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