Travel Weekly's Home-based Agent E-letter: Jan. 24, 2005

BUSINESS SOARED in 2004 and expectations are high for this year, according to agents surveyed by the Outside Sales Support Network (OSSN). Gary Fee, OSSN president, said more than 40% of agents who responded to the survey reported overall business increases up to 35% over 2003. At the same time, however, retailers said that their overhead expenses also jumped. Fee said that agents apparently have taken to heart the advice that they need to develop a niche. "Almost 74% stated they do have a niche for their travel business," he said.

THOSE SURVEYED also gave high marks to industry suppliers, with more than 85% saying that "most" suppliers are providing ample -- if not increasing -- support for agents' businesses. In other survey results, 56% of OSSN members said terrorism has not influenced their sales to Europe, but 49% said the devaluation of the greenback vs. the euro would influence sales to the continent. Last year also was a good one for OSSN, said Fee. The network added 1,300 members. Visit OSSN.com to see the full results of the survey.

A GIFT FOR YOU: Sign up by Jan. 25, to participate in E.E.I. Travel's special agent fam, called the Paris Valentines Weekend Getaway. Travel agents will save 10% off the regular package price. The offer, which is for three nights and includes, air, hotel and a Seine River cruise, is valid for agents and one companion. Departure is Feb. 11. Rates start at $479 from New York. Call (800) 927-3876 for all the details.

IN YOUR POCKET

Horizon & Co., a small- group luxury travel company in Toronto, introduced a $200-per-person bonus commission to agents who book new clients on any Horizon trip prior to April 1. Andrew White, director of sales, said that prices for the firm's Exploratory packages are based on a 75-cent dollar, meaning that American clients will enjoy an immediate discount of about 10%. He said retailers should visit the agent-only section of the company Web site, www.horizon-co.com/agents, to access agent information and special offers. Type "agents" into the space provided for an e-mail address and type "horizon" for the password.

DATEBOOK

The Dallas Chapter of OSSN will hold its sixth annual Swap Meet and Planning Session for the Year on Jan. 26 at 6:30 p.m. at Fred's Downtown Philly in Plano, Texas. Members pay $7; nonmembers $12. RSVP to Lu Ann Edger, [email protected], or call (972) 530-3649.

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