HAR's Travel Agent Chatter | Friday 15

Steph Lee | Travel Industry Veteran, Founder Host Agency Reviews

We’ve got two listening delights for you on this channel, folks! 😲 The first is Travel Agent Chatter (TAC), a spotlight interview of a wide variety of travel advisors that we publish every quarter. The second is our shorter, but more frequent Friday 15 series, where every Friday we answer your travel industry questions for — you guessed it — 15 minutes! Travel Agent Chatter -- a Host Agency Reviews audio series -- talks about all things travel. We specialize in-depth interviews with travel agents from all walks of life. Whether you’re a new or experienced travel advisor, we help you up your game by sharing where other travel agencies have found success and offering inspiring stories from the front lines! Transcripts, videos and show notes of the TAC episodes can be found at https://hostagencyreviews.com/TAC And every Friday at 12pm CT we publish the Friday 15 to our TAC feed. It’s 15 minutes over the lunch hour, where we answer your travel industry questions. Submit your questions and watch videos of the Friday 15 at https://hostagencyreviews.com/friday15. Travel Agent Chatter and the Friday 15 are hosted by Steph Lee, the founder of the website Host Agency Reviews and travel industry veteran. She's insatiably curious. A lover of travel, writing, gardening & the stars. Most importantly, she ♥'s her dogs, Fennec and Orion! read less
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Episodes

(151) Opened agency – now what? Finding a good HA? FAM Trips!
4d ago
(151) Opened agency – now what? Finding a good HA? FAM Trips!
In episode 151 Steph tackles some great questions with co-host Henley Vazquez from Fora! 1. I have my agency set up after going through your 7 Day Set Up program but now I’m lost on how to find clients and start advertising. I know there is no one way to do things, but what would you recommend for next steps once my agency has opened? I sent an email to my friends and family about my new agency and also set up social profiles. –Anonymous 2. I am looking for a host agency and I have never had one before. I have compared a ton on your site and I am feeling overwhelmed. What are the main things I should be looking for in a good host agency? Or should I start my own? ---Judi N. 3. I was just invited on my first fam trip! Do you have any advice on how to make the most of it or tips for a new travel agent going on their first fam? Thanks! ---Anonymous TODAY’S RESOURCES: https://hostagencyreviews.com/7DS-lite (HAR’s 7 Day Setup LITE is a free online course that helps you start your agency. It does not have support and takes you through resources to help you make things happen) https://hostagencyreviews.com/7DS-accelerator (HAR’s 7 Day Setup Accelerator course with 70+ easily digestible videos, 48 exclusive resources, monthly live meetups with HAR team and others for support and accountability, priority email support) https://hostagencyreviews.com/hosts (List of host agencies.) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/tips-on-how-to-find-the-best-travel-host-agency (Advice on how to find the best host agency.) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-agent-fam-trip (Travel Agent FAM Trips: What They Are + How to Find Them) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/how-travel-agents-can-make-the-most-of-a-cruise-ship-inspection (How Travel Advisors Can Make the Most of a Cruise Ship Inspection) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/how-travel-agents-can-make-the-most-of-a-cruise-ship-inspection (The Definitive Site Inspection Checklist) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/make-your-travel-conference-count (5 Ways to Make Your Travel Conference Count)
(150) What’s in a (business) name? Locality of HA? Steps to Becoming an Agent?
05-04-2024
(150) What’s in a (business) name? Locality of HA? Steps to Becoming an Agent?
In episode 150 Steph fields some great questions from our good friend Anonymous (ha!) about naming your biz and choosing a HA based on locality. She also breaks down how to become a travel agent in some handy steps! 1. I am just stepping into starting a travel agency at the very early stages and still working on what it would look like for me. When considering a niche and a business name, I suspect having the niche in the business name can help, but would it cause issues if I wanted to pivot or expand to a different niche at some point in the future and possibly require a business name change and rebranding challenges. Do you have any advice or should I just worry about the future. –Anonymous 2. How important is it to join a local host agency? —Anonymous 3. I know there isn’t one set answer for this, but how would you break down the steps on how to become a travel agent? —Anonymous TODAY’S RESOURCES: https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/find-a-travel-niche (Guide to choosing a travel niche) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/tips-for-choosing-travel-agency-names (Tips for choosing travel agency names + examples) https://hostagencyreviews.com/7DS-lite (HAR’s 7 Day Setup LITE is a free online course that helps you start your agency. It does not have support and takes you through resources to help you make things happen) https://hostagencyreviews.com/7DS-accelerator (HAR’s 7 Day Setup Accelerator course with 70+ easily digestible videos, 48 exclusive resources, monthly live meetups with HAR team and others for support and accountability, priority email support) https://hostagencyreviews.com/hosts (Find a map of host agencies on our host agency list.) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/how-to-become-a-travel-agent (All you need to know to become a travel agent) https://hostagencyreviews.com/page/travel-advisor-research-reports/ (Travel agent survey data on employee travel agents and self-employed travel agents.)
