Yea or Nay: Using the Term 'Home Based Travel Agent'
This article goes over my thoughts on the matter but I want to hear what you think. Share your thoughts are in the comments below.
I use the term "home based travel agent" throughout the site, there are plenty of travel agents that use it freely, and the industry publications use it without apologies: So obviously the answer is yea, right? *cough* Actually, it's a bit awkward here, but when it comes to marketing yourself as a travel agent or agency, I land in the "nay" camp on this issue.
It's all About Context
On a business to business basis (B2B), I don't think there is anything wrong with using the term "home based travel agent," or that it is going away anytime soon. The term allows us to recognize a sector of travel agents that have different business needs. Corporate, leisure, cruise, home based agents—they all have different needs and are segmented when needed.
Now, when we're talking about your consumer-facing travel agency (B2C), that's another story. No longer is there any need to differentiate yourself based on your geographic location. Your clients don't care there is a subset of travel agents referred to as home based. The location of where you do your work has no bearing on what type of service your clients will receive. So in that instance, I see no need to specify you're a home based travel agent on your website, business card, LinkedIn profile, etc. I'm all about dropping the geolocation prefix—your clients can add you on FourSquare if they really want to know your whereabouts!
Prospective clients may be off put or confused when they are researching agents and see "home based travel agent" mentioned. Worst case scenario, the term "home based" conjures images of someone less professional, with little to no backing, and fewer resources. Best case scenario, the prospective client equates the term "home based" with supporting a local business and loves the idea.
If you want to emphasize you're a home based travel agent and educate your client on all the positives of the term, more power to you. Create your brand and deliver it! What I caution is calling yourself a home based travel agent simply because you may fit that profile in the business to business world. Your future clients don't care where you do business, they care that their trip goes off without a hitch. Make sure that's what you're emphasizing when you're marketing yourself.
I see a lot of agents that identify themselves as home based travel agents on their business cards, LinkedIn profiles, Facebook Pages, and can't help but wonder why that's being emphasized.
A little more on my perspective in my Travel Market Report article—"Working from Home: To Tell or Not to Tell?"
I've worked in the host agency field for a good number of years and have thought long and hard about the term. At first, I was ambivalent. As time progressed, I became a staunch supporter of dropping the home based. A travel agent career is viable and serious and we need to present ourselves as such. What's your view? Why do you/don't you list that you're a home based travel agent on your marketing/advertising?