In today’s episode, we’re going to show you how to work from home as a virtual travel agent.
Jocelyn Sams: Hey y’all on today’s podcast we’re going to show you how to work from home as a virtual travel agent.
Shane Sams: Welcome to the Flipped Lifestyle Podcast where life always comes before work. We’re your hosts Shane and Jocelyn Sams. We’re a real family that figured out how to make our entire living online. Now we help other families do the same. Are you ready to flip your life? All right. Let’s get started.
Shane Sams: What’s going on everybody welcome back to The Flipped Lifestyle Podcast it is great to be with you again today. Super excited for today’s show. This is a continuation of our work from home job series. We’re branching out a little bit and showing you, the listener other ways you can make a living besides starting a website or selling virtual courses or anything like that. There’s so many ways to live that flipped lifestyle in today’s economy. The internet makes so many jobs possible to work from home and do things at home that you can really make a living doing almost anything you want. Anything that you can dream of. We have a an amazing example of a work from home job today.
Jocelyn Sams: I’m really, really excited about today’s episode because this person came into my world randomly I guess you would say. A couple of years ago Shane and I were thinking about going to an all inclusive resort, I really didn’t know much about it. I had heard about using travel agents before but we’ve never really used one. Well I’ll take that back, we used one for Disney but I really wanted someone who was an expert on all inclusives and knew all about what we wanted to find in our all inclusive resort.
Jocelyn Sams: I did as some people may do actually probably just nerdy people like me. I got on Facebook and I used the search feature and I typed in all inclusive travel expert. I got a lot of different people and I started looking at their pages but one stood out to me in particular. What I do is, I go on and I message people and if they get back to me in a timely manner then there’s a possibility that I will work with them and there’s a pretty good possibility. Well Marci got back to me right away. We have been working together ever since. This has been a couple of years ago.
Shane Sams: Today’s guest is a literal work from home travel agent and is actually our personal travel agent, Marci Jennings. Marci welcome to The Flipped Lifestyle Podcast.
Marci Jennings: Thank you so much for having me.
Jocelyn Sams: We are very excited to talk to you today for a lot of different reasons. I think that our listeners are going to be really intrigued by what you do and just the types of experiences that you get to have as a part of your job. Which are really, really cool. We’ll get into that just a little bit but before we do tell us a little bit about you and your background and how you got started doing this.
Marci Jennings: Awesome, yes I have a bit of an interesting story I guess but I think that’s, this is how most business owners are often. First of all I’m a mom. I have two kiddos, they are 13 and nine so I love having great vacation experiences, and that has evolved over the course of time. But I actually started my career in physical therapy. I came from the medical field and loved what I did but didn’t love all the paper work and all of the bureaucracy that’s involved in healthcare today. Over the course of time I realized that maybe I, was maybe looking for something more flexible and just something a little bit different.
Jocelyn Sams: I want to know a little bit about this transition because I know that you’re from a little bit larger area than we are. You’re from the Kansas city area, right?
Marci Jennings: Yes.
Jocelyn Sams: Yeah, in our area we were teachers before we left our jobs to do this. I know that a lot of people looked at us like we were crazy. How was it when you told people like, oh yeah, I’m a physical therapist but yeah I’m gonna stop that and be a virtual travel agent. How did that conversation go?
Shane Sams: Or did you, did you quit before you found this or did you just start looking?
Marci Jennings: That’s great questions so yes absolutely people thought I was crazy for a while. Probably some people still think I’m crazy now but yes. I did work it alongside of it when I got started. How this happened was I loved to travel. I didn’t grow up traveling very much. My, I grew up in the middle of Kansas on a farm. Our typical vacation was to go to Kansas city each year. We weren’t big vacationers growing up but I discovered more about traveling and became obsessed with beach vacations in my adult life so each year I would travel to a different island for a week.
Marci Jennings: I just loved the process of researching different destinations, finding the best deals and finding the cool things to do on these different islands. That was my goal each year was to travel somewhere different for a week. In the process of doing this for a few years, my friends and family just started organically coming to me and asking me questions about where I had been, which one was the best place, how do I find these great deals and all these and I just loved it. During this time, I didn’t actually think that travel agents still existed.
Marci Jennings: I had used one back in 2000 but I kinda say that was before the internet I know it wasn’t but I felt that way. In today’s world I felt like there was no, it wasn’t necessary to have a travel agent. They probably didn’t even exist anymore but I was pretending to be a travel agent for my friends and family just because they wanted to know my expertise that I had. I loved helping people. I would tell them about the different deals that I found and all of that and that was the extent of it as I was working in my physical therapy career. Then I met someone that when I asked her about what she did she told me that she was a Disney travel agent. At the time I happened to be planning a trip for my kids to Disney.
