Working From Home: To Tell or Not to Tell?

by Stephanie Lee

This is the first in a series of columns about home-based travel agents by Stephanie Lee of Host Agency Reviews.

As the numbers of home-based agents increase and they gain visibility and clout within the industry, I think it is high time we retired the term “home-based travel agent.”

Stephanie Lee
Stephanie Lee

During my years as a host agency director for TravelQuest, I worked with hundreds of highly professional home-based agents. Yet, I can think of few instances where I believed it beneficial to use the term home-based agent to describe oneself to potential clients.

Yet as the home-based agent population expands – their numbers grew from 31,000 in 2006 to 40,000 in 2011, according to PhoCusWright  – I hear agents use the term in their client relationships with growing frequency.  It makes me cringe every time.

Internally, it’s fine
In the travel industry world, I’m all for using the term. It allows us to segment a population of agents that has different needs than traditional storefront agencies.  

Just as we use the terms “cruise agent,” “corporate agent” and “leisure agent,” the term home-based agent helps our industry differentiate a subsector of travel agents.

But I see a problem when the term is used outside the industry – such as on LinkedIn, as an agent’s profession or title, or when an agent lists “home-based travel agent” as their occupation on their Facebook profile or business page.

Think about it
When I see the term home-based agent in these contexts, it makes me wonder: Have those agents thought of why they’re using that title?  Did they weigh the positives and negatives of labeling themselves as home-based?

If the agent is using the term as part of a marketing strategy – for instance, if the agent’s main client base is parents who work from home – it could be advantageous to emphasize the shared lifestyle with your clientele.

However, if the agent uses the home-based label simply because she or he check the “home-based agent” box on industry surveys, well, it’s time to reexamine things.

What message are you sending?
Home-based businesses, travel or otherwise, often have a stigma attached. They may be seen as less professional than their storefront counterparts, maybe even less reputable.  

Most of us know this isn’t true, but it’s not about what we think.

Put yourself in your prospective clients’ shoes.  They know nothing about you or your business, beyond what you tell them. When you say you are home-based, you are emphasizing that component of your business.

Why not emphasize that you have 15 years in travel, or that you give back to the local community, rather than that you work from home?    

Acceptable, but irrelevant
Whether an agent is home-based or works in a storefront location, their job is to be a resource for their client.  If you’re doing your job and doing it well, your client doesn’t need to know your location.  

It’s perfectly acceptable in the Information Age to be location-independent. Fortune 500 companies have work-from-home programs for their employees. But the physical location of those employees isn’t mentioned in their titles, so why mention it in yours?  

Stephanie Lee is a former host agency director who now runs Host Agency Reviews, a website where agents can find peer reviews of host agencies, as well as tips for starting and growing a travel agency. Connect with Steph on Facebook, Twitter or Google+

  1
  0
Tip of the Day

Anytime I could figure out how to market for free, I did it. Local media is always looking for content.


Elliot Finkelman

Daily Top List

Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Alabama

1. Battles Wharf

2. Botanical Gardens, Huntsville

3. Cheaha State Park

4. Chewacla Falls

5. Downtown Mobile

Source: The Crazy Tourist

TMR THIS WEEK
http://services.travelsavers.com/AMGService.svc/REST/GetImage?ImageID=b75eceda-865f-e911-b4aa-782bcb66a2f2

5 Good Reasons to Tell Your Clients About Travel Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs, also known as frequent buyer programs, have been around for a long time. But you might be surprised to know that many travelers don’t know about them. Here are five good reasons for travel advisors to spread the word to their customers, both leisure and corporate travelers.

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
Six Mistakes That Could Be Hurting Your Social Media Marketing Strategy
Six Mistakes That Could Be Hurting Your Social Media Marketing Strategy

As you build a social media following, learn how to sidestep the mindsets and actions that can put a damper on your success.

From One Million to Two in Travel Sales: How Advisors Can Jump the Hurdle
From One Million to Two in Travel Sales: How Advisors Can Jump the Hurdle

Research shows that the leap from $1 million to $2 million is among the toughest hurdles for travel advisors. So, take a little while to bask in your glory — and then try these proven ways to move to the next level.

How One Travel Advisor Staked Her Claim on Travel to France
How One Travel Advisor Staked Her Claim on Travel to France

Moving from a generalist to specializing in custom FIT and group trips to France is forcing Isabelle Williams to learn a whole new set of skills.

Going Platinum: Thoughts from Three Travel Advisors Celebrating 20 Years in Business
Going Platinum: Thoughts from Three Travel Advisors Celebrating 20 Years in Business

It was the year of 9/11, when the pundits were saying travel agents were a dying breed. But with over two decades in business, Vicki Briggs, Brenda Punchak and Cheryl Scavron have each proved them wrong.

Divers Need Travel Advisor Expert Guidance
Divers Need Travel Advisor Expert Guidance

The unique nature of diving destinations, and the physical danger clients could experience, make expert travel advisors invaluable. Part two of our two-part series.

Scuba Vacations Can Be Lucrative and Complex for Travel Advisors
Scuba Vacations Can Be Lucrative and Complex for Travel Advisors

With a higher-than-average household income, and the need for hands on-expertise, travelers who love to scuba and snorkel can be a great niche for travel advisors.

News Briefs
TMR Report Cards & Outlooks
Advertiser's Voice
Advertiser's Voice: Tropics and Exotics 2020 -2021 Collection