Spouse travel agent? But of course!
By Kelly Monaghan
Maybe you are just considering getting into the travel business or maybe you’ve taken my course and your career is well under way. Either way, I’d like to ask the married folks among you whether your spouse is in the business with you. And if not, why not?
As I travel around the country and hear from students of my course, I am impressed by the number of husband and wife teams I have encountered and by the success they are enjoying.
There are any number of advantages to being a “mom and pop” operation. Some of the most obvious are financial.
As I explain in some detail in the Home-Based Travel Agent Success Course, much of a travel agent’s travel is a tax-deductible business expense. So when you go on a fam trip or take a cruise that features onboard seminars, the cost of that trip can be taken off on your tax return (with the advice and consent of your tax accountant, of course). Pretty simple and straightforward.
However, if your non-industry spouse comes along for the ride, you are facing an accounting nightmare. Before you can deduct your own expenses, the expenses of your spouse must be carefully removed. And documented! IRS rules are pretty strict on this point.
But if your spouse is also a travel agent, this problem disappears. What’s more, suppliers will almost always charge a higher fee to non-industry spouses on a fam trip or seminar-at-sea. If you travel regularly on fams – and I believe that you need to take at least one or two such trips a year to stay current with what’s going on in the industry – the savings add up quickly.
There are other reasons for spouses to work together in this business, not all of them as easily reduced to dollars and cents considerations, although I’ll be bold enough to say that the synergies offered by spouses working together will invariably lead to financial rewards.
For starters, it’s a fun way to make a living, either part-time or full-time, and who says married couples can’t have fun?
Then, too, the talents and abilities of spouses often compliment one another. One might be better at customer service. One might have computer or Internet skills that the other lacks. One might be better at negotiations with suppliers. The list could be endless.
And spouses provide mutual reassurance and morale boosting for those inevitable times when things aren’t going as smoothly as you might like.
So I’d encourage you to have a heart to heart with your spouse, no matter where you are on your career path. You have nothing to lose and the rewards, both financially and psychically, can be considerable.
Having said all that, let me add some caveats.
Not all spouses are meant to work together. Doing so can strengthen some marriages and destroy others. So proceed with caution. And if your spouse doesn’t want to get involved, respect that decision. Browbeating and guilt-tripping has never been a great recipe for a strong relationship.
Remember, too, that if you are both in the business you must both be in the business. That is, your husband can’t say he’s a travel agent unless he is actively involved in the operations of the home-based enterprise. This does not mean putting in 80 hour weeks, but it does mean making an honest and demonstrable effort.
Saying your spouse is a travel agent when that is not the case can ruin your reputation with professional organizations and it might get you into serious legal difficulties with the IRS.
As I always find myself saying in situations like this, consult with your trusted, professional legal and financial advisers before making any move that might affect your legal or financial situation.