Marci Jennings: I owned a timeshare at that time so we were planning on staying in our timeshare condo. All we needed was just the tickets for Disney. I told her that she said, “Oh, well, I would be happy to help you out. If you would like to get your tickets from me it’s the same price as Disney but I will also give you lots of tips about the best way to do Disney, the best places to eat and just tips to make your trip more efficient. When she said that to me I’m sure the expression on my face was just so confused because I, I said to her.
Marci Jennings: I said, “How does that work? It’s the same price but how do you get paid?” She explained to me that in the travel industry they’ve done a lot of research and they’ve realized that people that use a travel agent are more inclined to have a more seamless vacation experience and as a result travel more often. The travel companies like Disney, cruise lines, resorts, they all appreciate that fact and they as a result build travel agent commission into their regular prices. It doesn’t cost anything extra, it’s built into the regular price.
Shane Sams: Wow.
Marci Jennings: If you book Best trip online and you have those things online and you don’t use a travel agent that is built into the price anyway. The website is just going to keep that commission instead of it being paid out to an individual agent. Instead if you run that same trip through that travel agent then the travel agent benefits from that commission that the resort or Disney or whatever has built in the price already so-
Jocelyn Sams: Yes, I think they are a lot of people out there who do not understand that. I know that I didn’t understand it. When we, that’s the same story that I have. We were planning a trip to Disney I was completely lost I had never been to Disney in my entire life.
Shane Sams: Like stressed out, hair frizzy. Jocelyn, I thought Jocelyn was gonna have a nervous meltdown when we were planning this first trip to Disney World.
Jocelyn Sams: I’m asking online. I’m like, I need help I don’t know what to do then one of Shane’s friends from high school had reached out to me. She’s like, hey I’m a Disney agent and I know everything about Disney, I’ve been a million times I’m a pass holder-
Shane Sams: And it doesn’t cost you anything more.
Jocelyn Sams: Yeah so I was shocked about this. I said the same thing, how is this possible? She told me the exact same thing. Once we started looking for Caribbean vacations, I was like, okay I’m going to find a travel agent because I love doing all the research for trips and I love going on and comparing all the prices, the same things that you were talking about but my problem is I have two kids who are involved in activities. I work full-time job and I have a lot of things going on.
Shane Sams: And you don’t know what you don’t know. One of the things, our travel agent that we used for Disney she had literally been like a hundred times. Every time they launch a new ride she goes down there to ride it and make sure she knows what’s going on. We got this little book and it had an agenda. We just went to all the rides that we wanted to ride. It was the most flawless, seamless, perfect trip ever. It was crazy because when we started looking at this beach places, we had never been to any of these resorts or anything and Jocelyn’s like I bet someone goes to all these places and is a travel agent just like our Disney person. She started looking and she found you. We had the same experience, you planned it, you helped us set everything up we just showed up and laid out on the beach right?
Jocelyn Sams: What I love about using the travel agent is that I can tell you what I want. I love Marci because she really makes sure that she understands what I want. Instead of just saying I want a nice beach. Well, she will ask me what does that mean to you? Does that mean you want nice sand, calm water? A nice beach means different things to different people. I love that because Marci you will ask me, okay what exactly do you want? You know exactly what to find, you’ve done-
Shane Sams: You’ve been there.
Jocelyn Sams: You’ve done probably how many trips for us? I mean a lot now probably-
Shane Sams: A lot.
Jocelyn Sams: At least five or six. Every time it’s been exactly what I asked for.
Shane Sams: What’s, let me ask you a couple of follow up questions here. What’s interesting to me is the reason that the cruise lines and Disney and places like that, really, our first intuition is they don’t want to use a travel agent because then they got to pay the commission but they’ve already got it worked into the price and they know you create repeat customers. In essence a travel agent, the big service that they’re providing is not just planning for the person but it’s creating recurring revenue for these attractions, correct?
Marci Jennings: Absolutely, yes.
Shane Sams: Yeah. They get to go back and over and over and over again. You’re kind of, your job really not only creates magical memories for people but it also supports the travel industry, correct?
Marci Jennings: That’s exactly right, exactly.
Shane Sams: Let me ask you this, do you only get paid commission or do they also, or do travel virtual agents get paid with perks or do they give you guys certain fees for certain things? How do you actually get paid? Is it just when you book a trip?
Marci Jennings: Yes, that’s a great question. We do get paid in a few different ways. Primarily it is commission and I think one of the most challenging things about getting into this industry is that you, as a general rule, you don’t typically get paid until your clients travel. People are booking trips sometimes on short notice but oftentimes really far in advance, sometimes six to 12 months in advance. You do all the work first and then you don’t get paid for quite a while on that.
Marci Jennings: That’s a challenge in this industry because not everyone could just jump in and wait that long to get paid. Commission is the primary way that we get paid. We also do get perks as well. That varies based upon what you’re booking, whether it be Disney or cruise lines or all inclusive resorts. It’s quite variable but they are definitely incentives out there as well because they definitely want travel agents to have experiences so that we can turn around and then sell that to our clients as well.
