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

NACTAS annual demographic study of independent agents found that the overall percentage of agents reporting annual sales of less than $50,000 increased from about 33% in 2004 to 44% this year. Full-time agents (those whose only source of income is travel) are faring somewhat better, with 28% selling less than $50,000 but with 40% selling between $100,000 and $500,000 a year. Overall, just 32% sell in the higher category.

CRUISING continues to make gains as a proportion of Nacta member businesses, the survey found. Traditionally a leader in the independent agents business mix, cruises this year account for 53% of sales, up from 50% in 2003 and 52% in 2004.

TOUR SALES continue to fall, however, the study found. Agents surveyed said tours comprise 23% of their business mix, down from 28% in 2003 and 26% last year. Nacta agents report they sold an average of four groups in the past year, with the group business being overwhelmingly cruises, 54%, followed by tours, 17%.

PREFERRED SUPPLIER RELATIONSHIPS continue to be a powerful motivation for independents. Overall, 64% of sales are to preferred suppliers. For full-time agents, its higher -- 67%, the survey found. Special offer incentives, education and fam trips top the reasons for using suppliers, with the traditional incentive -- override commissions -- falling to sixth place.

FAM OF THE WEEK

St. Lucia

Dates valid: Through Dec. 20 for a three-night stay.

Sponsor: Coconut Bay Resort & Spa, Vieux Fort, St. Lucia.

Cost: Rates are free for a three-night, all-inclusive stay.

Noteworthy: Accommodations must be booked by Sept. 30 for stays through Dec. 20, excluding the Thanksgiving holiday blackout period.

Contact: (758) 456-9999; fax: (758) 456-9900; e-mail: [email protected].

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