1. Check the latest travel advice and subscribe to receive free email notifications each time the advice for your destination is updated.
2. Take out comprehensive travel insurance and ensure it covers you for the places you plan to visit and the things you plan to do.
3. Before travelling overseas register your travel and contact details online so we can contact you in case of an emergency.
4. Make sure your passport has at least six months’ validity from your planned date of return to Australia. Carry extra passport photos in case your passport is lost or stolen and you need to replace it while you’re away.
5. Check with health professionals for information on recommended vaccinations and other health precautions. Remember that vaccinations can be an entry requirement for some countries. Also find out about taking medication overseas – certain medicines aren’t allowed in some countries.
6. Make sure that you have the right visas for the countries you are visiting or transiting and check any other entry or exit requirements.
7. Check to see if you’re regarded as a national of the country you plan to visit, and whether dual nationality will have any implications for your travel plans.
8. Make copies of your passport details, insurance policy, travellers cheques, visas and credit card numbers. Carry one copy in a separate place to the originals and leave a copy with someone at home.
9. Obey the laws of the country you’re visiting even if these seem harsh or unfair by Australian standards. Don’t expect to be treated differently from the locals just because you’re Australian.
10. Keep in contact with friends and family back home and give them a copy of your itinerary so they know where you are.
As the busy summer car-rental season begins, prices are expected to climb. “In early June through the end of August, these rates will spike,” said Neil Abrams, president of Abrams Consulting Group, which tracks the car rental industry. Last July, for example, the average rate for a weekly airport rental of a compact car booked seven days ahead was $369.62, or 56 percent more than the $236.73 charged in March, according to the Abrams Travel Data Index. Here are some tips to keep costs down.
Let go of name brands. Look beyond Avis, Hertz and other big national chains to independent agencies like Payless and Fox Rent a Car. Because of lower operating costs, their cars, which can be found at Web sites like CarRentals.com and CarRentalExpress.com, typically cost 15 to 30 percent less than rentals from mainstream agencies. Another company with an unfamiliar name, at least to most Americans, is the German agency Sixt, which has begun opening branches in the southeastern United States, including in Atlanta, Miami and Orlando, Fla. To boost brand recognition, the company, whose fleet includes BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes and Volkswagens, is offering deep discounts. For example, a Mercedes C-class cost $38.81 a day in late May at Sixt’s Orlando airport location, according to a recent search. By comparison, the lowest rate offered by Hertz for the same dates was $50.57 a day for a Kia Rio or similar economy car.
Dig for virtual discounts. Search for discounts and coupons on sites like Promotionalcodes.com and CouponWinner.com, or type in the name of a rental company and “coupon code” into Google to see what turns up. Rental car companies offer discount codes to members of frequent flier programs, and other organizations they partner with, including AAA, Costco and BJ’s, so check those sites if you’re a member. But don’t stop there. Most major car rental companies allow you to combine discount codes with a coupon code. For example, a full-size car from Hertz over Memorial Day weekend at Washington Dulles airport was $255.71 in a recent search. Plugging in the discount code 62455 for United Airlines frequent fliers and Hertz’s promotional coupon code, 168210, brought the price down to $160.02.
Track rates through Autoslash.com. This site, which continually checks for lower rates and coupons until your trip date, can be used in one of two ways: You can track the price of a rental booked elsewhere, or you can book directly through Autoslash, which currently works with Payless, Sixt, Fox and E-Z Rent-A-Car, and the site will apply any discounts it finds.
The drawback with the second option is limited inventory. Major companies don’t like the idea that Autoslash capitalizes on the fact that consumers can usually change or cancel car reservations at any time without penalty. Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, as well as Hertz and Advantage, recently pulled its inventory from the site, as my colleague Ron Lieber recently reported. Enterprise, which owns National and Alamo, won’t let AutoSlash list its cars either.