Shane Sams: Once you get started it’s kind of like the assembly line. If you start building a car on the first part of the assembly line they put the frame, then the tires, then the door. You don’t have a car when the thing starts but once the first car rolls off the line they just keep rolling off the line. If you started doing travel planning now in let’s say January, whatever month we’re in. It’s April I think we are right now. Let’s say you start in January and maybe you don’t get paid for that first one for three months.
Shane Sams: But you’ve been selling other things by then so basically it will start rolling in where, oh yeah I booked this six months ago but I got paid today and I booked another one today I’ll get paid for that one, six months. You can create like a stable, almost predictable, it’s actually neat to be able to do it that way. Because if you book one in January for June, I’m going to get paid in June then you book one in February for July then you book one in March for, you can predict like oh starting here as long as I keep booking trips I’m going to keep getting paid every single month, correct?
Marci Jennings: Correct, yes, yes. Sometimes I’ve had it people book it as short notice as less than 24 hours when they’re departing and sometimes I’m booking things out three years in advance just depending on what it is and what the clients are looking for. There are, definitely another piece of it that’s challenging from that side of things is they’re peaks and valleys to this business.
Marci Jennings: Even, once you’ve been an agent for a few years they’re still peaks and valleys because we, depending on what you focus on, like for me I focus a lot on couples trips and family vacations but I’m definitely in leisure travel not in corporate travel. I’ll have peaks, like spring break month will be huge for me and then summer months are huge but then there’s definitely the drop off of other months where it’s a lot less so you really have to be able to manage those peaks and valleys as well.
Shane Sams: Every business has a cycle, right? When we were selling lesson plans as our primary income stream we were doing, we would do great in July, August, September, October, November then whoop Christmas break came and nobody was teaching. The spring was a little less and summer was really bad because there’s no teachers teaching in June, right? We would have to do the same thing. We might make a lot of money one month but we had to divide that up over the next three months to pay the bills, right?
Marci Jennings: Absolutely.
Shane Sams: That’s just a part, that business cycle. If you’re going to work from home and you’re going to be self-employed you’ve gotta learn to ride the roller coaster. You know what I mean? Sometimes there’s business and sometimes there’s not but what’s interesting is you have total control of how hard you want to work and if you want to go out and really blow it up and work and make a lot of money during those peak times it’s gonna easily cover you for the down times.
Marci Jennings: Exactly.
Jocelyn Sams: Okay, let’s go back a little bit because we jumped ahead a little bit. All right, you worked with a Disney travel agent and you were like, okay this is pretty cool. What happened next? You’re still working in the physical therapy practice, right?
Marci Jennings: That’s right, yeah. Exactly yes, yes. Basically the conversation ended after I took this Disney trip and she assisted me. I said to her, I said, “I think this is fantastic what you do and I feel that I already do this for my friends and family but I love beach travel.” Her company at the time was doing exclusively Disney destinations. I said to her I said, “If your company ever decided to expand out I would love to know about the opportunity because it might be something that I may be really interested in.” I went on my merry way, back to my physical therapy job. About a year later, it was somebody that was, a friend that I would see intermittently. I ran into her again a little over a year later and she said guess what? Our company just decided to expand to all destinations, here’s the contact information for the owner if you would like to contact her and see if it might be a good fit for you.
Marci Jennings: That’s what I did. When I met with the owner, I laugh about it now because I feel like she must have looked at me and thought I was crazy. Because at the time she’s sitting there with probably about, I would say maybe 25 agents at the time. They all worked from home. They all had a major passion for Disney travel and that’s all they knew. They didn’t do anything else even though they were saying they wanted to expand out to that. I was the first person to come into the company and saying that I wanted to do it differently. Be a beach destination specialist. I’m also saying to her at the same time that all of my experiences have been in these various island destinations staying in condos which is also not really a big market but obviously she saw something in me.
Marci Jennings: I’d only at that time I had only traveled to one all inclusive resort ever. It wasn’t that great of an experience in comparison to the other travel that I had done in these different islands in staying in condos. She said let’s give it a whirl and in my mind I had always been such a planner and just always so strategic in everything that I did. It was strange to me that I just basically, I guess I think it was because I felt like I was already doing this for my friends and family and getting nothing out of it just loving it that I just said, why not? I did start working this alongside my physical therapy career. I was working part-time. I think I was working around 20 hours a week as a physical therapist and then I jumped into doing this. Maybe my biggest thing that I did to get started was I just over and over and over again explained what I said earlier in this recording about how it doesn’t cost anything extra to use a travel agent.
Shane Sams: Right.
Marci Jennings: Really just hammered that home more than maybe necessary. I feel like sometimes when people hear something they don’t hear it the first time. I just kept reiterating that and that, and just putting a lot of information out there about what I did now at the time then grew it from there.
