By Emily Peters
Using a host agency to start your own travel agency is one of the most sound business moves you can make. That said, actually finding (and choosing!) the perfect partner can be exhausting.
Here’s the good news: we can help! Montrose Travel has been in business for 60 years and hosted independent travel professionals for over 40. Those years have taught us a lot about what a travel agent needs to be successful, including the fact that a phone call is the best way to determine the right host for you. Here’s what to ask a host agency before you join:
How long have you been in business?
Longevity is a big deal. It means that the host agency has gone through its growing pains, established itself financially, and strengthened industry relationships. Learn as much as you can about the company’s background and where it’s headed.
What kind of support will I have as one of your agents?
Every host claims to be the king of support, so get specific examples. Determine how you’ll be able to reach out to someone when you need help (via phone, e-mail, social media, in person, etc.), support hours, and what (if any) back-up and emergency support they offer.
Can you give examples of what kind of training and professional development you offer?
Professional development is essential to becoming a profitable, skillful travel agent. Your ideal host agency should offer an excellent cross-section of online and in-person training opportunities that address the needs of new AND experienced travel professionals.
What’s your company culture like?
This is an underrated question that’s incredibly constructive. What does the host agency value besides profit? What are their business philosophies and ethics? Make sure they align with your own.
What kind of agents are you looking for?
Another underrated question, a successful hosting relationship is a two-way street where both partners trust the other. Learn what qualities the host looks for in an agent and what they consider to be a good/poor fit.
Who are your preferred suppliers? Can I see a list?
A host agency works with select preferred suppliers to strengthen relationships and get the highest commissions possible for you. See if your host agency has a diverse selection that will match the type of travel you sell.
Do you offer a website? Can I see an example?
All travel agents need an online presence today. Make sure the host provides a website for with booking capabilities and other features that can help attract and service your clients.
What marketing support do you offer?
Marketing is the lifeblood of your business. Whether you’re going after new clients or engaging existing ones, learn how the host helps extend your reach.
What are your commission splits and how can an agent move up?
The amount you’re paid is one of the biggest deciding factors when selecting a host agency. Ask how they tier their splits and how you can qualify for each one.
What is your pricing? Are there any hidden fees?
Be careful not to choose your host agency based on price alone. Determine what services and tools are included, then get a breakdown on fees: up-front, annual, ancillary, the whole enchilada. The host should provide this in writing or have it posted visibly online.
Is there a contract I can read before joining?
Remember that joining a host is a binding business partnership. You host agency should not only be able to send you a contract, but be able to clearly address any questions you have about it.
In this modern age, we know it can be tiring to pick up the phone and move through these questions with a host agency. But trust us: the knowledge you gain will be worth it when you can confidently select the best host agency partner for you.
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 www.MTravel.com and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.
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