Travel Agent Chatter | Starting and Growing Your Travel Agency

Steph Lee | Travel Industry Veteran, Founder Host Agency Reviews

Travel Agent Chatter -- a Host Agency Reviews audio series -- talks about all things travel. Like what, you ask? How to start and grow your travel agency. Where other travel agencies have found success in marketing to clients. The slickest tricks travel agents use to find the best deals for their clients.

  • 20 minutes 56 seconds
    165 Moving An IATA - Accredited Agency To U S Client Poaching On Facebook Groups!
    In episode 165 Steph is co-hosting David Meihoefer of Travel Planners International. Here’s a taste of the questions they’ll cover! 1. Hello, as a founding partner of an IATA accredited travel agency with plans to move to the United States by the end of the summer to operate from home, will I still have to go through all the stages of ARC-IATAN? Could HAR provide me with end-to-end support in this regard considering your 7 day agency setup program? Thanks & Regards. —Roland Y. 2. Before I started my travel agency I created a few Facebook groups to get the ball rolling. I have 5 groups currently all specific to Royal Caribbean and their ships. Combined they have over 120k members and growing daily. It's a fantastic source for leads. This is where my question comes in. They are all public groups and in the rules it states "Pirates be Gone" no selling or promoting business within the groups. I have many many travel agents doing whatever they can to get leads from the groups. I have had to remove members, ban members for just doing their jobs as travel agents. Some are vultures and it's ridiculous. How do I handle this? I do not want to remove anyone, we all learn from these groups, we all make connections but I also put in 100s of hours creating content and managing these spaces to benefit my own agency. Is there a happy medium? We are new to the travel industry and it really stinks watching others swoop in and take potential sales away. We have had some downright nasty messages come through because of this, but we have also had some very nice messages with people willing to help. Any feedback you can provide would be great. Thank you for all of the incredible information you have provided, it has been invaluable. Thank you, Travis RESOURCES: https://hostagencyreviews.com/7DS-accelerator (HAR’s 7 Day Setup Accelerator course on starting your agency) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/iata-number (What is an IATA number?) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-agent-certification (What travel agent certification is and isn’t. Plus, what are the certifications out there for agents?) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-agency-accreditation (A list of the different travel agent accreditation options.) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/what-is-an-arc-number (What is an ARC number?) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-leads (How to build a client base and find leads) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/top-4-travel-agency-marketing-tools (Promoting your travel agency on social media with these tools) https://hostagencyreviews.com/hosts/travel-planners-international (Travel Planners International’s profile on HAR) https://hostagencyreviews.com/friday15 (Submit questions, sign up for reminders for the F15, along with that week's questions we'll be covering!)
    19 July 2024, 12:00 am
  • 23 minutes 4 seconds
    (164) Course to Learn Sabre? Benefits of Certifications? Paying 6K for a Mistake – Is This Legal?
    In episode 164 Steph is co-hosting again with Lindsay Taylor of Travel Leaders 365. Have a look at the questions below that they cover in this rich and informative edition of the Friday 15! 1. Hi Steph. I worked as a Travel Manager at my previous company, however, it was a created position and I used a combination of Concur, Expedia, Hotels.com, National Car rental and all the other sites. I loved this position but it all went away during Covid. Now, I'd like to get back into it but everything I'm interested in requires some Sabre experience. I know it's easy and I know I could do it but do you think it's worth taking the 60 hour course with The Travel Institute? Is there a better place to obtain this training? It could add a few lines on my resume and I'm great with self-study. $149 doesn't seem high for getting some experience. What are your thoughts? Thanks for your time! :) —Anonymous 2. Hi Steph. I have a diploma from Penn Foster and when I look at the CTA, I feel like I've already done all of the same lessons. Is it better to have one of these certifications over the diploma I've already received? Are these just better recognized and received by people in the industry and clients? It seems like these have a more elevated status over my diploma. Is that the case? —Anonymous 3. I refunded a non refundable ticket by accident. The agency paid it back but now I'm on the hook for over $6000. The airline does not reverse the transaction so the traveler has a credit. Have you ever worked with this? I would like to find out how this is even legal? ---Anonymous RESOURCES: https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/what-is-gds (In-depth information on what the GDS, global distribution system, is and which travel advisors use it.) https://www.thetravelinstitute.com/product/sabre-personal-trainer/ (Travel Institute’s program) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/become-corporate-travel-agent (Tips on how to become a corporate travel agent.) https://hostagencyreviews.com/travelagentchatter/molly-williams-the-optimists-travel (TAC episode with Molly Williams. https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-agent-certification (What travel agent certification is and isn’t. Plus, what are the certifications out there for agents?) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-agency-debit-memo (What is a travel agency debit memo?) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/what-is-gds (In-depth information on what the GDS, global distribution system, is and which travel advisors use it.) https://hostagencyreviews.com/hosts/travel-leaders-365 (TL 365’s HAR profile) https://TL365.com (TL 365’s website) [email protected] (Lindsay’s email address) https://hostagencyreviews.com/friday15 (Submit questions, sign up for reminders for the F15, along with that week's questions we'll be covering!)
