Global Travel International reaches 35,000 Home Based Business Owners
February 09, 2006 (PRLEAP.COM) Travel NewsCan Michael Gross and Randy Warren of Global Travel International make the traditional travel agent an endangered species? You make the call. The strategy of these 30-year-olds is to sign up a legion of consumers to moonlight as independent travel agents. The part-timers only have to refer business to a central call center, where more than 120 full-time GTI employees (each specializing in a niche, such as European cruises or Disney family vacations)* make reservations for free. The payoff for independent agents: a 50% GTI commission, plus steep discounts on their own travel packages. Traditional travel agents, on the other hand, earn only 10% on packages they arrange. GTI's payoff: a consumer sales and distribution channel that fuels growth through word-of-mouth referrals.
Since the Maitland, Fla., company's inception in 1994, GTI's business has soared - to an estimated $13 million this year on about $100 million of travel bookings - making it the nation's fastest-growing travel company. How did the two founders come up with the idea? Five years ago it started as a ploy to meet girls at American University, where they were students. But they stayed in the travel business after graduation and formed GTI after quitting corporate jobs. To jump-start the company, they each plunked down $4,000 from their credit cards and converted a janitor's closet in an office building into a makeshift office. Recalls Gross, now GTI's president: "We needed to secure an address so our firm could become licensed and accredited by such groups as the Airline Reporting Corp." The idea of using consumers as sales reps dawned on Warren, since they had no staff. So the two contacted existing school clients and asked them to sign on as independent contractors. Now GTI sells 500 tickets a day (compared with 300 a month for the average agency) and employs some 20,000 agents in 21 countries, from Argentina to Japan. As Chairman Warren sums it up, "They are the GTI missionaries spreading the word."