I’ve been an agent since 1996 and have worked in three (you might say “four” which I’ll explain later) agencies, starting out 100% corporate but within a year convinced the agency owner that he really needed a strong leisure program.
I very quickly came to understand the importance of aligning with a consortium – not only does the small agency reap higher commissions from day one, but the assistance in marketing is almost priceless. Even more important than choosing the right consortium is getting the agents to buy into the various programs—after all the owner is paying for them.
So why did I title this “Kaleidoscope”? In my years as an agent, I have worked for:
- 1st agency
- GEMs, which at some point became
- Vacation.com, which at some point changed its name to
- 2nd agency
- GIANTS, which became
- 3rd agency
- American Express Travel Network
- Ensemble (again)
- 4th Agency
- American Express Travel Network (via an acquisition)
- And now in the process of switching to Travel Leaders.
As an agent, I always made my opinion known in terms of the consortia or franchise. As the years progressed I learned the ins and outs of the various programs and lobbied the various owners to align with the ones that offered the simplest programs yet still enables us (both the owner and me) to earn the highest commissions.
I also learned that I could make a lot more money focusing on fewer transactions with a higher sales price. In the end, I fully understand the value of a consortium or franchise and that they are most effective with a committed management team and the ability to learn and integrate the consortium’s various programs.
And now, our agency is moving over to Travel Leaders. Yes, for a couple of weeks I was somewhere between hysterical and an anxiety attack: I personally, have gained quite a lot from American Express. I was hosting cruises, was a Travel Insider for Italy (from which I got many, many referrals and much revenue), was a member of the Departures Magazine Luxury Travel Forum, and received the American Express invitations to ILTM. I was faced with losing all that, and I was very, very confused by what I was reading of Travel Leaders. Today, I am calmer and much less confused, but still somewhat anxious. I’ve decided to chronicle my/our transition to Travel Leaders in these “diaries” over the next few months. We’ll see how this latest transition goes! Have you ever had to switch agencies or affiliations? How did it work out?
Mindy Milliron has been a professional travel consultant since 1996 working in suburban Washington, DC. She specializes in personalized vacations and exotic adventures. Mindy has earned her CTA, and is certified as a specialist luxury travel and destination weddings. She has been employed by three agencies and her current agency is in the process of shifting affiliations from American Express to Travel Leaders.