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How do I start a work from home travel agency?
1. Choose a niche
2. research and gather knowledge, 3. set up your home office, 4. develop a business plan, 5. build your network, 6. create an online presence, 7. provide exceptional customer service, 1. how much does it cost to start a work from home travel agency, 2. do i need a license to operate a home-based travel agency, 3. how can i find clients for my work from home travel agency, 4. can i work with travel suppliers as a home-based travel agent, 5. how do i stay updated with the latest travel trends and regulations, 6. is it possible to run a successful travel agency from home, 7. how long does it take to establish a reputable travel agency, 8. what are the advantages of starting a work from home travel agency, 9. can i start a work from home travel agency part-time, 10. are there any specific skills required to start a work from home travel agency, 11. can i specialize in a specific type of travel as a home-based travel agent, 12. are there any risks associated with starting a work from home travel agency.
Starting a work from home travel agency can be an exciting and rewarding venture for individuals who are passionate about travel and have a keen eye for planning and organizing. Here are some essential steps to help you kickstart your journey into the world of travel agency from the comfort of your own home.
One of the first steps to consider when starting a work from home travel agency is to select a niche. This will help you focus your efforts and cater to a specific target market. You could specialize in adventure travel, luxury vacations, destination weddings, or even niche experiences such as culinary tours or wellness retreats. By identifying your niche, you can position yourself as an expert in that area and attract clients who are specifically seeking your expertise.
Building a successful travel agency requires a solid foundation of knowledge in the industry. Take the time to research and stay updated on the latest travel trends, destinations, and travel regulations. Join industry associations, attend travel conferences, or enroll in online courses to enhance your knowledge and stay ahead. The more information you have, the better equipped you’ll be to assist your clients and provide personalized travel experiences.
Creating a dedicated workspace is essential for maintaining focus and productivity while working from home. Set up a quiet and comfortable area where you can work without distractions. Invest in a good computer, reliable internet connection, and any necessary software or tools specific to the travel industry. Make sure your office space is organized and conducive to efficient work.
A solid business plan will serve as a roadmap for your work from home travel agency. Define your target market, identify your competition, and outline your marketing strategies. Determine your pricing structure, payment methods, and financial goals. Consider the costs associated with starting and running your business, such as licensing fees, website development, and marketing expenses. Having a well-thought-out plan will help you stay focused and achieve your business objectives.
Establishing a network of industry contacts is crucial for the success of your travel agency. Connect with travel suppliers, tour operators, hotel representatives, and other professionals in the travel industry. Attend networking events, join online travel communities, and engage in social media conversations. Building strong relationships with suppliers will enable you to negotiate better deals for your clients and provide them with exclusive perks and upgrades.
In today’s digital age, having a strong online presence is essential. Create a professional website for your travel agency, showcasing your expertise and the services you offer. Utilize social media platforms to promote your business and engage with potential clients. Share inspiring travel content, helpful tips, and special offers to attract and retain your audience. Invest in search engine optimization (SEO) to increase your online visibility and drive traffic to your website.
Delivering exceptional customer service is crucial for any travel agency, including a work from home setup. Be responsive to client inquiries, provide prompt answers to their questions, and offer personalized travel recommendations. Listen to their needs, preferences, and budget constraints, and tailor their itineraries accordingly. By going the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction, you’ll build a strong reputation and develop a loyal client base.
Now, let’s explore some frequently asked questions about starting a work from home travel agency:
Starting costs for a work from home travel agency can vary depending on factors such as technology investments, marketing strategies, and licensing fees. On average, you can expect to spend anywhere from $500 to $2,500 to get your business up and running.
Licensing requirements for home-based travel agencies vary by location. It’s important to research and comply with the regulations and licensing obligations in your specific area. Contact your local government or small business association to determine the necessary permits or certifications you need.
Finding clients for your travel agency can be done through various channels. Develop a strong online presence through social media marketing and search engine optimization. Attend industry events and join professional associations to network with potential clients and suppliers. Ask for referrals from satisfied customers and offer exceptional customer service to encourage repeat business.
Yes, many travel suppliers work with home-based travel agents. Build relationships with suppliers by attending industry events, networking, and reaching out directly. Suppliers often provide home-based travel agents with commission opportunities, special rates, and resources to help them create seamless travel experiences for their clients.
Stay updated with the latest travel trends and regulations by following reputable travel news sources, subscribing to industry newsletters, and participating in online forums and communities. Join professional associations and attend industry events to gain valuable insights and network with industry experts.
Absolutely! Many successful travel agencies are operated from home. With the right planning, dedication, and a strong online presence, you can build a thriving travel agency while enjoying the flexibility and convenience of working from home.
Establishing a reputable travel agency takes time and effort. Building a strong client base and developing relationships with suppliers can take several months or even years. Consistently providing exceptional customer service, delivering personalized travel experiences, and maintaining a solid online presence will contribute to the growth and reputation of your agency over time.
Starting a work from home travel agency offers numerous advantages, including flexibility in working hours, low overhead costs, and the ability to control your business operations. It allows you to work from a comfortable and convenient environment while pursuing your passion for travel and helping others create unforgettable experiences.
Yes, starting a work from home travel agency can be done on a part-time basis, especially in the initial stages. This allows you to maintain financial stability while building your business. As your agency grows and you gain more clients, you can gradually transition to full-time if desired.
Starting a work from home travel agency requires a combination of skills, including strong communication and interpersonal abilities, attention to detail, excellent organizational skills, and a passion for travel. It’s also essential to have knowledge of travel booking systems, marketing strategies, and customer relationship management.
Yes, specializing in a specific type of travel can be a great way to differentiate yourself and attract a targeted audience. Whether it’s luxury travel, adventure tourism, or niche experiences, focusing on a particular sector allows you to become an expert in that area and cater to clients with specific needs and preferences.
Like any business venture, starting a work from home travel agency comes with its own risks. It’s important to carefully plan your business model, manage your finances effectively, and stay updated on industry trends to minimize potential risks. Additionally, building a strong network of suppliers and maintaining good relationships with clients can help mitigate risks such as cancellations, travel disruptions, or unforeseen circumstances.
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Best Travel Agencies
Working with a reputable travel agent takes the stress out of travel. Use our guide to research the best travel agency for you. Travel agencies handle transfers between multiple destinations, event planning services, group travel arrangements and more. Many agencies are starting to market themselves in new ways, often by catering to niche markets.
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How to find a travel agency
Travel agencies aren't required to obtain licensing or certification, though recognized organizations accredit and certify members. Travelers can confirm a travel agency's accreditation by looking for the accrediting body's logo on a travel agency's website or brochure.
- ASTA accreditation: ASTA (American Society of Travel Advisors) accreditation assures clients that the agency operates under ASTA's code of ethics and will communicate with clients about unexpected changes to travel plans.
- IATA accreditation: IATA (International Air Transport Association) accreditation provides agencies with a Sales Agency Agreement and a TIDS number that authorizes sales of international and domestic airline tickets.
- Unaccredited agencies: If considering an unaccredited travel agency, take into account that their lack of accreditation could mean they are inexperienced or have had service problems that caused a loss of accreditation.
Credentials are similar to accreditation, though on an individual level. Some travel agents obtain certification through The Travel Institute, which confirms the agent's interpersonal skills and destination knowledge. These types of certifications ensure that travelers are working with an agent that has the necessary experience to anticipate travel issues and provide solutions.
- Certified travel associate (CTA): A CTA is a professional who has a minimum of 18 months in the travel industry and has passed courses to enhance skills and service.
- Certified travel counselor (CTC): A CTC has the skills of a CTA, advanced industry training and five years of industry experience.
- Certified travel industry executive (CTIE): A CTIE is a travel industry professional who has management training within the travel agency.
Travel agencies charge fees for services provided to clients to account for time spent researching and booking travel arrangements. Keep in mind that a travel agent’s inside knowledge of travel-related discounts may make booking through an agency less expensive than self-booking over the internet.
- Airline ticket procurement fee: Travel agencies charge an airline ticket procurement fee for purchasing tickets on behalf of the traveler.
- Travel agency service fees: Other common travel agency fees include fees for booking hotels and rental cars and for time spent researching trips.
- Itemization of costs and fees: While there is no law requiring travel agencies to provide an itemized breakdown of costs and fees, you can request this information to ensure fees are reasonable.
International travel planning
Planning a trip to another country is typically more complex than planning a domestic trip due to extra paperwork and the need to know details about the destination country. A trusted global travel agency can help manage details and paperwork on your behalf.
- Destination-specific research or specialization: Some agents with certification from The Travel Institute are trained in region-specific bookings while others charge for time spent researching destinations.
- Hotel and flight packages: Using a global travel agency to book international hotel and flight packages can cut costs even after agency fees are added. To check for savings, compare online price listings to prices provided by the agency.
- Visa and passport requirements: Having visas and passports in order is vital when traveling to other countries, so confirm which documents are needed with the agency early in the trip-planning process.
Group travel planning
Planning a trip for a group can be challenging because some facilities cannot accommodate groups. Travel agencies find suitable venues and transportation for the entire group. A global travel agency can help you with international group vacations.
- Large-group discounts: Travel agencies have access to discounts based on established relationships with hotels and airline companies to secure a great price for group bookings.
- Transportation: A large group is not going to fit in a standard rental car. Confirm the travel agency is able to book a van or several cars to meet the group's transportation needs.
- Itinerary details for the group: In addition to sleeping arrangements and transportation, eating out and visiting tourist attractions can be problematic for a group. Ask the travel agency to arrange the fine points of the group's trip in addition to handling the larger details.
Land and sea planning
Planning a vacation involves more than selecting a country and booking hotel and airfare. Hiring a travel agency can help make sure travelers enjoy every stop in their itinerary.
- Add a cruise: Talk to your travel agency about adding some sea travel to any vacation. Different onboard accommodations and ports of call allow travelers to extend the reach of their trips.
- Seamless transfers: Making the transfer from onshore accommodations to a cruise ship can eat up almost an entire day, but a travel agent takes care of the hassle by arranging travel to the port at the right time.
- Planning excursions: Ask the travel agent to arrange desired shore excursions at the ship's ports of call that enrich other planned itinerary stops.
Types of travel agencies
Commercial travel agencies.
Commercial travel agencies cater to business travelers. These agencies specialize in tracking down deals for business travelers to help companies manage travel costs.
