The term “home-based travel agent” has been around for nearly 20 years now. But some people in the industry say it’s time to toss it onto the dustbin of history. But does that really make sense? Is the term obsolete? Or is this a tempest in a teapot?
When the phrase “home-based travel agent” first came into wide usage, in the early 1990s, it was use to refer to people who sold travel but who were not employees of accredited travel agencies.
Instead, they were outside sales reps for accredited travel agencies and they operated as independent contractors not employees, an important distinction. And, yes, almost all of them worked from home offices.
Today, many people using the same tactics are operating out of commercial premises. In fact, since it has become possible for so-called “home-based” agents to get their own IATA numbers (or the functional equivalent), many of these agents are now full-fledged agencies with their own string of sub-agents working as independent contractors.
Most of these operations have clerical employees and are too large to run from a spare room. The only major difference between this new breed of agency and the old fashioned kind is that they do not sell airline tickets, so they don’t have to follow the burdensome rules the airlines impose.
Of course, many “home-based” agents, indeed the majority, are just that — single individuals or couples who sell travel products like cruises and tours and operate from their homes.
So why ditch the term “home-based travel agent”?
Those who advocate that move suggest that the term is demeaning and undervalues the professionalism and in-depth knowledge of these agents. They suggest using terms like “independent agent” instead. Well, whatever floats your boat, I suppose.
Now in fairness, this conversation is taking place within the industry. This is about the egos of people who sell travel and has nothing to do with how travel agents, home-based, independent, or what have you present themselves to the public.
I have been teaching people to succeed as home-based travel agents for over 15 years now and I have never suggested that anyone refer to themself as a “home-based travel agent.”
Smart home-basers have always been using other terms on their business cards, their marketing materials, and in their sales presentations.
Some popular ones are travel consultant, cruise specialist, or vacation expert. Others are more creative. “I make dream trips come true,” says one (home-based) travel agent.
So as far as the public is concerned, this is a non-issue.
And who cares how we’re labeled in the industry? There are home-based agents who earn more than $100,000 a year. Do you think the bank refuses to deposit their checks because they’re “home-based”?
I like the term home-based and I think it has grown in respect over the years. I remember the days when you could buy a clever little machine to hook up to your phone that made people think you had a receptionist. I don’t see that anymore.
Most home-based travel agents will tell you that people are envious to discover that they work from home and have the freedom to dictate their own schedule.
And it is precisely that freedom that is at the heart of the home-based travel agent phenomenon.
Whether you want to work full or part time, at home as a solo entrepreneur or in an office with a support staff running your own team of sub agents, it’s entirely up to you.
Once people understand the many options that are available to them as “home-based” agents, they don’t waste time concerning themselves with how the industry categorizes them.
They simply get out there, start selling travel, and make money. Let’s hope they do it with the help of The Home-Based Travel Agent Success Course.