So many advisors join the industry and don’t give the “how” much thought. With a low barrier to entry, we see new advisors entering the industry by “signing up” and taking on the immediate title of “travel advisor.” If you’ve been in the industry for a while, chances are that you have either switched hosting agencies or considered it. We’re here to tell you that the “how” you do your business matters.
Your host agency can be a defining aspect of your business. While it ultimately relies on the travel advisor to create their own success, a host agency that provides adequate support and resources can be a game-changer for your business, and ultimately take your client experience from good to great. So how do you know if your host is the best for your business?
What Is A Host Agency
A host agency is an umbrella organization that an independent agency can align with for better commissions, supplier relations and marketing/tech tools. The various models that exist are:
- Owning your own brand and IATA number, also referred to as being “independent”
- Owning a franchise of a brand
- Operating as an independent contractor under a host agency, under the host agency’s brand
- Operating as an independent contractor under a host agency, under your own brand
- Being employed by a travel agency and obtaining a salary, with an incentive plan with commissions
To read more about the various models and to reach about what a host agency is, you can refer to Host Agency Reviews for more information.
What Aspects Of A Host’s Contract Should Be Considered
It’s easy to think that host agencies are just looking to make a lot of money, and sometimes we villainize them for it, but host agencies are businesses just like ours. They are looking to make a profit by exchanging a product that they have (connections, resources, an IATA, mentorship, and an established brand) in exchange for a portion of the agent’s earnings. This is the definition of business!
Important aspects of a hosting contract that you’ll want to review are:
- What branding would be used when marketing the business
- What happens when an advisor terminates the contract
- If an agent can bring on sub-agents & what that commission looks like
- Commission splits for general vs. self-generated leads
- The monthly cost to the advisor in regards to a monthly fee payment, a percentage of commissions generated, or a combination of the two
- Confidentiality clauses
- Non-compete agreements
- What resources are provided
Advisors have the ultimate say in the relationship. If it’s not mutually beneficial- first have a conversation. If the conversation isn’t fruitful, then create a list of what you need and start to pursue other options.
Other Things To Look For In A Hosting Agency
Sometimes the contract isn’t the end-all/ be-all when it comes to what is important to an advisor. The reality is that people join people, and many times the culture of the organization is incredibly important.
Some non-contractual aspects of a host agency to consider are:
- The sense of community within the organization
- Educational opportunities (FAMs, Trade Shows, Road Shows, etc.)
- The number of advisors under one host/ size of organization
- Supplier relationships and industry reputation
- Consortia affiliation
- Retention of advisors year over year
There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to host agencies. These aspects are very personal and the priority of each aspect will vary from advisor to advisor because everyone’s business is different.
We’re of the belief that a host is a great starting point for any advisor, but a host is not responsible for providing all the resources that a travel advisor will ever need. There comes a time where the advisor needs to become responsible for seeking additional education. A few ways that advisors can do this are:
- Seek out a community, like Niche
- Listen to podcasts, like Tique Talks
- Network and apply to trade shows to create their own supplier relationships
- Employ assistance to build their brand through best business practices and solutions, like our Core 4 services and Elevated Experience Workflow
How did you select your host? Share with us in the comments!