Online travel agencies
Travel agencies that exist only in cyberspace provide clients with the convenience of online booking and discounts that are available only to professional travel agencies. Some agencies offer both online booking and walk-in service for clients.
Niche travel agencies
Niche travel agencies provide clients with specialized knowledge of a region. This enhances the travel experience for clients by ensuring paperwork is in order and providing specific, often first-hand, knowledge of the area tourists are visiting.
Memberships associations give travelers access to the organization's travel planning services for the cost of an annual membership rather than charging per transaction. This type of agency offers the most benefit to frequent travelers.
Who uses travel agencies?
International travelers can cut the stress of planning trips to other countries when a global travel agency manages the details. This includes making sure each traveler has the proper paperwork and booking suitable travel accommodations.
Business travelers can take advantage of savings associated with discounts available only to travel agents. Some travel agencies also handle the detailed expense report paperwork required by the accounting departments of most companies.
Group travelers can save time when looking for accommodations that have room for the entire group by using a travel agency. Group bookings through an agent can also save you money.
Travel bargain seekers
Travel bargain seekers can discuss their travel budget with a travel agent. This is a way to determine what discounts and money-saving packages a travel agency can arrange.
Travel agencies FAQ
Most travel agencies don’t charge customers, meaning the only price you pay is the cost of your trip. Agents are typically paid commissions by the hotels or airlines. Some travel agents may charge service fees from $100 to $500, but that money is usually applied toward the cost of your trip if you complete travel arrangements through the agency.
To know if a travel agency is legit:
- Review the agency’s website for a physical address and phone number.
- Check for industry certifications and associations with professional organizations like the American Society of Travel Advisors.
- Read reviews to learn about client experiences. Ask for a list of references.
- Make sure the agent accepts credit cards.
- Compare pricing to make sure cost isn’t too high or too low.
No, it’s generally free to use a travel agent. A travel agency may charge a service fee or a booking fee, but it’s common for this fee to apply toward the cost of your trip.
The four main types of travel agencies are:
- Commercial travel agencies , which cater mainly to business travelers
- Online travel agencies that help people plan their trips entirely online
- Niche travel agencies , which specialize in arranging trips to specific areas
- Membership associations that provide travel services as a benefit to members
Using a travel agent is a more personalized experience than booking online — and sometimes cheaper. Travel agents are experts who can find the best deals on flights , cruises, hotels and activities. Agents are often available 24/7 in case of problems. And there’s usually no extra cost to use one.
Yes, a travel agent can save you money, especially if you’re traveling internationally to unfamiliar territory or if you’re organizing a trip for a big group. In addition to finding you the best deal, a travel agent saves you time planning and researching — often at no cost for services.
- Find the best deals on flights, hotels, cruises and activities for individuals, families, businesses and groups
- Give clients personalized attention and advice for trip planning
- Offer trip insurance
- Save you time and stress
- Are available 24/7 in case of a problem and advocate on your behalf
No, you don’t need to tip a travel agent. A great way to show appreciation is to refer friends, family members and co-workers. Some people choose to write a thank-you note and/or give a small gift.
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Travel agency reviews
HotelPlanner uses online technology to connect customers with hotel group sales managers. Founded in 2003, HotelPlanner offers group travel services in more than twenty languages and partners with more than 50,000 hotels worldwide.
- Guaranteed lowest group rates : For consumers booking 10 or more rooms per night, HotelPlanner matches or beats the prices offered elsewhere.
- Free room for the planner : The group's coordinator, the person who set up the hotel block, is provided with a free room when booking more than the minimum number of required rooms for the block.
- Local experts : A local expert is assigned to each group to provide advice about navigating the city and enjoying activities.
- Easy bid requests : The electronic room-booking process for groups is quick and easy to navigate. Travelers fill in the form and wait for hotels to bid on their travel, cutting out hours spent on the phone and putting negotiating power in the hands of the traveler.
- Hotels bid on clients : HotelPlanner provides clients with the option to have hotels bid for the client's business, ensuring the best rates and packages.
Tours4fun is a full-service travel agency, offering both brick-and-mortar and online customer service options.
Royal Holiday Vacation Club offers memberships that let you travel to nearly 200 destinations in over 50 countries. It has over 100,000 members and has been in business since 1983. Royal Holiday Vacation Club is a subsidiary of Park Royal Hotels and Resorts.
The Global Work & Travel Co. is an Australia-based youth travel organization that specializes in travel for people ages 18 to 30. With offices in the United Kingdom and Canada and over 1,200 travel partner organizations, you will get help with planning and logistics at every step of your journey.
Vantage Deluxe World Travel was established in 1983 when it started offering affordable deluxe travel to select groups, like teachers unions and alumni associations. Since then, the company has escorted almost half a million travelers all around the world.
Global Vacation Network is a membership association that provides condominium packages and advice for saving on other travel-related details, such as airfare.
The smarTours company has been in business since 1996, offering low-cost group vacation tours to exotic worldwide locales. To date, more than 150,000 satisfied travelers have used smarTours to book their holiday.
Liberty Travel is a traditional brick-and-mortar travel agency with a presence in several major cities in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, New England, Illinois, California and Florida.
Fox World Travel has 11 regional vacation travel agencies in Wisconsin and has agents who set up trips for corporate travelers all over the United States.
- Find a way : Agents are trained to find a way to put client requests first, even if the requests are challenging.
- Group travel : Traveling in groups is made easy with trips designed for wedding parties, schools, media events, and a range of customizable options.
- Business travel division : The business travel division specializes in meeting the unique needs of business travel like meeting planning services, attendee management, online event booking and more.
- Travel tools available : Travel tools that simplify traveling, such as currency converters and a flight tracker are provided online for clients to use.
- Online booking : Vacation packages can be viewed and booked online through the company website.
Zicasso partners with multiple travel agencies that specialize in specific styles of trips or destinations and puts agencies together with travelers. Founded in 2006, by two world travelers, Zicasso serves the luxury travel market from its headquarters in Mountain View, California.
Trafalgar offers guided tours of popular vacation destinations, such as Europe, North America, South America and Asia, in larger groups of up to 52. Trafalgar also partners with the TreadRight Foundation to support underprivileged communities and work toward sustainable tourism practices.
- Authentic experiences : The guides that are assisting travelers live and work in the communities being toured.
- Travel options : All Trafalgar tours are guided tours, but there are numerous options to choose from. Travelers can decide on a family vacation, country explorations, special interest tours and more.
- Keep options open : Flexibility is built into the travel itinerary for exploring destinations with several nights of free exploration on every tour. This allows travelers to revisit favorite sites or explore areas not covered by the tour group.
- VIP treatment : Trafalgar trips provide exclusive access to sights so travelers avoid waiting in lines.
- Friendly experience : Local guides greet clients and treat them as friends, providing comfort and a sense of welcome in a strange land.
Audley Travel has offered custom-made trips based on client input since opening their doors in 1996. With more than 75 destinations and travel types that range from luxury to road trip, vacationers can create and enjoy their own ideal holiday away.
- Preplanning assistance : Clients can browse the website or discuss interests with a travel planner to get destination ideas.
- Detailed planning : A specialist helps plan each detail of the trip until the client is satisfied and approves the itinerary.
- Pretrip preparation assistance : The assigned specialist is available for questions and reviews the client's itinerary four days before departure.
- Midtrip support : Clients are provided with a number to call that is manned 24/7 if assistance is needed.
- Multiple destinations : Trips to over 75 worldwide locations are offered by Audley Travel.
Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.
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Back to All Business Ideas
How to Start a Travel Agency
Written by: Carolyn Young
Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.
Edited by: David Lepeska
David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.
Published on December 13, 2021 Updated on November 10, 2023
$2,150 - $10,600
$78,000 - $300,000 p.a.
Time to build
0 – 3 months
$62,000 - $90,000 p.a.
Who doesn’t love to travel? But most of us do not love the endless research, planning, and booking required, which sometimes feels like it takes more time than the vacation itself. This is precisely why the $35 billion US travel agency industry has been booming of late, and why it offers a real opportunity for the travel-minded entrepreneur.
By starting your own online travel agency, you can shoulder travelers’ burden and ease their anxiety, allowing them to enjoy their holiday while you make a healthy profit. And thanks to the post-pandemic boost, now is a great time to get in on travel.
Of course, starting a travel agency will not be a vacation – it will take diligence, patience, and strong guidance. Thankfully, you’ve come to the right place, as this step-by-step provides all the information you need to develop and launch your new travel agency and give you a head-start on your entrepreneurial journey.
Step by Step Business values real-life experience above all. Through our Entrepreneur Spotlight Series , we interview business leaders from diverse industries, providing readers with firsthand insights.
Uncover the secrets to building a thriving travel agency with our interview with Casey Halloran of Costa Rican Vacations .
Looking to register your business? A limited liability company (LLC) is the best legal structure for new businesses because it is fast and simple.
Form your business immediately using ZenBusiness LLC formation service or hire one of the Best LLC Services .
Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You
Pros and cons.
Every business has its pros and cons, and a travel agency is no exception. You should weigh these carefully to decide if the business is right for you.
- Flexibility – Work from anywhere, even while traveling!
- Minimal Training – Get accredited for free online
- Travel Discounts – Travel agents get top deals and reduced prices
- Demanding Work – With clients around the world you’re on call 24/7
- Fierce competition – Top sites like Expedia, travel networks, advisors, and more
Travel agency industry trends
The US travel agency industry expanded an impressive 75% in the decade leading up to 2020, which saw a massive pandemic-driven downturn.
In 2021, many travel agents saw a surge in business as travelers unsure of all the constantly changing Covid-19 rules and restrictions turn to them for help, rather than booking their own trips. Global travel advisor InteleTravel experienced a 35% increase in business, not from the disaster year of 2020, but from 2019, which had set records.(( https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/14/travel/summer-vacation-travel-agents.html ))
Consumers are also turning more and more to online travel agencies, with a study by Expedia showing a 25% increase in the use of online agencies in 2020 alone. Brick-and-mortar agencies seem to be a dying breed, with British travel icon Thomas Cook closing in 2019.(( https://advertising.expedia.com ))
Industry size and growth
- Industry size and past growth – Market research firm IBISWorld values the industry at nearly $48 billion in 2022.(( https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-statistics/market-size/travel-agencies-united-states/ ))
- Growth forecast – The industry is expected to grow further as the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted a 5% annual growth through 2030 in the employment of travel agents.(( https://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/travel-agents.htm ))
- Number of businesses – More than 73,000 travel agencies are operating in the US.(( https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-statistics/number-of-businesses/travel-agencies-united-states/ ))
- Number of people employed – The industry employs more than 250,000 people.(( https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-statistics/employment/travel-agencies-united-states/ ))
Trends and challenges
Trends in travel agency industry include:
- Home-stay rentals like Airbnb(( https://stepbystepbusiness.com/business-ideas/start-an-airbnb-business/ )) outperformed hotels in 27 top markets during the pandemic
- Book-now-pay-later options, such as those offered by Expedia and Booking.com, are gaining popularity
- Travel agencies undergoing digital transformation in response to the growing demand for online services
Challenges in travel agency industry include:
- Rising gas prices are impacting travel behavior
- Compliance with global Covid-19 protocols
- Keeping up with digital marketing opportunities
What kind of people work in a travel agency?
