In one corner we’ve got the in-store agency networks, and in the other we’ve got the mobile, home-based agency model.
When it comes to every part of an agent’s life – like flexibility, support, commissions, autonomy, and work-life balance, which will become the champion?
We’ve nutted out the pros and cons of each agency style, to see which one comes out on top.
Mobile travel agency
Whether you’re keen on boosting your work/life balance, love being your own boss, or enjoy giving up the daily commute, there’s a lot of perks to being a mobile travel agent.
Mobile agency models give agents the chance to successfully juggle more things in life, while still supporting them through overarching head office support. They also let you be totally mobile – if you want to work from a beach somewhere, there’s usually a chance to do so.
Here’s a few pros of being mobile:
Quality of lifestyle:
Are you looking to determine how you balance your work life with your home life? Maybe you want to spend more time with family, or have other passions you’d like to pursue? Well, the flexibility of working remote is a huge plus.
Do you want to commit to your yoga class at 2pm every week? You can nick off to relax, grab a coffee and pick up where you left off later. Maybe you prefer to work in between school pick-ups and drop-offs, or once the kids are asleep. It’s all about quality of lifestyle and a healthy balance.
Big agency buying power without the 9-5:
You don’t have to work in brick-and-mortar stores to get great deals, and even though you might feel like you’re on your own, that’s rarely the case.
With MTA – Mobile Travel Agents, for example, you’ll get strong long-term relationships with wholesalers and suppliers, you’ll be ATAS accredited, coupled with MTA’s membership of (invitation only) Virtuoso Global Network and Belmond Bellini Club.
This means you and your clients can literally experience a whole world of benefits, from the comfort of your home office.
Your own business without the hassle:
Escape the office hierarchy and be your own boss. But forget all the admin and hassle that comes with it! Yes, really.
With mobile based networks such as MTA, you give up costs like ATAS, rent, staff costs and franchise fees, and can let the support office deal with “non-income producing work” like back office functions, marketing and IT.
The daily commute is a challenge in itself – and then you haven’t even started your workday yet.
So what about giving up the commute, and working from your home or favourite coffee shop? Better yet, you can choose to work from a poolside, luxury resort, mountaintop or airport if you like! All you need is a Wi-Fi connection.
Holiday / leave support team:
Think giving up the office life means losing perks like holiday leave? As it turns out, with agencies like MTA you still get a huge amount of support.
MTA’s Assistance Team – or “A Team” as they’re fondly referred to – take care of your clients when you’re away or when other emergencies inevitably pop up and you’re not available.
You work alone
If you’re an extroverted socialite who craves interaction, then working from home might leave you a little stir crazy, unless you count all those industry-networking events.
Sure, there’s the phone, and the odd face-to-face meeting, but a lot of communication comes over email so you can miss out on some of that office culture fun of the big stores.
You need to be more organised
Showing up to a brick-and-mortar agency means you sit down at your desk for your allocated hours, do what’s required of you, take your set lunch breaks and go home at 5pm.
Sure, it’s not for everyone, but some people crave routine and structure, and when you’re a mobile agent, you’ve got to be able to organise yourself.
It can be mighty hard to close that home office door and transition into work-mode, especially when the washing machine is beeping or the kids are chattering away right outside.
It does mean you can sneak in a quick vacuum of the house in between emails or get a snack whenever you’re hungry, but for the easily distracted, being a mobile or home-based agent can be a challenge.
Build your base
The advantage of having a storefront means clients will often just “walk in”, which equates to extra profits without the hassle of the chase.
As a mobile agent you need to work to build your client base, promote yourself, and find new people to work with.
Brick-and-mortar travel agency
Compared to mobile, these guys come with a lot more structure, but also a lot more accountability for each individual staff member. Plus you get the added perks of an office culture and community to belong to.
Here are the top pros of brick-and-mortar:
Sign up to the good stuff:
Love the idea of job security, sealed with your signature on the dotted line of a contract? This could be your jam.
Working with a big store, you’ll nab all those perks that come with full-time hours, like set salary payments, predictability of income and a designated pay day, and annual and sick leave.
Then, there’s the amazing luck of the draw that is walk-in clients. It’s a nice benefit for brick-and-mortar stores, and means more reliability for income.
Structured work environment:
No, it’s not for everyone, but if you like routine, organisation, and a sense of hierarchy and structure in the workplace, in-store is for you.
It means you can follow the assigned work roster, sit at the same desk each day, next to the same colleagues, and follow a set outline for each working day. You’ll be big fans of this if you thrive off habits and clear expectations.
Love the perks of work parties, networking, team building and collaboration? In-store agencies might be for you.
You get to share your wins, losses, and important events with fellow teammates, bond over your love of the Bachelor, and, as a result, enjoy the benefits of a strong office morale.
Just as there’s perks to a brick-and-mortar model, there’s also a few disadvantages. For agents that prefer flexible hours, independence, and added choice, in-store isn’t always the best.
Here are some of the cons of brick-and-mortar:
You’re one of many:
There’s always heaps of staff in big businesses, so while you’re supported on the one hand, you can also be forgotten on the other.
Whether it’s client assignments or group participation, working as part of a larger corporation isn’t something that floats everyone’s boat.
Less work/life balance:
It’s no surprise that when you’re part of a large corporate office, your work/life balance can suffer.
In-store rosters means there’s less wriggle room on hours and flexibility to balance out your commitments and lifestyle, and you can’t just nick off early, then pick things up at home later if it suits your work style better.
Prefer not to have a boss to answer to or a hierarchy in who gets which clients? In-store isn’t always the best place to be. And if you don’t deal well with management or orders, maybe consider mobile.
Lucky for those keen on the travel agent life, there’s something to suit every personality.
From desiring more flexible, independent and simplified work environments in mobile agency models, to finding more structure and organisation in brick-and-mortar models, they both represent very different ways of working.
We think the above speaks for itself in terms of work lifestyle; in the end it comes down to what you value most in your everyday lives, and how your chosen agency model meets your needs.