What is a travel host agency?
Travel Host Agency is an umbrella term used to refer to an organization that offers a range of services to home-based travel agents and individual contractors or agents. Hosts simply act as middlemen to guide, support and ensure that business operations run smoothly for amateur home-based agents or start-ups.
The travel host agency does not employ travel agents or other retailers. The home-based travel agents or the independent contractors (ICs) remain owners while host agencies provide them with the important resources or information required to grow their businesses. By affiliating with the online host agency, home-based agents get access to a plethora of services such as back-end and tech support, payment processing options, networking support, marketing mentorship, training and more that help them run a successful business.
Guide to start a travel agency
Benefits of travel host agency
In our hyperconnected world which relies on the internet, the new business model facilitates home-based travel agents to join a travel host agency and get access to better travel deals without the complications of setting up a new business or huge initial investment.
Let us discuss the key benefits of joining a travel host agency –
1. Easy access to suppliers
Joining a travel host agency means easy access to thousands of suppliers of travel-based services which an independent contractor, travel club or travel agent would not be able to get on its own. Not only that, the host agency will ensure that you get negotiated prices and then offer the best deals to your clients.
2. Training and mentorship
Host agencies provide the necessary training and mentorship required to run a home-based travel agency business. These often include elaborate training on managing clients, understanding the nitwits of industry, marketing strategies to run your business successfully, customer support, technology and tools for initial set-up and troubleshooting and more.
3. Low-cost setup
A travel host agency allows start-ups and home-based travel agents to set up a legitimate travel business without spending a fortune on licensing credentials, booking engines, initial costs, and more.
4. Support to run a successful business from home
An ideal host agency will provide necessary credentials, local licenses, expertise, back-end and front-end support, CRM software package and technologies to cover the business needs of their affiliates.
5. Access to marketing and sales opportunities
Large host agencies often provide their affiliates with exclusive access to ample sales and marketing opportunities to promote their travel businesses. New entrants can take advantage of this to build a solid business.
6. Technology and back-end support
Travel entrepreneurs who run their business from home require web-based services and digital tools to do so. Host agencies ensure that agents have access to a complete CRM system that enables seamless travel bookings. The entire package often includes a ready to install booking engine, website, software for emails and social media, the engine for lead generation, marketing tools, accounting software and more.
7. High commission rates
Travel suppliers prefer host agencies to provide exclusive deals and incentives for their travel agents. Also, large host agencies have many travel agents under their umbrella and have higher buying power. This usually translates into higher commission rates for affiliates.
8. Bookkeeping support
By keeping track of the commissions, incentives, spendings, earnings, taxes, and other finances, a host agency acts as a bookkeeper, saving you from the hassle.
9. Networking opportunities
Reputable host agencies who are a part of consortia or membership organizations come offer a vast array of networking opportunities to their travel agents along with many useful industry insights. These host agencies provide pro-active support to their agents and lead them with policies and strategies that will benefit their businesses in the long run. It is a win-win situation for both parties.
10. Promotions and lead generation
Many host agencies provide online seminars on keeping their agents updated on capitalizing on various ongoing marketing and promotional practices for successful lead generation. Some host agencies also advertise their agents and educate them on various tools to handle consumer requests. This helps travel agents to increase their sales volumes, the share of their commissions and earn higher profits.
Things to research before starting a travel host agency
Before you zero in on a travel host agency, it is important to make a list of agencies that fit your business expectations. Finding the right host travel agency largely depends on your unique business goals and vision. Here are some crucial things to research before you choose the perfect option –
1. Opt for a travel host agency that offers a flexible business model
If your business goal is to create a distinct identity, then opt for a host agency that offers a flexible business model and let you build your business while extending a great partnership for success.
2. Look for options that fit your business budget
For every booking, the host agency pays a negotiated price to the ICs, so the revenue is generated through more booking and not just the initial or monthly fees. As you start to narrow down your choices, look for host agencies whose initial cost of joining fits within your budget. Research well into the monthly and yearly membership fees, cost of renewing membership, training programs and other financial aspects.
3. Choose the one with the most professional experience
Based on what you want from the host agency, compare hosts that have professional experience. Especially if you are new to the market, an experienced medium or large host agency will be the optimal choice.
4. Narrow down your choice based on the level of support required for your business
Gauge the host agency as per the level and requirement of support for your business. New entrants usually lean towards host agencies that offer more support whereas seasoned agents seek the highest commission rates.
5. Pay attention to the offerings
You can get details on the host agency’s offerings and services from their membership team. Then make a list of agencies that have solid partnerships with other suppliers such as airlines, hotels, and more. Look for relevant agencies that also provide lucrative commission rates and other related perks.
6. Look for a reputable agency
You can search through travel consortium lists or directories to look for agencies that are members of reputed consortia and associations such as the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) and Signature Travel Network. This ensures that the travel host agency adheres to guidelines and ethical code of conduct plus as an affiliate member of that host agency, you will automatically get access to various amenities provided by that particular consortium to the potential host.
7. Understand that commission is not everything
While comparing the hosts, consider all options including the range of services, level of support, expertise, etc. apart from the commission rates. Don’t be fooled when a host is offering high commission rates but lacking in other areas.
8. Look for agencies that provide a reasonable level of tech support
Whether you go with the host that offers the most benefits or expertise, it is recommended to also research into the tech support or tools provided by the host agency. Opting for a host with a user-friendly platform and back-end support will save you from a lot of potential client issues going forward.
Basic steps to start a travel host agency in the USA
While filtering and choosing between a list of travel host agencies in the USA, it is important to pick one that automatically complies with the regional laws and adheres to the guidelines and licensing requirements.
The first step to join a host is to fulfil the joining requirements that may include registering your business name, creating a business email, to name a few. Upon joining, you are most likely to receive an Employee Identification Number (EIN) and you will be ready to start selling and earning.
Some top travel host agencies
You can search for potential matches for travel host agencies on platforms like FindaHostTravelAgency.com and it has relevant filters to arrive at the best match as per your unique business needs along with a comprehensive list of recommended host agencies. The host agencies profile and reviews will also help us understand better about the various host agencies and their services.
Some of the recommended travel host agencies featured on their website include –
- Nexion Travel Group
- Outside Agents
- Cruise Planners
- ICT – Incentive Connection Travel
- Uniglobe Travel Center
- Dugans Travels
- Travel Planners International
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