The Travel Professor
Join me on a journey across the broad spectrum of interesting travel topics. We’ll discuss destinations domestic and abroad, some familiar and some off the beaten path. We take a look at suppliers like cruise lines, air carriers and tour operators and find their bargains and special offerings. Got questions? Email

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A question from a newbie

Here's a recent question:

Hi Professor Call.

A friend of mine and I are looking to starting our own travel business. I'm truly a travel agent at heart. I help friends’ family find online deals and pretty much book everyone I know all the time. Why not get paid for it?

I wanted your opinion on the host site, Nexion. We reached out to them to receive more information, but we are kind of at a loss at where to start.

My friend is an incredible web designer and we've both got great people skills, so now we are just looking to take that first step. What do you suggest?

Thanks! Libby from Baton Rouge, La.

Libby: Thanks for a great question. What's new in LA?

First off a great web site helps but how are you going to drive customers to it. Once a business gets established and starts to generate referrals and builds a brand then the web traffic may increase.

I am still a believer in creating new business one personal customer contact at a time. As people persons apply my 3 foot rule. The length of an individual’s arm is roughly 3 feet so every time you meet someone and shake their hand say “Hi Libby. I’m a travel agent!” and let the conversation flow from there. The other rule which I frequently violate is to always have a business card.

Personal contact and interaction is something that the web has been incapable of providing so I feel that this is strong selling point as you are there to speak with them. Plus you’ve been playing that role without any compensation.

To be successful as a seller of travel you need to have product and destination knowledge along with sales and customer service skills. You don’t acquire these instantly by making a payment. These skills are learned and acquired along the way. Industry knowledge followed by lifelong learning is important in any field but even more vital in the travel agency business as the only constant is change. There are plenty of classes you can take locally or on line.

Here’s a great web site to get your started on your path: Kelly offers a free course that may answer many of your questions. Additional travel agent training classes are available at my website Once you affiliate with a host agency you’ll discover plenty of free on-line training classes.

As far as a host agency is concerned I suggest aligning with one that does not charge a large enrollment plus monthly fees, offers a generous commission share plus in your case as a novice plenty of free training.

Ok I’ve given you plenty of think about. Digest this information and feel free to contact at Don’t hesitate to contact me as I want to help you succeed in this endeavor.

Happy travels!