Home-based e-business - an option for the self-employed?


3.4.1. Travel Agency in a Box

This program is offered by Global Travel International (GTI) [16]. One can act as an outside agent when he is paying a joining fee of US$495 (the annual renewal fee is US$99). GTI would provide you with a training manual and most importantly, a photo ID with Global's IATAN number. (IATAN stands for the International Association of Travel Agents) . This number can earn you discounts on hotels, car rental agencies, cruises, and commissions on airline travel. An outside agent can earn up to 50% GTI commission plus steep discounts on his own travel packages. Agents can also receive a referral fee between $100 to $150 per each referral depending upon the current promotion for every new agent that he refers. It is claimed that with Travel agency in a box package, anybody can become a full-time travel agent. The independent agents do not carry out any actual booking themselves, all orders are referred to 120 full-time consultants in one of several departments such as domestic travel, international travel, cruise, packages and tours, group and meeting planning, and corporate travel.

Although touted as a potentially profitable home-based business. It is very difficult to make a decent amount of money. Besides the high joining fee, each agent has to pay an annual renewal fee (US$99). According to an article in the New York Times [35] on October 24, 1999, only four agents have earned more than US$5,000 in 1999, roughly 1 in 6,500. Therefore, this program is more suited to owners of small and mid-size businesses who wish to cut down the traveling costs for their staff. Indeed the biggest customers are often the agents himself, his friends and family. Therefore it appears that Travel Agency in a box operates in a similar manner to Vshop, where many members end up being the customer. (GTI)[16] accepts application all over the world. At present, it employs some 40,000 agents in 21 countries. However, since this is a US based company, it may not be able to offer the same discount for travel package outside the country. This is surely a disadvantage to overseas agents. Nowadays, because of the keen competition, the prices for some advance-purchase fares inside US (available to anyone) are already lower than the prices from the GTI. (The New York Times on October 24, 1999 ).