Let me start off by saying, this is my experiences and point of view. I believe that a host Agency is the easiest and least cost efficient way to get your Travel Agency up and running. For one, with a host agency it can be a stepping stone and it is truly fantastic, when you find the wright one. It gives you the freedom to start up your travel agency and the opportunity to run your agency the way you want to. It also have built-in support already in place for you. The best part is, it gives you the chance to get started at a low risk, low start-up costs, and have a community of agents and staff to help you every step of the way. Many travel professionals like myself belive joining a host agency is a great fit, especially if you are looking to work from home or mobile. After my researches and reading great helpful articles and my years of experiences. I want to share with you 7 awesome benefits I found in using a host Agency.
Now, lets make this clear for those readers out there. Yes I know you can start your own Travel Agency from scratch. Just know it's time consuming and cost way more to invest than teaming up with an host agency.
But, for the people who are like me when I first joined my host agency. I had no experience, no marketing experience and no knowledge. All I knew was I wanted to be in the travel industry and save some money and help some people. If that's you keep on reading.
I hope these benefits I am sharing here today with you will help you to know what to look for. The first thing to do is to find a host agency that fits all your needs. These 7 benefits that I am sharing are based on basic services that most host agencies will provide. So, before you sign up with a host agency, you will want to make sure to confirm that your potential host agency provides these services.
7 Benefits of Using a Host Agency:
1. A good BOOKKEEPING system:
With a good bookkeeping system a host agency should play the role of a part-time bookkeeper at your travel agency. Let me tell you, this has been a huge benefit for me. It can be helpful to have someone handling this while you build your travel agency. Also, keep in mind part of your commission cut is paying for a bookkeeper. They can run reports on the bookings you’ve made without you having to purchase any software. They will issue you commission statements and, at the end of the year, send you a 1099 with all your earnings. The more advanced hosts should allow you to look up bookings, run reports, etc. as part of what they provide.
It's good to ask your potential host agency if they provide on-demand reports. Make sure to ask if there is a fee. You may also want to ask them how the commission system works. If you have no idea what that means, don’t worry. All you’re really looking to know is how the commission check gets from the vendor then safely into your pocket.
2. Show me the money. The COMMISSIONS:
We all started to make money, right? So this is one of the important parts, the commission.
A travel agency’s commission level is based on their vendor revenue. A big benefit of using a host agency is that all of the home based agents under that host are seen as one travel agency. If it’s a decent sized host, the combined buying power should give you top commissions on all major suppliers.
Ask your potential host agency the commission level of the vendors you’ll be booking the most. Note: Commission agreements are confidential so don’t expect the host to give you their full list of preferred supplier commissions. Instead, ask for your top vendors.
3. The ACCESS:
The business development managers also known as (BDMs) that work with travel agencies has lots of connections. One of the benefits of using a host agency is that hosts has already established relationships with these BDMs. Many hosts are most likely a larger account for the BDM. So if your having problems with a booking, the sales volume and long-standing partnership. If necessary the host will allow the situation to be escalated through the host agency’s channels.
Ask your potential host agency how long they’ve been in business and their sales figures. This will help to paint a picture for you.
This right here, was great for me. Remember when I started I HAD NO EXPERIENCE so our marketing tools was helpful for me.
One of the many benefits of using a host agency is that the top host agencies offer a whole arsenal of technology. Ask if they have a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool like Clientbase or ClientEase. Examples of programs commonly offered often at a better rate than what you could get on your own are direct mail programs, consumer website programs, corporate booking engines, etc.
Ask your potential host what sort of technology and marketing tools are available to their home based agents. Ask the costs associated with them. If you’re not sure what you need, ask them what tools they recommend for a new agent.
5. Learning tools... EDUCATION:
In this business your always learning. And if your not learning, you've stop growing in your business, in my opinion. Host agencies are top recruiters of the (much needed) if you are a new blood in the travel industry like I was a couple years ago. Education and trainings are gold for you. There are many host agencies that will not only offer continuing education, but also a training or mentoring program. It’s also common to see a host agency offer online training tailored towards new agents. While it’s possible to learn how to be a travel agent without any training, a good training program can hurry you along a steep learning curve and help you start making money quicker. This is one of the major benefits of using a host agency, it’s a great gateway into the industry. For experienced agents, hosts often put together their own FAMs for continuing education and may partner with vendors to provide continuing education for their agents.
Ask your potential host what type of educational opportunities are available to new travel agents. Ask what type of continuing education is available for established agents. Most host agencies will give you online trainings free or at a low cost.
You can't be in business without networking.
Being a home based travel agent has its advantages but one common complaint is the social isolation. A host agency that cultivates community can ease the isolation by helping you meet other travel agents. These agents are a great source of knowledge to help you build your business and support you as you grow.
Ask your potential host agency what types of opportunities are available for you to meet other agents online and in person. Do they have a FB group, an online agent forum? Do they have regional or national meetings you can attend?
7. Lower Start Up Costs:
Another benefit of using a host agency is that host agencies are typically less expensive than going with a franchise or consortium. It’s a great avenue for those new to the business or smaller agencies. Some hosts offer 100% commission plans but typically there is a commission split involved. Even with the split, the advantages of higher commissions and the benefits listed above make it worthwhile for many home based travel agents. For instance, consider the $1,000/yr you would save by using your host agency’s seller of travel number vs. having to get your own.
Ask your potential host what the total cost would be to sign up and if there are any extraneous fees that you could expect while you were an agent with them. Some host agencies like mine would allow you to wavied your fee, make sure to ask how. Word of warning: If the host is paying 100% commission and barely charging a fee, be skeptical. Host agencies are a business and they need to make money somewhere beyond the back end overrides. Giving everything away for free is not a sustainable business model, so buyers beware.
8. Bonus: (Travel Membership Privilege):
Most host agencies is Combined with a travel club membership. Which allows the agents the benefits of getting insiders deal, discounts, personal memberships and more.
Ask your potential host what travel membership they have access to and what benefits and perks they give. These travel club are normally in the cost of your your fee. This was one thing I made sure my host has. Having all the insider prices, price match guarantee, ect has been great when I do my personal travelings & shopping.
Yes, I know it can get frustrating finding a reliable and respected host agency to partner with. But, breath, and hopeful these 7 benefits helps. I do want to tell you, when you do find a home with a good host agency, you're going to love it, trust me.
Hey, come on over and say hi Traveling With Love Agency and stay connected.
I'll see you somewhere in this beautiful world we call travel.