How to Pick a Host Agency
Each host agency has their own unique value proposition. One may specialize in working with new agents, another may offer a franchise opportunity selling cruises under a consumer branded franchise arrangement, yet another may only work with highly experienced travel professionals and another may only work with independent agents specializing in the luxury travel market. One thing is for sure and that is there is a host that will meet your needs better than all others. The trick is to find that host the first time around.
What makes the task a little more difficult is that many host agencies have acquisition teams whose responsibility it is to locate and recruit new agents into their network. Some of them can be downright aggressive making it difficult for you to say no. Here is how to go about finding the best host agency for you.
Develop a Plan Before You Start Shopping for a Host Agency: You don’t have to have a 5-year business plan to get into the travel industry, but you should have a good idea about what you want to sell. Being everything to everyone is the quickest way to go out of business in the travel industry and successful independent travel agents specialize in areas of complex transaction with high internal yields. Here are just some of the areas that agents specialize in: Cruises, niche cruises, all inclusive resorts, luxury travel, family travel, group travel by region, specialty sports travel, alternative lifestyle travel, escorted tours, adventure travel and so on. You can see there are numerous opportunities in the industry.
Understand the Support that You Will Require: If you are new to the industry without an business experience, you may need mentoring, training and support. If you are an experienced agent, you may just need access to commission overrides. If your specialty can be enhanced by networking with others, then you may need to focus on a host that specializes in working within your niche.
Don’t Sweat the Commission Levels: Some of the worst host agencies offer the highest commissions. One host that had a somewhat shady past started offering agents a 100% commission. Of course, the agency went bankrupt and hundreds of agents lost their money and commissions. Think about the overall support and how it will enable you to grow your business. As an example, one host agency only pays a 3% commission on gross sales, which sounds really low, but when you consider it is feeding their agents top quality leads tailored for their particular expertise, the agents are making more money than ever.
Consider Your Host Agency as Your Partner: Once you find the right host agency for you, stay with them and evolve a tight relationship with the owners, operations staff and everyone else that you deal with. By engaging your host, you can get the best support and opportunities from them. Think of selecting your host agency to be like getting married. You get the idea.