- Gender – 76% of travel agency managers in the US are female, while 24% are male. (( https://www.zippia.com/travel-agency-manager-jobs/demographics/#gender-statistics ))
- Average level of education – 64% of travel agency managers hold a bachelor’s degree.(( https://www.zippia.com/travel-agency-manager-jobs/demographics/#degree-level-types ))
- Average age – The average age of a travel agency manager is 51 years old.(( https://www.zippia.com/travel-agency-manager-jobs/demographics/#age-statistics ))
How much does it cost to start a travel agency?
The startup costs for a travel agency range from about $2,000 to $10,000, with an average of around $6,000. The high-end includes the rental of office space and a larger marketing budget, but you could easily run your online travel agency from home to cut costs.
How much can you earn from a travel agency?
The commission paid to a travel agency by travel vendors such as airlines and hotels is generally about 10%. Some travel agents also charge a nominal consultation fee for each booking, typically between $30 and $50. Those will be your two revenue streams.
The average cost of a one-week domestic vacation is $1,500 per person. The profit margin for a home-based travel agency is usually about 80%. With an office and staff, your margin will likely drop to about 30%.
In your first year or two, you could work from home and sell five two-person vacations each week. At a 10% commission, this would mean $78,000 in annual revenue. You’d have about $62,000 in profit, assuming an 80% margin.
As your brand gains recognition, sales could climb to 1,000 two-person vacations a year. At this stage, you would rent an office and hire staff, reducing your profit margin to 30%. With expected annual revenue of $300,000, you would make about $90,000.
What barriers to entry are there?
There are a few barriers to entry for a travel agency. Your biggest challenges will be:
- Competition – Big and small online firms; self-booking travelers
- Client Acquisition – Time and marketing will be required to build a reputation
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Step 2: hone your idea.
Now that you know what’s involved in starting a travel agency, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market.
Market research will give you the upper hand, even if you’re already positive that you have a perfect product or service. Conducting market research is important, because it can help you understand your customers better, who your competitors are, and your business landscape.
Why? Identify an opportunity
As a travel agency, you need to find a way to differentiate yourself from the competition. Research online travel agents and booking platforms to see their offerings and prices, while keeping an eye out for something that might be missing.
Perhaps you could specialize in travel to an under-appreciated region, such as Southeast Asia, and build a network of relevant contacts and vendors. Or you could focus on finding travelers the most incredible home-stay rentals at the best prices.
You could specialize in family vacations, corporate retreats, or honeymoons. The potential niche options in the travel industry are nearly endless.
What? Determine your products or services
Travel can involve many facets, and you can handle some or all of them, in addition to flights, lodgings, and car rentals. These might include:
- Booking tours and excursions
- Dining recommendations/reservation
- Travel insurance
- Visa and emergency services
How much should you charge for travel agency services?
Travel vendors, such as hotels, airlines, and car rental firms, pay a commission to travel agents that’s generally about 10% of the booking. For instance, if you book a $1,200 flight on Turkish Airlines for your client, Turkish Airlines will give you, the travel agent, a $120 commission.
As a result, booking flights with a travel agent sometimes costs the traveler slightly more than booking directly with the airlines or through a travel site like Expedia or Orbitz. Thus, to attract customers and boost sales travel agents rely on discounted travel packages.
For instance, a return flight from Chicago to Cancun and a 6-day stay at a four-star all-inclusive resort, plus ground transport, might cost a traveler $1,000 or more to book directly. But travel agents get significant discounts from vendors because they place volume orders, so you’d be able to offer this trip as a $599 package deal.
Even after paying your commission, the traveler still saves a chunk of money by using your services, rather than booking themselves. And keep in mind, the discounts offered by vendors are likely to increase as you become a more established agent. You may be able to negotiate commissions from tour operators and excursion companies as well.
Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.
Who? Identify your target market
Your target market will depend on the concept you’ve chosen for your agency. If you’ve decided to specialize in family vacations, you’ll be targeting parents. You might find them on sites like Facebook or LinkedIn, rather than Instagram or TikTok.
Where? Choose your business premises
In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low. But as your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire workers and may need to rent out an office. You can find commercial space to rent in your area on Craigslist , Crexi , and Commercial Cafe .
When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:
- Central location accessible via public transport
- Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
- Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
- Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
Step 3: Brainstorm a Travel Agency Name
Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.
Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:
- Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
- Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better
- The name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
- Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
- Including keywords, such as “travel” or “bookings”, boosts SEO
- Choose a name that allows for expansion: “Wanderlust Adventures” over “Beach Bum Vacations” or “Honeymoon Haven Agency”
- Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
- Use online tools like the Step by Step business name generator . Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.
Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these.
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Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that set your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.
Step 4: Create a Travel Agency Business Plan
Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:
- Executive Summary: Present an overview of your travel agency, highlighting its focus on providing personalized travel planning and booking services for various types of travelers.
- Business Overview: Describe the services of your travel agency, including custom travel itinerary planning, booking accommodations, flights, and special experiences.
- Product and Services: Detail the range of travel packages offered, such as luxury vacations, adventure tours, and corporate travel services.
- Market Analysis: Assess the current travel market, identifying target customer segments like families, honeymooners, or business travelers.
- Competitive Analysis: Compare your agency to others, focusing on your unique offerings like specialized destinations, personalized service, or exclusive deals.
- Sales and Marketing: Outline your strategy for attracting clients, using methods like online marketing, partnerships with travel providers, or attending travel expos.
- Management Team: Highlight the experience and expertise of your team in travel planning, customer service, and business management.
- Operations Plan: Describe the process of service delivery, from client consultation to trip execution and post-travel follow-up.
- Financial Plan: Provide an overview of financial aspects, including startup costs, pricing strategy, and anticipated income.
- Appendix: Include supplementary documents such as travel industry certifications, partnership agreements, or detailed client testimonials to support your business plan.
If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.
Step 5: Register Your Business
Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.
Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business!
Choose where to register your company
Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to travel agencies.
If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state.
Choose your business structure
Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your travel agency will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely.
Here are the main options:
- Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
- General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
- C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
- S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC , which just needs to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization , and answer any questions you might have.
Form Your LLC
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We recommend ZenBusiness as the Best LLC Service for 2023
Step 6: Register for Taxes
The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number , or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN.
Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.
The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist , and taxes can be filed online.
It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.
Step 7: Fund your Business
Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:
- Bank loans : This is the most common method, but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
- SBA-guaranteed loans : The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan .
- Government grants : A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
- Venture capital : Offer potential investors an ownership stake in exchange for funds, keeping in mind that you would be sacrificing some control over your business.
- Friends and Family : Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
- Crowdfunding : Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
- Personal : Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.
Bank and SBA loans are probably the best options, other than friends and family, for funding a travel agency. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept.
Step 8: Apply for Travel Agency Licenses and Permits
Starting a travel agency requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.
Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ( OSHA ), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits.
You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more.
You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package . They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.
This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.
If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.
Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account
Before you start making money you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account .
Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your travel agency business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.
Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account.
Step 10: Get Business Insurance
Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.
Here are some types of insurance to consider:
- General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
- Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
- Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
- Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
- Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
- Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
- Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
- Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of any of the above insurance types.
Step 11: Prepare to Launch
As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business.
Essential software and tools
Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.
You may want to use industry-specific software to manage bookings and scheduling, such as TravelPerk , TravelCEO , and TravelOperations .
- Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks , Freshbooks , and Xero .
- If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.
Develop your website
Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism.
You can create your own website using services like WordPress , Wix , or Squarespace . This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.
They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization ( SEO ) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google.
Some of your business will come from the casual passerby or online visitors, but still, you should invest in digital marketing! Getting the word out is especially important for new businesses, as it’ll boost customer and brand awareness.
Once your website is up and running, link it to your social media accounts and vice versa. Social media is a great tool for promoting your business because you can create engaging posts that advertise your products:
- Facebook: Great platform for paid advertising, allows you to target specific demographics, like men under age 50 in the Cleveland area.
- Instagram: Same benefits as Facebook but with different target audiences.
- Website: SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Book Now”. This can sharply increase purchases.
- Google and Yelp: For businesses that rely on local clientele, getting listed on Yelp and Google My Business can be crucial to generating awareness and customers.
Take advantage of your website, social media presence, and real-life activities to increase awareness of your offerings and build your brand. Some suggestions include:
- Competitions and giveaways – Generate interest by offering prizes for customers who complete a certain action, such as dinner credits if you book within a certain period.
- Signage – Put up eye-catching signage at your store and website.
- Flyering – Distribute flyers in your neighborhood and at industry events.
- In-Person Sales – Offer your services at trade shows.
- Sponsor events – You can pay to be a sponsor at events that are relevant to your target market.
- Post a video – Post a video about your travel agency. Use humor and maybe it will go viral!
- Email marketing/newsletter – Send regular emails to customers and prospects. Make them personal.
- Start a blog – Start a blog and post regularly. Change up your content and share on multiple sites.
- Press releases – Do press releases about new travel packages, etc.
- Paid ads on social media – Choose sites that will reach your target market and do targeted ads.
- Pay – per-click marketing – Use Google AdWords to perform better in searches. Research your keywords first.
- Testimonials – Share customer testimonials about how your services helped them.
- Create infographics – Post infographics and include them in your content.
Focus on USPs
Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that set it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your travel agency meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire.
Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your travel agency could be:
- Travel to Asia’s best secret destinations
- The best local insights and insider adventures
- Vacations for the whole family, from grandma to the baby!
You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a travel agency, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in travel agencies for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections.
The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in travel. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. Online businesses might also consider affiliate marketing as a way to build relationships with potential partners and boost business.
