You’ve determined that you need a host agency, but finding the right host agency for you and your business can be a challenge. There are so many wonderful options for a host agency and each one has a unique model and focus. We asked a few of our Independent Contractors (or ICs) to share their advice for choosing the right host agency below.
Look for a host agency with a company culture that is a good fit with your style of doing business. Do their core values align with yours? Understand what each host agency prioritizes and make sure it matches your focus.
“For me, the Brownell DISCOVER MORE process was a perfect mesh with the way I was already doing business. I knew immediately that Brownell and I had the same core values, which to me is the single most important key to happiness in a workplace (or in this case a host agency).” – Sandy Grodsky
Newer doesn’t always mean better when it comes to host agencies. Research not only how long your top host agencies have been in business but also how long they have been hosts and how many ICs they have. As an IC, you don’t want to be treated as an afterthought but want to be a part of an agency that focuses on ICs just as much as in-house advisors.
Any reputable host agency will have a tried and trusted business model tailored to ICs. If the host agency is the right fit, they can help you fit your business into their model as well as develop your business so you continue to grow in your success.
If you’ve been successful on your own or with minimal help from your existing host agency, you may not think extensive support is a priority. But if you really want to elevate your business to new heights, think again. A dedicated hosting team plus things like insurance, air, accounting, business development, marketing, and technology support can not only make your life easier but increase the ways you can cultivate and grow you business.
Collaboration & Community
As a home-based IC, it is easy to be in your own silo with little to no collaboration with others. But just like how IC support can help you be more successful, a community of ICs that collaborate is very beneficial. Ask a prospective host agency about how their ICs can work together, if there is technology in place to make it easy, and whether the advisors freely share information.
“My whole Brownell family has been truly amazing. We share knowledge about destinations, current status, resolution advice, and moral support as we are all deflated at times. Everyone has truly helped out everyone.” – Anne Bluntzer
There are many great host agencies that accept most everyone who applies and others who are very selective in who they choose. If this is your full-time career (and not a part-time hobby), you want to be surrounded by advisors who feel the same way and share the same dedication and professionalism.
Strong relationships with suppliers around the world can make a huge difference in your business. Research which host agencies are preferred partners with suppliers that you also work with regularly. Beyond preferred partner programs, talk with suppliers to see how different host agencies work with them.
When you associate your business with a host agency, their reputation will also be tied to you…for better or for worse. Those with a standout reputation can open doors, elicit faster responses, and build stronger relationships, simply because you can put “an affiliate of XYZ agency” in your signature line. Talk to suppliers and advisors to get a sense of different host agency’s reputations within the travel industry. And if you have found a host agency you love on paper but the reputation is wildly different, it might be a red flag.
It’s easy to get caught up in the commission split from the get go, but learn about the big picture of a host agency before making a snap decision. Some agencies may offer a lower commission split, but they are in higher commission levels with certain vendors so you end up making more. Others may offer extensive support that takes the strain off of you and gives you more time to sell and plan travel, but their commission model isn’t what you imagined. Understand what you get with a 100% commission model vs. others, talk to current ICs in each program, and even crunch some numbers to get the full idea of the commissions.
The travel industry is susceptible to all kinds of disruptions, like terrorism, natural disasters, and what we’re all suffering through right now – a global pandemic. Now more than ever, you want to know how potential host agencies handle crises both on a small and large scale. Talk to current ICs to see how the host helped during COVID-19. Did they communicate with the ICs, offer business support, help track outstanding commissions, and take other measures to ensure everyone will come out on the other side of this?
“I think the Covid crisis has put the spotlight on host agencies and some have risen to the occasion and some have not – if an advisor is unhappy with their host agency right now, then it probably will not improve any time soon.” – Sandy Grodsky
As you choose your perfect host agency, don’t be afraid to ask questions, take time to do your research, and make the decision that is right for you!