You’ve determined you need a host travel agency but finding the right one for you and your business can be a challenge. We asked a few of our independent travel advisors to share their advice for choosing the right host agency below. Along with our travel professional guidance, their insight will help guide you in this process of finding a host agency that will provide the support you need to be a successful travel advisor.
Look for a host agency with a company culture that is a good fit for your style of doing business. Do their core values align with yours? Understand what each host agency prioritizes and make sure it matches your focus.
“For me, the Brownell DISCOVER MORE process was a perfect mesh with the way I was already doing business. I knew immediately that Brownell and I had the same core values, which to me is the single most important key to happiness in a workplace (or in this case a host agency).” – Sandy Grodsky
Any reputable host agency will have a tried and trusted business model tailored to ICs. For example, if you a looking for ways to grow your business, then opt for an agency whose primary goal is to support their advisors in growing and developing a successful travel business. Ask if they offer annual business reviews, marketing strategies, and business coaching.
If you’ve been successful on your own or with minimal help from your existing host agency, you may not think extensive support is necessary. However, if your profits have plateaued and you aren’t hitting higher revenue numbers or you want to elevate your business to new heights, then think again! A dedicated Hosting Team, Insurance Desk, Air Team, Accounting Department, Marketing Team, and IT support will improve efficiencies, elevate the way you cultivate and grow your business, and increase revenues.
“I love the hosting program because the support and education are amazing! The support team is so enthusiastic and passionate, it is a continuing inspiration. Makes me want to work harder and better!” – Catherine Whitworth
As an independent travel advisor, it is easy to be in your own silo with little to no collaboration with others. However, just like how advisors’ support can help drive success, a community of travel advisors that collaborate is imperative and proves to be extremely beneficial. Ask a prospective host agency if their advisors work together, and if so, how? Inquire about what systems are in place to ensure seamless collaboration, and whether or not their travel advisors freely share information.
“My whole Brownell family has been truly amazing. We share knowledge about destinations, current status, resolution advice, and moral support as we are all deflated at times. Everyone has truly helped out everyone.” – Anne Bluntzer
There are host agencies that accept almost everyone into their program and others who are very selective in whom they choose. If being a travel advisor is your full-time career, it’s essential to join a host agency that selects travel professionals who share the same dedication, professionalism, and drive as yourself. Being surrounded by like-minded people fosters success.
Strong relationships with suppliers around the world can make a significant impact to your bottom line. Research which host agencies are preferred partners with suppliers that you work with regularly. Beyond preferred partner programs, talk with suppliers to see how solid the relationships are between various host agencies.
“We love the company! The only negative we have with Brownell is that you spoil us. You spoil us with the quality of your advisors.” – Dylan Harris, Owner of African Inscribed
When you associate your business with a host agency, their reputation will also be tied to you…for better or for worse. Those with a standout reputation can open doors, elicit faster responses, and build stronger relationships, simply because you can put “an affiliate of XYZ agency” in your signature line. Talk to suppliers and advisors to get a sense of different host agencies’ reputations within the travel industry. Through the research process, you may find a host agency you really like, just be sure their status within the travel community is exceptional.
It’s easy to get caught up in the commission split from the start but it’s key to learn about the big picture of a host agency before making a snap decision. Some agencies may offer a lower commission split, but an advisor could be missing out on higher negotiated commission rates offered by supplier partners at agencies like Brownell. And don’t dismiss the incredible value of extensive support that takes the strain off you and gives you more time to sell and plan travel. Understand what you get with a 100% commission model vs. others, talk to current advisors in each program, and even crunch some numbers to get the full idea of the commissions.
The travel industry is susceptible to all kinds of disruptions, like terrorism, natural disasters, and a global pandemic. Now more than ever, you want to know how potential host agencies handle crises both on a small and large scale. Talk to current advisors to see how the host helped during COVID-19. Did they communicate with their advisors, offer business support, help track outstanding commissions, and take other measures to ensure everyone will come out on the other side of this?
As you decide on the perfect host agency, don’t be afraid to ask questions, be thorough in your research, and select a host agency that aligns with your core values and business objectives.