Travel Leaders gives franchisees guidance on hiring independent contractors

By Nadine Godwin
Travel Leaders has launched an initiative designed to assist franchisees with attracting and meeting the needs of high-quality independent contractors (ICs).

Roger Block, president of Travel Leaders Franchise Group, described the plan to associates at the annual Travel Leaders conference in Dallas and to journalists during a press briefing.

He said most members already have independent contractors, but — as more traditional agencies close — there continues to be a growing pool of experienced travel sellers seeking alliances. They embody significant potential business growth for Travel Leaders franchisees, Block said.

Travel Leaders headquarters will support the IC initiative — dubbed the Independent Contractor Center of Excellence program — in several ways:

• Travel Leaders will help affiliates attract ICs through participation in trade shows and e-mail programs, Block said. It also aims to offer educational sessions for affiliates to make them smarter about hosting and about avoiding the pitfalls.

To the latter point, Block said, headquarters will offer criminal and financial background checks to reduce the risks in taking on ICs. He said, “We will have a list of people who have proven to be untrustworthy,” but given the delicacy of this matter, Block said Travel Leaders will take legal advice on “how to do this.”

Unfortunately, he said, some members have been undermined “in big numbers” by IC fraud, and background checks aren’t proof against all risk because not all agents report a problem when they have been defrauded.

Travel Leaders already offers franchisees a proprietary insurance policy to protect the businesses against all types of fraud, he said.

• Trams and Travcom are “great at tracking who sold what” for agency management, Block said, but ICs want to know what they have sold and how much they have earned. He said Travel Leaders is working on the tools to let ICs gather that kind of information.

• Travel Leaders also intends to help the affiliated ICs directly, welcoming them to the organization’s education programs and making its direct-mail and e-mail marketing opportunities available to them.

The contractors, he said, could also be listed with their specialties in the Agent Profiler component of the newly expanded TravelLeaders.com. Consumers who search for an agent through Agent Profiler are matched with suitable prospective agents based on those specialties and other characteristics.

With centralized assistance, Block said, Travel Leaders “will cover all the bases to allow our agents to be a dynamic force in the independent contractor business.”
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