Navigating the maze of licensure as a travel agent can be overwhelming, complicated, and downright confusing. If you are with a credible host agency, you generally can qualify to sell travel using their Seller of Travel licenses in the states that require one. The onus is on you, however, to verify that your host actually holds these licenses. In essence, you should always ask for written proof from your host agency of their Seller of Travel licensure including a copy of the certificate from the states that require the license.
There are five states requiring Seller of Travel licenses: California, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, and Washington. Each of these states have one thing in common: if you live in these states, or, you are advertising to or selling to residents of these states, you must have a Seller of Travel license. Without a license, you can be subject to significant penalties and fines and even revocation of your ability to sell travel in that state.
Any agent who is located in California and/or advertises to or sells travel to a resident of the state of California MUST be registered with the state. Groupit Travel Host Agency registers you under our Host Agency licensure. However, there may be cases in which an agent does not qualify under our licensure such as those registered to do business as an S-Corporation. We recommend that you visit the California Seller of Travel License website to learn more.
Additionally, when you advertise or sell to residents of the state of California, remember that California requires you to include the following:
California Seller of Travel Registration Number: License #
Registration as a seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California
Obtaining a Seller of Travel license in Florida is a grueling process for host agencies as the state also requires the host agency to register as a "foreign corporation", obtain a surety bond, pay significant licensure fees, and undergo a very comprehensive, lengthy application process.
Any agent located in Florida and/or who advertises to or sells travel to a resident of the state of Florida must be registered with the state. Most travel agents meet the criteria to file a Statement of Exemption under their host agency’s Seller of Travel license. This requires that you, the agent, complete the form and along with a $50.00 fee, register to sell travel in Florida.
Please be aware of the penalties for not being registered: Civil or administrative fines of up to $5,000 for each violation, cease and desist order, and injunctive relief. Each sale or attempted sale may be considered a separate violation.
When advertising and/or selling to residents of Florida, you must include the following on all materials:
Registered sellers of travel must include the following phrase in their contracts:
Groupit Travel Host Agency, like many host agencies, is not licensed as a Seller of Travel in Hawaii. This is because Hawaii does not offer an exemption for agents who sell travel using our credentials.
Please be aware that if you reside in Hawaii or plan to advertise or sell travel to residents of Hawaii, you must obtain your own Seller of Travel license. You can visit the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs for more information.
Travel agents and travel agencies (and its employees/independent contractors) who reside in Iowa or advertise/sell to Iowa residents, must register with the Secretary of State as a travel agency. Groupit Travel Host Agency will register you with the state of Iowa under our license if you meet the criteria to be added.
Any travel agent who advertises or sells travel services to residents of Washington must be registered with the state of Washington Business Licensing Service. Under Groupit Travel Host Agency's licensure, you are able to engage in advertising or selling travel services to residents of Washington.
STILL HAVE MORE QUESTIONS?
Groupit Travel Host Agency conducts its business operations with 100% integrity and transparency. We are here to provide you with all of the guidance and mentoring needed to ensure that as a business owner, you are in compliance with the laws that govern selling travel and travel-related products. Please contact our CEO, Stacey Ray for more information about joining our team!
DISCLAIMER: This material is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You should contact an attorney for advice on specific legal problems.
independence & freedom
So you've been working for someone else in their office, on their time schedule and their wage scale, following their policies and procedures, getting caught up in their office politics...exhausting, right?
As an independent travel agent with Groupit Travel Host Agency, you own your own business and you are in control of your destiny. Work from anywhere in the world (including your den in pajamas) during the hours you choose. You make the rules and determine how hard you want to work and how much money you want to make.
share your passion
You love travel and you can't stop talking about it, thinking about it, planning it, and well....actually traveling. Share your passion with others who need your guidance, expertise, and enthusiasm. Clients are looking for memories of a lifetime and you get to create these for them!
unlimited earning potential
Being in the travel business is not an employee position. You own your own business and your earnings are derived from supplier commissions and client fees. The moral of the story is that the harder you work, the more you'll earn. It's important to note, though, that your commissions are payable after your client travels, so you have to be prepared to wait for your earnings.
Whether you work full-time and this is a part-time endeavor, or you are a stay-at-home parent and need some extra money in between shuttling the kids around, or you are looking for a full-time career change, Groupit Travel Host Agency can help!
LOW-INVESTMENT TO OPEN YOUR BUSINESS
Becoming a travel agent and opening your own travel agency is not an MLM opportunity or a vacation club when you work with Groupit Travel Host Agency (and if anyone tries to talk you into one of those - run, don't walk!). The associated costs to open your agency are very low and very affordable regardless of your financial situation and can be paid monthly.
