Experience counts: home-based agents mostly female and 45+

Experience counts: home-based agents mostly female and 45+

Experience counts: home-based agents mostly female and 45+

The growing trend for travel agents to go home-based seems to appeal most to those who are female and middle aged. The majority of home-based agents are seasoned, experienced agents who are looking for a change … or perhaps coming back into the industry.

“The ones we take now are either already in the industry or coming back in – or from a background that allows them to start selling fairly quickly,” said Lynda Sinclair, Vision Travel. “We have slowed down taking brand new- to- the- industry people. Our support teams work better with advanced advisors.”

Sinclair said the average age of a home-based agent is about 45.

Tim Morgan, VP, TPI, agrees: “I would say the majority of our advisors are between 45-55 and are predominantly female, whereas brand new agents joining TPI (with no industry experience) the average age is a bit lower at between 35-45 and a fairly even mix between male and female.”

Penny Martin, a VP with The Travel Agent Next Door, also said that the average age of home based agents in their group would be about 45 years. She said these agents are experienced and usually have a loyal client group, and it is an easy transition to work for themselves, once they understand all the benefits and support they will get, as well as the freedom they gain.

Martin said the biggest fear agents have when considering going home-based is not having a regular salary.  “But when we demonstrate to them what their commissions would be and that they also have a number of tax write-offs and lower costs as they are no longer commuting to work, most begin to see the opportunity.”

And, of course, more experienced agents have the confidence that they know what they are doing and are less dependent on being managed or having other agents around and being able to ask questions.

One agent we interviewed preferred to remain anonymous but had the following to say: “I worked for a well-established agency group for years. I had to give away a lot of my commission to the owners and I had very little freedom in the days I worked and the hours, even though I was a senior agent bringing in high revenue. Now I have full control over the products I sell, the hours I work, all of it – and I’m actually making more money! I love it!”

Rhonda Stanley, who runs the New Agent Program at The Travel Agent Next Door, says new agents usually have tried other careers. “Yes, even with the younger agents we see, it is their second or third career. I have spoken to younger agents coming out of college or travel school, but they are not keen to work independently or from home. They want to work in an office with coworkers and a guaranteed income,” she said. “It is surprising to me, as they are passionate about travel and love to travel themselves.”

Stanley said that as an employee they are generally told what they can sell when they are starting out, usually something simple like domestic air, after some months maybe an ITC, then after more months an FIT. Fams are offered to them they don’t choose. They work 40 hours a week with two weeks’ vacation. As an independent, they would choose their hours, they choose their fams, what they sell, their specialization, etc.

“They are so comfortable and skilled using social media, it is surprising there are not more entrepreneurs among the younger agents,” she said.

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