Travel Weekly's Home-based Agent E-letter: Sept. 17, 2007

THE CRUISE LINES INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION took the wraps off its World's Largest Cruise Night event, which is set for Oct. 17, and it added a virtual component designed to meet the needs of home-based agents. In the past, activities included luncheons, cocktail parties, dinners and expos -- all promoting cruise vacations. Using the virtual capability, retailers can hold online events for customers. These can feature cruise videos and customized Web pages showing agency information. More than 700 agencies conducted a World's Largest Cruise Night event in 2006. A CLIA agent survey revealed that last year's events generated 14,860 bookings, which translated into $18.5 million in cruise sales and more than $2.4 million in commissions.

TRAVEL COUNSELLORS, the U.K.-based agent network that has 800 members worldwide, surveyed retailers earlier this summer and received some welcome news. Of the 630 agents who completed the survey, 91% agreed with the statement, "I love my job." The survey showed that 83% of the company's home-based agents are women and three-quarters have children, with almost a quarter having children under age 5. These agents have an average of 19 years experience in the travel industry, with 60% previously holding roles as managers or agency owners. Wanting the convenience of working from home, wanting to spend time with family, inflexible working hours at the office and crazy demands from management were the top four reasons why agents left their previous jobs.

NEXION, the host agency owned by Sabre Travel Network, changed its commission payment plan to twice-monthly from monthly. All expenses and commissions processed before the 15th of the month will be paid on the 30th of the same month (with the exception of February, when agents will be paid on the 28th or 29th). Commissions processed between the 16th and the end of the month will be paid on the 15th of the following month. "In any entrepreneurial setting, cash flow is vital to profitability," said Jackie Friedman, general manager of Nexion. "Nexion members are extraordinary entrepreneurs, and when we had the opportunity to increase their cash flow by paying their commissions twice a month, we jumped on it."

DATEBOOK: The Outside Sales Support Network's Houston chapter will meet Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. for a dinner seminar featuring Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises. The meeting at Joe's Crab Shack is free for OSSN members and $10 for non-members (plus the cost of the meal). Lindsay Sirotka of Royal Caribbean and Cris De Souza of Celebrity will discuss the e-tools available to home-based agents through CruisingPower.com. Also, they will offer an overview of the lines' updated CruiseMatch booking tool. Agents may RSVP via e-mail to [email protected] or by calling (832) 875-4800.

FAM OF THE WEEK

Ireland

Trip: Visits Dublin and Galway.

Departures: Nov. 15 and 29, Dec. 6 and 13, Jan. 24 and 31, and Feb. 7 from Boston, Chicago or New York to Dublin via Aer Lingus.

Length: Four nights.

Sponsor: Sceptre Tours, Lynbrook, N.Y.

Cost: $675 per person, double. Includes roundtrip air, accommodations, Irish breakfast daily, sightseeing and land transportation.

Noteworthy: Companions are eligible for the same rate. Taxes and fees of about $95 are not included in the price.

Contact: (800) 221-0924.

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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