A lot of us in the industry – and a whole lot of consumers – think of the home-based agent as working strictly within the leisure sector. And while that is the case for many, you may be leaving a lot of business, and money, on the table by not taking on corporate business.
Not to say that corporate travel is for everyone. It calls for a very different skill set and personality than the leisure business, which is known for its social and fun side, longer planning and transaction cycles and more hand-holding.
When working in the business travel sector you must be more process-oriented, very conversant with the GDS and management reporting that corporate clients want. It’s more routine, perhaps less fun, for sure.
And assuming you retain your leisure business, you have to be able to switch hats from that Costa Rica family trip you’re planning to “Help – I’m stranded in Albuquerque!” or “I need to be on the next plane to London.”
Obviously large corporations wouldn’t be on your radar. But a small law firm whose employees travel a fair amount (but don’t need a sophisticated 24-hour call desk) would be a perfect fit. Ditto doctors who do speaking engagements, engineers who do conferences.
And you can make some serious money out of it. Sample fees might include $50-$60 per air ticket and $25 per hotel or car reservation. It’s all open to negotiation. Some corporate agents even charge an annual retainer.
There are other advantages as well. You are more or less “guaranteed” the business – you don’t have to close every sale. It can be a steady source of income. You can be very time-efficient. And assuming that the clientele isn’t huge (or hugely demanding), you can cope with your own absences with the assistance of your host agency backup system.
Perhaps you should be thinking about what a nice piece of business that business travel can be!