How Airline Consolidators Boost Your Commissions

If you’re unsatisfied with how much (or how little) your current commissions are, you should consider working with an airline consolidator. The great deals they provide on airfare gives travel agents the power to mark up commissions. Imagine being handed a blank check on which to write your desired amount of commissions! If you’re ready to give your business a boost, tune in to this monthly series on airline consolidation throughout 2018.

What is an airline consolidator?

Think of airline consolidators as the bulk food store of the travel industry. Through special relationships with airlines, they are able to buy seats in bulk and resell these tickets to travel agents at a reduced rate. This creates a symbiotic relationship between the airlines and the travel agents. On one hand, the airline is able to spread word of their routes and ticketing options. On the other hand, agents get low airfare. Agents can then pass the savings on to clients while still earning a nice commission for themselves.

A Brief History of Airline Consolidation

Airline consolidation started decades ago as a way for airlines to reach the VFR market (visiting friends and relatives.) However, it is now the only way for professional travel agents to make money on airline tickets.

This system was highly restrictive. However, this is no longer the case. Younger members of the travel industry may be warned against using airline consolidators by their more experienced peers who have memories of dealing with a difficult system. Working with airfare consolidators is much simpler now.  In fact, most airline consolidators have the same rules for making purchases as airline websites, except agents get the added bonus of making their own mark ups.

Airline Consolidators Get Agents More Money

Using an airline consolidator can help travel agents increase their commissions.

When you work with an airline consolidator, you’ll often find fares that are 40-65% lower than published fares. These “clearance” fares can be marked up by the agents to whatever amount they wish while still getting their clients the best deal. For example: the best published fare from New York City to London is listed as $1,300. An airline consolidator may be offering that same route for only $600. A travel agent can mark up the fare to $1,000 which earns them a $400 profit, and it still beats the lowest fare that a client might find on their own.

Airline Consolidators Give Agents More Freedom

Get more freedom by putting an airline consolidator to work for you!

Not only do travel agents have the power to choose how much they will mark up their fares, they also have the power to decide when to do so. For instance, maybe a travel agent is approached by a customer who has booked with her for many years. They have a good rapport and the agent wants to thank them for their loyalty. They have the power to set a lower markup for this particular customer as a means of thanking them for their business and ensuring it will continue in the future.

Maybe an agent is dealing with a difficult customer. The agent wants to smooth things over  as much as possible, so the customer doesn’t leave bad reviews. The agent has the ability to offer a low enough discount that the customer feels compensated.

Keep Commissions in the Agents’ Pockets

Many agents, especially niche agents, do not have air contracts. This forces the agent to send clients out into the world to find their own air fare. This situation has the potential to create a variety of problems.

First, and perhaps the most obvious problem for travel agents, there is no commission to be made on airfare if you’re not selling it. You may feel like booking airfare is out of your realm of expertise. Maybe you’re a bit intimidated by the idea of booking airfare. An airline consolidator can remedy this.

Never let customers book their own airfare. Consult an airline consolidator to keep the airfare commission in your pocket!

Another problem that arises from sending clients to find their own airfare: they may not find the best deal. When it comes down to it, most people are not as savvy as travel agents when it comes to trip planning. They may not find the cheapest route, the most direct route, or a highly-rated route. They may be unfamiliar with airport layouts and think a one hour layover is plenty of time to catch that connecting flight, where a travel agent would know it takes one hour just to get through security. The last thing you want is a client making errors that conflict with the tour you’ve already planned for them. When booking a client’s trip, you want them to feel confident they’ve made a good choice, not lost and confused.

Additionally, having to do their own research may leave a bad taste in the client’s mouth. Think about it: they’ve chosen to book their trip through a travel agent because they either don’t have the knowledge to do so on their own, or they don’t have the time. And now the person they’ve entrusted to plan their dream trip is telling them to find their own airfare. It might cause the client to seek out a different travel agent that does sell airfare. Imagine buying a car only to be told you have to buy and install the breaks on your own. It’s a much safer bet to work with an airline consolidator.