Avoid the airport. Off-airport locations are typically cheaper than airport locations, which tend to tack on fees that can raise the price by 30 percent or more. For example, a compact rental from Hertz at Boston Logan International Airport over the Fourth of July weekend was recently listed at $50.49 a day, or $219 a week with taxes at Carrentals.com, a unit of Hotwire. By taking the subway to the Arlington stop and walking a couple of blocks to the local Hertz lot, a traveler could cut costs to $39.98 a day, or $146.65 with taxes for the week.
Reserve the car for longer than you need it. This may sound counterintuitive, but tacking an extra day on to that weekly rental or even adding a couple of hours to extend it over a weekend — with no intention of returning the car that late — can actually lower your rate. The strategy takes advantage of lower prices aimed at leisure travelers who are more likely to travel on weekends, said Marty Paz, a telecommunications manager from Las Vegas who has become something of a car rental pricing sleuth since he began avidly renting cars to pad his frequent flier account. (Last year alone he rented more than 100 vehicles, accumulating a quarter-million miles.)
Mr. Paz said you are essentially tricking the system into thinking you’re booking a two-day weekend rental, which typically has a lower base rate, with the goal of returning the car early. For example, the rate for a midsize car rental from Alamo at the Las Vegas International Airport, from noon on Thursday, June 7, to noon on Friday was recently listed on Alamo’s Web site for $35.95 (or a base rate of $27.27 plus $11.41 in taxes and fees). But extending the return time to 2 p.m. — two hours after the weekend rates “officially” kick in — drops the base rate to $15.18 a day. Though the overall estimated cost shows an additional $10.12 extra in hourly charges, you can still return the car at noon and get the lower rate, said Mr. Paz, who added, “Oops, you got there early.”
Negotiate. Even after you’ve booked the best possible rate, it can be worth swinging by the rental counter to see if you can finagle your way into a better car. “You don’t ask, you don’t get,” said Mr. Abrams, the rental car consultant. Success with this strategy can depend on everything from the type and number of cars on the lot to the mood of the clerk, he added. But some companies are happy to put you in a bigger, or less popular, vehicle for the cost of a compact — if it’s in their interest.
“I frequently need minivans for the volunteer activities I do with teens,” said Marty Paz, the car-rental rate hacker, who has noticed by perusing the parking lot that there is often a glut of minivans at one location he frequently rents from on the weekend. “Often times I’ve reserved an economy car for a Friday and just offered graciously: ‘If there’s a van, I’ll take that. I don’t mind,’ and for the price of the economy car I get the minivan.” (A larger vehicle, of course, will require more fuel.)
Prepay. Taking a page from hotels, rental car companies are offering discounts of up to 20 percent to travelers willing to prepay. In a recent search for weekly rentals at Boston Logan International Airport in mid June, for example, Hertz was offering economy cars for $173 a week at the “pay now” rate. The “pay later” rate was about $30 more. The trade off for locking in a low-rate? Cancellation penalties ranging from $10 with Budget to $50 if canceling within 24 hours with Hertz. And don’t forget about Priceline.com and Hotwire.com, which offer deep discounts to travelers willing to be locked into a preset price before finding out the rental car company.
1. Slow Down
Plan for a slower pace than you might usually attempt if solo or as a couple. Be realistic about what you can see and do with kids in tow. Don’t try to cram too much into your itinerary. The less you feel you have to see, the more enjoyable and stress-free for everyone.
For the most part, the pace of the trip should be set to what your youngest child can handle. Build into your agenda time for stops along the way for bathroom breaks, snack breaks, and nap time. If you can avoid cranky children it will make for a much more pleasant experience.
2. Determine Your Preferences
Sit down with your whole family and discuss your ideas and interests. Memorable trips are those where each member of the family gets to experience something they love. Talk about budgets, expectations, and how you can work with the dollars available to plan an exciting family trip.
Travel experts have found that the most successful family vacations are those that involve both parents and children in choosing destinations and planning for their trip. Through these conversations, you will learn more about each others needs and find destinations and activities to suit the whole family.
3. Be Flexible
Avoiding holiday periods and traveling off-season can yield big savings on flights and accommodation. Even if your kids are in school, consider traveling just outside of major school holiday periods.