(149) What makes HAR Courses Special? Flight Commissions for International TAs? Benefits of GDS?
29-03-2024
(149) What makes HAR Courses Special? Flight Commissions for International TAs? Benefits of GDS?
In episode 149 Steph co-hosts with April Swales of Uniglobe. Here are the questions they’ll cover. Got some fun ones this week!  1. How do HAR courses differ from an IATA course or something offered through a host agency? –Anonymous 2. Hello HAR and team! I have a question about commissions. For travel agents based in Europe, as far as I know most airlines do not pay any commission. But it seems to me that this is not the case for TAs based elsewhere. I am asking this because I just got my IATA accreditation, and my business is mostly flight consulting. But I do this for clients based worldwide. 3. Most travel agents where I am from have to add a ticketing fee to their customers, and if they sell flight only then their only revenue will be that fee. In the end, if I don't get any commission from airlines, what is my benefit in using a GDS? TODAY’S RESOURCES: https://uniglobetravelcenter.com/mentor-u (UTC’s 3 month mentoring program) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/become-corporate-travel-agent (List of trainings specific to corporate advisors, including IATA) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-agent-training-travel-agent-education (List of other travel agent training opportunities) https://har.news/roadmap (HAR’s course through ASTA. The Roadmap to Becoming a Travel Advisor.) https://hostagencyreviews.com/7DS-lite (HAR’s 7 Day Setup LITE is a free online course that helps you start your agency. It does not have support and takes you through resources to help you make things happen) https://hostagencyreviews.com/7DS-accelerator (HAR’s 7 Day Setup Accelerator course with 70+ easily digestible videos, 48 exclusive resources, monthly live meetups with HAR team and others for support and accountability, priority email support) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-industry-terms (HAR’s travel industry glossary) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-agent-commissions (All about travel agent commissions, including airline commissions.) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-agency-accreditation (A list of the different travel agent accreditation options.) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/what-is-gds (An article on what the GDS is) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/airline-fare-types (All about airline fare types) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-agency-debit-memo (What is a travel agency debit memo?) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/3-ways-travel-agents-save-you-money (3 ways travel agents save you money that OTAs can’t) https://hostagencyreviews.com/page/travel-advisor-research-reports/ (Travel agent survey data on fee charging practices: what they charge for, how much, fee structures and more.) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/what-is-gds (In-depth information on what the GDS, global distribution system, is and which travel advisors use it.) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/become-corporate-travel-agent (Tips on how to become a corporate travel agent.) https://hostagencyreviews.com/travelagentchatter/travel-agent-chatter-vol-5-karen-hurlbut-hurlbut-travel (Podcast episode with a corporate travel agent that does meetings and corporate travel management.) https://hostagencyreviews.com/travelagentchatter/lary-neron-airfare-consultant (Podcast episode with an advisor who books air only and charges $50-500 fees per ticket.) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-agents-guide-to-charging-fees (Travel agent guide to charging fees.)
Vol 29 5k group booking fee. 6.5k retainer w/50k min annual spend. Content marketing. Meet Courtnie
26-03-2024
Vol 29 5k group booking fee. 6.5k retainer w/50k min annual spend. Content marketing. Meet Courtnie
****** Transcript + Show Notes: https://har.news/vol29 Special thanks to today’s sponsor: Caffeine Today’s guest is a former professional fundraiser who put those skills to work and went from travel being a part time job on the side in 2017 to full time in June 2018. Here’s the thing to know though. Even with $2.5M in sales, that’s not the metric our guest watches. This travel advisor has niched down into groups—both destination weddings and celebrations groups—with a minimum of 10 rooms and an average spend of $500-1000 per guest, per day. The metric she does watch is the steady income that comes from her group booking fee of $5,000 per group and the 18 clients that are in her VIP club where there is a $6.5k a year annual retainer that has a minimum annual travel spend of $50k, and that doesn’t include air. For today’s guest, commission is just icing on the cake. Courtnie Nichols is a study in crafting the business of your dreams by thinking about what you want out of life and reverse engineering your business to fit the lifestyle you want. She only books one destination wedding a month. She takes most of Friday off and focuses on self-care. She lays out who she wants to work with and sticks to it. And December? Forget about it! She and the TravelBash team take the entire month of December off. So come along for an inspirational conversation with a travel advisor who isn’t afraid to do things differently and by doing so, has found a work-life balance others dream of and a steady income stream that no pandemic or natural disaster can wreak havoc on.
