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In case you missed it, there has been a surge in the number of new travel advisors entering the industry over the last few years. And with so many newbies, we thought it would be a good time to look at some of the confusing jargon that advisors encounter every day, as you can read in this issue’s cover story, “A Travel Professional’s Guide to Industry Terms” (page 16). I think longtime travel pros will also appreciate some of the finer points of these definitions (not to mention Marc Mancini’s tongue-in-cheek sidebar of aviation terms).
One of the items we define in the story is especially pertinent in today’s agency landscape. The number of independent contractors (ICs) is substantially growing, as established businesses integrate new-to-industry advisors.
Unfortunately, as the number of ICs increases, so do stories of business and tax audits by various agencies.
One advisor recently shared the story of her months-long, in-depth government audit that ultimately uncovered a range of (relatively minor) IC infractions.
This process resulted in a hefty fine, yet the advisor felt she got off easy. She saw the whole affair as an education in how to properly conduct her business moving forward.
“After all, if this had happened a couple years down the road, the fines and penalties would have been much larger,” she said. “Now I know I’m on solid ground, and I can avoid future mistakes.”
Her advice for other advisors is to spend the time to really understand rules governing ICs, even if that means consulting legal and tax professionals. Don’t assume you know everything — IC rules are complicated, change frequently and are different depending on where you and your customers live and work.
This suggestion is especially important if, like many agency owners, your business has expanded in recent years and you’re struggling to catch up. It’s well-worth the effort to understand the implications of your growth — before you find yourself writing a big check for a “government education."