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Old May 2, 06, 6:14 am   #1
 
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Question Becoming a travel agent to save money- good idea/bad idea?

I've tried to search for a similar thread but couldn't find one--my apologies if one already exists. I'd appreciate a link if that's the case.

I notice that a lot of FT'ers are travel agents. My question is: is it worth it for me to become a travel agent just to save money on travel, or earn a portion of my ticket costs back in the form of commissions?

How much would it cost me to become an independent travel agent? Can I train myself? What is the cheapest way to do this?

Does having an IATA card really save you much money on flights? Hotels?

I enjoy finding cheap flights, so I end up booking a lot of my friends' and relatives' flights for them. This year, I've booked 6 flights to asia (LAX to HKG) and 4 flights to europe (LAX to LTH) and numerous flights within the U.S. (and captured all of the miles on Citi PremierPass Elite ). I'll proably be booking even more international flights next year. I booked most of these flights directly through the airlines' websites.

I'm thinking that if I became a travel agent, I could earn commission on the flights I already book. However, if the cost of actually becoming a travel agent is not exceeded by any commissions I'd earn and money I'd save, then it wouldn't be worth it.

I'd appreciate any advice you can give. Thanks!!!
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Old May 2, 06, 7:00 am   #2
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baby61212
I'm thinking that if I became a travel agent, I could earn commission on the flights I already book.
This website might be of help. Here's an excerpt:

Travel agents no longer receive commission payments from domestic airlines, and agents face increasing competition from the Internet for low-cost fares. In an effort to find a niche in the market, many travel agents now specialize in travel to certain regions or for certain groups of people, such as honeymooners, grandparents, or ethnic groups.
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Old May 2, 06, 8:59 am   #3
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baby61212
Does having an IATA card really save you much money on flights? Hotels?
I have never saved one penny with mine, but I don't really travel that much. As far as I know, you can't really save money on flights, but some hotel chains do give you a discount, maybe 5-15% off rack rate.

A co-worker did once use his card to get reaccomodated onto another airline after a nasty schedule change. The agent didn't want to do so and tried telling him she couldn't, so he pulled out his card and said "I know for a fact that you can, so get me on their flight immediately." She did it.
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Old May 2, 06, 9:14 am   #4
 
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It will sometimes help. NO commissions on air travel. But you can go on fabulous FAM trips (familiarization trips) for pretty cheap.
http://www.famnews.com/
http://www.famconnection.com/

We hold a card through these people. http://www.globaltravel.com/home/def...N=&PROMO=&AFF=

We have NEVER booked a thing through the company-their prices are too high.

But I have booked my own cruises, saved maybe 8% (we actually took upgrades instead of cash off). The best benefit-lots of high end hotels have agent/FAM discounts. The only catch-you MUST tour the hotel and listen to the marketing info. We spent 4 days at the Sheraton Pulitzer, AMS last year. They gave us a large suite for $129.00 per night. Regular Starwood price was over $400.00 per night. And the tour was really interesting. Also got a pretty good break (although nothing like AMS) at the Furama Resort in Danang Vietnam last October.

Thoroughly investigate BEFORE you invest. It will probably cost you about $500 per year.
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Old May 2, 06, 10:43 am   #5
 
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>I'd appreciate any advice you can give

I have a friend who's worked as a full-time travel agent for about a decade now. She gets some good deals for herself, but that's because she's a working agent pushing product. For example, if she sells a lot of Tour Packages from Company X then Company X will reciprocate in kind if she contacts them and says she's going on vacation and she's looking for a deal - They reward her for sending business their way. Ditto some of the charter airlines. She also gets "fam trips" but only after she's proven she's a 'real' agent.