Step 12: Build Your Team
If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a travel agency would include:
- Travel Agents – sales and bookings
- General Manager – scheduling, accounting, staff management
- Marketing Lead – SEO strategies, social media, other marketing
At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need.
Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed , Glassdoor , or ZipRecruiter . Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent.
Step 13: Run a Travel Agency – Start Making Money!
Owning a travel agency means sharing the joy of travel for a living. What could be more fun? It’s also a huge, high-growth industry that you could tap into and grow a profitable business. Startup costs are low, and all you need is a simple accreditation — there’s no real training required. You just need a good concept for your agency and a great marketing plan. Having a strong online presence in this digital age is also an absolute must.
You’ve started off on the right foot by reading this guide, and now you’re ready to begin your trip to entrepreneurial success!
- Travel Agency Business FAQs
If you run your online travel agency from home, you could have profit margins of up to 80%. Costs to run your travel agency are very low, and you’re paid around a 10% commission on everything that you book. As a home-based, one-person show, you could make $60,000 per year to start, and much more once you’re established.
Consumers are turning to online travel agencies more and more, which you could easily run from home. If your business grows fast and you need to add staff, you may want to have an office.
Some consumers prefer the personal service of a smaller online agency that can offer more local, personal insights about travel destinations. The key is to differentiate yourself in some way. You could specialize in certain locations, a specific type of lodgings, such as cabins, or in a type of vacation such as corporate retreats.
Travel agencies engage in activities such as providing travel advice, booking travel arrangements, managing logistics, and offering specialized services tailored to clients’ needs.
Effective marketing strategies for a travel agency include building a strong online presence, targeted advertising, content marketing, collaborations and partnerships, and leveraging customer referrals and reviews.
Running a travel agency can have challenges due to intense competition, evolving industry dynamics, regulatory considerations, seasonal fluctuations, and the need for customer satisfaction and crisis management.
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- Decide if the Business Is Right for You
- Hone Your Idea
- Brainstorm a Travel Agency Name
- Create a Travel Agency Business Plan
- Register Your Business
- Register for Taxes
- Fund your Business
- Apply for Travel Agency Licenses and Permits
- Open a Business Bank Account
- Get Business Insurance
- Prepare to Launch
- Build Your Team
- Run a Travel Agency - Start Making Money!
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What is a Host Travel Agency?
Are you interested in becoming a travel agent? Partnering with a host travel agency is one popular option, but there isn’t a ton of information out there about the role host agencies play. They aren’t travel agencies, and they aren’t travel suppliers. To say that host agencies are middlemen between the two isn’t false, but it is an oversimplification.
Before you become a travel agent, it’s important to understand the main functions of a host agency, and how they can impact your business. So… what exactly does a host agency do for its agents?
One of the most important things a host agency provides is a solid foundation of travel knowledge and practical education. This includes everything from booking engines and which suppliers to use for which destinations, to general business knowledge and how to’s . Many host agencies offer a mix of online courses and in-person educational opportunities to keep agents up-to-date on all the latest travel trends, supplier products, and business practices.
Allows for Low Start-Up Costs
In order for airlines, tour operators, and other travel suppliers to consider your travel agency legitimate, it must meet several standards. It can take years, and thousands of dollars in business to obtain CLIA and IATA credentials , the most widely accepted marks of an authorized seller of travel. Agents that partner with host agencies have access to their established credentials, as well as their Errors & Omissions insurance policy, which allows them to book travel with confidence, right off the bat.
Provides Access to Suppliers & Networking Opportunities
Host agencies already have established relationships with the BDMs (Business Development Managers) of their Preferred Suppliers . These connections are invaluable for agents when dealing with, or even to help them work out, an issue when a client is traveling. At KHM Travel Group, agents even get a chance to network with supplier representatives at our in-person events , Seminars at Sea, and FAM trips!
Acts as a Bookkeeper
A host agency keeps track of your commissions for you, and should allow you to track the money you’ve earned and run reports. The system that KHM Travel Group agents receive to do this is called myTravelCRM . At the end of the year, your host agency will send you a 1099-NEC with all your earnings.
Supplies Marketing & Technology Tools
The biggest struggle many new agents face is figuring out how to promote their business. Host agencies know this, and use their resources to educate agents on the best ways to attract clients. With KHM Travel, agents get their own website they can personalize to launch their web presence, plus access to an entire library of marketing templates, tools and graphics .
Offers Higher Commission Rates
Host travel agencies have the buying power of an entire collection of agents. This allows them to have more weight with suppliers, which translates into higher commission rates for travel agents. Plus, suppliers work with host agencies to provide exclusive sales incentives and prizes just for travel agents — sometimes, just for the agents under a specific host agency!
Provides Personal Support
With the right host agency, a travel agent will never feel like they are alone in trying to grow their business. Being able to reach a real person on the phone, or via email, or even through Facebook, is an invaluable benefit of working with a host agency. A host agency’s support team should be available to answer your questions, whether you’ve been an agent for just a few hours, or for many years!
Advocates for Travel Professionals
A reputable, well-connected host travel agency will have representatives actively participating in organizations like the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), and the Professional Association of Travel Hosts (PATH). Involvement in these groups means that the concerns and interests of independent travel agents are being heard on a larger scale. Through events like the ASTA Global Convention and the PATH Symposium, host agencies are able to be a part of the discussion about where the industry is headed and what policies will benefit travel agents.
Contact our Memberships Team at 1-888-611-1220 to learn more about becoming an independent travel agency with us! You can also visit our Programs page to get details on joining KHM Travel Group, including payment options.
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How to Become a Travel Agent and Work From Home
Author: Holly Reisem Hanna
June 1, 2023 Leave a Comment
Do you love to travel? Do you have wanderlust? Are you a master at finding great travel deals?
Becoming a work from home travel agent might be your ideal work at home career path!
Working as a travel agent might seem a little outdated in today’s world of Kayak and Airbnb, but in reality, many people still prefer to work with travel agents.
Experienced travel planners help travelers save money, time, and travel-related headaches.
Home-based travel agents generally work for a host agency (a company bonded and accredited by the Airlines Reporting Corporation or the International Airlines Travel Agents Network) as independent contractors.
As a travel agent, you’ll earn a commission on the travel arrangements (flights, hotels, rental cars, travel excursions , and more) you book, and you’ll often have access to special deals and travel discounts. You can choose to work in a particular niche, such as cruises or business travel, or work with clients looking into a specific type of travel (adventure, Disney vacations, eco-friendly, budget, or luxury travel).
One of the great things about becoming a work at home travel agent is that it’s a relatively easy startup business idea, and the costs are low. With a basic home office (including an internet connection, a phone, computer, printer, and website), you can get started with a host agency.
So if you love to travel or if you love to help other people fulfill their vacation dreams, you may want to start a home-based travel agent business!
What Skills Do You Need to Be a Travel Agent?
The basic skills you’ll need as a travel agent include attention to detail, excellent research and communication skills, high-level organizational skills, and a knowledge of geography and travel destinations. You’ll also need to be tech-savvy and have a solid understanding of programs like Microsoft Office and Google Workspace.
If you’re working as an independent contractor, the host company will usually train you; some host agencies charge a fee, while others do not. While there are travel agent certificate programs that you can take, you may be able to break into a travel role if you have customer service, hospitality, marketing, or sales experience under your belt.
Getting Started as a Work at Home Travel Agent
According to Host Agency Reviews, travel agents with three years of experience make an average of $46,580 per year . However, there are some travel agents making six figures per year. It all depends on your experience, the number of clients you retain, hours worked, and commission and support from your host agency.
Agents who work in specific markets or on particular vacation types (like destination weddings or luxury travel) can become very familiar with their market and, thus, enjoy even greater success. Working in particular markets, like weddings or corporate travel, can also make a big difference regarding salary.
Remote Travel Agent and Consultant Jobs
If starting your own business seems intimidating, many companies within the travel and hospitality industry hire at-home travel consultants, reservationists, and planners for full-time and part-time positions. Best of all, many of these positions come with travel perks!
To start, you may want to explore:
- American Express
- Kemp Travel Group
- Vail Resorts
- Working Solutions
- World Travel Holdings
Exploring Host Agencies
Finding a good host agency is key to getting started as an at-home travel agent. If you’re just starting, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with host agency options to get a feel for what each can offer.
- American Society of Travel Advisors
- Cruise Planners
- Disney Vacation Planner
- Dream Vacations Advisors
- Dugan’s Travel
How to Select a Great Host Agency
When it comes to what they offer their consultants, travel agencies vary significantly. There are many factors to consider besides who offers the best commission.
For example, do you prefer a large agency or a small agency? Locally-based hosting can be easier for new agents who might need extensive support and training. On the other hand, national agencies may offer more flexibility and growth.
Carefully weigh your agency options and perform background research. Sites like Host Agency Reviews and Find a Host Travel Agency can help. They offer tips and ratings for finding the best travel agency that fits your needs.
Perks of Becoming a Travel Agent
Aside from being a fun business opportunity, being a travel agent offers some amazing perks .
If you enjoy travel, you might enjoy taking “FAM trips” or “familiarization trips” to various locales. Cruise lines, hotels, and tour guides know the best way for you to sell their services is for you to try them firsthand. So they offer perks, including complementary and deeply discounted fares, as well as opportunities to use their services and explore all your amazing options.
You can also save big on your own travel with great discounts! You’ll score awesome deals before anyone else even hears about them. As a travel agent, you’ll have access to discounts because, of course, the more you travel, the more business experience you rack up.
The best part? You can deduct those travel expenses from your taxes as part of your business! You can also deduct things like advertising and expenses related to your clients. This amounts to big tax savings for you!
Other Ways to Make Money in the Travel Industry
If you love the idea of working and traveling, but you’re unsure about becoming a travel agent or consultant, there are many other options available.
Traveling to another country as an Au Pair is a great option if you enjoy working with children. When you work as an Au Pair, you’ll live with a family, helping them with household chores and childcare. In return, you’ll get free room and board and a small stipend that you can use on your days off. Being an Au Pair allows you to experience life in another country for an extended period of time. Becoming an Au Pair does come with some fees you’ll need to pay, such as your flights, travel visa, and insurance.
Customer Service Representative
Customer service is an excellent way to break into the travel industry and work from home! Many companies provide full training for these roles as well as a host of benefits. You can work for airlines, hotels, cruise lines, travel booking sites, and other travel-related sites and industries. For these work from home positions, you’ll generally need your own device (laptop or computer) and a high-speed internet connection. Check out this article for a list of hospitality companies that hire remote customer service reps.