    12 July 2024, 12:00 am
  • 17 minutes 36 seconds
    2 DBAs under 1 LLC? Off-the-books flight-booking? Are agency fees a red flag?
    In episode 163 Steph is co-hosting with Lindsay Taylor of Travel Leaders 365, If you have a question for Steph and her co-hosts, please submit it here for a future episode: https://hostagencyreviews.com/friday15 ! 1. I work as an independent contractor so I already have an LLC for non travel related business. I was wondering if I could just add a "second" DBA and use the same LLC to start the travel business but continue to work on my full time job as another name. So basically 2 DBAs under one LLC? I live in Florida. Thanks! —Anonymous 2. Hello, so I live in the US and want to help people in Guyana, South America purchase flights to travel to and from the US and charge a small fee. I want to use sites like Priceline and Expedia and Booking to purchase the flights. Sort of an off the books business. Is this possible? —Mike S. 3. Hi, I’m curious about startup/yearly/monthly fees. I keep reading that it's a red flag if a travel host charges. In your opinion and experience, what do you want to look for when searching for a host? Thanks! –Jamie K. RESOURCES: https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-agency-business-structures (The options for your travel agency’s business structure — pros and cons) https://hostagencyreviews.com/page/travel-advisor-research-reports/ (Travel agent survey data on fee charging practices: what they charge for, how much, fee structures and more.) https://hostagencyreviews.com/page/travel-advisor-research-reports/ (Travel agent survey data on fee charging practices: what they charge for, how much, fee structures and more.) https://www2.arccorp.com/support-training/fraud-prevention/ (ARC’s fraud prevention webinar) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-agency-debit-memo (What is a travel agency debit memo?) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/what-is-gds (In-depth information on what the GDS, global distribution system, is and which travel advisors use it.) https://hostagencyreviews.com/hosts/travel-leaders-365 (TL 365’s HAR profile) https://TL365.com (TL 365’s website) [email protected] (Lindsay’s email address) https://hostagencyreviews.com/friday15 (Submit questions, sign up for reminders for the F15, along with that week's questions we'll be covering!)
    5 July 2024, 12:00 am
  • 22 minutes 28 seconds
    162 Do Airline Commissions Still Exist Travel Services Agreements - When Should A Client Sign
    In episode 162 Steph Lee is joined by Chad Burt of Outside Agents. We’ve got some great questions from you all. Speaking of – if you have a question for Steph and her co-hosts, please submit it here for a future episode: https://hostagencyreviews.com/friday15 ! 1. Do the airlines still give commissions on flights? If not, what is the benefit of an $2300 ARC #? —Anonymous 2. Hello! I have a quick question about workflows. If you have a travel services agreement, is it better to have clients sign that before or after you send quotes/proposals? I don't want to scare clients away before they see options, but I also don't want to waste my time! —Kristin R. RESOURCES: https://hostagencyreviews.com/friday15 (Submit questions, sign up for reminders for the F15, along with that week's questions we'll be covering!) https://hostagencyreviews.com/friday15/agent-etiquette-on-fam-trips-benefits-of-the-gds-should-i-belong-to-asta (Friday 15 going over benefits of GDS system) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/what-is-gds (In-depth information on what the GDS, global distribution system, is and which travel advisors use it.) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/what-is-an-arc-number (What is an ARC number?) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-agency-accreditation (A list of the different travel agent accreditation options.) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-agent-commissions (All about travel agent commissions, including airline commissions.) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/what-is-a-host-agency (Explainer of what a host agency is) https://hostagencyreviews.com/page/travel-advisor-research-reports/ (Travel agent survey data on fee charging practices: what they charge for, how much, fee structures and more.) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/how-to-qualify-clients-travel-agent (How to qualify clients and recordings of real travel advisor conversations to qualify their clients) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/free-travel-agent-forms-clients (Free travel agent forms from HAR) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-waivers-protect-your-travel-agency (Travel waiver forms from HAR)
    28 June 2024, 12:00 am
  • 28 minutes 17 seconds
    (161) Just Starting Out – And My Brain is Frozen! How Do I Present Options to a Client?
