What Is A Home Based Travel Agent?

Many people are unclear about the travel industry. Travel agents are often thought to be the same as real estate agents. Becoming a travel agent or more specifically a home based travel agent is an exciting career change or retirement option. Some people do it full time while many do it as a part time business.

A travel agent books travel for customers and is paid by suppliers a commission on the booking. For bookings that suppliers do not pay a commission on, a travel agent also can charge the client a service fee for his/her time. An example is if you were to book a hotel for a client, the hotel would then send a check to the agency after the client checked out. Most hotels pay 10% of the price of the hotel before taxes and fees. A $100 per night hotel reservation would mean $10 a night for the travel agent who made the booking. This hotel would cost the same whether the customer uses a travel agent or books through the hotel directly. In many cases the travel agent can get a better price. It costs the customer nothing to use the travel agent unless the travel agent charges service fees.

Can anyone do this? In order to work with suppliers, you must have an account set up with the supplier. Most require an agency to hold an IATAN, CLIA or ARC number. IATAN stands for International Airlines Travel Agent Network. CLIA stands for Cruise Lines International Association. ARC stands for Airline Reporting Corporation. Each of these memberships requires different things including sales, money in the bank, experience or training in the industry, and membership fees. Many will require Errors and Omissions insurance of $1,000,000 or more.

For the average travel agent, membership is not a possibility with some organizations so the agent will team up with an agency and work as an independent agent or outside agent. There are also advantages of working with an agency because most travel agents cannot make enough in sales with a particular supplier to obtain higher commission levels and bonuses. Working with an agency with many agents can increase the commission percentages the agent gets because of the joint sales of all the agents at the agency. Support is also a very important aspect of being a successful agent. Agents who do not work with others tend to feel more isolated and have to learn to do it all solo. Since no agent can have the experience of being everywhere in the world or staying at every hotel or resort, having others that you can get advice from is really helpful.

The future of travel agencies is always questioned. The truth is the industry has changed in many ways. Some changes were for the better, some for the worse. Many airlines have cut commissions for travel agents. However, there are many other suppliers who are paying travel agents more than they were ten years ago. Cruises used to be booked by only the rich and now people in every income book cruises. Each year more and more people go on cruises. Most people say they want to go on a cruise at least once and many who go on their first come home to want to book another.

You can earn commission on many travel reservations.

  • Hotels
  • Rental Cars
  • Tour Packages
  • Cruises
  • Some airline tickets
  • International airline tickets
  • Travel insurance
  • Ground transportation including limos
  • Attraction tickets
  • Train tickets

People all need travel arrangements at some point in time. Those who take road trips need hotel reservations. Those who need to travel for business need airline tickets, rental cars, and hotel reservations. Families want to experience vacations with their loved ones. People visit family and relatives. Most people who win money say they are going to spend it to take a nice vacation. Newly married couples go on honeymoons. You are not selling something that is hard to sell. People contact you for help, you are not calling them or approaching them trying to sell them something they don’t want.

Educating the public is the main thing any travel agent must do. Most people put travel agents into the same category as real estate agents. They believe it costs additional to use a travel agent. This is untrue. In many cases a travel agent can get a better price than the general public through the suppliers who work only with travel agents. Many people do not know all the options for booking a vacation. A good travel agent does. Once people are educated on how a travel agent gets paid, they are more willing to work with travel agents. If a person knows that if he or she let you book a hotel and it will cost the same price regardless, she or he will work with you. It is important to let people know how you can help them save time and money on their travel arrangements.

So how do you get into the industry? Many people think they must go to school or become certified. This is not true. You can get into the industry and begin training. I don’t recommend anyone spend thousands on a travel school until he or she knows this is a career that he or she will really want to pursue. The truth is you do not have to spend thousands to get trained. There are many courses free to travel agents from suppliers. There are also organizations such as ICTA (Institute of Certified Travel Agents) who offer courses as you get more years experience in the industry. CLIA also offers courses. There are some agencies that will offer training. Even if you decide this is a career you would like to pursue, you do not need to spend thousands to become an educated and competent travel agent. There are many courses you can take with suppliers and organizations to get a better education in travel. I truly believe a hands’ on approach is the best way to become a better travel agent. Learning to work with suppliers and how to find the information your clients need is an important part of becoming a good travel agent.

How can you find an agency to work with? There are a few organizations dedicated to independent travel agents. NACTA and OSSN are the top organizations. NACTA stands for National Association of Commissioned Travel Agents. OSSN stands for Outside Sales Support Network. You can also search online for home-based travel agent programs. I would never recommend anyone spending a lot of money to start this business. It is key to first try and see if it is something you would really want to do and get training before you invest too much money into it. Get involved in the industry first and see if it is really a career that is best for you.

Jennifer Dugan CTA

Owner of Dugan’s Travels

Travel agent since 1993


Copyright 2004 Jennifer Dugan

Booking Online Versus Your Local Travel Agent

As we are all aware in recent years the travel industry has gone through an amazing transformation with the popularity of online reservation sites. Unfortunately, just like any other online industry there are always pitfalls that could wind up destroying your dream vacation.

