ennifer Dugan of Los Alamos, N.M., had
worked at three travel agencies before she had her first child.
When Dillon was born in 1997, Dugan decided she couldn't leave
him to go to an office. She took a big gulp and started a
Five years and another child later, she is the proprietor of
Dugan's Travels, specializing in family travel. The tag line on her
Web site, at www.duganstravels.com, is "Let us do the work for you
... if you're a parent, you already have enough to do."
Dugan knows that first-hand. She says that raising two small
children and running a busy agency keeps her going virtually around
"When people find out I work from home, I always get, 'Oh, you
are so lucky' comments," she says. "It can be a wonderful thing
most of the time and other days I would give anything not to book a
reservation for a client only to find that my kids are decorating
the house with ketchup."
Dugan, whose e-book on her experience is available at Bizymoms.com,
attributes much of her success to the Internet.
"When I joined the world of the Internet, I soon found that
there were so many women and men in the same situation. You would
not believe the number of people I have met online who work from
home. We send each other jokes and lend an ear when someone has
something to vent or brag about."
She says her online buddies were particularly helpful in the
early days of her business.
"I no longer had an agency with repeat or walk-in customers, so
I had to get my own clients. Learning how to market your services
is the hardest part of being home-based. Again, my online friends
were so helpful in offering suggestions."
After establishing a solid base of clients, she decided to
expand by offering a training program to others who sought to be
home-based agents. That decision brought a heap of criticism.
"I have been told by other agents that I am being very ignorant
to the fact that I am helping people who will, in turn, leave my
agency to work for another or start their own travel agencies.
"But there are some great people out there who are an asset to
our industry even though they are beginners. I have agents working
with me who had no idea of the business and now are better than
several of the agents I used to work with."
Dugan, who holds a CTA diploma and is a member of ASTA, CLIA and
Iatan, believes that home-based agents deserve respect for working
and raising children under the same roof.
"It amazes me everyday how many people do work from home and
keep it all together."