Give yourself the best chance to capture a cheap flight. Leaving a few days or even weeks before or after your ideal date could mean the difference of hundreds of dollars. Think about using airfare sales to help determine your family’s vacation destination and time of departure rather than the other way around.
4. Pack Smart
Pack the bare minimum because you can always buy it there. Roll clothes and stuff socks and underwear inside shoes. Wear your heaviest clothes on the flight. Encourage kids to choose and pack their own clothes to minimize complaints and to teach travel skills.
Select versatile and comfortable clothes and color-coordinated separates so if something gets dirty you only have to change part of the outfit. And pack bags with what is needed first on the top — a change of clothes for dinner, pajamas, or what is needed during the day including a change of clothes in case of accidents.
Hot Tip: Halve your clothes, double your budget
5. Hotel Tips
Pick a Kid Friendly Location – Stay in a safe and central area that’s close to local attractions, food outlets, the beach, the park, and all preferably within walking distance. This will save you time, money, and your kids from getting bored.
Stay More Than 1 Night – Many hotels provide their best deals when you stay over more than one night.
Stay over Sunday – Many hotels receive Friday and Saturday night bookings from leisure travelers and Monday-Friday bookings from their business travelers, so there can be a void on Sunday nights.
Check for Family Deals – Always ask about discounted rates, free meals for children, and an upgrade at check in – they can only say no.
A Pool and games room – Kids love both of these options. Does the pool have any special features (like a slide or waterfalls)?
Make Sure it Has a Lift – Carrying strollers, toys, and luggage up several flights of stairs is NO FUN!
What’s the room configuration? – For our family of four two double beds is required or a portacot. If you have a baby make sure this is available, and for free.
Coupons and Discounts – Check out the brochure shelf in the lobby and any tourist literature in your room for ways to shave a few bucks off the price of your family vacation.
Enroll in a Loyalty Program – Many hotel chains are now offering free loyalty programs with incentives like earning free rooms after multiple stays. If you travel often and stay at the same chain, or one of its participating partners, you may save on future family vacations.
Check the Dining Options – Does the hotel restaurant and room service have a kids’ menu?
TV Channels – Does the hotel offer several family-oriented cable stations, like Disney, Nickelodeon, AMC, Discovery and Lifetime? Is there a movie library with kids’ movies?
Bathtub? – You’ll want to be sure that your room will include a bathtub.
Laundry – For longer vacations, check to see whether the hotel has coin operated machines for hotel guests.
6. Consider a Cruise or All-Inclusive Resort
With activities to appeal to every generation, food choices to suit all ages, and itineraries that can be full-on or you just sit around and do nothing, a cruise or a resort can eliminate daily decision making that can cause conflict. Look for Kids Eat Free, Stay Free, and Play Free deals.
7. Consider Apartment Rental
Most big-city hotel rooms were not built for families with young kids. They usually have no refrigerator or microwave, floor space is at a premium, and neighbors can hear every tantrum. But with an apartment you get more space, thicker walls, a kitchen, a washing machine, and separate bedrooms.
These extra facilities on a long stay can make your trip so much more enjoyable.
8. Do a Test Run
If this is going to be your first serious trip as a family, consider starting with a shorter trip such as a weekend away or even just a day trip to the zoo as a trial run. This will help you figure out packing choices, daily routines, how fast you can move around, and how you all get along and interact together.
9. Set a Budget
Travel with kids does not have to be expensive. Decide on a comfortable budget that works for your family and include items such as souvenirs, entertainment, and a few unexpected activities. Once again involve your kids to make sure they feel comfortable with your travel plans.
Hot Tip: Every now and then blow your daily budget. We go away to experience things and create lifelong memories. Don’t limit yourself to just traveling for the sake of traveling. Go splurge on a famous restaurant, see a big concert, attend a mega sporting event, go on a safari, jump out of a plane, do something incredible.
10. Build in Some Private Time or “apart” time
No matter who you are, everyone needs a break from each other at some point. While the goal of your trip is to create shared memories, it is also important to remember that children need time to burn off energy and enjoy the company of kids their own age.