Shane Sams: Who was your first client? Like when you put this stuff out there and you’re like, I’m a travel agent now, it doesn’t cost anything to do this you’re going to pay for it whether you get help or not so you might as well get the help. Do you remember how much was your first commission or who did you get that first time where you’re like oh my gosh this real, this actually happened.
Marci Jennings: Right right. Yeah, great question. I can remember my first two clients. My first, I believe the first one actually closed the deal on, was a trip to Grand Cayman. It was for a family that I knew through my daughter’s softball team. Our daughters played softball together. She was already looking for a trip and I stepped in to assist her and I’ve been there a couple of times to that island before so I had knowledge of it and got her this great package that she said was actually lower than what she had seen when she was researching it herself.
Marci Jennings: She was happy about it, I was excited about it. I really was not focused even on what the commission was going to look like but then when I finished booking the trip, I think maybe the agency received about $600 in commission off of this package that I put together for her and I thought, whoa. I would have done this solely for discounted travel at the time. I would have been in just for that because I loved it so much. I thought okay wait there might actually be something to this.
Shane Sams: Did you, the agency that you were working through got 600 and then you get a part of that or something like that?
Marci Jennings: Exactly, exactly.
Shane Sams: It’s kind of like a real estate agent the broker gets a part of the commission and you get the rest of it basically.
Marci Jennings: Yeah, exactly.
Jocelyn Sams: Let’s explore that just a little bit because there’s probably people out there thinking okay I love to travel this sounds like an awesome job for me.
Shane Sams: I mean I could book four trips a month and make a couple grand. It’s crazy when you think about the math when it starts to add up.
Jocelyn Sams: The question that I think our audience might be asking right now is do you have to work through an agency or what are the benefits of working through an agency?
Marci Jennings: Yes. That’s a great question. There are lots of different ways that people would do a career as a travel agent. I choose to go through an agency like this and affiliate myself with an agency because they basically take care of all of the contracts. Because as your, there’s so many different entities that you can book through. Each individual cruise line, Disney, all these different resorts. The possibilities are endless. They manage all of the contracts on the backend of that and keep track of all the commissions coming in because when I say that you get paid on the time of travel that’s not an exact science they all pay at slightly different intervals but that’s kind of an average.
Marci Jennings: There’s all these back office stuff that comes through and I just decided that wasn’t really something that I wanted to focus my time on. They already had all of that set up. From that perspective that’s an advantage. The other advantage is that the way that those contracts are set up and the amount of commission that you get is based upon the volume of bookings. If you’re with an agency that is selling quite a bit of travel you’re commission level is going to be higher per booking.
Shane Sams: Oh I see. Yes. Because there’s other people in there selling too so it’s like our agency sold 10 Disney packages instead of your individual self sold two you’re going to a lower commission than someone who is selling 10 or whatever.
Marci Jennings: Exactly yes, yes.
Shane Sams: Got you.
Marci Jennings: That’s definitely an advantage of that of going through an agent.
Shane Sams: You’re outsourcing the backend is what you’re doing. By giving up a little bit of commission you could earn, you’re either going to pay someone to do that and hire someone to do it or you’re going to do it yourself anyway.
Marci Jennings: Exactly.
Shane Sams: It’s like I choose to make a little less per sale to not have to mess with all that backend work.
Marci Jennings: Exactly, yes.
Jocelyn Sams: Okay. Let’s talk a little about your actual day-to-day. You do work with an agency but you do work from your house, right?
Shane Sams: You’re your own boss kind of, you’re like a sales, it’s basically sales and planning, right?
Jocelyn Sams: Yes, yes. I’m an independent contractor affiliated with an agency and we all work from home and in fact the entire company is just based out of a house too. There’s no Brick and Mortar Business associated with this whatsoever.
Shane Sams: That’s what we like to hear. That’s the flipped lifestyle right there. That’s all, people get confused I think when we say, we probably don’t do a good enough job at this. We talk a lot about starting your own business, we talk a lot about being self-employed, we talk about being independent a lot but really what we’re just saying is, can you construct a life where you have total control of your time everyday, right? Where you get to dictate what you do. Where you get to choose how much money you want to make. Some people don’t realize that when you do go down this path this flipped lifestyle path, this work from home path.
Shane Sams: That you don’t have to go make a million dollars. If you’re happy, if you get to a certain level and be like I’m going to make X dollars as a travel agent and then I’m gonna go travel, right? I don’t want to grind 90 hours every single month of the year. That’s really what it sounds like you’re doing as an independent contractor. You get up and you decide when you want to make your calls, when you wanna email people, when you wanna plan a trip. If you got a soccer game you go, if you want to, we were in Jamaica. Marci planned a trip for us in Jamaica and we look over and she shows up. She walks into the restaurant at the resort. I’m like, that’s awesome. She just decided to go to Jamaica and she did.
Jocelyn Sams: It’s hilarious because we live in, Marci lives in the Midwest, we live in Kentucky and we’re like lets meet up in Jamaica. That’s-
Shane Sams: That’s where we met each other.