You’ve probably heard of being an online ESL tutor , but did you know you can travel to another country to teach English as a second language? Most countries require ESL teachers to have a bachelor’s degree and a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate. Like being an Au Pair, there will be fees for your flights, travel visa, and insurance. Depending on which host company you use and which country to travel to, your housing may be free or purchased at a reduced cost. How much you can earn will vary as well. For more information on traveling and making money as an ESL tutor, check out the resources below.
- International TEFL Academy
- Premier TEFL
If you enjoy working with high school and college students, consider becoming a local coordinator . In these independent contracting roles, you’ll work with educational organizations and programs to place and mentor students interested in foreign exchange programs. These part-time positions are a flexible and easy way to make extra money from home. Some programs also offer incentive trips and perks for their local coordinators.
- Education, Travel, and Culture – Earn $700-$1,600 per student
- International Cultural Exchange Services (ICES) – Average earnings are $8,000 a year
Social Media Marketer Specializing in Travel
Do you love to travel and you’re looking for ways to earn money from home, there are plenty of opportunities to take your travel beyond Instagram snaps and shares on Facebook… but if you’re really great at social media, you could also become a social media manager in the travel industry! Many of these positions allow you to work from home for a travel-based company, sharing posts and connecting with their customers.
If you prefer to create your own schedule and be your own boss, become a local tour guide! With this idea, you’ll need to be in the know about the food, culture, and history of the area you’re helping tourists explore. With apps like Showaround and Viator , you can create your tour, book customers, and make money from your travel expertise. You can also look at local tour operators and see if they have any openings for tour guides. Explore this article for more tips on making money as a tour guide .
Magazines, guidebooks, and websites are often looking for freelance travel writers to contribute their experiences and give readers recommendations. If you have writing and communication skills and you travel often, this might be an excellent option for you.
The income for travel writers varies greatly, but many writers make great money by documenting and sharing their travels. Travel writers, according to ZipRecruiter , earn an average of $76,474 annually, or $37 per hour. I think these numbers sound high, but I wasn’t able to find any other stats for how much travel writers really earn.
If you prefer to write and document your own travels, start a travel blog ! With blogging, you can make money with affiliate marketing, ad networks, sponsorships, product sales, and more! The great thing about blogging is it’s affordable and easy to set up, and there are many free ways to promote your content through social media. My friend, Julie Bonner, has a travel blog where she documents her family’s RV travels. In one year, she was able to generate $5,000 a month from her blog, all while traveling the United States and Canada.
Have you been documenting your travels on social media? Then make money while traveling the world as a social media travel influencer. Whether your specialty is Instagram , Pinterest, TikTok , or YouTube , you can earn good money through paid sponsorships, advertising, and affiliate marketing. Besides building an engaged audience of followers, you’ll need to become skilled at taking photos and videos, editing, and writing captions. How much you can earn as a travel influencer will depend on how many followers you have, your reach, your engagement, and which platforms you’re using. According to this article in Vogue , a travel influencer with 1-4 million followers can earn $31,000 per post!
If you’re a registered nurse, you can sign up to become a travel nurse. These nurses travel to areas where there are nursing shortages in work in a wide variety of settings. Nurses typically work in one location for 13-16 weeks, then move on to another location. Not only is travel nursing a great way to see the country, but it’s also lucrative. The average travel nurse can earn $56.49 per hour plus housing stipends. If you’re interested in travel nursing, check out these sites for assignments.
- Health Carousel Travel Nursing
If you have a passion for travel, there are many ways you can earn money working in the travel industry. From becoming a work at home travel agent to finding ways to document and share your own travel experiences—there’s an opportunity for every traveler out there. Explore your options and pack your suitcase! Check out this post if you’re looking for ways to make money while you travel the world!
Originally published February 25, 2009. Updated June 2023.
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Best Host Travel Agencies of 2023 | HAR's Luminary Awards!
Developing the Luminary Awards in 2019 was one of HAR's spontaneous ideas rooted in celebrating the host companies who deserve recognition for their transparency, advisor support, and engagement on HAR's site in an epic way.
If you can't tell from our casual Friday Host Week attire (feat. astronaut helmets) we here at Host Agency Reviews aren't afraid to make a big display to help override the fun-o-meter. We got pretty nerdy about our awards, developing our own metric for award qualifications to give a fair shake to hosts of every size! Yes, our awards are space-themed. Yes, ANY host listed on our site qualifies for our awards!
So who were the standout host agencies in 2023?
The Best Host Agencies in 2023
Finding the perfect host is subjective. Your forever host agency may not even make a good first date for another travel advisor. Our Luminary Awards recognize host agencies that engage with the growing advisor community and support people like you to find the best host out there.
The 5 Best Host Travel Agency Award Categories
Now, onto our award categories! HAR Luminary Awards recognize hosts in four different ways:
- Supernova Award : Recognizes the hosts that received at least one new review the previous year and have an average star rating of 4+
- Nebula Award: Recognizes the hosts with a certain number of new reviews
- Constellation Award: Recognizes the host agencies that engage with readers on their Host Agency Reviews' profile (responding to questions and reviews)
- Data Scientist Award: Recognizes the host agencies with the most participation in our surveys.
- The Galaxy Award!!!! : To receive a galaxy award, a host agency needs to win in all four other categories. To be frank, it's really hard to nab this award. Sure, hosts can win some of the Luminary Awards just by being their amazing selves, but the Galaxy Award is the pinnacle of Luminary achievement.
Note: All the award data is from the host's aggregate info of the previous year (2022). To keep things super democratic, we're not going to separate them by host size (just in old school ABC order)
Is the suspense unbearable?! I know! Me too! Who are the best host agencies in 2023?!? Here they are in each category, listed in alphabetical order.
The 2023 Host Agency Reviews Supernova Award Winners
Sometimes a star gets so big and so bright that it's about to explode. That sums up our supernova awards. Its criteria recognize the best host agencies in 2023 that have a 4.0 or higher average star rating, and have received at least one new review the previous year. Here are the hosts that burned brightly!
The 2023 Host Agency Reviews Nebula Award Winners
What is that faraway cloud of light brightening in the distance? They are the best host agencies of all sizes that have accumulated the most new reviews .
Who are these hosts attracting the attention of new travel agent ICs? Drumroll please . . .
The 2023 Host Agency Reviews Constellation Award Winners
Sure. Stars are bright and fun when they fly solo, but they're a lot more interesting to look at when they gather in groups and hangout in the sky in the shape of a horse, dog, or a mythical Greek hunter with a fancy belt and bow and arrows. The HAR Constellation Award is for best travel host agencies who engage on their profiles . They answer your questions. They respond to your reviews. They want you to be as informed as possible!
The 2023 Host Agency Reviews Data Scientist Award Winners
We like data A LOT. You probably know by now that we proudly consider ourselves nerds, geeks, data-dorks, eggheads, dweebs . . . you get the idea. Every year we publish delectable data through our income survey and fee survey .
But guess what?! That great data doesn't come from thin air. Not even close. We partner with host agencies and franchises, who do a lot of legwork in reaching out to their ICs to participate! The Data Scientist award recognizes the best host travel agencies and franchises who make these sometimes-Herculean efforts so our data is all the more stunning in our infographics. Who are these hosts this year?
The 2023 Host Agency Reviews Galaxy Award Winners are . . .
The Galaxy Award, is for hosts who've gone the extra mile and received an award in EVERY category. We get so excited about the Galaxy Award, that we reveal the winner with a video!
See Past Luminary Award Winners!
This isn't our first rodeo! You can find past Luminary Award winners here:
- 2022 Luminary Awards
- 2021 Luminary Awards
- 2020 Luminary Awards
- 2019 Luminary Awards
That's a Wrap (for Now)
*High five* to all the best travel host agencies and franchises in 2022 that were recognized with Host Agency Reviews' industry awards!! We know they'll keep shining on, providing stellar (get it, stellar ) resources and support to burgeoning and established agents alike.
And stay tuned for next January to see which hosts will return to claim their prize, and which one will be newbies on the HAR award circuit!
You Want to Win a 2024 Luminary Award? Here's how!
So you're chomping at the bit to win a Luminary Award? This year, we expanded the host size categories to make sure Luminary Awards were an even playing field regardless of a host's size! (Previously we had 3 categories, now we have 5.)
With the exception of the Suprernova award (which awards a high average star rating), we tally up our data from the previous year to determine our award winners. Here's the deets:
- Supernova Criteria: All hosts must have a 4+ star rating and at least one new review from the previous year. Additionally, hosts need:
- X-Small (≤24): ≥ 2 total reviews
- Small (25 - 99): ≥ 7 total reviews
- Medium (100 - 499): ≥ 12 total reviews
- Large (500 - 999): ≥ 50 total reviews
- X-Large (1,000+): ≥ 100 total reviews
- Nebula Criteria : Nebula rewards hosts for new reviews:
- X-Small (<24): ≥1 new review
- Small (25 - 99): ≥ 3 new reviews
- Medium (100 - 499): ≥5 new reviews
- Large (500 - 999): ≥10 new reviews
- X-Large (1,000+): ≥15 new reviews
- Constellation Criteria: This award tracks a host's number of interactions (via onsite Q&A) and/or responses to reviews.
- X-Small (≤24): ≥ 1
- Small (25 - 99): ≥ 3 interactions
- Medium (100 - 499): ≥5 interactions
- Large (500 - 999): ≥10 interactions
- X-Large (1,000+): ≥15 interactions
- Data Scientist Criteria: This award is for the number of host's ICs who take our surveys. The number of respondents needed are:
- X-Small (≤24): ≥ 2 respondents
- Small (25 - 99): ≥ 7 respondents
- Medium (100 - 499): ≥ 12 respondents
- Large (500 - 999): ≥ 50 respondents
- X-Large (1,000+): ≥ 100 respondents
- Galaxy Criteria: I like to refer to Galaxy Award winners as "the sweepers." These are the hosts who've won an award in every other category.
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Best Online Travel Agencies
Booking.com is our top choice for making your trip arrangements
Ligaya Malones is an editor, blogger, and freelance writer specializing in food and travel. Ligaya's work has appeared in publications including Lonely Planet and BRIDES.
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Planning a trip can be easier through an online travel agency than if you handle each aspect of the planning separately. You can book hotels, air travel, rental cars, and more through a single site, and booking everything together sometimes results in discounts. By inputting a destination, a range of dates, and other preferences, you will see a list of options for each aspect of travel.
