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Travel agents either work for another agency or they may own their own home-based business. In some cases, a home-based travel agent works under a host agency, which means that the agent is independent, but can turn to the host for some support. The host provides such help in the areas of marketing, training, payment processing, and technology, but the agent is still responsible for their own business.
If an agent wants to work with a host, picking the right one is vital to the success of the business, so we asked various agents what differentiates one host agency from another
R. D. Gavel, Affiliate of Travel Experts, Travel Repertoire, said that it all comes down to relationships.
“Travel advisors offer their clients a relationship, rather than transaction-based process,” said Gavel. “The success of that advisor and client interaction is dependent upon the relationships we have with suppliers, support staff, and peers. A great host agency delivers these in spectacular fashion, offering a privileged standing with the best suppliers; a trustworthy, responsive and supportive administrative team; and expert insights from other experienced advisors affiliated with that host.”
Alex Dalton, Affiliate of Travel Experts, said that what differentiates one host agency from another is service. “Honestly, the best Host Agency is one that supports its agents without getting in their way,” said Dalton. “You want to give your agents the tools they need to get the job done but also be receptive to critique on how it is implemented and feedback on whether it is working or not.”
Dalton also said that some host agencies have a take it or leave it attitude which is not conducive to a great relationship with an independent contractor. “We are their clients after all,” said Dalton.
Tammi R. Van Volkinburgh, an affiliate of Travel Experts in Lake Oswego, Oregon, said that for her is having an agency that has been purpose-built has a host agency. “This way independent contractors are not treated as an afterthought or competition to the inside agents' business,” said Van Volkinburgh.
Making a final decision on a host agency is just one of the decisions that an entrepreneur makes when launching a business. It happens in other industries too. There are franchisees, especially in fast food restaurants like McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King and Subway, who work under the auspices of a main company headquarters and who have a variety of support from the main company. They use these resources while they are building their own business. For any solo entrepreneur, it’s nice not to feel alone and to have the support you need when you need it.