The Takeaway

Airline consolidators allow agents to take control of their earnings by giving them the ability to mark up fares when and how they see fit. It avoids the problem of sending clients to look for their own airfare, and therefore more money stays in the pockets of agents. Before you book your next client, put an airline consolidator to work for you!


How Airline Consolidators Can Help with Booking Itineraries

When it comes to booking itineraries, you might be neglecting a valuable resource: airline consolidators. They do more than provide low net fares for you and your clients. In fact, many airline consolidators can help you plan an itinerary from start to finish. It’s like having an extra employee – or ten. If you’re ready to give your business a boost, tune in to this monthly series on airline consolidation throughout 2018.
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How Airline Consolidators Can Help with Large Group Bookings

If you’re not familiar with airline consolidators, you’re missing a tool that can take your business to the next level. Especially if you’re working with a large group! Consolidators not only save you time and hassle, they can get you better group tickets and rates. You no longer have to choose between making a decent commission and passing a discount on to your customers. Airline consolidators guarantee lower fares for your clients and better commissions for you – a win-win for everyone! Before you start booking your next large group of travelers, read this article to learn how airline consolidators can transform the way you book!
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Sky Bird Wins Gold at 2018 Travvy Awards

Best Airline Consolidator

At Sky Bird, we are always striving for excellence, whether it’s getting the lowest net fares to our clients or growing our relationships with airlines. Last year at the 2017 Travvy Awards, we were pleased to take home gold for Best Airline Consolidator. It was an incredible honor to know that travel agents and industry professionals trust us enough to vote us into first place.

We are excited to win Best Airline Consolidator for the second year in a row! Photo:

In 2018, we were deeply humbled to be nominated a third time. The Travvy Awards hosts and nominees gathered once again to celebrate excellence in the travel industry. We are pleased to report that Sky Bird Travel & Tours took home gold for the second consecutive year!

Our CEO, Akshay Shah, proudly holding the 1st Place award. Photo:

Thank you!

This award is a reflection of our dedication as well as the excellent partnerships we have with airlines, without whom we could not provide the incredible fares we’re known for. We are exceedingly grateful to everyone who cast their vote in our favor. And of course a big thank you to travAlliancemedia for hosting the Travvys!

You can find the full list of award outcomes here:

How Airline Consolidators Can Help Agencies of All Sizes

Maybe you’ve heard of fellow travel agents using airline consolidators, but you’ve never tried them out for yourself. By not utilizing this business, you’re doing yourself a great disservice. Whether you work from home, a small office, or a large agency, airline consolidators can give your business a boost. This article is part of a monthly series throughout 2018 that details how airline consolidators can put you at a greater advantage.
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Sky Bird Makes It Easy to Book Large Groups 

Strength in Numbers

When you’re approached by a large group of travelers, it’s both exciting and intimidating. On one hand, you know there’s a big fat commission check in it for you. On the other hand, the logistics of booking 10+ people is complex. We’d like to give you that commission check AND peace of mind. Our Groups Department is specifically trained to help you handle large groups.
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The Benefits of Familiarity

How Sky Bird Provides the Best Customer Service

The smiling barista who hands us our coffee every morning but suggests we will love their dark roast.

The math teacher our child wants for the next level because of how they inspire.

The always-reliable handyman we call on to fix anything around the house.

We love familiarity and we are always willing to put our trust into someone we know and has proven their capability time and again.

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Running the Extra Mile

How Sky Bird Provides the Best Customer Service

Travel Agent: I booked my customer’s flight through you and they are experiencing a problem with a cancelled flight.

Other Airfare Consolidators: We can’t help you with that. You’ll have to  call the airline.

Um, no. At Sky Bird, we do things differently. We are committed to going the extra mile for our customers. A happy traveler is a repeat customer for you. We are more than happy to go out of our way to support you and your clients from the moment you book the flight until they return home.

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So, You Decided to Become a Travel Agent. Now What?