The best online travel agencies offer options from the largest number of airlines, hotels, car rental agencies, and more. Look for sites that offer discounts for combining reservations for different aspects of your trip. For example, the best sites will have lower rates if you book both plane tickets and a hotel through their services. The best sites also provide reviews from customers who actually have booked through the service. These are our top picks.
Best Online Travel Agencies for 2023
- Best Overall: Booking.com
- Best Budget: Skyscanner
- Best Price Predictor: Hopper
- Most Innovative: Kiwi.com
- Best for Eco-Conscious: Kind Traveler
- Best for Social Impact: I Like Local
- Best for Design-Forward Homestays: Plum Guide
- Our Top Picks
I Like Local
- See More (4)
Frequently asked questions, methodology, best overall : booking.com.
This industry leader offers one of the most comprehensive trip planning platforms on the Internet.
Lots of options to choose from
Interface is easy to use
Numerous filters to customize your search
Tricky to tell whether changes/cancellations can be made with Booking.com or the vendor directly
Booking.com was founded in 1996 and has grown into an industry leader that stands out for being one of the most comprehensive trip planning platforms out there. From one website, you can compare and book accommodations, flights (including one-way and multi-city flights), sightseeing activities, and even airport taxis. The website lists more than 28 million accommodation options, from hotels, hostels, and B&Bs to vacation homes and luxury resorts—you can browse more choices per destination on Booking.com than other online travel agencies. The website also performs well on cost and typically returns lower-than-average prices for flights and hotels.
Booking.com's interface is also easy to use. On the home page, search for a hotel by entering your chosen destination and dates. Then, use the extensive list of filters—such as price range and distance from the city center—to narrow the results down and find the best fit. You can also search for a specific hotel, or seek inspiration by clicking through options grouped by destination or property type or by topic such as the country’s best Michelin-starred hotel restaurants or the top cities for vegan travelers. The flights, car rental, and other tabs are just as intuitive.
Best Budget : Skyscanner
You can compare prices across airlines, hotels, and car rentals.
Option to toggle searches between specific dates or by monthly calendars
Search Everywhere button is great for spontaneous planners
Extra clicks are required to make a final purchase
Must read fine print for changes/cancellations—may need to deal directly with the vendor
Ads on the sidebar can be distracting
Find deals on airfare, hotels, and car rentals with an aggregator site like Skyscanner , which uses a metasearch engine to compare prices from all online travel agencies and the airline, hotel, or car rental company in question. Run searches with fixed dates, opt to compare airfare prices month to month, or click “Cheapest Month.” Searches also include options for nearby airports or non-stop flights only. With hotel searches, you can choose to select only from properties with free cancellation, a cleanliness rating of 4.5/5 or higher, or 3- or 4-starred hotels only. Car rental searches include an option to select “return car to different location.”
Once you’ve found the best rate, click on the link to be redirected to the third-party site to make your booking. Feeling spontaneous? The Search Everywhere button on the homepage offers a list of the cheapest flight deals for destinations both locally and across the world—just plug in your departure airport first.
Best Price Predictor : Hopper
The company claims a 95 percent accuracy rate at predicting when flights and hotel rates will be cheapest.
Color-coded system makes it easy to determine cheapest days to buy
App is easy to use
Option to track flights and receive alerts when the best time to buy arises
Some have mentioned the app functions better as a research tool than a booking tool
Unclear whether Hopper will price match if you find a cheaper flight elsewhere
Hopper is a travel app available on iOS and Android that aims to help travelers save on airfare by usng historical data and their own algorithm to predict when flights will be cheapest. Just type in where and when you’d like to fly and Hopper will present you with a color-coded pricing calendar indicating how much tickets are likely to cost. (Green is the least expensive, then yellow, orange, and red for most expensive.) Hopper will also recommend you either buy now or wait, or you can choose to watch a trip and receive notifications on the best time to buy. In addition, the app has expanded to offer hotel and car rental price predictions, too.
Some newer features since the app’s inception in 2009 include an option to freeze a price for a limited time—for an extra fee—as well as exclusive app-only discounts. Hopper is free to download, and you can choose to book directly through the app, though some users mentioned they use Hopper as more of a research tool before booking directly with the airline or hotel. The company claims a 95 percent accuracy rate at predicting flight rates up to a year ahead.
Most Innovative : Kiwi.com
This metasearch engine scours the web to piece together the ideal itinerary using planes, trains, buses, and more.
Creative itineraries get you where you need to go, especially if you’ve got a multi-stop trip
Kiwi Guarantee offers rebooking or cancellation protections
Nomad option appeals to travelers with a lot of flexibility
Creative itineraries mean you may not fly out of the same airport you flew into
Kiwi Guarantee has an additional fee
Charges all-in-one fee for booking flights, trains, buses (though you can always purchase a la carte)
Travelers planning multi-city destinations and seeking a bargain, as well as those looking to take planes, trains, and automobiles to get there, might consider Kiwi . Kiwi is a metasearch engine that scours and pieces together itineraries from various airlines (even if they don’t have a codeshare agreement), considers multiple airports (even if your arrival airport is different from departure), and offers booking options, whether you’re looking at very specific dates or more general ones (up to 60 nights).
Some will find the ability to make multiple bookings for a particular trip more convenient than going at it manually several different times, though note that you must opt into the Kiwi Guarantee program to access rebooking and refund protections should your reservation change or be canceled. Kiwi’s Nomad option allows you to plug in a bunch of destinations you’d like to visit and the length of your intended stay, and the website will churn out the most affordable itineraries for review.
Best for Eco-Conscious : Kind Traveler
A give-and-get business model means booking accommodations with exclusive perks, a donation to environmental organizations, and more.
All participating hotels include a local give-back component
Exclusive savings and perks
Participating hotels are located in some of the most beautiful places in the world
Inventory is much smaller compared to other booking platforms
Some of the amenities mentioned are based on availability only
In 2022, Kind Traveler (an online trave agency focused on hotel bookings) announced an increase in environmentally and socially conscious hotels, charity donations, voluntourism opportunities, and additional perks like waived resort fees or a welcome amenity.
Unlock exclusive hotel rates and perks from participating Kind Traveler hotels with a minimum $10/night minimum donation to a local charity. For example, stay at the Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives and receive up to $33 off the nightly rate and perks such as a food and beverage credit and an Earth Lab or Alchemy Bar workshop when you make a donation to Manta Trust. The organization funds coastal research to protect the island nation’s large yet fragile population of reef mantas.
Select from more than 140 participating hotels from the Hawaiian Islands to Bozeman, Montana, and the Maldives. Charities include wildlife, human rights, arts, education, and environmental preservation organizations.
Best for Social Impact : I Like Local
Choose from a host of travel experiences with the peace of mind that 100 percent of the cost goes directly to local partners.
Social impact mission woven into organization’s business model
Immersive experiences led by local guides
Range of experiences offered
May not be best fit for those seeking upscale, luxury experiences and stays
Can’t sort experiences by a list of countries (though an interactive map is available)
No experiences outside of Africa and Asia
For an online travel agency with a booking platform designed to route dollars spent directly to the communities travelers intend to visit, consider I Like Local . Visit the website to browse a host of travel experiences in countries including Indonesia, Kenya, and Cambodia. Experiences include homestays and farmstays as well as wellness and culturally oriented experiences—from cooking and cycling tours to weaving classes.
To search for an experience, select from drop-down items like travel dates and experience categories, or view a global map and click on a country to view experiences that way.
The platform got its start in 2014 and has grown to 4,000 local hosts across nearly 20 countries. As a social impact organization, 100 percent of each booking fee goes to local hosts. To date, 16,000 travelers have booked with I Like Local.
Best for Design-Forward Homestays : Plum Guide
Browse and book seriously vetted, design-forward vacation homes.
Highly curated inventory of vacation rentals across the world
Thorough vetting process
Does not publish guest reviews
Other platforms have homes available across more destinations
When it comes to booking a vacation home, serviced apartment, or condo, travelers are spoiled for choice. Plum Guide is an online travel agency that specializes in accommodations—though not just any home makes its directory. The company claims that each potential home listed on its site must jump through 150 hoops to be included, from internet speed and mattress and pillow quality to the showers’ water pressure and the home’s proximity to dining, shopping, and attractions.
Search by a featured collection on the website such as “ pet-friendly homes ” or “one-of-a-kind homes in Palm Springs.” Scroll to the bottom of its homepage to view its top destinations, as well as a list of all destinations where Plum Guide homes are available, including Barbados, Mexico, Portugal, Switzerland, the U.S., and Turkey. Note: From the top right-hand corner of the site, use the dropdown menu to select currency of choice.
As long as you know what you value most out of your travel experience—such as affordability, social impact, or luxe accommodations—there’s an online travel agency to help plan your next trip. Be sure to read the fine print, as some agencies are third-party websites and not direct vendors. If you're not sure where to start, Booking.com is your best bet for a smooth user experience and hard-to-beat offers on flights, hotels, and other travel arrangements.
What Is the Biggest Travel Agency?
Our choice for best overall, Booking.com, is known as an industry leader with listings for all major hotels, airlines, car rental companies, and more. It boasts more choices for accommodations per destination than any other site, and we found its interface to be user-friendly.
Are Online Travel Agencies Worth It?
This depends on your needs and priorities. The best online travel agencies certainly can save time by booking everything all at once. However, if you're someone who is good at haggling and enjoys the details of planning a trip, you might be able to find better deals by reaching out to hotels or other destinations and speaking to someone personally.
Is It Cheaper to Book Online Than With a Travel Agent?
Not always. A travel agent you know and trust should have the experience and connections to find deals that can match or surpass what you'll find online. Additionally, if something goes wrong, travel agents provide you with an actual person you can use as an advocate to correct the problem . But if you don't have access to a good travel agent, online sites still provide plenty of ways to streamline planning and save money .
We considered dozens of online travel agencies and narrowed down the options based on user experience, volume and quality of inventory, unique offerings and specials, and customer reviews. We also assessed travel companies’ environmentally and socially conscious policies.
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Online travel agency Booking.com to sell cruises
The Carnival cruise ship Sunrise is seen docked at Miami Port, in Miami, Florida, U.S., June 18, 2022. Picture taken with a drone. REUTERS/Marco Bello/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights
NEW YORK, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Booking Holdings (BKNG.O) largest brand Booking.com said on Thursday that it is launching a cruise section on its website to take advantage of the emergence of cruises as a popular option among consumers in the United States.