Likewise, us parents need quiet periods for rest and some adult company as well. Keep this in mind and be a little flexible on your trip, as children’s moods and interests can change constantly. If you and your children find something you’d rather do, be spontaneous and go with the flow.
The key to avoiding the aggravation that comes from travel planning, as well as enjoying the cost-savings and even gaining a few perks along the way is simple. All you have to do is choose a corporate travel agent who:
1. Is well connected in the industry.
It’s true that “it’s not what you know, but who you know” is as important in corporate travel planning as it is in the entertainment industry. You never know when that one special connection will come through for a CEO, guest or employee. Your corporate travel planner should give you firsthand insight into vendors and accommodations.
2. Understands and knows value when he sees it.
From last minute travel arrangements to leisure trips, the price for travel fluctuates by the hour. An experienced travel planner knows value, knows when to wait and when to snatch up a reservation pronto.
3. Can project manage, coordinating and rearranging the most minuscule details without losing his mind or dropping the ball
Whether one person or a group is traveling, the devil is in the details. Work with a travel agent who is a proven multi-tasker. One who can reserve 15 airline seats together, 15 hotel rooms on the same floor, etc. without overlooking any minute detail. Group travel planners worth their salt are hard to come by.
4. Thinks clearly and rationally in the midst of “crazy”.
Weather, blackouts, national emergencies, a meeting running late and a multitude of other circumstances can impact travel plans. Even in the craziest of travel nightmares, the perfect corporate travel planner keeps his wits and has workable solutions up his sleeve.
5. Respects your privacy, keeping your info safe and secure.
Think about it. Your corporate travel agent has access to a vast amount of private data, and should have the latest security tools in place to protect it.
6. Is capable of developing, implementing and sticking to a corporate travel policy.
If you have a corporate travel policy in place, you want an agent who takes the time to understand and follow it. If no such policy exists, one can be developed. The benefits of having a policy include evaluating your company’s budget and needs and avoiding needlessly high travel costs. Not to mention the little perks only a travel planner can deliver.
7. Can handle big and small accounts.
Small companies don’t want to feel ignored. Large companies need the assurance that their travel planner can handle the volume. The best agencies can do both seamlessly.
8. Has a personal touch but is backed by a powerful agency.
When there’s talk of airlines charging passengers to use the toilet, it’s a clear indication that the idea of service is dying. Some feel it’s been dead a while now. A corporate travel planner brings humanity back to travel. No, the customer service rep on the other line may not care that you’ve missed a flight, but your personal travel planner sure will. And when they’re backed by a robust agency (like Tzell), they can make things happen!
9. Is willing to develop (and maintain) relationships.
Planning corporate travel is personal. Work with an agent who cares enough to keep track of personal preferences. One who promises to be there when you need it, no matter what time it is. One who answers calls and acts quickly. One who’s smart enough not to burn bridges, knowing the impact it has on clients. One who invests in building relationships with key sources, which prove valuable to you.
10. Cares about people.
This one goes without saying (hopefully).
Dan’s been collecting and posting video tips for almost two years, and he recently added the tenth tip. Here they are, in chronological order.
Tip #1: Stop the germs. Airplanes are cauldrons of bacteria and viruses, but with an ounce of prevention you can stop the germs cold (pardon the pun). You’ll need a small bottle of hand sanitizer and tube of Bacitracin. Sanitize your hands, then put a dab of Bacitracin on your finger tip and use it to coat the inside of one nostril. Repeat for the other nostril. Doctor-recommended, this wards off all the evil sick-makers.
Tip #2: Bring down the noise. Forget the expensive, noise-canceling, bulky headphones. Get some E-A-R soft foam disposable earplugs. There are five good reasons why these trump other solutions: they’re far cheaper, far less bulky (thus easier to pack), easy to replace, takeoff- and landing-friendly (non electronic), and you can actually sleep comfortably wearing them because you don’t have to wrangle big earmuffs.