Now, on to the next step – accreditation. You’re probably overwhelmed with all the unfamiliar acronyms and terminology, like CLIA, ARC, IATA, TRUE, etc. It’s like learning a foreign language. This article will help you understand the nuances among some of the most common accreditation organizations and hopefully help you decide which one(s) are right for you.

How to become a CERTIFIED travel agent.

Let’s start with the basics. Continue reading “So, You Decided to Become a Travel Agent. Now What?”

10 Ways to Fail as a Travel Agent

One of the best tools for success is learning from other’s mistakes. There are hundreds of success stories or articles about “how to be a travel agent.” But what about the travel agents who fail? Why do some agents flourish and others flop?

We asked industry experts what they have observed working with agents throughout the past 40 years. Here is what they had to say:

1. How to Fail: Turn away opportunities

How to succeed: Take advantage of educational opportunities. Whether that be workshops for agents, or your neighbor wants a booking for a trip you’ve never planned, take every opportunity that comes your way.

Richard Branson once said, “If someone asks you to do something, say ‘yes’ then go figure out how to do it.”

2. How to Fail: Depend 100% on one marketing outlet

How to succeed: Social media is a great way to market your business, but it shouldn’t be the only way you market. Take advantage of every available outlet. If you have a website, learn how to utilize AdWords to be the first travel agent in your area people find when they search Google. Start a blog to organically rank higher in Google searches. Contact your suppliers and ask if they offer any promotional assistance. Make it easy for people to find you. Everybody is a prospect, and every prospect is a potential client.

3. How to Fail: Never ask for advice from long-established agents or vendors

How to succeed: King Solomon said “there is nothing new under the sun”. These folks have seen it all. Find yourself a mentor and listen!

Don’t go to trade shows and merely collect trinkets. Agents who do this at trade shows display a lack of professionalism to vendors and fellow agents. Rather, ask each representative about the best ways for you to promote their product.

4. How to Fail: Compete on price

How to succeed: Someone will always have a cheaper price. You get what you pay for. Do your homework, make your recommendation and demonstrate your value.

5. How to Fail: Minimize your efforts

How to succeed: Remember the old sales adage: Anything will work, if you do. You can go door-to-door in your neighborhood and ask people to buy from you. That’s not the most efficient or professional method, but it will work. The point is, the more people you come in contact with the more sales you’re likely to make.

6. How to Fail: Work for free

How to succeed: It is tempting to give up your commissions/fees for family members. Which is better: Take the money you deserve or ask for financial assistance because you didn’t?

7. How to Fail: Don’t work for free

How to succeed: That’s not a contradiction. Holding community seminars on travel-related subjects promotes you and your agency as experts. In general, “the educator gets the business.”

8. How to Fail: Ignore thereasons for your previous career success

How to succeed: Travel is an exciting business, but it IS a business. The same things that made you successful in your prior career will help you. Example: Teachers tend to do well in travel, not because they know geography, but because they know the learning process is long and very gradual – almost imperceptible in the beginning. A well-rounded travel agent is a good agent. Remember to bring all your experience to the table and never stop learning.

9. How to Fail: Ignore selling airline tickets

How to succeed: Agents who send their clients to the airline website or an OTA open themselves up to competition from companies that are adept at tracking cookies. The minute your clients search for prices to Paris, they will be bombarded with special hotel, tour and cruise rates.

10. How to Fail: Wait for group business to come your way

How to succeed: Actually, speculative group business is more profitable than unsolicited group business. Customers who call you have most likely already called the airlines and at least one other agent. However, creating an Ikebana trip (Japanese art of flower arrangements) and promoting it through your local florist will generate business organically and produce higher margins.

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell

Failure is the best teacher. There’s no quicker way to learn than from each other’s experiences. So, stay connected! Sign up with Sky Bird and then join Sky Bird’s Fare Insiders Facebook page. You can connect with other agents and get “insider” information on special fares and promotions!

Have any additional tips or advice to add? Le   ave them in the comments!