(147) HAR-reviewed HAs Only? Host Agencies vs. Travel Agencies? Just Starting and Need Direction!
15-03-2024
(147) HAR-reviewed HAs Only? Host Agencies vs. Travel Agencies? Just Starting and Need Direction!
In episode 147 Steph co-hosts with Lori Speers of Levarte Travel. Here’s a quick look at the three questions they cover this week. 1. I found a host agency which fits with my requirements but they don't have any reviews on host agency reviews. Is it okay or not to work with host agencies without any reviews on their profile? --Meseret G. 2. Is there an advantage to working with a host agency that has a storefront? Could you also please explain what the “Host Type” is on the HAR profiles. What is “Host Only” and what is “Hybrid (Host & Travel Agency)”? It’s my understanding that all host agencies are travel agencies. --Anonymous 3. Before I get started with my confusion I would like to tell you what an amazing job you and your team do!!! So thank you! (Aw, thank you!) I love organizing experiences and adventures. This is where I'm stuck at a crossroads; I want to start working and become more knowledgeable in the industry by working at a host agency, but I’m not quite ready to leap out on my own yet. I'm not sure which host would be the best fit for me as someone that has never done this before and would love to start this new adventure. - Stephanie U. TODAY’S RESOURCES: https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/independent-travel-agent-contracts (What to look for in your contract with your host agency) https://hostagencyreviews.com/hosts (List of host agencies w/meta data on if they are a host or hybrid) https://har.news/roadmap (ASTA’s roadmap to becoming a travel advisor course) https://hostagencyreviews.com/page/host-week (Host Week! Party! YAY! ) https://hostagencyreviews.com/7-day-setup-accelerator (HAR’s course walking you through how to find a host, with community support, live Q&A calls and live expert calls) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/tips-on-how-to-find-the-best-travel-host-agency (Tips on how to find the best host agency for you) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/find-a-travel-niche (Finding a niche article with some brainstorming guides) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-agent-training-travel-agent-education (Training and education options for ICs ) https://hostagencyreviews.com/travel-conferences-events (In person events, webinars, conferences, FAMs, etc.)
(146) Accelerator Course for Experienced Advisors? Can HAs Require Exclusivity? Training Before HA?
08-03-2024
(146) Accelerator Course for Experienced Advisors? Can HAs Require Exclusivity? Training Before HA?
In episode 146 Steph and the lovely Lindsay Lauer of Travel Leaders 365 answer your excellent questions! 1. Would the Accelerator course be helpful if I've been an employee? I'm thinking of going on my own. I do a volume of around $1M and have 2.5 yrs experience with over 1000 cruise bookings. --Anonymous 2. Can I require my agency's independent contractors (ICs) to work exclusively with my agency? A few prospective ICs have told me that exclusivity is not allowed by law. Is this correct? --Anonymous 3. I’m wondering if I can start with a host agency right away, or if I need to complete any training first. Does it vary by agency? --Donna A. TODAY’S RESOURCES: https://hostagencyreviews.com/7-day-setup-accelerator (HAR’s 7DS Accelerator Course - Start your agency faster, with the support you need) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/hosted-travel-advisor-report-2023 (HAR’s Hosted Advisor report 2023 with income data) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/the-employee-travel-advisor-research-report-summary-2023 (HAR’s Employee Travel Advisor report) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/beginners-guide-navigating-paying-estimated-taxes (Guide to paying and understanding estimated taxes) https://www.travelweekly.com/Mark-Pestronk/The-legality-of-IC-exclusivity (Attorney Mark Pestonk on if a host agency can require exclusivity of ICs) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/the-dangers-of-independent-contractor-travel-agent-misclassification (Hidden dangers of IC misclassification) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-industry-lawyer-list (List of Travel Industry Attorneys) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-agent-training-travel-agent-education (Training and education options for ICs )
(145) How To Charge Fees? Accessibility of Interline Rates? Travel Tech on a Budget!
01-03-2024
(145) How To Charge Fees? Accessibility of Interline Rates? Travel Tech on a Budget!
