How do I get started?The first step is to fill out the Hosting Program Questionnaire HERE or the Mentoring Program Questionnaire HERE and someone will contact you.
What is the difference between the Hosting Program and Mentoring Program?If you are currently working full-time as a successful professional travel advisor and have an active client base with a minimum annual volume of $500K in leisure sales, check out our Hosting Program. If you are passionate about travel, ready to build a new career and a new business on a full-time basis as a self-employed entrepreneur, check out the Mentoring Program.
Do I receive training?YES, yes, and yes! Learning, sharing, training and growing IC’s knowledge and expertise is core to the Brownell hosting programs. In addition to Brownell’s deep database of recorded business development classes for advisors, we offer in-person and online interactive training programs to suit lots of different learning styles. Brownell offers support and resources for a variety of professional travel agent certification programs, including the Travel Institute Certified Travel Agents, Certified Travel Counselor, CLIA’s Master Cruise Counselor and more. The options for earning professional certifications are almost endless, depending on your interests and specialties. Learn more about our training programs HERE and HERE.
What does it cost?Depending on which program (hosting or mentoring) is the right fit for you, there is an initial startup investment for on-boarding, but no on-going monthly or annual fees. Virtuoso does have minimal fees to participate in their personalized marketing campaigns, and you will have an annual liability insurance premium which is paid directly to the insurance underwriter.
What sort of marketing support will I receive?As much as you need or want. Brownell has the largest Marketing Team of any Virtuoso Agency. Consider them your dedicated Marketing and PR firm and your secret weapon. At a fraction of the cost of hiring a marketing firm, you will have access to customized collateral, copy writing, social media materials, e-newsletters, certificates, client gifts and more. Brownell’s “Team Marketing” has more than 30 years combined experience in the luxury travel industry. Brownell is also a Virtuoso Member agency, giving you access to the powerful Virtuoso Marketing tools and publications. Learn about our marketing support HERE.
What is Brownell’s commission split?The commission split varies based on your annual income, and ranges between 70% to 85%.
Do you offer a 100% commission rebate program?No, we do not. We’ve studied this business model very carefully and cannot offer this option and continue to offer a high level of support for our independent associates. In order to offer a 100% commission rebate, we’d have to eliminate many of our support systems that have made us the best luxury travel host agency in the business, and we’d also have to require our IC to do a lot of their own accounting work. We offer the finest support systems in the hosting industry and handle your accounting work, commission collections and tech support so you have plenty of time to sell.
What are Brownell’s commission rates with vendors?We are among the leading luxury travel sellers in the USA and we are at the top level of commissions with most vendors. One of the differentiators between Brownell’s model and 100% Commission Rebate models are that our ICs are paid what we earn with suppliers, whereas many 100% Commission Rebate agencies keep 1-3% commission as back-end overrides. Would you rather earn 100% of a lower rate or 70-80% of the highest rates?
Does Brownell offer commission collection services?Our process for collections is second to none and we consider it a source of pride and competitive advantage. Less than 1% of commissions earned by advisors and associates go uncollected. That means more money goes in your pocket, and sooner. Many host agencies put the onus of identifying and collecting commissions on their agents. Many times with penalties, sometimes up to 100%, if not collected within a narrow time frame. We believe your commissions are YOUR commissions no matter how or when they are received, and we employ a full-time person who is dedicated to collecting commissions on your behalf.
Can I begin selling travel on a part-time basis and continue with my current job?No, our Hosting and Mentoring Programs are designed for those who are solely focused on building a successful travel consulting business without any other career obligations.
Do you offer any employment opportunities?Our Hosting and Mentoring Programs are not salaried employment opportunities, but are designed for entrepreneurs who are independent business owners. Brownell does offer employment opportunities in our office locations (Atlanta, Birmingham and Mobile). You can review employment opportunities HERE.
Am I able to operate under my own name and branding?Absolutely! Not only do we encourage our associates use their own brands, we offer brand-development, awareness and promotion services. Your brand’s success is our primary focus.
