I have a couple questions to better understand how travel agents and tour operators work: If you're an independent travel agent, not a licensed one, how do you go about working with tour operators, airlines, and hotels? When planning a trip for someone, do you book their airfare and hotel? Do you work out deals with certain hotels and airlines? When planning out a tailored trip with workshops and certain tour guides, how much do you pay each person involved with the trip? If you're not a licensed travel agent, how do you go about promoting your business of organizing trips for others? What's the relationship like with tour operators, airlines, and hotels?

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  • Hello Adriana,

    When working with a tour operator,you will inquire about the needs of your clients eg The number of days,number of people traveling,budget,preferred destination etc

    The tour operator will then give you the itinerary, general cost of the holiday and you will then add your margin before giving it to your client

    The tour operator will then be your ground handler & coordinate your clients holiday until their day of departure.

    Carolyne Olunga

    Tour Consultant

    African Dew Tours & Travel ltd

    P.o Box 64037-00620

    Tel: 020 3740644 /0718895726/ 07219102202



    Home Page 2
    your experienced tours and travel partner on African Dew Tours and Travel Ltd…
  • This e-How article will help answer your questions:  http://www.ehow.com/print/about_5446064_travel-agent-need-license.html

    Some of the things you need to know that the article doesn't talk about is that you rarely get commissions on airfare anymore. Another thing, many travel agents/consultants  are now asking for a plan-to-go fee or consulting fee for their services because commissions are so low and the time spent on putting together some trips is huge.  

    If you have a license or registration requirement in your state, you must put the information they provide to your company on all correspondence and business cards. Otherwise, you can pretty much  market any product any way you want as long as it doesn't violate the individual company's rules.   Keep in mind that there is a big risk if you ignore your state's laws and big fines can be levied on you.

    Very few of us try to work deals out with individual companies.  It's too time consuming .  Unless you are selling volume, there's not very much incentive for the company to work with you directly.  There are so many resources out there that have done all the work to put all the bells and whistles into their trips, either packaged or designed for independent travel, that you don't have to go any farther in most cases.  

    Depending on the company, you will receive the quote as either net or gross.  Make sure you know the difference.  It could cost you a hefty commission if you don't ascertain that information before quoting your client.  With net, you add on the commission you think is reasonable. With gross, you get the final total with your commission added in by the company. Sometimes you can mark the trip up, but it is important to keep in mind that people will probably be shopping around and will not book with you if you have overpriced the trip.

    Once you have been in the business a while, you will find travel suppliers you like to work with and they will be the companies that are your go-to people for the majority of the trips you book.  Most of the suppliers have Business Development Managers (BDMs) with specific territories assigned.  They can and will be your go to people. They can be a great resource when a problem or something unusual comes up.  It's best to not use this resource unless you really need to.

    Hope that some of this helps answer your questions.

  • Adriana, I have colleagues who are travel writers-turned-agents, and they had the same questions you did. Ultimately, they decided that they simply had to get licensed.  

    • What was the main problem for why they had to get licensed? 

    • Getting onto travel agent-only sections of websites that had special rates/perks etc. for agents. Maybe booking air was a problem, too, because of the need to access booking sites that the public doesn't use, or even see.

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