Tip #3: Eat smart. Dan has four road rules for eating in airports. First, look for where the airline personnel—pilots, attendendnats, etc.—are eating, and follow their lead. Second, go for protein over carbs, because it takes longer to digest and burn, and therefore lasts longer. Third, always choose bottled water as your preferred beverage (never soda, it messes with your tummy). Fourth, if you’re at a loss for what to eat, go with the always-safe chicken quesadilla.
Tip #4: The rule of HAHU. Every once in awhile I, like Dan, bring a family member, or members, along if it’s someplace cool, or I have multiple international dates spread too far apart for return trips home. Family travel is made easier by the acronym HAHU. H is for hustle. A is for anticipate. HU is for “heads up.”
Tip #5: Sanitize the tray! The folding tray table is rarely, if ever, cleaned. So it’s rife with unsavory artifacts of human presence and food debris. Carry some antibacterial wipes with you and wipe that tray before you use it for anything. Then wipe it again. (Warning: be prepared to be unpleasantly surprised at the amount of dirt on your wipe after using.)
Tip #6: Stay connected. For frequent travelers and heavy laptop workers, Dan recommends a wireless broadband USB modem, such as those made by Sierra Wireless. It’s a potentially better solution for several reasons. More and more it’s easy to find WiFi spots, but they generally require accounts. There are a number of different providers, which means you need to remember all your accounts and passwords, and you’ll be paying several different fees. The wireless USB modem uses any cell signal, so you can use it anywhere, and you pay one monthly fee. It may be more expensive, but the tradeoff is convenience.
Tip #7: Zip through security. First, if you have any reasonable claim to a premier status, get in a premier line, it’s worth a shot. Second, when you show your ID and boarding pass, ask the agent which line they think will move the fastest. Third, get in any line with more male solo business travelers. Men have fewer accessories to discard and are hyper-competitive, which means they tend to view the security line as a race. Finally, avoid any line with married couples traveling alone on leisure… you’ll miss your plane.
Tip #8: Avoid the TV. Unless there’s show you can’t possibly live without seeing, the one thing you should never do upon entering your hotel room is turn on the television. Before you know it you’ve wasted 90 minutes. So step away from the remote. Just say no. Instead, Dan suggests trying one or all of these activities for “more enduring satisfaction”: call a loved one, get some exercise, or read a book.
Tip #9: Beat jet lag. To battle the fatigue of long-range travel through multiple time zones, focus on three key things: time, food and light. Time: trick your body into thinking it’s in the time zone of your destination by resetting your watch to that time as soon as you’re on the plane, and try to only sleep if it’s night at your destination. Food: eat less—if you’re offered food, eat no more than half what’s offered. It’s better to eat an appropriate meal when you arrive at your destination. Light: even if you’re dog-tired when you land, never ever sleep unless it’s dark outside. If it’s light out, stay up. And if it’s dark, go to sleep even if you’re not tired. To fall asleep, Dan has a foolproof remedy. Step 1: take one Benadryl. Step 2: Read The Economist.
Tip #10: Buy a local paper. One of the first things you should do as you venture out when you’re in a new country is pick up the local paper. Carrying a paper makes you look a bit more like a local, which if you’re in a big city can be a good thing by making you less conspicuous and thus less of a target for any unsavory characters that may be lurking about. Also, you might actually learn something from the paper, even if you can’t read it, just from looking at the pictures. Finally, it will make great wrapping paper for any gifts you might pick up.
Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel
- Owned and operated by Starwood Hotels, the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel sits next door to Epcot Center and Disney’s Hollywood Studios and is also near the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom.
An Alamo and National Car Rental desk is located on site in the Guest Services area of the Dolphin Hotel for guests to drop off or pick up a rental car. Guests at the Dolphin Hotel receive Disney benefits like complimentary boat and shuttle rides to the Disney parks, free Disney parking and Disney character dining at hotel restaurants.
Buena Vista Palace
- Located in the Downtown Disney area and an official Disney World resort, the Buena Vista Palace offers guests exclusive Disney perks. As Mouse Savers states, an Alamo and National Car Rental desk is located inside the Buena Vista Palace and is easily accessed from other Disney parks and resorts by the Disney bus.