Jocelyn Sams: … where I met you in person.
Shane Sams: Am I right?
Marci Jennings: Yes that was the best.
Jocelyn Sams: Not the worst life ever.
Shane Sams: That’s right. What does that day-to-day look like? Just on a normal, let’s just say we can talk peak not peak whatever but like, just a general day happens as a virtual travel agent when you wake up what do you do?
Marci Jennings: Yes, yes. Just like you were just saying Shane it is, the benefits of this is definitely the flexibility. As I mentioned in the beginning of this podcast I do have two kids and they are involved in a lot of activities. My day-to-day never looks the same. That can be a blessing and a curse. I feel like as a business owner most people struggle with that. The different things that are always a part of my day and what I need to juggle as an agent is, new business. Producing quotes and talking to different clients that have reached out to me for new business. Servicing current business, the people that are about to travel. I’m preparing itineraries for them, making sure their questions are answered, emailing the resorts for any special requests that they have. Managing those people that have already booked travel with me and getting that going.
Marci Jennings: I also do some marketing which, the different avenues I use for that is, going to networking groups and then using social media so creating my content in regards to that. The majority of my time is spent on the computer. Doing primarily everything through email. In this industry and I think many others anymore is you’re juggling the various ways in which people prefer to communicate. I think that’s one of the things that you definitely have to get used to too. Is that some clients are texting me, some of them are Facebook messaging me on my personal page or business page. Emailing me, calling me, there’s a variety of ways in which people communicate. That’s something that I feel like is hard for some people to get used to too.
Shane Sams: Do you have a home office or do you just primarily work wherever your laptop is? Do you coffee shop it up? Do you work at home most of time? How do you prefer to work.
Marci Jennings: Most, right. Most of the time I work from home because I prefer quieter environments so when my kids are not here it’s a quiet environment but not always. Occasionally I go to coffee shops too, I do a little bit, I mix it both but primarily home.
Shane Sams: That’s an interesting challenge because it’s so funny how different work from home business work. Jocelyn and I have very much tailored our business in a way that we control communication as much as possible, right? We do two member calls with our community every month. Those are an hour and a half each. We have forums that we can go in and check every day and that’s the only way to communicate with us, correct? We also do have an email, we have a tier where people can email us once a week, right? It’s funny because we have, our business tightly controls this way people can communicate
Shane Sams: Your business is the main thing is, everybody communicates differently. I’m always fascinated by how different work from home jobs can look, right? How different challenges creep up in different things to where, some people, I love to communicate like this. Jocelyn likes tight communications where nobody can get a hold of her notifications, no nothing. I like, I’m on Voxer, I’m talking to you on a podcast, I’m going to type you an email. You can build it and lean toward the work from home opportunity that you really want to do.
Marci Jennings: Right. Yes, yes. Yeah and I think that part of why there’s, it would be difficult to create that tighter way of communicating is because almost everyone that works in travel, when you start with your warm market and lose the people that you’ve, that you have as clients from the beginning are people that you know very well. Your friends and family. Especially because it’s not something that, there’s no additional cost to it. If your friends and family are gonna travel it’s a no brainer why would they not use you. I would say, still today the majority of my clients are people that are friends.
Shane Sams: Do you have a lot of repeat business? Is there a lot of repeat business?
Marci Jennings: Yes. It definitely is.
Shane Sams: Outside of, I know we’re repeat business. We’re calling you like every three months.
Jocelyn Sams: Yeah, we’ve also sent a lot of friends your way as well.
Shane Sams: Oh yeah. We’re like, you gotta call Marci she’s the one to do it.
Marci Jennings: Yes.
Shane Sams: Do you ever work while you’re traveling? Does Disney or a resort call you to come down but you’re like, oh man I’ve got like a client that I’ve gotta really plan a trip for but I also want to really be on the beach in Grand Cayman.
Jocelyn Sams: Or are you at an all inclusive resort and annoying clients are texting you all the time. I mean I don’t know who that would be.
Shane Sams: Exactly. Jocelyn’s harrassing you. But, do you do that? Do you sometimes, you just take it with you and you’re like, man this is amazing I can go do my travel agent job at the resort I’m planning for someone basically.
Marci Jennings: Yes, absolutely. At this point of my business I travel so much that there’s no way I wouldn’t be, that I can get by not working during some of my travel. Sometimes it’s just by choice because I can work from my house or I can work from my balcony at on of my favorite destinations especially in the winter-
Shane Sams: I feel you, yeah.
Marci Jennings: … that would be my choice.
Shane Sams: Location independence is amazing. That’s one of the craziest. I love what you, I’ve never heard anybody say it that way but I totally felt you when you said that I have total flexibility but it’s a blessing and a curse, right? Because we struggle with that all the time. When you wake up and you literally can do anything you want sometimes you really want to go anything you want but you got work to do. It’s like, when do you do it, you’re constantly juggling back and forth between activities.
