By Emily Peters
Contributing Writer

As the concept of starting an independent travel business caught on in the last couple of decades, host agencies began to mushroom across the United States. Among them were a few like MTravel who had years of reputable hosting experience. Others—sometimes referred to as card mills—made hosting seem like a scam.

Luckily, the ill-gotten tactics used by many of those host agencies actually wound up putting them out of business. Yet, when it comes to partnering with a host agency, you can’t be too careful.

Before selecting who you align with, consider the following red flags that your host agency isn’t as reputable as you think.

  • Everything’s an “Opportunity”
    This tantalizing word is often cleverly inserted into conversations disreputable host agencies hold with potential travel professionals. It may be used to define a lot of things: the costs behind their programs, the number of leads they’ll give you (not to mention the ones you’ll absolutely close, right?), the number of other hosted agents they want you to bring in and more.

    Keep your ears open for how frequently your host uses the term “opportunity” to get around giving you a direct answer to a direct question. A reputable host will have real data to support how you can be successful.
  • The Timing is Off
    Any host agency that promises you riches within a short time frame is an immediate red flag. Building a travel business is no different than building anything else—the worker bees make the most honey, and that hive isn’t built overnight.

    A reputable host agency should provide you with some examples of how long it takes to build a stable business given the amount of hours/training you sink into the business. If the prospective host starts spouting off about a “recent agent who earned xxx amount of dollars with their first booking,” head for the door.
  • Everything is “Free”
    It’s not free to run a host agency. At MTravel, we use the annual fee we charge to employ a stellar business development and support staff, build proprietary technology, offer in-person/web-based educational programs and a heck of a lot more. We do our utmost to keep our pricing fair and our commission splits competitive so you can keep earning and we can keep your infrastructure rock solid. 

Host agencies that promise a comprehensive program without any fees is one of two things: hell-bent on bankruptcy or hiding their true costs. Unlike MTravel, many host agencies won’t even post their full fee schedule or contracts online because of their convoluted structures. The promise of “free” is a telltale red flag that you’ll being paying them sooner or later—and likely more than you think.

Stick With the Adage

If you’re shopping for a new host agency partner, the ideal fit should offer relevant, effective services and share your business ethics. But any host agency that promises the moon will always fail to deliver. You know the adage—if it sounds too good to be true…you should probably pick up the phone and call MTravel for a chat instead. Good selling!

Are you ready to start your independent travel business with MTravel? We are here to help! Contact us here or call us at 800-870-5799. Be sure to check out our website at and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.