ARMY OF SPECIALISTS
Nearly 60% of NACTA agents work
with one or more host agencies fullor part-time. One such host agency is
America’s Vacation Center/American
Express of Escondido, Calif.
AVC has its roots in family-owned
Anderson Travel in San Diego. A suc-
cessful operation with $50 million in
gross annual sales at its peak, Ander-
report drop in sales
By Donna Tunney
PHO TO B Y JIM COI T/BLACK S TAR
Brad Anderson, owner of America’s Vacation Center.
AVC affiliates Michael and Rosemary Siemens.
son Travel, like many brick-and-mortar
agencies, was jolted to the core by
commission cuts, Web competition
and 9/11. It became apparent to the
Andersons that they could no longer
thrive selling airline tickets. They
pared down the agency from 10 to
three locations, sold off its corporate
side and started AVC for home-based
The percentage of full-time NACTA agents for whom
selling travel is the only source of income has been
falling since 2003. At the same time, sales volume
levels for this group are on the decline.
So, is it a case of not putting all your eggs into one
basket? Or, are there too few eggs to fill the basket?
NACTA’s 2006 In-
ing Survey provides
sheds light on this and other com-
plexities surrounding the indepen-
In 2006, 30.7% of full-timers are
relying on travel sales to keep them
whole. That’s down from 51.6% in
2003, 49.4% in 2004 and 36.7% last
year. It means that agents are diversifying their income sources.
In nearly every sales volume catego-
ry, the NACTA survey found, greater
numbers of full-timers are making
less money than they did last year.
For example, in 2005, 16.8% said
their volume was less than $25,000 a
year. In 2006, that percentage jumped
to 26.5%. Similarly, those whose
volume was between $25,000 and
$50,000 increased to 17.3%, up from
11.4% last year.
The disparity is seen in fewer sales
volume categories for part-time
agents. In fact, in the $25,000 to
$50,000 range, the percentage fell to
13.4%, down from 20.8%, meaning
that more NACTA agents are reporting greater volume in that range this
year over last.
Overall, the greatest discrepancies
in sales volume year over
year are seen in the higher
levels. For example, 3.6%
of full-time agents reported volume between the $1
million and $1.9 million
level in 2005. But just 2%
posted volume in that level
NACTA President Joanie
Ogg said it’s difficult to account for the drop in sales,
but she suggested that
agents “who are doing well
don’t have time to respond
“I know many members
who do well in excess of $2
million who certainly are
not appearing in the results,” Ogg said.
“It may be a sampling of
Cindy’s Multiservice and Travel Agency in Kearny, N.J.,
handles everything from airline tickets to divorces.
The company invested millions of
dollars in a Web-based technology
platform that appears to have paid
off: Owner Brad Anderson forecasts
sales of $100 million in 2006.
AVC offers two levels of participation: Gold and Platinum. Platinum-level agents get leads from AVC but
must produce $1,000 in commissions a month.
Home-based agents Michael and
Rosemary Siemens are Platinum
members. They receive live customer
requests over the phone and Web
and a 30% commission split, according to an AVC spokesman. “We
have agents who earn as much as
$100,000 a year or more as their
share of commissions, which is almost unheard of,” he said.
NACTA AGENTS REPORT
Jamie Sales, front row, right, operates
online agency Cruising Co., which hosts
75 home-based agents. Sales is shown
here with a group of agents at an
advanced class held at Disney World.
those who simply are not as busy,” she
said of the survey results, adding that
her communications with NACTA
members on a daily basis indicate
that sales are up.
‘I know many members who do
who certainly are not appearing
In another interesting twist in this
year’s survey, fewer NACTA agents are
affiliated with host agencies. In 2006,
60% are working with a host. That’s
down from 67.2% last year.
Look to supplier relationships
for an explanation: Nearly 40% of
NACTA agents now make their own
arrangements with suppliers, a trend
virtually unheard of when large numbers of home-based and/or independent agents arrived on the scene four
or five years ago.
The NACTA survey found that