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Choosing a host travel agency

While not all independent agents have a host, it is beneficial for newcomers to the industry to have one. A good host will provide ease of entry into the industry and provide training and other benefits, such as back-room accounting, tools, networking and marketing.

Unfortunately, anyone can become a host agency because there is no federal legislation that governs them. That said, there are plenty of scammers out there and with so many options to choose from it can be overwhelming when trying the find the right one.

Not to worry, here are 3 tips to choosing the perfect host travel agency.

#1: Start with a vision

Take some time to reflect on what you want from a host agency, the kind of support you will need and how much it is going to cost. Would you need to pay to join and is there an annual fee, for example.

#2: Research possible hosts

Choose one with a solid reputation, have a high customer satisfaction track record and ones that are associated with the Professional Association of Travel Hosts (PATH). You can assume that any PATH member will operate with high ethical standards and are reputable.

Beware of multi-level marketing companies masquerading as a host agency. These are companies who will be encouraging you to sign up other people to become agents in some sort of pyramid scheme. While having sub-agents will likely happen while your business grows, your goal is not to become a recruiter for your host, but for you to be a travel agent. Avoid these companies like the plague!

Think on how the host agencies will assist you in building your business. What kind of support do they offer in terms of marketing and booking tools? Do they send you leads, or do they take your leads? Choose hosts that allow you to retain your own leads. Word of mouth can be a real asset in the travel business, you will want to be able to keep your referred clients as well.

In the interview, ask questions, such as you would a business partner, which they really are. Question such as: what are the average network sales per agent? Who are their preferred suppliers? What training do they offer? Do they offer consumer leads? What is the total cost to join?

Their responses to these questions go a long way in developing a good sense of whether this agency would be a good fit for you.

In your research be sure to find out information about the size of their agency, the characteristics of the agents they are looking for, the tools they use, an estimate of the cost to join, and most importantly, read the customer reviews.

Have these in mind before the interview. And while you are there, beware of those agencies that pitch the following: “travel like a travel agent”, “discount travel” rather than “commission based sales”. In addition, beware of those offering upfront fees with 100% commission guarantees and discount travel clubs. Discount travel clubs are not host agencies and the discount that they offer are not worth it.

When you see these guys, or any of these red flags, run!

#3: Go with your gut

Once you have done your research, flagged suspicious hosts and have gone through the interview process, you should have a good idea of one or more hosts that look like a good fit. Most hosts will be able to offer you the support and the technology you will need. What matters is how comfortable you feel. This is the beginning of a long close and personal relationship so choose one that you connect with most.

I hope that this blog was useful. Let us know in the comments section which tips were the most useful for you and let us know of any others you would like to add.

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About the Author

Taneallea Feddis,

Founder/Managing Director, BlackWall Consultants

She is an educator, website designer and content marketer.​ She helps entrepreneurs develop their business through coaching and developing their digital strategy. She is passionate about teaching new skills to others, and her goal is to encourage and assist Caribbean businesses with their digital transformation and sharing in their success stories. Click here to learn more about Taneallea Feddis.

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