Travel Weekly's Home-based Agent E-letter: Dec. 10, 2007

CHECKING IN WITH: Tripguy Travel. The company was launched as a Web-based agency in 2002, but added host agency operations a year later after becoming dissatisfied with its own host. Today, its greatest challenge is dealing with suppliers that "don't know how to account for us, nor differentiate between the 'real' and 'not real' agency businesses," says agency manager Mitch Toren. TripGuy has 43 home-based affiliates. "Some traditional suppliers either have no interest in building a relationship with home-based agencies or don't know how to service us other than sending boxes of brochures or fax-blast specials. The best travel suppliers are specifically adding agencies like ours to their travel agent panels/user/focus groups to gain a better understand on how to build the best partnership with non-traditional agencies," said Toren. The agency, which is a member of the Network of Entrepreneurs Selling Travel, said its business model "has always been on the simple side. Provide the best customer service that we could to both our independent contractors and clients." Agents can learn more about the agency by e-mailing [email protected].

NACTA'S INDEPENDENT AGENTS REPORT is available for purchase. The report is a joint product of the National Association of Commissioned Travel Agents and ASTA. Joanie Ogg, NACTA president, said the study enables agents "to compare their strengths and weaknesses against their industry peers and learn more about changing trends that could potentially have an effect on their business." Subjects such as changing trends in income, commission splits, overhead costs, agency businesses models, areas of expertise and primary booking channels are addressed in the survey. It costs $99 for agent members, $199 for supplier members and $299 for non-members. For details, visit www.nacta.com or www.asta.org.

TECHNOLOGY, MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS experts will headline Vacation.com's educational sessions at its 10th International Conference & Trade Show at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, June 16 to 19. Presenters include Mike Marchev, who will share marketing strategies; Nolan Burris, president of Visionistics Enterprises; cruise gurus Sherri and Charlie Funk; and Nancy Friedman, also known as "The Telephone Doctor," a customer service and communications expert who has appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," NBC's "Today" and CNN. Conference details and registration are at www.agentnet.com.

FAM OF THE WEEK

Thailand

Trip: Three nights in Bangkok and five nights in Chiang Mai.

Departures: Jan. 15 and Feb. 26 from Los Angeles to Bangkok via EVA Airways.

Length: Eight nights.

Sponsor: FT Tours, Los Angeles.

Cost: $1,568 per person, double. Includes air, room, most meals, sightseeing and transfers.

Noteworthy: The companion rate is $275 additional; the single supplement is $475. Air upgrades and air from other cities can be arranged. Optional extensions to various points in Thailand also can be arranged.

Contact: (800) 350-0487, ext. 36; e-mail: [email protected]; Web: www.ft-tours.com/agents.

Home-Based Agent Editor: Donna Tunney

Phone: (508) 221-3674

[email protected]

For promotional opportunities in the E-letters, contact [email protected].

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