In episode 145 Steph co-hosts with Connie Miller of Montecito Travel and they tackle your probing and ever-helpful questions. 1. I would love a conversation about how to execute charging fees when different trips take such a different amount of time. Some people know what they want - some don't. I've been experimenting and every person I've given an hourly fee (I've tested it at $75 and $100) and my estimated timeline, they've passed on my services. So I haven't gotten any fees in the six months I've been working on this. I've had some great success, but I have also wasted a ton of time with people shopping me and then taking my itinerary and booking it elsewhere to save $20 (especially on FIT trips). I've got to take control of my time and energy and make sure I'm spending time with the right people. But I have no idea how to actually implement fees and what a reasonable rate/package is. And I don't want to scare off people who could become great clients. --Kristina C. 2. Are Interline rates accessible by any travel agent? Hosting agency? I’m a newbie here looking for a HA -- majority of friends, family and neighbors are airline employees, so this would be a rather large target market for me (and frankly my niche in the cruise market). I'm familiar with Perx/ID90/Interliner, etc-- but can a new agent under a hosting agency access these rates? Or is there some sort of authorization process an agent needs to obtain in order to book these rates for clients? –Sean R. 3. Can you help me understand the technology needed to be a travel agent? What is most important if you are on a budget? –Jamie T. TODAY’S RESOURCES: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0tJRK3OdX4 (HAR’s webinar on using HAR’s research reports to grow your agency) https://har.news/HWfeechart (Chart of fees) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-agents-guide-to-charging-fees (A guide to charging fees) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/interline-cruise-rates (What are interline cruise rates and who qualifies?) https://hostagencyreviews.com/hosts (List of host agencies) https://hostagencyreviews.com/hosts/montecito-village-travel (Montecito Village Travel’s HAR profile)
Vol. 28 | Opened in June. First booking June 2023. Previous salary replaced by June 2024. Meet Judi.
26-02-2024
Vol. 28 | Opened in June. First booking June 2023. Previous salary replaced by June 2024. Meet Judi.
****** Transcript + Show Notes: https://har.news/vol28 Starting a business is not easy. Starting a successful business is even harder. Judi Lombardi has done both the past 9 months with her newly opened travel agency, Memories on the Move Travel. A seasoned traveler with a passion for planning, she finally made the leap a decade after she first started exploring the idea of starting a travel agency. In 2023, she took the plunge! You’ll hear what gave her the push she needed to make that leap, why she chose to take HAR’s Accelerator course versus doing it on her own, and how she had a lightbulb moment about being an entrepreneur while watching Host Week EduSpots. Opening in June of 2023, Memories on the Move is on track to replace Judi’s previous salary by June of 2024. While Judi has shied away from doing any formal advertising, her agency is a great case study in the power of referrals, hand written notes, and client testimonials. Oh, and did we mention she has a 100% testimonial return rate from her clients? She’ll share her secret sauce for that too! When it comes to fees, this Massachusetts based advisor came up with a creative workaround that her clients loved, gave her a little more time to figure out her fee structure, AND helped paved the way for charging fees when she was ready. It’s a must listen for any new advisor or veteran advisors getting ready to start implementing fees. And for any entrepreneur that feels overwhelmed with ideas to implement and has trouble staying on task, this former speech therapist has a solution for that too. It’s called her tickler file and every advisor should have one. Whether you’re new or experienced, there’s a little something for everyone in this episode! We’ve got inspiration. We’ve got effective organic marketing tips that don’t take a lot of time but have a lot of impact. We’ve got advice for newbies, from a successful newbie, Won’t you join us?
(144) Working with Canadians? Best Host Agency for YOU? Becoming a Top Seller of Travel!
23-02-2024
(144) Working with Canadians? Best Host Agency for YOU? Becoming a Top Seller of Travel!