    In episode 161 Steph is co-hosting with Lori Speers of Levarte Travel! We’ve got some great questions, so make sure you set aside the time to tune in this week! (Also, ICYMI, all of our podcasts are archived, so you can listen at your leisure!) 1. I recently joined a host agency (exactly 1 month ago) and I do a ton of research but somehow I feel more lost every day. I feel a little overwhelmed with so much information and access out there that my brain is freezing. I don't know where to start off so I am doing all at the same time and freaking out. Do you have a "step list" of what to do first that you would recommend? - Build a website, contracts, forms, services guide, social media, training (do I prioritize supplier training or destinations?) I have a business and social media account set up and going but I am a mess behind it all. I would like to say thank you for making this website such a welcoming place where I feel comfortable asking beginner questions. TIA! —Camila S. 2. What I'm still not clear on are things like this: how do I present options and prices to a client, and give them time to make a decision? Am I supposed to reserve all of the options first to guarantee the price, and then cancel the discarded options afterward? Or do you just present it and hope the prices don't change in the meantime? Are there other good places to find tips or suggestions for effective booking practices? --Christopher M. RESOURCES: https://hostagencyreviews.com/friday15 (Submit questions, sign up for reminders for the F15, along with that week's questions we'll be covering!) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/how-to-qualify-clients-travel-agent (How to qualify clients with 3 real life examples of advisors qualifying clients) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/what-is-tour-operator (What the heck is a tour operator, anyhow? We have answers.) https://alg.www.vaxvacationaccess.com/pages/pro-to-pro/ (Apple Leisure Group Pro training) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/how-to-ask-questions-to-peers-on-social-media (How to ask your travel peers questions on social media) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/best-travel-itinerary-builders (Best travel itinerary builders and comparison sheet) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/free-travel-itinerary-template-for-advisors (Free travel itinerary template for travel advisors) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/how-to-qualify-clients-travel-agent (How to qualify clients and recordings of real travel advisor conversations to qualify their clients) https://hostagencyreviews.com/hosts/levarte-travel (Levarte’s HAR profile) https://levartetravel.com (Levarte’s website)
    21 June 2024, 12:00 am
  • 26 minutes 14 seconds
    (160) How To Sell an Agency? Back into the Travel Industry 30 Years Later!
    In episode 160 Steph is co-hosting with April Swales of Uniglobe! Please join us as this dynamic duo tackles a couple of important questions! 1. I was wondering if I could pick your brain a little about the current status of the industry, the possibilities of finding someone interested in buying an agency, and what makes a travel agency attractive for a potential buyer. My mother isn't ready to stop working as an agent and loves helping her clients but I could see it being a good exit strategy for her in the near future. —Nathan 2. I went to an actual school in 1988 on the Sabre system. Do you know if there are courses that might bring me up to speed & how much they cost? I spoke with IATAN & ARC today. It's not as expensive as I thought it'd be but I'd still like to start off maybe working with a national agency for a while first. Thoughts? —Anonymous TODAY’S RESOURCES: https://www.youtube.com/live/b8PvbmxA35U?feature=shared&t=8959 (Host Week presentation with Steph and Marc Casto on selling an agency) https://www.tvlacq.com/ (Broker specializing in travel agencies/tour operators) https://www.score.org/resource/eguide/small-business-owner’s-guide-succession-planning https://www.trinet.com/insights/small-business-succession-plan-101 https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/general-guide-succession-planning-small-business-c-suitesupport https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/become-corporate-travel-agent (Tips on how to become a corporate travel agent with links to Sabre trainings.) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-agency-accreditation (A list of the different travel agent accreditation options.) https://hostagencyreviews.com/travel-jobs (Find travel agent jobs on HAR’s travel jobs board!) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/how-much-do-travel-agents-make-travel-agent-salary (Info on how much travel agents make) https://www.travelleadersoftomorrow.com/business/ (Travel Leaders of Tomorrow is only accepting students who have already secured a job with an agency but are in need of training.) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/what-is-gds (In-depth information on what the GDS, global distribution system, is and which travel advisors use it.) https://www.thetravelinstitute.com/product/sabre-personal-trainer/ https://your.sabre.com/sabretraining https://www.linkedin.com/advice/3/what-most-important-gds-training-resources-travel-ihklf
    14 June 2024, 12:00 am
  • 26 minutes 25 seconds
    (159) How to Build a Client Base? Leads Programs – Worth It? How to Handle Changeable Clients?
    entrepreneurship, entrepreneur, business, small business, home based business, travel agency, travel, marketing, travelagent, travel advisor, business, host agency, Friday15, podcast
    7 June 2024, 12:00 am
  • 19 minutes 41 seconds
    (158) Agent Etiquette on FAM trips? Benefits of the GDS? Should I belong to ASTA?