Shane Sams: Like we got up this morning we started home school, I checked my emails and then we did more home school, then I went out for a paddle on the lake on my paddle board and Jocelyn was inside doing something then we came and do a podcast. Sometimes that can get very confusing or it’s hard, it is a struggle to find the discipline to get all your stuff done. Freedom is amazing but it’s also hard to master, right?
Marci Jennings: Exactly, yes, yes. I feel that for most people that’s a constantly evolving process because especially when you have kids your schedule is constantly evolving. I mean, my schedule today and what it looked like four and a half years ago when I started this business, I mean it’s not at all, there’s very little similarities to what it looks like.
Shane Sams: How old did you say your kids were? I forgot how old your kids are.
Marci Jennings: 13 and nine.
Shane Sams: Do you, our kids are 10 and eight, right? We’re kind of right behind you on the scale there but I swear it feels harder now to manage life with older kids than it even did when they were babies, right? Because it’s like they have so much more stuff going on. They can think and fight back so much more, right? It’s hard to juggle everything because my schedule feels different every six months because they play a different sport or they-
Marci Jennings: Right. Same here.
Shane Sams: … do a different activity. It’s almost harder, I don’t want to say that, someone is going to write me and go, I’ve got a baby it’s hard. I know babies-
Jocelyn Sams: It’s all hard.
Shane Sams: It’s all hard. Everybody, what we’re saying is it’s just a different kind of challenge at this age and I’m so thankful that we’re self employed because I don’t know how we would have managed it if we were being forced to be somewhere else all the time, right?
Marci Jennings: Right. I think the same exact thing all the time. Hey, I don’t know how I would do it. I’m definitely, I definitely feel very blessed to have the flexibility but it’s something that you constantly have to-
Shane Sams: Earn.
Marci Jennings: … Figure how to manage.
Jocelyn Sams: Let’s talk just a little bit about how did you know it was time to make this a full time thing? You were working physical therapy, you were working part-time travel agent. When did you decide okay this is viable and I can go all in on this?
Shane Sams: Or even I want this more even if I make less for a while. Like how did that thought process work out?
Marci Jennings: Yes. I can’t remember exactly when the timing of that worked out for me. I can’t tell you exactly when because the blessing also that I had was as a physical therapist I at that time I was at that time what we call PRN which means I was called in on as a needed basis. The company I was working for needed me kind of routinely about 20 hours a week. It was in that place where as I got busier I could say you know what? I don’t need to be here this much let’s tone it down
Shane Sams: Cut it back a little bit.
Marci Jennings: … a little bit. I was able to really wean it back slowly. I would say that it was probably a year to a year and a half into my travel business before I was really able to really completely set that aside and feel comfortable with it.
Shane Sams: That’s the time we usually find happens. It’s somewhere between a year to 18 months that you can look down and say, I want this more even if it doesn’t make sense to everybody else right now. Right?
Marci Jennings: Right. Right.
Shane Sams: There’s nothing wrong, you had an unfair advantage you had put in all the work to become a physical therapist to give yourself that kind of opportunity. Everyone has unfair advantages, Jocelyn and I talked a lot about how even as teachers we did have a little extra time off, right? We could get some stuff done. We always had weekends off. As a football coach, I had a choice whether to stay in the office until seven o’clock or leave right after practice, right? We all have these unfair advantages and you capitalized on it to be able to build something that you really wanted.
Jocelyn Sams: We don’t have to get super specific here but as far as an income were you able to replace your physical therapy income with being a travel agent. Were you able to exceed that? What did that look like?
Shane Sams: What does an industry person, what can you make as a travel agent?
Jocelyn Sams: What’s an average in other words?
Marci Jennings: Yeah, great question. I’ll tell you a little story back from when I interviewed with the owner of this company. She knew that I was coming to the table as a physical therapist and she pretty much knew what kind of income that produced. In the conversation with her because she never really had anyone, she had very few agents that were full-time. A lot of them were teachers and loved Disney and did that on the side.
Marci Jennings: I remember her saying to me, she said, “Well, if you think you’re going to love this that’s fantastic but just so you know we haven’t really had anyone that’s really made more than about $30,000 doing this so I just want you to be aware of that because I knew you’re coming from a different place a different income level and I just want you to be realistic. I said, again, ironically I was like, I don’t care, I’m in. But as I built this business and it did not happen overnight but over the course of time I was definitely, I was able to exceed what I used to make as a physical therapist even when I worked full-time.
Shane Sams: That’s amazing.
Marci Jennings: It is something that the more you work it, the more time you put into it the more effort, the better you are at it. I’m trying to say you can write your own paycheck. There’s no range for sure, I would say probably some published average out there would probably say $30,000 but-
Shane Sams: I read, I was researching it right before we got on and I read that part-time people hit around, can hit around 30 then the industry median was like 80 something thousand. For people who are totally full-time like all in, you know what I’m saying? But that’s incredible because you have no commute. You have no boss, you have no whatever it’s just do you want to roll up your sleeves and go make an income and do it from the beach.
