Fresh out of travel school, Certified Travel Consultant (CTC) Karen Quinn started her own company, Quinn Travel, in Katy, Texas, nearly two decades ago. And when health problems forced Pat Bennett to leave a life-long career in nursing five years ago, she opened up her own travel agency, Cottonwood Custom Travel, in Cottonwood, California.
While their “years in the business” differ by nearly a decade and a half, both Quinn and Bennett share three important, career-impacting decisions that have helped them achieve success as independent, home-based travel agency owners.
#1) They chose a host-based program that pays 100% commissions
Both Quinn and Bennett use Amadeus Professional Package, an integrated platform that uses a host agency and pays 100% commissions on everything they sell. The platform, available to US travel professionals, offers all the tools and resources they need to book air, hotels, tours, cruises, insurance and cars, and frees them from time-consuming back-office functions. This freedom enables them to focus on what they love most: selling travel and spending time with customers.
An Amadeus user her entire career, Quinn says that Amadeus Professional Package has helped her manage her business more efficiently and profitably. “I looked at other options, and [Amadeus Professional Package] offered a whole lot more for less,” says Quinn. “The best part is, I get to keep 100% of my commissions. That was very important. If I sell it, I want to keep it!”
Bennett agrees. “By using the host, I only pay a per-invoice fee. I get to keep all my commissions and don’t have to split them with anyone!”
#2) They joined NACTA and saw their business grow
Bennett and Quinn are members of the National Association of Career Travel Agents (NACTA), the industry's leading trade association for the independent travel agent community. Membership in NACTA has helped both business owners expand their horizons through increased networking opportunities, educational support and marketing resources.
According to NACTA President Scott Koepf, Bennett and Quinn understand the “secret” that separates good travel professionals from the great. “Even in a down economy, successful agents like Pat and Karen will continue to thrive because they know how to differentiate themselves from their competitors,” he says.
“They know that ‘being everything to everyone’ and competing on price is never a good long-term strategy. Instead, they possess exceptional knowledge about their individual customers, and are adept at meeting those individual needs with tailored solutions.”
#3) They debunked the “big is beautiful” myth
“Many of my clients have had a bad experience with the Internet,” says Bennett. “They’ve learned some hard lessons that go along with not purchasing insurance when they should have, or choosing the wrong, non-refundable fares. When they come to us, they know we’ll go to bat for them. We counsel them to make wise decisions, based on our knowledge and experience. People appreciate having that personalized service,” she says.
“When I got started in this industry, I always thought I would begin at home, build my business—and then go to a commercial location when I could afford it,” says Quinn. “It never worked out that way because I continued to build a solid following on my own. Host-based agencies offer all the solutions big agencies can—but with greater freedom and flexibility. I love what I do, and my clients appreciate the reliable service I offer. It’s a very satisfying career.”
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