    (158) Agent Etiquette on FAM trips? Benefits of the GDS? Should I belong to ASTA? In episode 158 Steph is flying solo! We’ve got some great questions and requests from our audience this week, so have a listen! 1. Not a question but a request... PLEASE discuss agent etiquette on FAMs. From the unwritten rules of don't sit on the bed or use a toilet to the obvious ones of show up on time, don't solicit guests, etc. There seems to be a lack of awareness and understanding lately. —Becky S. 2. What are the benefits of the GDS? —Anonymous 3. I saw ASTA had a conference this week. I hear about all these travel events and I don’t know which ones I should prioritize. Is ASTA’s event a good fit for new advisors, even if I’m not a member yet? —Anonymous TODAY’S RESOURCES: https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-agent-fam-trip (Travel Agent FAM Trips: What They Are + How to Find Them) https://hostagencyreviews.com/travel-conferences-events (HAR’s travel industry conferences and events calendar with over 100+ events!) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/what-is-gds (In-depth information on what the GDS, global distribution system, is and which travel advisors use it.) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-agency-debit-memo (What is a travel agency debit memo?) https://hostagencyreviews.com/travel-conferences-events (HAR’s travel industry conferences and events calendar with over 100+ events!) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/make-your-travel-conference-count (Tips on how to get the most out of your next travel conference!) https://traveladvisorconference.org/ (ASTA’s Travel Advisor Conference) https://har.news/roadmap (Take ASTA’s Roadmap to Becoming a Travel Advisor course, send your certificate to HAR and get a coupon to save $40 on the HAR 7 Day Setup course!) https://hostagencyreviews.com/affiliate (Become an affiliate for HAR’s course on starting your travel agency and earn 20% commission!)
    31 May 2024, 12:00 am
  • 16 minutes 26 seconds
    (157) Friday 15 Encore (Vol. 92)
    Welcome to Friday 15! For today's Friday 15 throwback, we are re-streaming Vol. 92 from Feb. 2023, where Steph chatted about acquiring a GDS system without a host, attending FAM trips through other host/consortiums, using a payment system without using a host, and do you need to be certified to work with a host. Helpful Resources: https://asta.org/become (Use code HAR149 to save 50%) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-agency-accreditation (More on IATA/ARC) https://gbta.org/ (Global Business Travel Association) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-agent-fam-trip https://hostagencyreviews.com/events (HAR’s event calendar with FAMs, conferences, ship inspections and more) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/credit-card-processing-for-travel-agencies (Few notes on things to know when doing credit card processing) https://www.nationaltransaction.com/ (high risk credit card processing in travel) https://hostagencyreviews.com/events https://www.adventuretravel.biz/ https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-agent-certification (See many of the certification options available) https://courses.hostagencyreviews.com (HAR’s new course on starting your travel agency!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tn4S0mV4zMk&list=PLdEeS4KrdBLqVDL24Cw8Mw2XeMQVBwmec (Host Week 2023) har.news/7DS https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/what-is-gds (What is the GDS and Which Travel Agents Need It) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-industry-lawyer-list (Travel Industry Lawyer List & Free Legal Docs for Agencies) https://www.carpentertaylor.com/ (Carpenter Law Office) https://hostagencyreviews.com/friday15 (Sign up for reminders and ask your questions!) We do this every week! If you have travel industry questions, HAR likely has an answer :) Submit your burning question here Har.News/Friday15 and join us this Friday (and every Friday!) at 12CT for travel agent tips! 📧 Never miss a HAR resource. Join 30,000+ agents and subscribe to our newsletter: http://www.hostagencyreviews.com/newsletter 🎧 Listen to our Podcast: http://www.hostagencyreviews.com/travelagentchatter 🤔 Travel Agent Think Tank FB Group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/TravelAgentThinkTank 🌴 Thinking of becoming a travel advisor? Join our FREE 7 Day Set Up program: https://hostagencyreviews.com/7-day-set-up ________________________________________________________________ Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/hostagencyreviews http://www.facebook.com/iamstephly Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/hostagencyrvws http://www.twitter.com/iamstephly Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hostagencyreviews/ LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/company/2534866 http://www.linkedin.com/in/iamstephly
    24 May 2024, 5:00 pm
  • 16 minutes 26 seconds
    (157) Friday 15 Encore (92)
