Travel Weekly's Home-based Agent E-letter: Dec. 27, 2004

IATAN: Effective with the new year, the International Airlines Travel Agent Network (Iatan), a subsidiary created 20 years ago by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to operate its agency program in the U.S., will cease doing business. The agency program, which will keep the Iatan brand name, will be operated as a department of IATA. The move was planned and revealed earlier this year. The revamped structure will be transparent to agents, with products and services remaining the same. Iatan management, including president and CEO Denise Ladouceur, will remain in place. Iatan board members will resign their posts effective Dec. 31, although most will continue their involvement on an Iatan advisory board.

RECRUITMENT: What do host agencies look for when recruiting agent members? There's no single answer, but an interesting one came from Harvey Siamon, co-owner of Incentive Connection Travel. The Phoenix-based host agency takes a novel approach to expanding its roster of members; it's almost entirely from word-of-mouth recommendations and referrals. "We don't spend much on marketing. When our agents go to seminars or on fams, they inevitably come back recommending someone to us. And we get referrals from ASTA and Nacta." Experience is good, he added, "but we will take newbies if they have the right attitude."

THE $70 MILLION operation has 1,000 member agents. "Our bread-and-butter people -- those who qualify for the Iatan card -- number about 500. And we have 500 still working their way toward that," he said. Siamon has operated his business for 24 years, charges no sign-up or monthly fees and on average delivers 13% commission on all sales. "We are constantly expanding," he said. In the end, "the mechanics of learning the business are easy." "Travel isn't rocket science. The most important thing we look for is a caring nature. That's the key to making it in this business. You gotta give the service."

DATEBOOK: The St. Louis chapter of OSSN will meet Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. at the Junior League of St. Louis, 10435 Clayton Road, St. Louis, Mo. Topics of discussion will be Amadeus Waterways and BWI Vacations. The cost to members is $15; nonmembers, $20. Sign up by emailing [email protected].

FAM OF THE WEEK

ISREAL

Departure: Feb. 5 from any Lufthansa gateway to Tel Aviv.

Length: Nine nights.

Sponsor: Ya'lla Tours USA, Portland, Ore.

Cost: From $1,395 to $1,595 per person, double, depending on departure city. Includes roundtrip air, accommodations, transfers, most meals, sightseeing and entrance fees.

Trip: Visits the Dead Sea, Galilee, Jerusalem, Masada and Tel Aviv.

Noteworthy: This is an agents-only trip.

Contact: (800) 644-1595 or (503) 977-3758; fax: (503) 977-3765; e-mail: [email protected].

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