Cruise operators expect record bookings in 2024 due in part to rising demand among first-time cruisers and as consumers search for cheaper ways to travel. Online travel websites are trying to become one-stop shops for people planning vacations.
Booking.com is launching the cruise travel vertical in partnership with private cruise travel agency World Travel Holdings, the company said.
"The new offering meets traveler demand in the largest market for cruise bookings globally, representing 58% of the entire industry," the company said in a statement.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) said in July that there is more interest than ever among Millennials and Generation X travelers to take their first cruise.
About 73% of those who have never cruised before indicated they will consider such a vacation, the association said. About 85% of people who have been on a cruise will go again, a 6% increase from pre-pandemic seasons, according to a 2022 CLIA survey.
The travel booking website expects the new vertical to become available to all travelers in a week. Booking Holdings' Priceline.com brand currently also offers cruises.
Cruise operator Royal Caribbean Group said its bookings during the third quarter significantly exceeded 2019 levels and that cruise bookings for 2024 are significantly outpacing 2019 levels.
Reporting by Doyinsola Oladipo in New York; Editing by Daniel Wallis
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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The Herald (Rock Hill, SC)
Here's why the neighborhood Airbnb or VRBO is likely going away in Rock Hill
Posted: November 15, 2023 | Last updated: November 15, 2023
Nov. 14—Rock Hill
Rock Hill City Council is poised to disallow short-term rentals in residential areas.
The council gave initial approval Monday night to city zoning changes that would only allow property owners using Airbnb, VRBO or similar short-term stay services to do so in commercial areas. A second vote is required but the board is unlikely to change course, given the city initiated the rule change and the council voted unanimously for it.
Council next meets on Nov. 27. An agenda for that meeting hasn't been posted yet.
If the new rule passes, property owners with approved rental sites in residential areas would have five years before they have to stop operating. New permits in residential areas wouldn't be allowed.
The council decision goes against the city planning commission recommendation to keep the current permit process in place. The planning commission also voted unanimously.
City staff, directed by the city manager to come up with the proposed changes, supports the new rules.
Councilman John Black said communities across the country have been wrestling with how to handle short-term rentals, an issue that isn't confined to Rock Hill. Black pushed back on arguments the new rules are overreaching because he said changes will create a more streamlined, consistent process for rentals.
Long-time concerns over short-term rentals
The city's attempts to regulate short-term rentals go back several years.
Council members say they hear from many residents and neighborhoods concerned about noise, safety, traffic or trash. Council members also hear from property owners who say short-term rentals fill an important role by bringing in tourism and sometimes future residents or investors in the city.
Councilman Kevin Sutton said the city hasn't been able to balance the desires of neighborhoods with those of the short-term rental community.
"We tried to make an attempt as a council to allow something, and make it work," Sutton said. "We have wasted a lot of money and a lot of staff time trying to come up with something."
The issue has become contentious at times.
Councilman Jim Reno said people contacted him Monday in support of rule changes, but said they wouldn't speak out about the issue due to past treatment when they did speak out at planning commission meetings.
Rental owners pushback
Resident Tom Roper's wife operates an Airbnb in Rock Hill. Roper went down the list of reasons for the new rules proposed by the city, which he said aren't valid.
Roper said there haven't been complaints or criminal reports at rentals in the year since the last set of rules began. The maximum number of homes used for short-term rentals at a time — about 50 although the city would allow 150 — isn't going to hurt housing stock or affordability in a city of more than 75,000 people, he said.
Another concern cited in the proposed city rule is the idea rentals create more transient communities compared to homeowners in neighborhoods.
"This is not an issue of transient occupancy," Roper said. "These are residences where people are allowed to rent out rooms. You wouldn't know that these houses are Airbnbs unless they were required to obtain permits to operate."
Roper said some people want to stay in residential areas to see if they like it before a potential move to Rock Hill. Others want to attend sports tourism events Rock Hill offers, and stay as a family rather than across hotel rooms.
Tom Hutto owns multiple rental properties. Hutto said there aren't police reports, parties, trash accumulation or parking issues to support moving short-term rentals out of residential areas.
"The 33 permit holders have not had any complaints," Hutto said. "The only complaints we've had is that we exist."
Hutto said transitioning his properties from short-term to long-term rentals would cost about $1,500 per unit or $252,000 a year.
The coming changes to short-term rentals
Now, the city caps short-term rental permits at 150. Sites can't be right beside each other. In neighborhoods, a property owner has to get approval from neighbors and sometimes homeowner associations.
The changes would remove neighborhood properties, but also remove that overall cap. Rental use would be allowed based on zoning district, not on whether a neighbor might agree with it, Mayor John Gettys said.
Gettys said it isn't the city's job to go property by property to determine who should be allowed something that can change based on a limited amount of permits or "the whims of a neighbor." It's better, Gettys said, for the city to focus on what should be allowed and where in a way that's simpler for property owners and the city.
Removing the cap allows more possibility for short-term rentals, Gettys said, by ensuring no single owner takes up most or all of them. Gettys said the proposed changes take a broader view of short-term rentals and where they should be.
This story was originally published November 14, 2023, 12:52 PM.
(c)2023 The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Russia
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Spaso House has been the residence of American ambassadors in Moscow since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and the former Soviet Union in 1933. It stands one mile west of the Kremlin at No. 10 Spasopeskovskaya Square, not far from the Garden Ring Road (Sadovoye Kol’tso) and the Arbat, an ancient region of Moscow.
The area surrounding Spaso House was inhabited in the 17th century by the Tsar’s dog-keepers and falconers. Spaso House and the square on which it is located are named for the handsome Russian Orthodox Church situated on one side. Erected in 1711, the Church of Salvation on the Sands (Tserkov’ Spasa-na-Peskakh) was depicted in the 1870s by the artist V.D. Polenov in a painting entitled “A Small Moscow Courtyard” (Moskovskiy Dvorik), which now hangs in Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery.
Designed by architects Adamovich and Mayat, Spaso House was completed in 1914 for Nikolay Aleksandrovich Vtorov, a wealthy merchant and manufacturer. It was built in the New Empire Style during a period that favored ostentation. The interior is built on an astonishing scale, with a main hall 82 feet long crowned by a soaring domed ceiling, from which an enormous chandelier hangs. This chandelier of Russian crystal is believed to be the work of the famous silversmith Mishakov and to be the largest house chandelier in Moscow.
Although not as vast as the ground floor, the living quarters are impressive for their spaciousness and attention to detail, such as beautifully molded ceilings, carved doors and handsome chandeliers. Other than the addition of a one-story ballroom wing in the 1930s, the mansion has not changed much in appearance.
The construction of Spaso House coincided with the end of one era and the beginning of another. Russia’s involvement in World War I resulted in political and civil unrest that directly affected the life of Spaso House’s master. There are many rumors surrounding Vtorov’s fate. One account claims that he was shot in his office by a revolutionary in 1917. Another version states that Vtorov struck a deal with Kerensky’s Provisional Government, ceding his mansion in return for permission to leave Russia. A third version claims that Vtorov was murdered by his own son in the front vestibule of Spaso House. Only the facts that Vtorov died in 1917 and that one of his two daughters was living in Paris in the early 1950s are certain.
Following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, the newly formed Soviet government expropriated all of Moscow’s mansions, including Spaso House, for official use. Soviet Foreign Minister Vyshinskiy mentioned during a Spaso House reception that his predecessor, Georgiy Vasiliyevich Chicherin, the Commissar for Foreign Affairs from 1918 to 1930, had lived at Spaso House for some time during the 1920s.
When the first American ambassador, William C. Bullitt, arrived in Moscow at the end of 1933 to present his credentials, he was shown three buildings allocated for possible use by the American Embassy. Two were chosen: Spaso House was selected as the ambassador’s residence and another building then under construction on Mokhovaya Street, next to the Hotel National, was to serve as temporary offices and staff apartments until an embassy compound could be built on Sparrow Hills – a plan that never materialized.
At the time the United States entered into diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, Spaso House’s public rooms were being used for official entertaining by the Soviet Central Executive Committee. Several Soviet officials who had been living on the second floor of the mansion had to be housed elsewhere. They included I.M. Karakhan, Deputy Commissar for Foreign Affairs; Mikhailov, American Specialist for Izvestiya ; and Florinskiy, Chief of Protocol. Following their departure, workers began construction of the ballroom wing, which, due to difficulties with the floor, was completed more than a year later in 1935.
Ambassador Bullitt occupied Spaso House for the first time in March 1934. For several months, the residence also was used as the embassy’s chancery and housed some of the staff until the new building on Mokhovaya Street was completed.
The summer of 1934 has often been described as a honeymoon in American-Soviet ties. The establishment of diplomatic relations inspired good feelings, which prompted tens of thousands of American tourists to visit the U.S.S.R. One of these visitors was the sister of Charles W. Thayer, the author of Bears in the Caviar and other works describing embassy life in Moscow, who was then living in Spaso House as the ambassador’s secretary. During this visit, Miss Thayer met Third Secretary Charles E. Bohlen; a romance developed, resulting in marriage, and twenty years later Ambassador and Mrs. Bohlen returned to Moscow as the occupants of Spaso House from 1953 to 1957.
The beginning of this “honeymoon” period saw two memorable parties at Spaso House: the Christmas party of 1934, described in Bears in the Caviar , at which three trained seals went berserk in the ballroom, and the Spring Festival of 1935, described by Irena Wiley in Around the Globe in 20 Years as “the only one great party in Moscow of the USSR.” The famous writer Mikhail Bulgakov attended the ball which inspired the scene of the masked ball in The Master and Margarita . The animals borrowed from the Moscow Zoo for the Christmas party caused a number of calamities: An unhousebroken baby bear ruined a Soviet general’s uniform, and hundreds of finches, also not housebroken, flew noisily about the high-ceilinged rooms during the party and for days thereafter.
A musicale hosted by Ambassador Bullitt during the summer of 1935 was another memorable event. As later recalled by the then chief of the consular section, Angus Ward, guests in the newly completed ballroom witnessed Sergei Prokofiev conducting his own composition, the opera The Love for Three Oranges .
