I see a lot of posts in the TRO Community as well as other boards about host agencies. There are a staggering number of opinions about what a host agency should provide and charge, and where to find a host agency that will give you 90% of your commissions without charging fees. What’s amazing to me is that while agents everywhere have implemented fees (and some only this year due to the down economy) due to the value that they bring to the table for their clients, so many are completely aghast at the thought of a commission split or fees shared with their host. As I looked at our growth this year, I began to think about where a host agency fits into the picture. This year, we grew our dealership program and it has been a success; but more on that in my final piece next month.
Our agency acts as a host. We provide many services that you don’t typically get. Need to know what the legal requirements are for getting married in Mexico? Ask me. Need to know which cruise lines offer the best wedding package? You can send an email, and have an answer in less than 12 hours. Maybe things are slow and you need leads? We’ll send you some. Whatever it takes to help make the sale, we’ll provide it. We try to bring as much value to our agents as possible.
What I’ve learned is that just as many clients don’t see the value in our services or find them worth the fees, some agents don’t see the value in the services of their host either. For a host, each new agent brings more work, and more expenses. Some host agencies provide GDS access, CRM, or E&O Insurance. Some host agencies provide consortia membership or great FAM trips. And since every agent should strive to be completely invaluable to their clients, there are some amazing host agencies out there that could make a significant difference in your business.
If you’re thinking of looking for a host, here are a couple of things to consider:
What kind of support do you need?
How much time do you expect the host to be able to offer you?
What kind of marketing or advertising do you want to get from your host?
Do you see your host as a partner in your business, or do you just need a GDS and IATAN number?
Expansion never comes without some challenges. While it’s been exciting and rewarding the vast majority of the time, there have certainly been days when I had to stop and wonder what the heck I was thinking. Travelers are savvier than ever, and selling them on the value of our services has never been more difficult. As agents become more experienced and secure, they become less dependent upon their host. Finding a way to continue to add value to their business becomes more challenging as well.
Laura Frazier is the President of Bliss Honeymoons based in Columbus, OH. For more information, you can contact Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org
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