and visited them in their workplaces. We met with established home-based agents, brick-and-mortar newbies, successful veteran brick-and-mortar agents and even students still learning about the profession.

You can read our findings in this issue, and we would be very interested to hear your thoughts on the subject too. (As always, you can e-mail us at letters@travelagewest.com.)

As we searched for agents for this story, we ran across several that went above and beyond the ordinary. To honor agents such as these, we are bringing back the TravelAge West Trendsetters Award program (see page 13). There are three categories for agents to enter: Best Agency Success Story (honoring innovative business decisions and actions); Best Online Marketing Strategy (highlighting creative use of Web, online and e-mail marketing strategies); and Best Community Service Effort (for agencies that took extraordinary measures to make a difference in their communities).

Any agency, no matter how big or small, is invited to enter. Our editorial staff and the contest sponsors Globus, Dreams Resorts & Spas and Royal Caribbean will choose a winner and a runner-up in each category. These six agencies will not only win travel awards from the sponsors, they will also be honored at our annual WAVE (Western Agents’ Votes of Excellence) Awards dinner in Beverly Hills, Calif., in June, and be featured in a special issue of TravelAge West.

To enter, visit TravelAgeWest.com before April 1 and click on the Trendsetters Award ad on the home page. Fill out the electronic entry form and submit it. You will be contacted by the editorial staff by May 1 if we need more information. K.S.

>