The number one comment and question we get as travel agents is the common misconception that travel agents travel for free. It’s simply not true. Even those social media influencers who say they travel for free, are most of the time embellishing a bit.
Travel agents can earn the ability to have discounted travel. We hope you read that, we EARN it. Yes there are some agencies out there that do not adhere to the earnings rules, and we hope one day they will pay heavy fines and be banned from selling travel. For those of us not living on the edge, there are sales thresholds that must be met in order to get the paperwork necessary to travel at a discounted rate. These thresholds are not set by the agency, but by the international accreditation agencies responsible throughout the word to oversee travel and related items. Each year that status must be re-earned meaning we must constantly work our business to ensure we have the ability for discounted travel.
Is it free? No, it isn’t. While you can earn trips to familiarize yourself with properties, the travel agent must sometimes pay a small fee, as well as their air to get to the location. Sometimes meals and drinks are included, and other times not. There are many variables, but to say a trip is completely free is in our opinion false. But in order to earn those trips, you must be actively selling.
As an example: we just got back from a week of training with many suppliers and stayed 6 nights to ensure we could take in most of the supplier meetings and the training schedule. Because our group had 250+ rooms we were given a group discount. The same could be said for anyone bringing in a large group to a property, you would earn a discount. Our conference fee $100+ each was used to pay for breakout sessions, conference space, 3 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 2 parties. Our dinners, Starbucks to keep our minds engaged, activities, adult beverages, soda, etc. was all at our cost. Air and transportation were not included so that was an added expense as well. That week cost in excess of $2,000 for one person to experience the training, suppliers, information overload and property. That’s not free.
Can you earn a free trip or ticket? Yes, you can. Through hard work and a lot of training anything in life can be earned. Nothing in life is ever free. Those influencers getting “free” trips are there to help promote a brand or property. They are being compensated a vacation to influence you to purchase wherever they are visiting. It’s an advertisement, just by someone who holds a position of influence for you. Most likely they are paying their airfare, some food and beverage, or being compensated a portion of it. Their job is to promote and influence.
The same can be said for travel agents. Our job is to promote and influence destinations and suppliers that we know will meet and exceed the travel wishes of our clients. Our job is to know how to cut through the tons of information out there to connect you to the experience you want. Because of that need for information from suppliers we can attend hours upon hours of trainings online (and sometimes in person) and become experts at various destinations, locales, experiences, etc. and alongside selling that experience earn a trip or a ticket for ourselves. We can also pay a reduced rate for some locations to experience the brand and be better equipped to sell it to our clients. Are those rates close to free? No, not even close. Sometimes resident rates for the states we reside in come out cheaper then travel agent rates. And sometimes when you work the numbers paying for your vacation out of pocket and earning the commission is cheaper – it’s a balancing act of the numbers.
Sometimes we get upgraded, oftentimes not. The first step to earning any travel at a discount for a travel agent is to sell the requirement and to earn your credentials. To be able to sell, you must constantly train on suppliers, brands and the ever-changing world of vacations. The greatest of brands evolve, and to be the best at our jobs we must continue to evolve with them.
Are we working to earn free vacations? No. For many of us we are working to help take care of our families and our dreams – just like you. When we earn a trip or experience we are super excited just as you would be at winning anything you’ve worked hard to accomplish. And we love to take you along with us for the adventure, after all you are who helped get us there.
We are inspired by your smiles, and committed to your adventures! We appreciate you and thank you for allowing us to earn your business!
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