Host Agency? What's That?
In most states, the term “travel agent” has an association with a storefront desk job in a strip mall. And quite frankly, that had been the case in reality for many decades until the technological revolution, the period during which mass innovation in technology and the introduction of social media platforms came about. Alongside the tech universe, the travel industry has evolved as well and adapted itself to not only fit the modern tech times but also take advantage of them by increasing its efficiency and market reach. This is how a host travel agency came to be.
What exactly is a host agency?
A host travel agency is a travel organization that employs remote travel agents. Think of it as a parent (the host agency) with many grown-up kids (the independent travel agents). The kids have moved out and mainly live on their own, choosing where and when they go to work, when they go to social gatherings, etc.. The decisions of the kids are independent of the decisions of the parent. However, the grown-up kids still reach out to their parents, whether it is for a referral, a personal connection to a company, or simply guidance on how to cook their grandma's casserole. And, at the end of the day, almost everyone knows whose child the grown-up kid is.
This dynamic is quite representative of that between a host agency and its independent agents. Independent agents choose when they want to sell travel services and to whom; they work remotely and their actions are completely independent of the host travel agency. However, the host agency gives them the necessary foundation and guidance in making such sales (e.g. contracts with established tour vendors, various pieces of training, advice on specific cases, etc.). And, the independent travel agent always operates under the brand of the host agency in order to exhibit themselves as a credible member of the industry.
How does an independent agent pick the right host agency?
There are several factors to take into account when finding the best-fit host agency. The first one is the travel agent’s experience; some travel agencies cater to the needs of agents of all levels while some only work with beginner or experienced travel professionals. Another factor to consider is the commissions structure and sign-up fees required by the agency; for example, some agencies have quite high start-up fees or monthly fees, and although this may be of no worry to an experience agent, it might not be the best option for a beginner agent who cannot ensure that they can compensate for that fee and monthly expenses with future sales.
Location is also an important component. Some agents may not care to better get to know their host agency, so they may be indifferent to this factor. Others, however, may want to be in closer proximity to their host agency, and therefore, choosing an host travel agency in their or a nearby city would be the best option. Finally, some agents may want to consider the host agency’s company culture and whether it fits their work philosophy. They can give the host agency a quick call or even visit them in person to get a better understanding of the people and company with which they may later be interacting.