Monday, August 27, 2012

Where have I been?

Where have I been? Let's see....School started so trying to get Drew back on track has taken time.  Scott is starting to recover and looking forward to his new bike being here in a couple weeks - that makes one of us.

Mainly I have been.... OPENING MY TRAVEL AGENCY!!!! I got my final approval last week and have since been working hard to get all of my certifications lined up and registering for all the companies that i want to do business with.  Each one has different criteria so that has taken some time. But we are up and running. I have my Disney, Universal, Sandals/Beaches, Princess Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line tests done.  But that doesn't mean I am limited to selling just those packages.

I have the ablity to book car rentals, hotels, air, you name it I can book it. so for a weekend get away or a colorado vacation or a 117 day trip around the world on Princess I can get it done for you.

I am doing a travel blog right now check it out Destinations By Cathy 

I am posting travel goodies as well as deals.  If you see something that catches your eye leave me a message of click the envelope in the upper right hand corner and I can get back to you in 24 hours or less.

Wanted to share my business cards - what do you think?

The back says but it won't let me put it on here for some reason:  

Why do you need ME as YOUR travel professional?

...Expert Insight on Family Destinations
...Save YOU time and Money
...Personalize YOUR vacation
...Be there when YOU need ME

So that is where I have been.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

so you want to be a travel agent....

I decided I wanted to have my own home based business as a travel agent. I have wanted it for a long time. I actually wanted it 25 years ago but wasn't at a point I could be a travel agent then.  So I decided it was time.  I knew there were rules and laws and fees to pay.  What I didn't realize is what a racket the state of California makes it to do this.  Actually this is for any business but travel consultants have EXTRA hoops to jump through.

I started researching. Here is what i found.

First fee I found was at the California Insurance commission.  Yes you read that correctly.  INSURANCE COMMISSION.  Because I offer travel insurance I have to pay a fee to register there.  PLUS I have to be fingerprinted for the California Department of Justice as well as the FBI.  So there is another fee.  BUT since I don't have to take an insurance test of any kind i have to go to a LIVE SCAN place like UPS to have my prints done.  Another fee.

Then I keep researching and find I have to have a Seller of Travel license from the Attorney General.  OK this one I understand.  10 page application plus a fee.  As I am filling it out I discover the HIDDEN FEES.

There is a large one time fee to pay into the Travel Consumer Restitution Corp.  This is a Corporation that refunds travelers who fall for the if it seems to be good to be true vacation schemes. Haven't figured it out exactly but it sounds like they had a great lobbying group behind them. I can't turn in my Seller of Travel request with out that number.

Then as I go further in the SoT I find I have to have a trust account in my business name. So I call the bank.  They tell me I need proof that I am a registered DBA before they can open any business account.  Back to Google.  In California it is not called DBA it is called Fictitious Business name.  Great how do I do that?  You guessed it yet another fee.  So Drew and I head down to the Department of Finance to pay the fee.  Guess what not only do you  have to pay a fee for that THEN you have to run an ad in a newspaper for 4 weeks to show the DBA and make sure no one else has it registered - you guessed it another fee to run the ad.

While I am there, the lady tells me I need to file for a business license even for a home based business. According to what I have read a business license is to cover things like street maintenance and wear and tear on sidewalks from customers - as a home based business I won't have that.  But guess what I have to have the license anyway.  I have a couple weeks to get that one turned it. It can wait.

Back to the trust account.  Off to the bank I go.  I explain the situation to them that even tho I don't accept checks and there is no cash in my business (except my commissions - which go into yet another account) the state of California requires me to have an account just in case someone writes me a check even tho I don't take checks and am basically a middle man. Someone gives me a CC # to give to a travel company and I never see that money. BUT I have to have an account that has the word TRUST in it that I can never ever touch. That account number and bank have to be on the SoT application as well.  Are you following that one? Thank Goodness for the patience of my Wells Fargo Banker who helped me figure out how to do this for the least amount of money.

Oh yea and then there is the fee to belong to the OSSN which is similar to IATA and CLIA so I can get a travel number so I can do business.  (that fee I understand)

Per the state I can't do business until everything is approved and set to go.  So on all my forms I put September 1 as my start date. It can't get here soon enough so I can start making some of the fees back.

It will be worth it in the end but WOW California you could make it a tad easier!

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Destinations by Cathy

Yes you read that correctly.  I have opened my own travel agency.  I realized that I could do what I was doing for the other agency but on my own terms.  I contacted Disney and talked to some one from inside sales.  She told me that I had been given incorrect information and that I could indeed become my own agent for Disney - and other places.  After all how did the other agencies get their start?

So I contacted the State of California and they walked me through what to do to be legal in the state.  I had to have a travel agent number so the inside person at Disney told me who to go to for home based because I don't make enough yet to qualify for IATA or CLIA (the big two in the travel world.)  I am a member of OSSN and have a TRUE number.  So I guess I am open for business. Still have to go get fingerprints tomrrow.

So I am now in business for myself.  I own my own travel agency!!!!!!

Destinations by Cathy is open for business.