Finding the right travel host agency that fits your business needs is of utmost importance to your success. You may be transitioning from one career to a travel career, and you need a little guidance on getting your agency off the ground. Or, you may have outgrown your current business model and find that affiliating with a host agency will be advantageous to you and your customers. Or, perhaps you just wish to take your business to another level, where a host agency would benefit these wishes.
When researching host agencies, do your research and call each host agency to ask their sales manager qualifying questions. My recommendation is to go to www.hostagencyreviews.com and/or www.findahosttravelagency.com, and choose a few to interview by reading reviews from agents who belong to them. Then call each host and ask these questions:
- How long have you been in business, and what is your sales volume? You want to look for size, strength and experience, which brings added negotiating power with supplier partners that will help you. For example, Nexion® is owned by Travel Leaders Group, and with gross travel sales of $400+ million, Nexion® has size, strength and more than 20 years of experience.
- What are your commission levels, commission split levels and which suppliers do you partner with? You’ll want to find a host that can provide you with maximum commission levels on the suppliers you will be selling. As a member of the Nexion® family, you will earn what a passionate travel professional should earn: up to 90 percent of top-tier commissions with more than 140+ air, cruise and land supplier partners.
- How and when will I get paid? There’s no point in a host stating they’ll pay you 90 or 100 percent of commissions if they never pass it along to you from the supplier or if you have to wait forever to receive payment. Get paid twice per month via direct deposit with Nexion®.
- How can I keep track of commissions, and what reporting resources are available? Does the host offer a 24/7, automated commission tracking system? What about offering standardized reports to track important metrics such as supplier payment status, service fees, commission income and revenue/expenses?
- What are your fees? Be sure to ask about any hidden or annual fees as well. You’ll want to find a host that doesn’t nickel and dime you for everything as well as a host where you’ll pay fees on only the things that pertain directly to your business. With Nexion®, there are no annual renewal fees, no per-invoice or transaction fees, no ARC bond or accreditation requirements, and no long-term GDS contracts.
- Are you affiliated with a consortia, and what marketing tools and resources do you offer? Will you have access to direct mail and e-mail marketing materials to gain new customers and keep your agency top-of-mind with existing clients? Does the host provide a free consumer website, as well as social media marketing solutions?
- How many agents do you have, and how large is your support staff? You don’t want a host that is so large, or so small, that they don’t have a good support system. You want to be part of the host family and not just a number; it’s important that you’ll receive personalized attention and a support team that will answer your questions.
- What types of educational and business development opportunities do you offer? This is an area where Nexion® is well known and won numerous industry awards. Is live classroom training important to you, or do you prefer virtual educational opportunities and a 24/7 learning management system? What types of coaching and mentorship programs does the host offer, as well as conferences and programs?
- What additional opportunities for networking do you offer? Because the majority of travel professionals today are home-based, having a network of like-minded agents in your region or who have similar business models or niches as you is paramount. Does the host rely on local supplier functions for networking, or do they provide events or conferences that bring members together to share best practices?
- Tell me about your technology; or better yet, show me the agent portal I would be using as a member and all the tools it provides to help me in my business. Will you have access to the GDS you book through, with 24/7 automated ticketing, fulfillment and quality control? What if you don’t use a GDS – how will you be able to book your clients’ travel? What does the host offer so you can manage your account?
By asking some critical questions up front, you’ll make an informed decision on choosing the right host agency for you … and soon you’ll be on your way to being a truly exceptional travel professional!
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