Here’s some great news! According to the Travel Corporation, a conglomerate that owns a slew of travel brands including some major tour operators, today more than half of all travel agents in the U.S. are home-based.
That’s pretty darned impressive and it gives me great pleasure. When I first started telling the world about the “home-based travel revolution” back in the nineties, I was pretty much a voice crying in the wilderness. The travel trade press was not at all happy about the first stirrings of home-based agents and regularly bad-mouthed them, calling them “kitchen table Mabels” and worse.
Eventually, of course, the trade press saw the writing on the wall and began to actively court home-based agents. In fact, if it weren’t for the legions of home-based agents these trade journals would be out of business. ASTA, which had been extremely vocal in condemning home-based agents for their supposed lack of professionalism, actually purchased an association of home-based agents just to maintain its viability in a changing industry.
Did the trade press or ASTA apologize for their past behavior? Not that I ever noticed.
More Than Half Is A Big Deal
But now a tipping point has been reached. We have stopped being the wave of the future. Today we are the future.
Of course, in this age of “fake news” some people may doubt this claim, so let me add a caveat:
It’s an elusive number, [Paul] Wiseman acknowledged, and The Travel Corporation … has spent considerable time and resources trying to track it down.
“What we see in our research is that nobody actually has a complete list [of all the home-based travel agents]. But we have combined all of our data from many sources” to come up with the percentage, he said.
In other words, people can dispute the contention that home-based travel agents are now in the majority. Some no doubt will. But what can’t be disputed is what Wiseman went on to say.
“It’s a big deal for us in terms of how we structure our business and our approach to the market—it has an impact on every single piece of our business.”
That’s major. Here is the president of a major corporation that represents big-deal travel suppliers telling the world that from this day forward home-based travel agents will be foremost in their mind as they implement corporate strategy.
So if you are a home-based travel agent and have ever been shy about approaching a supplier — for information, for a favor, for help in closing a major group sale — stop worrying. You are respected and recognized as a key element in the success of any forward thinking supplier.
If you are considering becoming a home-based travel agent and have wondered how you will be accepted in the industry, relax. Suppliers know you are an important partner and they will do everything they can to help make you a success.