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Survey Says...March 1, 2007 By: Stasha Mills Home-Based Travel Agent
We poll our readers on their industry experience, specialties, sales and more
You're an experienced group that takes your work seriously: Nearly half (49 percent) of you have been travel agents for more than 10 years and more than half (54 percent) sell travel full-time. One-fifth have been agents for between five and 10 years, 16 percent for between two and five years, 10 percent for between one and two years and 5 percent for less than one year (welcome!).
One-third of all respondents have been home-based for between two and five years and 24 percent for between five and 10 years. There's a tie at opposite ends of the chart: 18 percent each have been working from home offices for between one and two years and for more than 10 years respectively. The smallest number (8 percent) have been home workers for less than one year.
Having other agents working with you is relatively prevalent, as nearly one-third (31 percent) answered yes to this question. Hopefully, respondents who don't currently have help from outside agents saw last month's article, "Expanding Your Business: When to Seek Assistance to Grow Profits and Alleviate Workload" (February 2007). If you specialize, what is your specialty?
The Host Agency Question
An interesting finding is that the vast majority of respondents (65 percent) are affiliated with a host agency. For those who said they weren't, we asked if they were considering it, and an overwhleming majority (82 percent) said no. This polarity is intriguing and worthy of further exploration. Were your sales up, down or flat in 2006?
Crunching the Numbers
A fantastic finding was that sales were up in 2006 for more than half (56 percent) of respondents. Perhaps not as encouraging are the figures representing gross bookings.
Almost one-fourth of respondents reported gross bookings under $20,000 for 2006. We didn't break down responses by whether the agent was full- or part-time for this income question, but it is reasonable to infer that, in general, part-time agents have lower levels of income. Hopefully, those in the lower income brackets are part-time and either have other jobs that earn them more income or are not the sole breadwinner in their household.
Remember that gross bookings are not net: If an agent reports gross bookings of $20,000, and assuming a 10 percent commission across the board (although to be precise, one would have to adjust the figure to subtract non-commissionable products such as air tickets), the net on $20,000 would be only $2,000—not enough for most people's living expenses for even a month.
I hope you're charging fees!
Still on the income question, of note is that the percentage of respondents did not become consistently lower as the amount of gross bookings went up. For example, the same percentage of agents reported that that their bookings were in the $20,000-$40,000 range as they did in the $500,000-$1 million range. And the same percentage were in the $80,000-$90,000 range as in the more-than-$1 million category.
For those in the lower ranges, if you read the story in which we interview some host agencies' top-producing and most-improved agents, you're sure to pick up some great tips and inspiration.
Our Expo Is a Hit
Nearly one-third of respondents attended the Home-Based Travel Agent Expo & Conference in Las Vegas last December and more than half are planning on attending this year. Make sure to save the date: December 4-6, 2007!