In episode 144 Steph chats with the fabulous Jenn Lee of TPI as they answer some great questions from you, our audience. Here are this week's questions! 1. I have turned down several Canadians because I'm afraid I'm not licensed to work with them. But I've recently been told this isn't correct.. Can you please help me figure out what the current regulations are? I'm talking specifically about potential clients who live in Canada booking through me, a Tennessee-based agent. I've been reached by a couple in Vancouver and one in Toronto wanting to plan honeymoons to the Caribbean. We were specifically looking at Sandals, which I'm sure does tons of business with all nationalities. But I wanted to look at other resorts as well. Thanks for any insight you can provide! --Kristina C. 2. How do you find the best Host Agency for you? –Tracy E. 3. How do you become a top seller of travel? –Tracy E. TODAY’S RESOURCES: https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/canadian-regulations-travel-agencies-nutshell (Canadian travel agency regulations in a nutshell) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/travel-industry-lawyer-list (Travel industry attorney list) https://www.carpentertaylor.com/ (Tom Carpenter’s law office) https://www2.arccorp.com/articles-trends/the-latest/fraud-awareness-webinar-recap-2023-schemes-2024-readiness/ (ARC’s webinar on fraud) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/tips-on-how-to-find-the-best-travel-host-agency (Download our free excel sheet with questions to ask your prospective host agencies) https://hostagencyreviews.com/blog/independent-travel-agent-contracts (Things to look for in your host agency contract) https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLdEeS4KrdBLqVDL24Cw8Mw2XeMQVBwmec (Watch all of Host Week on our YouTube playlist!) https://www.youtube.com/live/tT7cHbr_y-g?feature=shared&t=16745 (Jenn’s EduSpot on Curating a Loyal Fanbase: Creating Meaningful Connections) https://www.youtube.com/live/tT7cHbr_y-g?feature=shared&t=3894 (Host Week One Thing on Using Admins to Grow your Biz) https://www.youtube.com/live/uSpIVKiHowY?feature=shared&t=17445 (EduSpot with Tamay Shannon on using ChatGPT for your agency) https://har.news/advrm -Travel advisor roadmap
2024 Host Week - Fri - EduSpots, Making Travel More Accessible, De'Andrea Matthews
21-02-2024
2024 Host Week - Fri - EduSpots, Making Travel More Accessible, De'Andrea Matthews
When most people think about accessibility, the first thing that comes to mind are mobility challenges. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 61 million adults across the United States identify as having a disability of some kind. Some disabilities are not visible or obvious, like sensory or dietary needs. About 10% or 6.1 million people have hidden or invisible disabilities. People with hidden disabilities are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which includes being entitled to accommodations in lodging. What does this mean for our international travelers, though? How can travel advisors continue to provide stellar service through accommodations, amenities and cultural experiences as the country’s aging population grows at a rapid rate? These and other questions will be explored in “Shifting Identities: Making Travel More Accessible”. This presentation will focus on five aspects of diversity – language, dietary restrictions, transportation, religion and technology – to share the impact of accessibility in travel. Take away: 1. Learn the accessibility features (and new logo) to highlight with travel amenities as a new approach to meeting the needs of your client. 2. Hear relevant examples of “travel gone wrong” to avoid. 3. Simulate how to ask the uncomfortable, but needed questions so your client enjoys the best travel experience from beginning to end. 4. Incorporate immersive cultural experiences for an inclusive travel itinerary while promoting repeat business. (They will tell their friends!) Host Week 2024 Landing Site: https://har.news/hostweek View Host Week Magazine: https://har.news/2024HWmagazine Host Week Specials: https://har.news/deals Register for Host Week 2025: https://har.news/signupHW2025 7-Day Setup Course with HAR: https://har.news/7DScourse Host Week 2024 Survey: https://har.news/hwsurvey
2024 Host Week - Fri - EduSpots, Storytelling To Sell, Aubrey Jackson
21-02-2024
2024 Host Week - Fri - EduSpots, Storytelling To Sell, Aubrey Jackson
Aubrey Jackson's 10 years of journalistic experience and love of travel serve as the perfect ingredients for content creation success. The TV news anchor turned luxury travel specialist discovered organic marketing success by creating content that "tell stories" of destinations she highlights, further educating her online audience while enlightening her clients. During this Host Week workshop you will learn how to utilize storytelling to create content that informs your audience and inspires them to complete an action like "book a call" with you and leave the session with actionable steps to begin creating content today and the best apps to use and download right to your iphone, to create 30 to 60 length video content that converts! Take away: •- Identifying "your go to platform" short form content is everywhere and though you may feel like you have to be, I advise choosing a platform to master and in this session I will share why Tiktok became my "platform of choice" - What type of storyteller are you? Story Type #1: Educational Story. ... (inform and educate) Story Type #2: Entertainment Story. ... (sell a dream) Story Type #3: Vulnerable/personal Story. ... (share a relatable experience) - Best apps to download to and use for editing on your phone Host Week 2024 Landing Site: https://har.news/hostweek View Host Week Magazine: https://har.news/2024HWmagazine Host Week Specials: https://har.news/deals Register for Host Week 2025: https://har.news/signupHW2025 7-Day Setup Course with HAR: https://har.news/7DScourse Host Week 2024 Survey: https://har.news/hwsurvey