Jocelyn Sams: You travel to exotic locations all the time and it’s part of your job. It’s not the worst job ever.
Marci Jennings: Right.
Shane Sams: Our friend Susanne who does our, who did our Disney travel for us, she literally goes to Disney every month. She goes to Disney, not just Disney. One month’s Disney, the next month she’s probably walking around the Millennium Falcon getting ready to open Star Wars right now. She goes to the one in California, they just got to these places and have these events. Even those side benefits and she’s just rushing it too like planning trips.
Marci Jennings: Right, yeah.
Shane Sams: It’s just amazing, it absolutely is.
Marci Jennings: I always think of the contrast, people that would create and start a traditional business, most people have to immerse a lot of money into something like that and then you should turn a profit from three to five years. While, I caution people when they are looking at this industry that they have to work for a while before they really see, before they get paid. Still there’s no overhead and you’re not waiting three to five years to turn a profit.
Shane Sams: If you’re consistent and prolific one you get there, it just will happen every month. It’s actually kind of a benefit at some point because if I book a trip in June and I know I’m gonna get paid in January for a trip that they’re taking, that’s pretty sweet. Even that is flexibility because you might be like I’m gonna take a vacation and I booked these three trips back in May and they’re going to feed here so I’m just going to go on vacation then, right? So, there’s even some planning there.
Jocelyn Sams: Do you have a website or are you primarily on social media?
Marci Jennings: I just am on social media. Our agency has a website but I would say that probably very few people come through those channels-
Jocelyn Sams: I like that because I think that it’s a good lesson and we talk a lot about online business but online business doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to have your own website. I mean-
Shane Sams: You just have a Facebook page and like Instagram.
Marci Jennings: Yes, I just solely do Facebook at this point.
Shane Sams: Wow, that’s amazing like your whole, that’s incredible.
Jocelyn Sams: But you had the foresight to say, okay social media is a powerful platform I’m going to get on here. I’m going to post regularly I’m going to show people what I’m doing, where I’m going. I’m going to keep posting and things happen. Like I found you just from a random Facebook search.
Shane Sams: Yeah.
Jocelyn Sams: That’s going to happen sometimes.
Shane Sams: You don’t need a website, right? I mean it’s like you just need a way for people to find you and that’s one of the key components of our courses is it’s just about putting yourself out there. It’s just about starting. It’s just about doing it because if you say on Facebook, hey I’m a travel agent now if anybody wants me to plan a trip you got a chance that someone will reach out to you.
Jocelyn Sams: But if you say it one time-
Shane Sams: They won’t.
Jocelyn Sams: … People will forget.
Marci Jennings: Exactly.
Jocelyn Sams: You need to remind people, hey I’m here I do something really cool then that is going to get them an opportunity over and over again to come and use your services.
Shane Sams: Do you get most of your customers through referrals or do you get them on Facebook or, like how do you find, that’s the hardest part in any business, any work from home job is how do I find people to pay me, right?
Marci Jennings: Yes.
Shane Sams: How do you find most of your customers?
Marci Jennings: It’s primarily through referrals. Some of those started as, they found me on Facebook just like the two of you. Then they referred me out from there. I would say my two primary ways was just word of mouth and secondly through Facebook. I did a lot of going back and forth between marketing through my personal Facebook page and my business Facebook page in the beginning. I never, I always caution all business owners to be careful about not spamming their personal Facebook page all the time with business things.
Shane Sams: For sure.
Marci Jennings: But also I’m pretty blessed to be in an industry where nobody gets tired of seeing pictures of beautiful beaches and videos of amazing things, right? Everyone likes to look at those types of things. That’s our industry, it’s a flashy photo that draws people in. Bridging and reminding people over and over again on my personal page and linking that over to my business page really helped me get a consistent audience there. Again because I travel so much now it’s probably now on average about every six weeks to a different resort then people see, all the people that I’m friends with they see my personal travels on there and they see a business page as well.
Shane Sams: Exactly. Basically, how many, just to start closing this up a little bit.
Marci Jennings: Sure.
Shane Sams: I can see where someone could get into this maybe and even start making a couple of hundred bucks a month which is really, we always say that $500 is a car payment that could change someone’s life, right?
Marci Jennings: Right.
Shane Sams: How many people do you really think, when you said it took you about a year maybe a year and a half like how many people does it take to support. If you have a good book of business of about 20 families. Is that, are we talking 20 families? Are we talking, like what would it take to make a living someday doing this? Just to give anyone that might pursue this path a goal, just to have that good recurring base of a good steady income where you know people are going to call you at least once a year for vacations. What do you think a number would be someone could shoot for?
Marci Jennings: Yeah, that’s a good question. That really depends on if somebody is looking for a $30000 or a $80000 income. That really looks different.
Shane Sams: Let’s say 30 because I’m sure there’s thousands of people who are listening right now that’d be like, I would love to have 30 extra thousand.
