Over 90% of Flight Centre Independents, who became independent travel advisors after the pandemic, say earning potential is one of the top three reasons they transitioned. This suggests that the increasing trend of independent travel agents is linked to economic opportunities.
ITCs from various age groups and genders polled in the Flight Centre Independents survey were asked to share their views on what it’s like to work as an Independent Travel Consultant. Areas of focus included the positive and negative aspects of becoming an ITC, and their level of happiness with the decision.
The survey further revealed that 82% of independent travel advisors recommended becoming an ITC, with 73% saying that their working hours improved when they went solo.
All of the respondents said that they enjoy the freedom and flexibility that comes with running their own business. The study showed that a better work-life balance was an important consideration in choosing FCTG as a host brand with which to launch their business.
FCTG launched an independent model for experienced consultants to work from home in 2013 and now has 175 teams and businesses, as well as a support team.
“There is a large earning potential for ITCs since your income is based on commission. You have complete control of the scale of the business you want to build. You work when you want because you’re the boss, but you’ve also got the backing of a host agency like FCTG to help grow your business,” says Chantal Gouws, General Manager Flight Centre Independent Brands.
Making the move
Independent Travel Consultant Wendy Murray was a single mother of a four-year-old when she chose to open her own travel advisory business. She says that an initial concern was letting go of the security that came with a salaried job. “I prepared for a few months by looking at what I would earn in commission at the agency where I worked. It got to the point where I was confident that the commission would give me the return I needed. I also knew that most of my clients would move with me because they had done so when I’d moved agencies twice before,” says Murray.
For other agents considering becoming an ITC, Murray recommends that they first work out what they would need to earn, then consider if their clients are able to support that, and finally determine if their clients are willing to follow them once they become independent.
“It’s essential to have a contingency plan if you don’t earn the expected income in one month. As an entrepreneur, your earnings can vary significantly from one month to the next, ranging from R15,000 to R150,000, and it’s crucial to be prepared for such fluctuations. That’s what comes with running your own business,” she says.
A work-from-home opportunity
Penny Matela, a South African-based ITC with FCTG, has young children and says the commission structure works wonderfully for her, and her earnings have increased since she became independent. She adds: “What you put in is what you get out”.
Another benefit of being an ITC is that childcare costs may be reduced. “My husband is also a freelancer and works from home. We can care for our children and work at the same time, so being an ITC works financially for our family too,” she says.
ITC Ané Steyn shared the following about her business growth: “As a business owner, I’ve experienced exponential growth thanks to the help of FCTG marketing materials which are readily available. It has freed up time and allowed me to focus on other aspects of my marketing. I enjoy having the autonomy to decide on my own niche market and to grow my business in the way I want. With FCTG, I am able to sell what I personally want to present to my own target market.”
“As an ITC, you have everything you need to start your own business. You sell premium travel with Flight Centre Travel Group’s negotiated content and manage your customers using FCTG’s operating and banking systems. The commission split is 75-25, meaning 75% goes to you and 25% goes to FCTG; what’s more, there are no joining or monthly fees,” concludes Gouws.
Gouws has the following advice for travel agents considering becoming an ITC:
- Assess whether your existing customers will transition with you as you launch your travel advisory business. Building a loyal customer base with which you can expand, should be your objective.
- Make a thoughtful selection of a host brand. Opt for a trustworthy brand such as FCTG that provides advanced technology, valuable tools, and comprehensive support to assist you in growing your business.
- Consider partnering with other ITCs with expertise in areas that complement yours. Doing so will boost your capacity to serve your clients while providing you with valuable information and specialised knowledge.
- Assess your skills and enroll in a training programme to fill the gaps. By partnering with FCTG, you automatically gain access to training resources and continual learning prospects. Since the travel industry evolves swiftly, it is essential to have access to current information that helps you stay abreast of these changes.
- Get your agency out there to attract the right audience and demographics. Digital marketing is the way to as most people go online to research information when they plan a trip.