I am not a GDS user, can Brownell help me book air for my clients?It’s our philosophy that air planning and booking is an essential component to a well-rounded, luxury itinerary. However, SABRE scripts and GDS codes are definitely not everyone’s cup of tea! Brownell has a dedicated team of experienced International and Domestic air specialists to book air for your clients. Easy, right? It gets better. You earn the commission on the tickets. Since the inception of our “Air Desk” many of our independent advisors have earned tens of thousands of dollars in additional revenue.
What perks and benefits will I be able to extend to my clients?As a Brownell Independent Advisor, you are privy to many programs that will directly benefit your clients. Brownell is a preferred partner of the top hotel, cruise, and tour operators. Through these programs, like Ritz-Carlton STARS, Four Seasons Preferred Partner, Belmond Bellini Club, Mandarin Oriental Fan Club, and Dorchester Diamond Club, you can access exclusive benefits, amenities, and promotions for your clients. Additionally, Brownell is a Virtuoso agency, so your clients can access Virtuoso amenities at hundreds of hotels around the world.
How is Brownell different from other Hosting programs?While there are many ways that the Brownell Hosting Program stands apart from the typical program, the two key differentiators are the community and support. We have Independent Advisors spread across the United States and Europe, and through our technology, our team can easily share information and work together for mutual success. Brownell also offers our Independent Advisors endless support. From the Hosting Support Team to our marketing and accounting, we are dedicated to helping you grow your business.
What exactly IS a Mentoring ProgramThink of it as a travel advisor degree from the very best Ivy League school. The Brownell Mentoring program is year-long training program with a celebrated history of developing successful travel entrepreneurs. The program gives you the education, resources, strategies, and business development tools to launch your own luxury travel agency.
How quickly do I begin selling?You begin selling as soon as you complete the initial training sessions in Birmingham.
Will I be paid while I am in the Mentoring Program?Participants in our Mentoring Program (mentees) are independent contractors who are self-employed and “hosted” by Brownell vs being employed by Brownell. Just as with any start-up business, you will be investing in a new career and while you will earn money by selling travel in your first year, you should have the financial stability to be self-supporting while your focus will be on investing in the development of your new company.
Can I join the Brownell Mentoring Program while working full- or part-time?No. Launching a new business is a full-time job, and then some. We know from experience that part-time travel advisors have more gray hair, a higher-rate of hypertension, and are less profitable than full-time advisors. Ok, we haven’t proven that yet, but the anecdotal evidence sure does look that way!
Will I be matched with an individual mentor?No, you will not have a single mentor…you will have a team of mentors who are deeply invested and passionate about helping you be successful. During your mentoring year, you will have direct access to world-class most business development, sales, operations, technology and marketing teams. You will also learn best practices and sales strategies from top travel executives from hotels, cruise lines, tour operators and ground-service providers across the globe.
What does it cost to join the Mentoring Program?You will have start-up costs and various business expenses. Most mentees invest between $6,500 and $8,000 for baseline expenses in the mentoring year, plus you will have travel expenses and some marketing expenses. We tell mentees to expect to break even in their mentee year, but many exceed their sales goals and earn a bit of money in their first year.
What happens after I graduate from the Mentoring Program?Assuming you meet all of the graduation requirements, you automatically continue under the Brownell Hosting Program, but with higher earnings and lower expenses.
What advantages does the Brownell Mentoring Program offer over other travel agent training programs?The Brownell Mentoring Program is often imitated, but not equaled. Ours was the very first professional program of its kind and is recognized as best in class. Apart from our depth of experience, we are also the only program to offer dedicated business development, personal marketing support, and access to Brownell Academy. In addition, our reporting capabilities, culture, and reputation is unrivaled.
How many times per year do you offer training through the Mentoring Program?We offer two classes each year: one in the winter, generally Feb, and one in the summer, generally July.
What is the application process for the Mentoring Program and how many mentees are accepted for each class?People who are interested in learning more about the Mentoring Program first must fill out this questionnaire, and then someone from our team will be in touch. If we think the person could be a good fit for the Mentoring Program, we will invite them to apply (typically about three months prior to the start of each class). Once a candidate is accepted, the pre-training work begins. We accept up to five people for each Mentoring Class.