Buena Vista Palace features free transportation to all Disney parks, access to Disney golf courses and Disney character dining. It caters to families and large groups with spacious family suites.
Hilton Orlando Resort
- Part of Downtown Disney, the Hilton Orlando Resort is not part of the Disney family of hotels, but offers Disney perks to guests, like early and late hours at all the Disney parks. Guests can find an Avis Car Rental desk in the lobby of the Hilton Orlando Resort to pick up and drop off rentals. For guests at other properties wanting to rent from this location, the Disney bus stops right across the street from the Hilton.
Walt Disney World Car Care Center
- Offering guests of all the Disney hotels convenient access to an Alamo and National Rental Car center, the Walt Disney World Car Care Center sits near the parking exit of the Magic Kingdom. The Car Care Center provides shuttle transportation to and from Orlando International Airport and other Disney parks and hotels to pick up and drop off rentals.
My mother once told me this – “Everyone has to work so why not work where you get perks you like”. She made a lot of sense.
While working in college I worked for Ticketron and was able to see concerts and plays for free so that was a great perk.
When I got ready to start working full time I went straight to the airlines and worked in that sector of the travel industry for over 10 years.
I was accustomed to the travel benefits so I stayed in the industry and switched over to being a travel agent.
- You do not need to go to a specialized travel school. Many travel companies will train you. American Express has a program called TEP
Travel Education Program and they will train you to be a corporate travel agency. You get paid for training and get benefits from day one.
- What are they looking for? Clear, pleasant speaking voice. Does your smile shine through? Are you easy to understand?
- Basic keyboard skills – typing of about 30 wpm would help you
- Use the STAR technique – that is how Amex interviews. If you know how to respond to their questions you are one step ahead of the game.
- Learn airport and city codes. They will teach them to you but knowing them in advance will help you with your interview and with the training
- Check all the employment websites – Indeed.com is a good one. Go directly to the travel companies websites and fill out applications even if there is not a current opening.
- Network – join plaxo and linkdin and find out if any of your friends and family know anyone they can introduce you to.
- Take advantage of ongoing promotions for seniors. Many car rental companies offer percentage off discounts or special rates for seniors above a certain age.
- Search for last minute deals. One way is to go online and search the websites of several major car rental companies.
- Scan the Yellow Pages. Call around to check both the daily and weekly rates, although the weekly rate usually is lower. Don’t forget to contact some travel agencies to inquire about any unadvertised promotions.
- Check for member discounts if you are a member of AAA or AARP. Members often receive special discounts ranging from 5% to 25%.
- Rent on weekends when some companies offer up to a 50% discount.
- Do not settle for the first price you are quoted. Rates can change depending on supply and demand.
- Become a club member. Most car rental companies offer memberships that are free to join. You then qualify for discount savings and all sorts of other perks, such as earning airline miles or a free car rental for a day.
- Make a list of the cities in which your firm typically does business. Determine which airlines go to all needed destinations. Contact each chosen airline, and ask a representative about a corporate contract. Using your firm’s previous travel budget, estimate how many trips your company makes per year. Tell the sales representative how much money your company spends on travel. Let him know the number of estimated trips for the coming year. Ask what the airline can do for you if you fly solely on their carrier. The airlines can offer a couple of savings options. Contact several airlines and compare. Do the math, and decide which option would give you the greatest discount. Get your deal in writing.
- Repeat the negotiation process with car and hotel vendors. Keep at least two each of car and hotel vendors, however. You never know when these things can get over-booked.
- Write it up. Assign a staffer or your corporate travel agent to write up all the details of your new travel policies and procedures. Make sure all employees know they are expected to honor your negotiated deals. Make it a company policy that trips are booked only from your preferred suppliers. Find a way to enforce this by checking on trips, and have a system of approval in place. You don’t want to overwhelm your employees by being too strict, but explain the reason why this should all be followed for the benefit of all.
