Largest Home-Based Travel Company in Europe Opens in U.S.
Travel Counsellors, based in the U.K. with offices in the Netherlands and Ireland, recently opened an office in Orlando, demonstrating a commitment to expanding in the U.S. The first and largest home-based travel company in the U.K., Travel Counsellors began in 1994 and now has approximately 650 agents.
"This business is customer-driven," says David Speakman, founder and group chairman. The company frees agents to concentrate on customer service by handling all administrative tasks; they have 120 employees. Travel Counsellors gives their agents laptops and maintains them, offers training courses (190 courses last year) and pays CTC dues. They require affiliated agents to have both a CTC and an MCC or to pledge to earn them within a year of joining.
"Like the Marines, we're looking for a few good people," says President Graeme Clarke. For more information, visit www.travelcounsellors.com.
NACTA to Hold Home-Based Summit, Revamps Web Sites
The National Association of Commissioned Travel Agents (NACTA) has scheduled a "Home-Based Agent Summit" for November 29 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. The one-day, training-heavy program will include panel discussions, motivational speakers, educational training and a mini trade show. "All of this, along with idea-sharing, will make for a tremendous learning opportunity," says Joanie Ogg, NACTA president. The registration fee is $69 per person. For more information or to register, go to www.nacta.com.
NACTA has also overhauled its six web sites including its main site, www.nacta.com, and its host agency site, www.nacta.com/hosts . "The host agency web site is an invaluable tool for home-based travel professionals looking to align themselves with a qualified NACTA host agency. An optimized search engine lets viewers use both this site and the NACTA.com home page to find a host," Ogg says.
AVC Offers Home-Based Contractors Health Insurance
California-based travel agency and home-based host America's Vacation Center is offering health insurance to all of its home-based contractors. Product offerings, according to an AVC spokesman, include dental, major medical, limited medical, vision, life insurance, accident/short-term disability insurance and prescription discount coverage. A variety of insurance providers are available so agents in different states can find comprehensive coverage. Call 800-521-2597 or visit www.joinavc.com.
GDS Fees Update
American Airlines (AA) and Sabre Holdings finally called it quits on the feud kicked off in July with the carrier's decision to impose per-segment booking fees on travel agents using certain GDSs. The airline and GDS provider announced September 1 they had come to a five-year distribution agreement that makes Sabre's Efficient Access Solution (EAS) "opt-in" program a preferred distribution channel for AA ticket sales. That means that Sabre clients who opted in to the EAS will avoid paying the $3.50 per-segment booking surcharges on AA ticket purchases. It also means that they are guaranteed full AA content.
Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines informed Amadeus subscribers September 1 that it would begin charging its own $3.50 per-segment "recovery fee" on Amadeus bookings. Amadeus reassured subscribers that it would both reimburse them for fees incurred booking Delta and continue negotiations with the airline.