What to Consider When Evaluating Host Agencies
Independent contractors often are travel counselors who choose to become affiliated with one or more host agencies. The host agency gives them a means of obtaining domestic airline tickets, override commissions, marketing support, operational support, clout, and credibility. And there are many benefits to partnering with a host travel agency.
Selecting the host agency partner that is a good fit for your business is a key decision. You may choose a local retail agency that has experience working with independent contractors, or you may select an independent contractor network that specializes in working with independents.
Although a neighborhood agency may be convenient, the location of the agency is less important than other features and benefits provided by the host agency. When evaluating a host agency or independent contractor network, consider the following issues:
- Specialization. Is the host agency compatible with your business and marketing plan? Does the agency specialize in the products and services that are your business focus? If it does, it will have preferred vendor programs, offering support and overrides that will benefit your business.
- Training. What training programs does this agency provide? Does it typically work with experienced agents who require little training? Or does it focus on new entrants to the travel industry and provide extensive training? What level of training do you need?
- Support. What level of support does the agency provide? Does it provide quality control of bookings and automated access to a GDS with technical support? If a problem arises with your customer, will the agency provide help through relationships it has built with suppliers’ representatives?
- Experience. How many years has the agency been in business? Does it have experience working with independents? How many independent contractors does the agency work with now? How successful are they?
- References. Ask for a list of references and contact them. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if it has unresolved complaints filed against the agency. Check industry references and independents already working with the agency.
- Professionalism. What memberships in travel industry associations does the agency hold? Does the agency carry errors and omissions insurance? How professional is the owner, manager, and agents who will be working with you?
- Compatibility. Can you work well with this group, including the agency owner, manager, inside agents, and other independents? Is your respect for them reciprocated?
- Benefits. What travel benefits will the agency extend to you? Will you be eligible for FAM trips?
- Finances. What are the total costs, and what do you get for your money? What is the commission split for your sales for you and the agency? How are overrides handled? Do you get the same commission split for overrides?
In addition to considering local host agencies, you can explore several resources available to help you find a host agency that fits your needs. These include:
For more learning and tips on selecting a home travel agency, sign up for tomorrow’s free webinar, “How to Find the Right Host Agency for You!” presented by Joanie Ogg, CTC.