    Welcome to Friday 15! For today's Friday 15 throwback, we are re-streaming Vol. 92 from Feb. 2023, where Steph chatted about acquiring a GDS system without a host, attending FAM trips through other host/consortiums, using a payment system without using a host, and do you need to be certified to work with a host. 00:00 | Welcome to Friday 15 with Steph Lee! 01:44 | Acquiring a GDS System Without a Host 09:19 | Attending FAMS with Other Hosts 10:11 | Payment System without a Host 14:27 | Certification with a Host Helpful Resources: https://asta.org/become (Use code HAR149 to save 50%) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-agency-accreditation (More on IATA/ARC) https://gbta.org/ (Global Business Travel Association) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-agent-fam-trip https://hostagencyreviews.com/events (HAR’s event calendar with FAMs, conferences, ship inspections and more) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/credit-card-processing-for-travel-agencies (Few notes on things to know when doing credit card processing) https://www.nationaltransaction.com/ (high risk credit card processing in travel) https://hostagencyreviews.com/events https://www.adventuretravel.biz/ https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-agent-certification (See many of the certification options available) https://courses.hostagencyreviews.com (HAR’s new course on starting your travel agency!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tn4S0mV4zMk&list=PLdEeS4KrdBLqVDL24Cw8Mw2XeMQVBwmec (Host Week 2023) har.news/7DS https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/what-is-gds (What is the GDS and Which Travel Agents Need It) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-industry-lawyer-list (Travel Industry Lawyer List & Free Legal Docs for Agencies) https://www.carpentertaylor.com/ (Carpenter Law Office) https://hostagencyreviews.com/friday15 (Sign up for reminders and ask your questions!) We do this every week! If you have travel industry questions, HAR likely has an answer :) Submit your burning question here Har.News/Friday15 and join us this Friday (and every Friday!) at 12CT for travel agent tips! 📧 Never miss a HAR resource. Join 30,000+ agents and subscribe to our newsletter: http://www.hostagencyreviews.com/newsletter 🎧 Listen to our Podcast: http://www.hostagencyreviews.com/travelagentchatter 🤔 Travel Agent Think Tank FB Group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/TravelAgentThinkTank 🌴 Thinking of becoming a travel advisor? Join our FREE 7 Day Set Up program: https://hostagencyreviews.com/7-day-set-up ________________________________________________________________ Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/hostagencyreviews http://www.facebook.com/iamstephly Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/hostagencyrvws http://www.twitter.com/iamstephly Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hostagencyreviews/ LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/company/2534866 http://www.linkedin.com/in/iamstephly
    24 May 2024, 12:00 am
  • 25 minutes 50 seconds
    [Ep. 156] Friday 15 (GTN Co-Host)
    In episode 156 Steph is so excited to co-host with Meredith Calloway of GTN! You’ve sent along some fabulous questions this week, so please join us for some great Friday afternoon conversation! Here's Today's Questions! 1. Hi! I’d like to charge a fee for my business. I plan to specialize in luxury, which I think will make it easier to charge a fee, like Courtnie in your last podcast said. What is the best rate to charge? Any other fee-charging tips? —Anonymous 2. I'm currently with a Virtuoso host agency but thinking of making a change. Is there a way to filter your hosts to select for Virtuoso? I'm not sure I want to give that up. —C. 3. Hi there. I have a couple questions about becoming a travel agent and thought maybe you could send me more information. I would like to understand the difference between being a host agency and a franchise. There is so much information online that is untrue and it's hard to decipher between what's real and what people just put out there to take your money. Any information you could send me I would appreciate! Thanks, –Andrea C. TODAY’S RESOURCES: https://hostagencyreviews.com/page/tr... (Annual hosted travel advisor report gives idea of earnings over time for both FT and PT advisors to help with your planning.) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/tr... (Travel agent guide to charging fees.) https://hostagencyreviews.com/travela... (Luxury travel advisor Courtnie Nichols, who charges a $5k group planning fee and only takes on destination wedding a month.) https://hostagencyreviews.com/travela... (Italy Beyond the Obvious charges per person per day fees. They account for 80% of her income.) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/ho... (The different routes to become a travel agent.) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/tr... (Differences between travel franchise and a host agency.) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/tr... (Learn more about travel MLMs, why HAR recommends staying away from them if you want to be a travel advisor, and what to look out for.)
    17 May 2024, 12:00 am
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