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Travel Agency Survival Secrets in the Twenty-First Century

Surviving and Thriving
Though the death of the U.S. travel agency has been widely reported, the industry has not been completely obliterated. To be sure, the face of the industry has changed. How have some agencies managed to survive and thrive? Finding a niche has been the answer for travel agents still in business today. Here"s a look at five niches you could ease into:
  1. The home-based office The big benefit to a home office is not having to pay for a brick-and-mortar storefront. Some agents feel they need a storefront to attract walk-ins, but some self-employed agents say they"ve found success by marketing themselves as destination specialists or experts on one particular locale. Some agents make their money in metropolitan areas by organizing and marketing tours to foreign visitors, and focus on inbound travel. 
  2. Cruise or train packages Focusing on one mode of travel has helped some to stay in business. Travel agents still book 77 percent of all cruises.
  3. The concierge-style business This category markets to the luxury traveler. These travelers may know what they want, but the travel arrangements are more complicated or time-consuming than they want to handle. This agent caters to making the customer"s special requests happen.
  4. Sports fans packages Focusing on one particular type of traveler is more likely to yield success, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics ( By gearing packages around one particular interest, such as an NFL weekend getaway or golf package, a certain segment of the population will be attracted to getting a customized vacation experience.
  5. The corporate-focused agency This agency makes travel arrangements for companies, and ensures that everything follows the corporation"s travel policies.
Where Does Your Salary Fit In?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are approximately 101,000 travel agents in the U.S., and the industry probably will not be experiencing much growth over the next decade. Two-thirds of all agents work for travel agencies, while 13 percent are self-employed. The remainder work for tour operators or visitor"s bureaus. The top ten percent of agents earn more than $46,270, with the remaining 90 percent earning below that bar.

By Rita Henry
Get Travel Agent Jobs, Contributing Editor

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