Travel Weeklys Home-based Agent E-letter: March 14, 2005

THE VAST MAJORITY of Outside Sales Support Network (OSSN) members, 85%, said sales were up last year compared with 2003, according to an end-of-year survey. And 73% report they have established a niche market for their businesses. The OSSN routinely conducts research surveys of its members to gauge a variety of trends. For example, 60% said they are not affiliated with a host agency, while 40% are. That contrasts with a recent survey of members of the National Association of Commissioned Travel Agents, which found the opposite -- 60% are working through a host. Gary Fee, president of OSSN, said the decision to work without a host is a growing trend, in any case.

THERE ARE OTHER tidbits of information from the OSSN surveys: Seventy-one percent said they do not book through a GDS. And 51% do not have any industry designation, such as certified travel agent or certified cruise counselor. Most home-based agents, 36%, reported they have converted a bedroom into an office. Other choices in this category included living room, den and garage. And while more OSSN agents are working without a host, most of them, 44%, are affiliated with a consortium. Retailers can learn more about OSSN by visiting its Web site at www.ossn.com.

MEANWHILE, whats the travel outlook for the early part of this year? According to the Travel Industry Association, Americans will take a record number of trips this spring, even though the overall increase in trips is expected to be only slightly higher than that of spring 2004. TIA is estimating Americans will take 281 million trips of 50 miles or more one-way from home during March, April and May. It represents a 1.2% increase from last spring.

IN YOUR POCKET: Celtic Tours is offering up to 17% commission on land tours, free spots on the trips and a cash booking bonus for groups booked on scheduled coach tours for 2005. Groups of 16 to 19 passengers earn agents 12% pay; 20 to 35 passengers, 15%; and 36 passengers or more, 17%. The commissions, plus other incentives, apply to all of Celtics scheduled Ireland coach tour departures of six nights or more for travel April to October. Celtic pays 5% on air from published gateways. Agents can call (800) 833-4373 or visit www.celtictours.com for more details or to book.

FAM OF THE WEEK
Europe
Departure:
April 16 from Amsterdam to Strasbourg, France, cruise only.
Length: Six nights aboard the Beethoven.
Sponsor: Europeanbarging, Houston.
Cost: $850 per person, double. Includes all meals.
Trip: Sails from Amsterdam and visits Nimegen, Holland; Cologne, Konigswinter, Krefeld, Mannheim and Rudesheim, Germany; ends in Strasbourg.
Noteworthy: Sightseeing is additional and estimated at about $67 per person. The companion rate is $50 additional.
Contact: (888) 869-7907; e-mail: [email protected].

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