I’ve been involved in the travel industry for the better part of 20 years and I’ve witnessed and lived many horrendous events. We need to look at the pros and cons of booking online yourself compared to going to your local travel agent.

1) Booking online:


– flexibility of reserving when your local agency is closed
– feeling of a job well done by handling everything on your own
– convenience of not having to commute
– the possibility of reserving at a better price
– access to a wealth of information readily available online


– if you’re not a seasoned traveler you could wind up reserving something not to your liking
– lack of support offered if the site is an affiliate of a larger company
– if you don’t like your trip you have only yourself to blame!

2) Booking with a local travel agent:


– you are to able rely on the agent’s experience and knowledge to get valuable information before reserving
– in case of an emergency or if any trouble arises you have someone backing you up and readily available to offer support
– a travel agent can provide the proper information concerning the various insurance options. Traveling without insurance is a definite NO-NO


– you might wind up paying a little more with the introduction of travel agent service fees particularly on airline tickets
– having the misfortune of landing on an agent that has even less knowledge than yourself for where you are planning to travel

Of course every traveler has a different level of experience. Therefore, if you are frequent traveler booking online should not discourage you. On the other hand if you travel less frequently you are advised to visit a local travel agent and before you do so choose an agency that has been in operation for years in order to avoid any pitfalls.


When thinking about international travel, most people’s first thought is to hire a travel agent. Why? In several years of travel, I have never been able to find a travel agent who can beat the deals I find for myself. It does take a little more time, yes, but it makes the trip all the more worthwhile when you realize you are the one who designed the trip. It belongs to you.

Research your destination The first thing you should do is research your destination. If, for example, you are going to England, decide if it would better suit you to drive or take the train. If you decide to drive, you will need to investigate things such as insurance, rules of the road, and mileage. You also need to figure out what interests you – do you want to see historical sites? Do you want to visit amusement parks? What strikes you as fun? Use the internet to find the tourism sites for the area, but don’t neglect YouTube or a simple internet search to find out what others have found in the area.

Cut your biggest expenses The first expense you will encounter in international travel is your airfare. There are many sites out there that will be of use to you. Cheaptickets.com, Travelocity.com, and Kayak.com are just three of the sites. A few sites allow you to receive email alerts when the price drops. Start looking several months out and make sure you check out nearby airports. It seems strange, but sometimes smaller airports can have even better deals than larger ones. Check out fares daily or at least every other day.

For hotels in Europe, I’ve found that it is best to mix and match. Travelodge or Premier Inns are great inexpensive hotels that are kind to the wallet, but it is also nice to splurge a bit. Bed and Breakfasts are one fairly inexpensive ways to do that. Don’t forget to factor in that you are saving money on breakfast!

One way to find an inexpensive hotel is to simply type “cheap hotel Paris” and look at the results. Make sure you check out reviews on the hotel, though, before you book!

For transportation, one inexpensive car rental clearinghouse is AutoEurope.com. Simply type in your destination and the site pulls up the best rates it has. If you can find a cheaper rate through a rental agency, AutoEurope’s customer service agents will often match it. Also, check to see what the cost for gas is in your chosen locale. If you are staying close to major cities, it might be best to stick with the train or bus, as it is not easy to drive in a large town. If you are planning to drive and visit a major city, plan for that city to be last and drop the car off beforehand. Paying for parking will often be expensive.

Despite the current economy, travel is still a luxury that you should not give up! With a little planning you can enjoy a wonderful vacation and go exactly where YOU want to go. No pre-packaged deals for you!

Get More with International Travel Guides and Deals

The growing demand for international travel is a by-product of the extensive efforts of many countries at tourism. This is evident in the distribution of pertinent travel literature by host countries at many overseas markets to sell local attractions to potential tourists, apart from lobbying with foreign embassies for the issuance of travel-friendly advisories.

The undeniable presence of travel agents and travel agencies in domestic markets has fast-tracked the promotion and sale of overseas destinations to locales who are enticed by discount travel rates, affordable tour packages and other vacation deals that are available at their choice destination. Apart from delivering regular sales functions, travel agencies assume the hustle and bustle related to overseas travel by providing premium services to clients. These services range from the booking of flights and hotel accommodation, securing of pertinent travel documents such as passports and visas, obtaining adequate travel insurance and coordinating with overseas agencies in the case of packaged tours. Legitimate travel agencies are usually affiliated with an international network of travel agents.

Incidentally, major airlines have expanded their global destinations and likewise increased the frequency of flights between host countries to support relevant tourism objectives. The incidence of air travel is steadily on the rise each year and airline companies benefit much from economies of scale which allows them to offer more affordable flight packages.

All these developments prompted an upsurge of demand for international travel and flights from families and friends who wish to travel abroad for recreation, as well as from individuals on official business overseas.