So I’ve paid money for work-at-home opportunities that were a total bust. I’m not super proud of this. But I will share with you some of them so you can either avoid these work-at-home situations altogether or make a more informed decision. These jobs aren’t actual illegal scams; but they are jobs or business opportunities where I either lost money or was unable to turn a profit. Here is Blog #1 in a series about unprofitable work-at-home jobs. First up: Home-based travel agency.
It’s obvious I love to travel. I am often asked for tips and information about hotels and theme parks. So it was only natural that I considered becoming a travel agent. I looked online and found some ways to start a home-based travel agency. After researching and reading and thinking, I nervously paid the $400 to KHM Travel Group, who would be my host travel agency. This means I could work through them, use their IATA number, and they would provide me with training, and a travel search website. I was sooo excited.
I spent hours and hours in online training sessions and watching videos so I could become well versed in the travel business. KHM Travel Group gave me a LOT of information. But that was okay. I’m an independent learner; I could handle that. But a lot of ways they “help” you start your business is by giving you ways to spend money on it. Hire a graphic designer to create a logo, go through their links to buy yourself another website and e-mail address, order business cards — the list went on and on. I did not hire a graphic designer, of course, but I did spend additional money out of pocket to try to start up my business.
So how do you make money by being a travel agent, you ask? Through commissions! And how do you earn commissions though KHM Travel? Well, I’m not sure. I was never paid a cent.
So you got a website and hours and hours of training behind you, and you’ve finally convinced one of your relatives to book something through you and — voilà — money in the bank, right? Not exactly.
I was never paid for a very expensive, week-long resort reservation or a one-night hotel booking. When I contacted KHM Travel about it, they were less than helpful. They told me it wasn’t their fault, it was the hotel’s, they had no record of it. Blah, blah, blah. Oh, and did I mention that KHM takes a portion of whatever commission you might actually make? Because they do.
I’ll be honest. I only sold two reservations in the few months that I worked on being a travel agent. I had a brand-new baby and was still working as a scopist, but it was also extremely difficult to find people who wanted to pay more money to book their travel through your sad, little, semi-independent travel agency. KHM’s prices and travel bonuses, or lack thereof, were not competitive. Also, a travel agent’s commission is tiny to begin with. After I had bought into the KHM host travel agency, I was able to see the commissions, and I would have to sell, oh, like five Carnival cruises a day to even make money. Another downside of the biz is that when your friends and family hear that you’re a travel agent, they love to ask you questions and get information from you and make you research stuff, and then they ultimately decide they don’t want to book anything through you.
So, in conclusion, home-based travel agency equals sad lady with even less money than she started out with and hours and hours of wasted time.
Now let’s learn about traveling through Europe from my favorite nerdy PBS travel guide, Rick Steves: