Many home-based agents have found how difficult it is to run a business all by themselves. You have to wear so many hats, and quickly find out that most of those hats do not fit. Home-based agents frequently don’t make the time and effort to determine their strengths and weaknesses at the outset of starting their business, and thus set themselves up for failure or disappointment.
Many agents have found that one of the keys to their success is not only finding a good host agency, but mutually benefiting from understanding the skills and strengths of each party in this type of partnership agreement.
The travel industry has named these parent agencies as “Hosts” and just like any good host, they should be welcoming and make you feel comfortable in their environment.
Find your “Kemo Sabe”
Tonto referred to the Lone Ranger as “Kemo Sabe,” which means faithful friend. A good host agency should be not your ally, but your support team. Tonto felt a sense of gratitude to the Lone Ranger after he saved his life, and from that moment on became his protector, always looking after his back.
As long as you are contributing to the bottom line of the host’s business, they too should be reciprocating with various support programs, such as covering you while you are traveling or otherwise unavailable to your clients.
Finding the right host agency should be like finding a good business partner. And just as in any successful partnership, each should understand the other’s strengths and weaknesses. For example, if you are weak in marketing but strong in closing sales, you should look for a host agency that has a program to provide qualified leads. Or perhaps you love marketing, but hate being bogged down with the detail work.
There may be an opportunity within the agency to find a fellow independent agent or employee who loves working on all of the detail work, calling and researching itineraries, but shudders at the thought of making sales calls. I have seen many successful partnerships created based on each other’s strengths and weaknesses. To be successful in this type of an agreement, everything needs to be clear up front on what responsibility belongs to who, and how the commission will be ultimately split.
Don’t rush into any host agency or partnership relationship too soon. Too many of these types of agreements are put together in the enthusiasm of the moment, without a thought to a plan, goal setting or a compatibility evaluation. Each of the parties should review the positive and negative of such an agreement. Everyone’s commitments and responsibilities should be clearly understood at the beginning.
Often agents may end up finding that they have partnered with someone who has a different set of goals, or a very different manner of conducting business. Make sure you consider the parent agency’s business standards, the owner or manager’s personality, the composition of the internal staff and each party’s long term business goals prior to consuming the relationship.
Who Was That Masked Man?
A good relationship with a host agency should be a 2-way street. Keep in touch with the host even if you are having some slow times or distractions from your normal business pattern. It is very frustrating for a host agency who has taken the time to provide resources and indoctrinate an agent into the agency’s program, then all of a sudden not hear anything. Remember, when you sign a contract with a host agency, you have made a commitment that you will bring them sales and your marketing efforts.
If you run into stumbling blocks or need ideas, the parent agency should be there to assist you. Don’t be afraid to ask for ideas or support. There is nothing worse for a host to find out an agent with great potential has given up in frustration when it’s possible someone in the agency would have been willing to offer advice and their expertise.
Give your host agency an opportunity to help you.
Whatever you do, don’t just disappear. You may have had a change of heart and realized that this is more work than you thought, or the business is not really what you expected. You may have discovered that the agency’s business model does not meet yours. Possibly, you’ve decided that you want to work with the agency down the street. The host agency will appreciate your honesty more than just disappearing “in a cloud of dust.”
The Ranger Dons a Mask and Vows Revenge!
Any type of agreement should have every detail spelled out and signed by all parties. I have seen too many handshake agreements that have gone bad. It started off with all good intentions but too many business relationships, including those with friends and family members, have made the mistake of not putting everything in writing and ended up with strained relationships.
Don’t stay in a bad relationship. There are plenty of resources and associations to help you find your “Tonto.” Get references from other home-based agents on the review site www.hostagencyreviews.com, or go to associations such as PATH (www.path.travel),who has set the industry standards for qualified host agencies.
Be the Lone Ranger, but find your Tonto! ‘Hi-yo Silver!’
Anita Pagliasso is the author of “How I Made A Small Fortune as a Home-Based Travel Agent” “From Home-Based to POWERHOUSE” and “Anita’s Toolbox for Home-Based Agents CD”(www.redticketproductions.com), President, Host Agency Ticket To Travel (www.travelagentathome.com), Travel Agent Forum Conference Director, and PATH President & Executive Board Member. Finally Anita is also a professional educator with The Travel Institute, www.thetravelinstitute.com.