Cheers,
Geoff Glave
Vancouver, Canada
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Old May 2, 06, 10:49 am   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wyatt Riot
A co-worker did once use his card to get reaccomodated onto another airline after a nasty schedule change. The agent didn't want to do so and tried telling him she couldn't, so he pulled out his card and said "I know for a fact that you can, so get me on their flight immediately." She did it.
You don't need an IATA card for that -- I have done the same thing before using the print-out of IATA Resolution 735D that I always carry .
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Old May 2, 06, 7:11 pm   #7
 
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Thanks, everyone, for all of the great info so far! I love FT.
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Old May 2, 06, 8:04 pm   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KVS
You don't need an IATA card for that -- I have done the same thing before using the print-out of IATA Resolution 735D that I always carry .
Can you please explain 735D in lameman's terms?
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Old May 2, 06, 8:37 pm   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Palal
Can you please explain 735D in lameman's terms?
I hope someone else can, I can't even explain it in layman's terms.
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Old May 2, 06, 10:49 pm   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KVS
You don't need an IATA card for that -- I have done the same thing before using the print-out of IATA Resolution 735D that I always carry .
Oh, I know, it was just nice to flash the card and see her follow the rules (at least as he told the story). Any evidence that you know what they can and can't do would likely work.

As for a print-out of 735D, that sounds vaguely familiar. I'm guessing something similar to Rule 240/Contract of Carriage?
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Old May 2, 06, 11:20 pm   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Palal
Can you please explain 735D in lameman's terms?
It's basically a set of rules that deals with the issue of re-routing during flight cancellations/delays. Most airlines often conveniently 'forget' about its existence, because it basically says that the airline at fault has to act in the best interests of the PAX, regardless of how much such accommodation would cost the airline.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wyatt Riot
As for a print-out of 735D, that sounds vaguely familiar. I'm guessing something similar to Rule 240/Contract of Carriage?
Correct -- it corresponds to Rule 80 of the Intl Contract of Carriage/Rule 240 of US domestic.
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Old Jul 31, 06, 1:50 pm   #12
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I've been interested in setting my own home-based agency for awhile now but never had the time until recently... but I reside in Canada.. what are my options here? It seems like all the information given applies to those living/working in the U.S.
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Old Jul 31, 06, 2:30 pm   #13
 
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I have been a travel agent for just about a year now.

The discounts and such are really NOT worth it. Almost 95% of the time I can find a cheaper rate on hotels.com, etc than the IATA/IATAN card rate. The card can come in handy for hotel upgrades. I got an amazing upgrade recently in LAS. I am talking a MAJOR upgrade at a strip hotel just for showing my IATAN card. Other than that, working for an airline is your best best. You fly stand-by, but for free or really really cheap (i.e. $74 r/t LAX-LHR). Most airlines give PART TIME employees full flight benefits. Most fly free domestically and just pay taxes internationally (as my mom is an AA F/A). The "industry" rate at hotels is also often cheaper for an airline employee than a travel agent.

Airlines also extend the benefits to your family (mother, spose, kids) under certain circumstances. Most also have "buddy pass" programs. It really varies by airline. With AA, you get 24 buddy passes a year, plus the ability to register a companion who gets your same benefits.
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Old Jul 31, 06, 9:18 pm   #14
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UMassCanuck07
I have been a travel agent for just about a year now.

The discounts and such are really NOT worth it. Almost 95% of the time I can find a cheaper rate on hotels.com, etc than the IATA/IATAN card rate. The card can come in handy for hotel upgrades. I got an amazing upgrade recently in LAS. I am talking a MAJOR upgrade at a strip hotel just for showing my IATAN card. Other than that, working for an airline is your best best. You fly stand-by, but for free or really really cheap (i.e. $74 r/t LAX-LHR). Most airlines give PART TIME employees full flight benefits. Most fly free domestically and just pay taxes internationally (as my mom is an AA F/A). The "industry" rate at hotels is also often cheaper for an airline employee than a travel agent.

Airlines also extend the benefits to your family (mother, spose, kids) under certain circumstances. Most also have "buddy pass" programs. It really varies by airline. With AA, you get 24 buddy passes a year, plus the ability to register a companion who gets your same benefits.
Very revealing information, most of which I dod not know...thanks for sharing.
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Old Jul 31, 06, 11:20 pm   #15
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This is all great, but what about a Canadian who wants to start a home shop for the love of it rather than to get deals that aren't really deals?
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