TRAINING & MENTORING
We don't expect you to throw yourself into the fire without providing you with extensive opportunities to train with suppliers, destinations, and niche travel specialties. Our team is here to help you become as successful as you hope to be and mentoring is a huge part of that journey. Although this is your business, we are always here to help you brainstorm, navigate suppliers and learn the critical elements of being a successful independent travel agent.
Are you ready to learn more? Click any of these buttons for more information. I hope you'll contact me for a more in-depth conversation if owning your own travel business sounds exciting to you!
Stacey Ray is the CEO of Groupit Travel Host Agency. She is an influential member of the travel industry and her passion for travel is unparalleled. Stacey enjoys mentoring those who wish to embark on a career as a travel agent as well as experienced agents who want to take their business to the next level.
What value do you, as a travel agent, bring to your client? Is the value you offer, the value the client wants? What we mean by this is that some clients want you to provide them with the absolute best pricing available - that's their definition of value. Others want true value - the best experience that their budget will allow.
You've heard the saying, "work smarter, not harder". With regard to value and pricing - this is a very important concept. When you work with clients who want the lowest price, and pricing is their first and only consideration - you will find that you work harder and harder and that you're always trying to beat the competition. (Hey - who is your competition anyway)? Once you establish a precedent that your time and expertise is of no value - that you are just a booking machine, this is how you will always be known - the travel agent with the cheapest prices.
For many travel agents - volume, based on cheapest pricing, is how they make their money - but they put in long hours and work so much harder than other agents to make the same amount of money (and sometimes less!). You will find yourself spending many hours price-matching against online travel agencies (OTA's such as Expedia, Orbitz, Cheap Caribbean and more) and if you are able to successfully price-match, you will take a lower commission from the supplier that you will eventually book with. A word of caution about working with clients who are only interested in price: even if you make them happy with the price of this booking, they will likely never be loyal to YOU as a repeat customer because the first time they see a trip that is cheaper than what you offered, they will "jump ship" and book where they can get it cheapest.
I've heard many agents say that "making something is better than nothing" and they are happy working on a routine booking to make a $100 commission. The agent generally provides the same level of service to the price-happy client as they do to a quality client who relies on the agent to provide them with expertise and customized, hand-curated travel experiences. Who is the winner here? Nobody. Yes, the client received a cheap deal, but they learned nothing about the value of their agent, nor did they learn the value of a value-packed travel experience! And the agent? You worked pretty darned hard for a small bit of change and even less satisfaction.
So then, what do we mean by value? Let's focus on two main ways in which travel agents provide value to our clients.
First, as a travel agent, you manage every detail of the client's travel so that it is unique, memorable and completely stress-free. As client advocates, you are "with them" from the moment you begin working with them until they return home. They won't be waiting on line to change their flights when they are cancelled, they will love their accommodations, and if they run into any logistical nightmares along the way - they will speak to a live person (YOU) who will handle everything for them.
These are just a few of the values that travel agents provide to make their client's travel experience memorable and its your job to make sure your clients know it:
When I work with clients, I explain to them from the very first contact, that I cannot guarantee that I will find them the cheapest price, but that I can guarantee the absolute best value for their hard-earned travel dollars and the most memorable, incredible vacation they've ever had for those dollars. I emphasize that I don't book "trips" but that I design "experiences". I stress what I bring to the table and I am very clear about the fact that these are not values they will find on the internet with OTAs. I sometimes share the story about a couple who contacted me for a vacation in Costa Rica. I worked very hard on proposals for them and they advised me that they were ready to book immediately but then I never heard back from them nor did they return my phone calls. I explain that one week prior to their departure date, they wrote me an urgent email saying that they booked the trip on their own with an OTA and instead of flying into the Liberia airport for the resort in Guanacaste, the OTA had them booked on flights through San Jose. They wanted me to fix it for them so that they didn't have to pay $500 to get to their resort because the OTA was not helping them.
The second way in which you provide value to your clients is through customizing their travel experiences. You have to know your clients to do this - you have to "get intimate with them" and let them know that you actually care about their experience. What makes them tick? What excites them?
I can't tell you how many times I have spoken to clients who actually have no clue about what they really want. It's your job to help them discover it - and once they discover it, you have to design it for them. Once you design an irresistible, incredible opportunity (which might include multiple tweaks along the way), its hard for clients to say no. And once your client books, you've just provided the best value there is for both of you - making client dreams come true and a far more satisfying career for you!
Be sure to leave your comments and let us know your thoughts!
Stacey Ray is the CEO of Groupit Travel Host Agency and Groupit Travel. She has a strict "No Price Matching" policy in place for her clients. She loves to mentor new agents and hopes you will feel free to contact her at 919-578-9028, ext. 120 or by email.