Host agencies are businesses that affiliate with home-based travel agents in an independent contractor agreement. Each home-based agent is still 100% the owner and operator of their business, and they are not employees of their host agency at all.
Host agencies give independent travel agents the resources to grow their business. Services provided by the host vary by provider but usually include a mix of marketing, training, back-end technology, and commission payment processing. In exchange, the independent agent pays the host agency by some combination of fees and/or commission split.
Strong Relationships with Suppliers
Host agencies give you access to relationships that would otherwise be difficult to get on your own. Joining a host agency with hundreds of preferred suppliers (hotels, tour operators, etc.) will help ensure your clients travel with the best deal.
Travel agents with a host agency also have exclusive access to promotions created solely for the agents of that specific host.
Support to Run a Home-Based Business
From creating marketing campaigns and learning the travel industry, to managing clients—anyone running a home-based business is required to wear many hats. Top host agencies will offer:
Marketing programs to customize to your business.
Access to training and classes to grow as a travel agent and entrepreneur.
Systems that help you manage client details and payments.
On-call support to reach out to when you need a hand.
As well as insider tips on how to run your business.
A Community of Independent Travel Agents
Most host agencies offer networking opportunities to meet and learn from fellow agents. From Facebook groups to in-person conferences, you will build connections with agents who are in your shoes or have been there not too long ago. Although you’re independent, you’re never truly alone when you join a host agency with like-minded travel agents who are passionate about growing their business.
Finding The Right Host Agency
How Much Will You Invest?
Host agencies make most of their revenue when agents sell more travel, not through fees. So you should find a host agency that’s going to invest in you, not nickel, and dime you every step of the way. However, start-up fees and small monthly fees are very common in the industry to help keep your business running. Some of the fees to look into are:
The initial cost to join.
Monthly fees, if you’re new, there are programs without monthly fees to help get your business rolling.
Cost of training programs.
Yearly fees for renewing membership.
Research Different Host Agencies
Your host agency will be your backbone, especially as you’re starting out in the industry, so it’s important to find the best one for you.
Do your research and figure out what you want to get from your host agency.
Search through directories and compare hosts that align with what you need to be successful.
Get in contact with the membership team and get a feel for how being in their host agency would be like.
Getting Started With A Host Agency
All host agencies have different requirements to join; however, most will want you to register a business name and obtain an EIN, or Employee Identification Number. Different states will also have different requirements for registering a travel agency, so be sure to check out the laws for where you live.
It’s also recommended to create a business email to help keep things all together. Branding your email domain will help your business gain credibility and brand recognition.
After that, you’re ready to start selling!
It’s always best to familiarize yourself with different vendors and destinations early on in your business. That way, when you get a client wanting to take an African Safari or a luxurious river cruise, you’ll know just the vacation for them. See what supplier and destination certifications your host agency has to offer and start with the ones that align with your business goals.