- Keep track.Ask the various travel vendors to supply you with a quarterly report to track usage. Have your accounting department to starts a database logging all travel related expenditures. Meet with any employees who are not following the policy, and stress the importance of the cost savings. Your firm stands to save thousands of dollars per year by adhering to a negotiated travel policy.
- Make use of a travel agent. If you do not have a travel agent on-site, seek out an agency that specializes in corporate travel. Alert your agent of your preferred carriers and contracts. Your travel agent can then help all your employees when they book corporate travel. This will be appreciate by your employees since it takes a load of work off of their backs, and it will give you peace of mind in knowing that your corporate travel policy is being enforced.
- Make sure you have a valid driver’s license. An American license will suffice in western European countries; if you’re planning to drive to eastern Europe or elsewhere, obtain an international driver’s license before you arrive.
- Call a travel agency three weeks before your trip and let it know the dates you wish to rent a car, and where you’ll want to drive. Since many American car rental agencies have European counterparts, you can easily check rates or availability and book or cancel a reservation online.
- Book the car, keeping in mind that European rentals are frequently stick-shift. Choose the model, size and dates of your rental.
- Determine where you wish to pick up and drop off the car. For a fee, which varies widely depending on the country, you can drop the car off at a different location from where you picked it up.
- Prepay for the car or make a deposit.
- Review European street signs and driving laws before you get behind the wheel. Be aware that the auto accident fatality rate in Europe is about four times higher than that in the United States.
Start-up Costs to Consider
- You can either start a travel agency as a home-based business or choose to establish an office in a building or shopping center. Where you choose to open your travel agency office will have an effect on how much money you need to start the business. In order to keep costs to a minimum, a home-based travel agency only requires you to have a phone and a computer in order to start booking travel and making money. If you choose to establish an office, you’ll have additional costs such as rent, furniture and electricity.
For example, if you choose to rent a small retail spot, it can cost you a couple thousand dollars in rent, and then there are the added costs of furnishing the office–hundreds if not thousands of additional dollars. With a home office, you can use what you have as far as furniture and a computer is concerned, so your cost for a phone line and Internet access will run you far less than renting an office.
- Travel agency owners do more than book airline tickets, hotel rooms and cruises. Additional services that travel agencies provide include helping travelers obtain travel visas and passports, arranging transportation from the airport to the hotel, conducting research for group and company retreats, business meetings, conferences and trade shows. Some travel agencies even partake in event planning services for special events such as weddings and corporate events and provide total travel budget management for companies to keep their costs to a minimum.
- There are two main target markets for a travel agency. One market is consumers that travel, which can be virtually any individual. Since travel agents can work with anyone in the world to book travel, it’s not necessary to limit your sights on your local market. With access to the Internet, your services can be helpful across the globe.
The second main market that travel agencies provide services to is the business or corporate market. Larger companies can be lucrative because they tend to have more travel needs. This, however, does not eliminate the need for your services in small companies that may not have the staff necessary to handle booking business travel and accommodations.
- Other travel agents start out with an already established agency to learn the ropes and build a book of clients. Once they get the hang of the business and have a decent amount of repeat customers, they can then branch out on their own and open their own travel agency.
- Travel agent commissions are derived from two sources. One source is from the fees charged to clients that are booking travel. The larger the volume of business, the better your commission, and by focusing on higher-end products, you can also increase your income potential. Most travel agents earn anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of the net cost of the services sold. Cruise businesses pay anywhere from 18 to 20 percent to travel agents for bookings.
The average earnings for a travel agent really runs the full spectrum. Since it is a job based on performance, you really have control over the amount of money you can earn, but agents report earnings anywhere from $17,180 to more than $44,090 per year. This doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t agents earning six figures. “Travel Weekly” magazine reported that home-based travel agents earn more than $100,000 a year.
- Find out what local nursing staffing agencies are in your area. Most traveling nurses work with agencies to find work. Some traveling nursing agencies provide workers with subsidized accommodations for each assignment. Others expect nurses to make their own arrangements. An agency may be willing to work with you as a provider of temporary lodging for their staffers or they may let you post advertisements in their offices.
