One of the keys to being a successful business owner is maximizing income. Ideally, you want to generate as much income as possible without increasing your work load. In other words, if you want to double your income, working twice as hard or putting in twice as many hours isn’t a good answer.

Thankfully, in the travel business there are lots of ways to maximize your income without adding to your workload. Here are a few and we will start with the obvious ones.

  • Upsell the client. If you have the opportunity to put the clients in a better room or cabin category or extend their vacation, that’s a way to increase your commission without adding to your workload. The great thing about this is that the client benefits too! Especially in cruising we usually see that when people move up to the next cabin category, they don’t go back down.
  • Book the entire trip. Whenever possible, book all the components of a client’s trip. If you are booking a cruise, book the air, pre- and post-cruise hotels, transfers, shore excursions – all of it! The same is true with a land vacation – including the excursions. You can book those ahead of time and save the client time, money, and make their vacation stress-free.
  • Include third-party travel insurance. I am a big proponent of third-party (not vendor) travel insurance because I have seen it save clients from financial disaster, but also seen people who refused it have a horrible time because they weren’t willing to spend a couple hundred dollars on insurance. Your clients need it – especially if they are leaving the country because their health insurance won’t cover them (many don’t know that). You don’t have to be a travel insurance guru to be comfortable selling insurance, just educate yourself on a vendor you like and add it to every trip. If they refuse, require them to sign a waiver.

That’s three ways that it is super easy to maximize your income. Everyone has probably been told to do all of those things no matter how long they have been in the business. But here are two that you might not have considered:

Make sure your commission split is the best you can get. If you are selling $60,000 per year there isn’t a significant difference between an 80/20 plan and a 90/10 plan. But when you get to $600,000 per year, that’s a big difference. At that point you should be looking at a 100% commission plan. Yes, they exist. While the monthly fee is higher, you will end up with more money in your pocket overall. Do the math to find out how much your host is costing you and see if there is a better option that they offer. Perhaps there is another plan that better suits you. And if you have outgrown them, it might be time to look for another host.

Don’t make the mistake of going alone because you will make less money. Many times I have heard people say they will just get a CLIA or TRU number and then they won’t have to split their commission with a host. While it is true that you won’t have to split your commission with anyone, you also will receive a lot less of it. Here’s an example of a real booking and the commission the agent received vs. what they would have received if they booked on their own:


River cruise with total cost to the client of $8,660

Commission if booked under host agency: $1,493.28

Commission if booked under own credentials: $1,039.20

That’s a difference of $454.08!

At 90% commission split the agent receives $1,343.95. Even at a 70% commission split they would receive more ($1,045.30) than if they booked on their own!

This is one of those times that thinking like a travel entrepreneur instead of a travel agent is super important! You cannot just work in your business all the time – you have to work on it too!

At least once a year look at your numbers and make sure the plan you are on is working for you now and where you want to be in the next year. If it isn’t, reach out to your host and see what your options are. If you aren’t hosted, you will not only make more money from improved commissions, but will also get a lot more education and support than you can on your own. You owe that to your business and yourself!