The advent of World War II and the German invasion in 1941 brought new horror to Russia and more changes in Spaso House. Part of the building was turned over to office use to accommodate the overflow from the growth of the official American community. A bomb shelter was even built in the basement. Through all of this, the residence remained largely unscathed, only suffering some broken windows, unlike the nearby Vakhtangov Theater, which was heavily damaged.
In the late fall of 1941, as the Germans were approaching Moscow, the seat of the Soviet government was transferred to the east, to the Volga city of Kuybyshev (Samara). The foreign embassies naturally followed. Spaso House was the evacuation point for the American community; official personnel and correspondents met at Spaso House and proceeded to the station, where they boarded a train to Kuybyshev to the accompanying sound of distant Soviet anti-aircraft fire. Ambassador Laurence A. Steinhardt’s departure for Kuybyshev left Second Secretary Llewellyn E. Thompson, who later served as ambassador in Moscow in the 1950s and 1960s, responsible for American properties and the remaining skeleton staff. Thompson was one of several ambassadors who first entered Spaso House as a junior officer.
A few months after the move to Kuybyshev, the Germans were pushed back from the Moscow area, never actually entering the capital, and the new ambassador, Admiral William H. Standley, and his staff could resume embassy operations in Moscow. Spaso House has continued throughout the postwar years to serve as the ambassador’s residence, and as such has welcomed a host of distinguished visitors, including five American presidents, three vice presidents and eight secretaries of state.
In recent years steps have been taken to restore Spaso House to its original 1914 splendor. Ambassador Thomas J. Watson arranged for the restoration of the exterior fanlight windows, destroyed during World War II, to glass of its original bright ultramarine blue color. In 1983, during Ambassador Arthur A. Hartman’s tenure, an ambitious program to repaint the residence was undertaken to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the United States and the Soviet Union. A recent redecoration in 1995 of the representational rooms and the ballroom has restored the interior to the New Empire Style.
A variety of distinguished American art has been exhibited in Spaso House over the years, a tradition now continued through the State Department’s Art in Embassies Program. Under this program, paintings and sculptures are loaned to embassies around the world by museums and galleries, offering visitors to Spaso House an opportunity to become acquainted with the richness and variety of American art. The Art in Embassies Program was originated and developed by Mrs. Llewellyn E. Thompson (Jane) who was an amateur artist and lived at Spaso House. She founded the program knowing Spaso’s vast white walls would always be friendlier hung with fine American art.
Spaso House has long been associated with the American presence in Russia, and as such is the appropriate residence for the American ambassador in Moscow. The following is a list of the American ambassadors to Moscow who have resided at Spaso House, with their dates of arrival:
William C. Bullitt — November 1933 Joseph E. Davies — November 1936 Laurence A. Steinhardt — March 1939 William H. Standley — February 1942 W. Averell Harriman — October 1943 Walter Bedell Smith — March 1946 Alan G. Kirk — May 1949 George F. Kennan — March 1952 Charles E. Bohlen — March 1953 Llewellyn E. Thompson — June 1957 Foy D. Kohler — August 1962 Llewellyn E. Thompson — December 1967 Jacob D. Beam — April 1969 Walter J. Stoessel, Jr. — February 1974 Malcolm Toon — January 1977 Thomas J. Watson, Jr. — October 1979 Arthur A. Hartman — October 1981 Jack F. Matlock — April 1987 Robert S. Strauss — August 1991 Thomas R. Pickering — May 1993 James F. Collins — September 1997 Alexander Vershbow — July 2001 William J. Burns — July 2005 John Beyrle — July 2008 Michael McFaul — January 2012 John F. Tefft — November 2014 Jon Huntsman, Jr. — October 2017 John J. Sullivan — January 2020
(Text excerpted from April 1964 Foreign Service Journal article entitled “Spaso House” written by Ambassador Peter S. Bridges, former U.S. Ambassador to Mogadishu, Somalia and career Foreign Service Officer.)
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Norilsk: The city built by gulag prisoners where Russia guards its Arctic secrets
Environmental activists are frustrated by how authorities handled a diesel spill which poured into two Arctic rivers in late May.
Moscow correspondent @DiMagnaySky
Friday 3 July 2020 23:41, UK
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The drive from Norilsk airport to the city takes you past mile after mile of crumbling, Soviet-era factories.
It looks like an endless, rusting scrapyard - a jumble of pipes, industrial junk and frost-bitten brickwork. If you were looking for an industrial apocalypse film setting, this would be your place - but you're unlikely to get the permissions.
Norilsk was built in Stalin's times by gulag prisoners. This gritty industrial city is a testament to their endurance both of the cruelty of Stalin's regime and of the harsh polar climate. There were no thoughts then on how to build to protect the environment, just to survive it.
Vasily Ryabinin doesn't think much has changed, at least in ecological terms. He used to work for the local branch of the federal environmental watchdog, Rosprirodnadzor, but quit in June after exposing what he says was a failure to investigate properly the environmental impact of the gigantic diesel spill which poured into two Arctic rivers in late May.
At 21,000 tonnes, it was the largest industrial spill in the polar Arctic .
Despite the Kremlin declaring a federal emergency and sending a host of different agencies to participate in the clean-up, just last week Mr Ryabinin and activists from Greenpeace Russia found another area where technical water used in industrial processes was being pumped directly into the tundra from a nearby tailing pond. Russia's investigative committee has promised to investigate.
"The ecological situation here is so bad," Mr Ryabinin says.
"The latest constructions such as the tailing pond at the Talnack ore-processing plant were built exclusively by Nornickel chief executive Vladimir Potanin's team and supposedly in accordance with ecological standards, but on satellite images you can see that all the lakes in the vicinity have unnatural colours and obviously something has got into them."
Mining company Nornickel would disagree. It has admitted flagrant violations at the tailing pond and suspended staff it deems responsible at both the Talnack plant and at Norilsk Heat and Power plant no 3 where the diesel spill originated from.
On Thursday it appointed Andrey Bougrov, from its senior management board, to the newly-created role of senior vice president for environmental protection. It has a clear environmental strategy, provides regular updates on the status of the spill, and its Twitter feed is filled with climate-related alerts.
But what investors read is very different to the picture on the ground.
Norilsk used to be a closed city - one of dozens across the Soviet Union shut off to protect industrial secrets. Foreigners need special permissions approved by the Federal Security Service (FSB) to enter the region. It would take an invitation from Nornickel to make that happen and, for the past month since the spill, that has not been forthcoming.
Unlike in Soviet times, Russian citizens are now free to come and go. That's why our Sky News Moscow team were able to fly in and travel around the city, even if getting to the spill site was blocked. What they were able to film provides a snapshot of the immense challenge Russia faces in upgrading its Soviet-era industrial infrastructure, particularly at a time when climate change is melting the permafrost on which much of it was built.
Just downwind from one of the rusting factories on the city outskirts is a huge expanse of dead land. The skeletal remains of trees stand forlorn against the howling Arctic winds. Sulphur dioxide poisoning has snuffed the life out of all that lived here. Norilsk is the world's worst emitter of sulphur dioxide by a substantial margin.
"For 80km south of here everything is dead," Mr Ryabinin says, "and for at least 10km in that direction too. Everything here depends on the wind."
Immediately after the spill, Mr Ryabinin filmed and took samples from the Daldykan river just a few kilometres from the fuel tank which had leaked. By that point the river was a churning mix of diesel and red sludge dredged up from the riverbed by the force of the leak. Norilsk's rivers have turned red before and the chemical residues have sunk to the bottom, killing all life there. Nothing has lived in those rivers for decades.
In his capacity as deputy head of the local environmental watchdog, Mr Ryabinin says he insisted that he be allowed to fly further north to check the levels of contamination in Lake Pyasino and beyond.
Nornickel at the time claimed the lake was untouched by the spill. Mr Ryabinin says his boss encouraged him to let things be.
"I can't be sure I would have found anything, but this sort of confrontation - making sure I didn't go there with a camera, let alone with bottles for taking samples, it was all very clear to me. It was the final straw."
Rosprirodnadzor refused to comment to Sky News on Mr Ryabinin's allegations or suggestions that the agency was working hand in hand with Nornickel.
Georgy Kavanosyan is an environmental blogger with a healthy 37,000 following on YouTube. Shortly after the spill, he set out for Lake Pyasino and to the Pyasina River beyond to see how far the diesel had spread.
"We set out at night so that the Norilsk Nickel security wouldn't detect us. I say at night, but they've got polar nights there now, north of the Arctic Circle. So it's still light but it's quieter and we managed to go past all the cordons."
He is one of the few to have provided evidence that the diesel has in fact travelled far beyond where the company admits. Not just the 1,200km (745m) length of Lake Pyasino but into the river beyond.
He says his measurements indicated a volume of hydrocarbons dissolved in the water of between two and three times normal levels. He thinks after he published his findings on YouTube, the authorities' vigilance increased.
Greenpeace Russia have spent the last two weeks trying to obtain samples from Lake Pyasino and the surrounding area. They have faced difficulties getting around and flying their samples out for independent analysis.
They are now waiting for results from a laboratory in St Petersburg but say the samples remain valid technically for just four days after collection and that they weren't able to make that deadline due to the authorities' actively obstructing their work.
Elena Sakirko from Greenpeace Russia specialises in oil spills and says this has happened to her before. This time, a police helicopter flew to the hunter's hut where they were staying and confiscated the fuel for the boat they were using. Then a deputy for the Moscow city parliament tasked with bringing the samples back from Norilsk was forced to go back empty-handed.
"We were told at the airport we needed permission from the security department of Nornickel," Ms Sakirko says. "We asked them to show us some law or statement to prove that this was legal or what the basis for this was, but they haven't showed us anything and we still don't understand it."
Nornickel announced this week that the critical stage of the diesel spill is over. The company is now finalising dates for a press tour for foreign media and for other international environmentalists.
Mr Ryabinin thinks this should have happened weeks ago.
"If we don't let scientists come to the Arctic region to evaluate the impact of the accident, then in the future if anything similar happens, we won't know what to do."
A spokesperson for Nornickel said the company "is actively cooperating with the scientific community and will meticulously assess both the causes and effects of the accident."
Nornickel considers permafrost thawing to be the primary cause of the accident, but is waiting for the end of investigation before making a final statement, the spokesperson said.
They added that the company "accepts full responsibility for the incidents on its sites these past two months and holds itself accountable for any infrastructural deficits or poor decisions by personnel.
"The imperative is to do everything to clean up our sites, instil a stronger culture of transparency and safety in our workforce, and ensure that such situations do not occur in the future."