- Contact each agency individually. Some agencies have a single local office. Others may be part of a larger chain. Ask to speak with the person in charge of travel nursing housing arrangements.
- Send information about your lodging to the agency. List all the rooms you have to rent, the rates you intend to charge and the type of amenities you offer, such as a bed and private bathroom as well as access to kitchen facilities. Some agencies may have specific requirements for all housing they use. List all hospitals that are near your house as well as all transportation options to and from the hospital. If you can, find out the approximate travel distance to and from your house to each facility.
- Purchase advertisements in nursing publications. Certain publications are geared toward exploring issues and ideas of concern to nurses.
If you work as an administrative assistant, an executive assistant or in some other administrative support role, at some point you’ll likely make travel arrangements for one or more executives. Most corporations have contracts with travel agencies that work with airlines and hotels on the corporations’ behalf or the companies themselves will have in-house travel services. Either way, you’ll set up executive travel through the entity serving the company’s travel needs.
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When you are satisfied the itinerary is correct, call the travel agency again telling them when to issue the ticket. Most ticketing is done through e-ticket. Both you and the traveler will receive an email containing the e-ticket. Print the executive a copy for use at the airport to secure boarding passes.
- Place your reservation online. This is the best way to ensure that you will get the best possible rate. Online rates vary greatly from the rate the actual company will offer. Choose the airport locations as your desired pickup location. When you have decided which rental car company you desire, you will need to enter your card number, its expiration date, and CVC code to hold the reservation. You will receive a generated confirmation number that will allow to hold the reservation and the price rate you found.
- Provide your license, physical credit card and confirmation number when you arrive at the pickup location. The company will ask what method of insurance you would like to purchase to insure the car. Opt to use your own insurance company to avoid incurring charges for the use of the rental car company’s insurance.
- Furnish your Disney World luggage tag. This tag is important because vacation verification is required to rent a car from any rental car hub affiliated with Disney World. The rates for these authorized hubs are based on location. Also, these car rental companies do not offer unlimited mileage because the mileage around the Disney World vicinity is factored into the rental rate.
- Choose a form of payment. Although your credit card held the reservation, you can opt to use a different form of payment. Using a credit card is the most effective way to expedite the process. Cash payments are no longer allowed and debit cards require an additional deposit to secure the cost of the rental car, in addition to incidental charges. Therefore, paying with a credit card will save you money.
- A travel agent helps you to plan your trip from start to finish. The agent listens to your ideas about what you would like your trip to be like and how much money you would like to spend. He then presents you with some ideas. When you make up your mind as to where you would like to go, a travel agent can help you plan the airline tickets, car rentals, hotels and anything else you may need. A travel agent does not have to go to college and may instead be trained in the office or in courses at a trade school.
Corporate Travel Consultant
- A corporate travel consultant works in a travel agency and deals with the needs of medium to large companies. This may include booking the business travel for employees, planning travel for company meetings and conventions, or both. A corporate travel consultant is more knowledgeable of meeting spaces and banquet halls, as well as locations that are suitable both for business events. It is the job of the corporate travel consultant to book the travel and find ways to keep attendees entertained between meetings by planning things such as golf outings or sightseeing expeditions.
- Every office needs a manager and a travel agency is no different. An office manager is responsible for taking care of what is necessary to keep the business running on the inside. This may include hiring and firing; purchasing supplies and equipment; and even making sure there are enough brochures in the office. The office manager at a travel agency is usually knowledgeable when it comes to the travel industry and is sometimes used to help out travel agents and corporate travel consultants. He may also be involved in payroll or collecting money from clients.
- The variety of jobs in a travel agency will really depend on the size of the company. In a large travel agency, there may also be a person who handles social media such as Twitter and Facebook. You might have someone who handles all the computer programs and software or an employee in charge of accounting. On the other hand, a small agency may consist of an owner who operates as a travel agent and uses independent contractors for additional agents, marketing personnel and booking.