Marci Jennings: Right, right. Yes. You would probably on average need about 75 clients or families to produce that. You might have 10 in one of those months just like we talked about earlier those peaks and valleys, two in another month and 20 in another. It’s not always even. It should organically grow over time. If you work-
Shane Sams: It stacks on top of each other basically.
Marci Jennings: Yes. If you work it consistently and you find your niche and you’re passionate about what you do. It will at some point grow to the point where you couldn’t stop it if you tried.
Shane Sams: Awesome. Sounds amazing.
Marci Jennings: That’s where you have to then figure out what you want to do with it. Where you want to go with that.
Shane Sams: That’s awesome. What an amazing thing though. A lot of the time, one of the things I say a lot on the show is you only need a 100 people to pay you $50 a month to make $60000 a year. That’s a thing we say a lot just to drive home the fact that you really, it doesn’t take a lot of mountain moving to make a living working from home, online, as a travel agent, as an online business owner, as whatever. What you just said was, if you had just 75 people book a trip in a year you could add $30000 to your life. That is life changing money. Even if you don’t pursue it full-time. Like you said it, once the, it’s like a dynamo once it starts, once the avalanche starts, it might be a snowball at the beginning but you’re not stopping it once it gets going and it’s just amazing to see what you’ve built in your life, it’s unbelievable.
Jocelyn Sams: Yeah, it’s super cool. We’re so glad that you’ve come on today to tell our audience about what you do and just all the cool benefits of being a travel agent. We want to give you an opportunity to let people know where to find you. If someone’s interested in booking a trip. I know you do all different kinds of travel, you specialize in Caribbean all inclusive, right?
Marci Jennings: That’s right. Yes Caribbean and Mexico.
Jocelyn Sams: Yes. If you’re interested in learning more about Marci, where would they be able to find you?
Marci Jennings: My business Facebook page is Off to Anyland Travel by Marci.
Jocelyn Sams: Your name is Marci with an I,
Marci Jennings: Marci with an I that’s right.
Shane Sams: All they have to do is go to Facebook search for Off to, what was it?
Jocelyn Sams: Off to Anyland.
Shane Sams: Off to Anyland or Marci Jennings and they would be able to find you online. We will put links to that in the show notes as well. I am actually also going to put together, I’m gonna have to research this a little bit. I’m gonna put together a little guide to anybody who might want to pursue being an online travel agent.
Jocelyn Sams: Totally free.
Shane Sams: Totally free, this is a, it’s not even in the community or anything like that. I’m just going to put it with this podcast. You can go to flippedlifestyle.com/travelagent. That’s F-L-I-P-P-E-D L-I-F-E-S-T-Y-L-E.com/travelagent and we will have a little information packet there so you can learn more about maybe pursuing this as your version of the flipped lifestyle. All right, Marci well thank you so much again for being here. We don’t have a lot of quote on quote experts on the show. We’re trying to bring a different kind of expert, people who are literally out there doing things for a living. That are just making everybody else look at them like they’re crazy. I look at your Facebook feed all the time because we’re friends and I think you’re crazy but it’s the best kind of crazy because you’re crazy on the beach, you’re crazy on an all inclusive.
Jocelyn Sams: You’re our people Marci.
Shane Sams: You’re our kind of people because you are truly living the flipped lifestyle and it’s absolutely amazing to watch. Thank you so much for being transparent, just sharing your story with everybody today.
Marci Jennings: Thank you so much.
Shane Sams: All right guys that wraps up another great episode of The Flipped Lifestyle Podcast. Thank you so much for listening today. Man what an amazing story hearing about another way you can work from home. Another way that you can make money online. Marci does, has an amazing job as an online virtual travel agent and we would love to help you learn more about that too. Again, go to flippedlifestyle.com/travelagent or if you want to pursue any other work from home opportunities we teach a lot of different paths inside of the flip your life community. We would love to help you find your path to freedom just like we found ours. Just like Marci found hers inside of our community.
Shane Sams: All you have to do to learn more about that is go to flippedlifestyle.com/flipyourlife and you can learn all about the flip your life community. Before we go we would love to close with a bible verse, Jocelyn and I grab a lot of information from the bible and we want to share some of that with you today. Today’s bible verse comes from Psalm 18:36, the bible says, you give a wide place for my steps and my feet will not slip. Go out there, travel, do what it takes to build a business that can give your family freedom and change your family tree and your future forever.
Shane Sams: It’s out there. There are so many, different ways. It’s not just build a website, it’s not just be a travel agent, it’s not just teach online. They’re so many paths to give you and your family the freedom that you deserve if you just get started. Until next time, get out there, take action, do whatever it takes to flip your life.
Jocelyn Sams: Bye.
Links and resources mentioned on today’s show:
- Off to Anyland Travel by Marci
- More Info on How to Become an Online Travel Agent
- Flip Your Life Community
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