finding the best host travel agency 2023: tips from seasoned agents
First, consider what you want from your host agency.
Think about what your goals, existing network, and work ethic look like. Once you clearly define your goals, you can begin shopping around.
Did you know Luxrally travel offers free online travel agent training?
Ready to get started? Here are things to look for when researching host agencies.
Make sure the travel agency is legitimate.
This may sound daunting, but it is straightforward to check up on. First, ensure they are accredited with IATAN, the International Association of Travel Agents Network. This accreditation and the subsequent IATA number is the identifier that vendors look for to pay commissions. With an IATA, you will get paid. Without an IATA, payment is unlikely. Once you begin conversations with a host agency, request their IATA number and run it through the official IATA lookup page.
Besides an IATA, agencies in the United States must also obtain seller of travel licenses in Florida, California, Washington, and Hawaii if they want to sell to residents of those states. If you live in Florida and join a host agency that does not have a seller of travel license in Florida, then you would find yourself frustrated as it would be illegal to sell to anyone in your state. Agencies should display these sellers of travel license numbers on their websites, typically in the footer.
Ask about training programs.
To maximize your earning potential, you will want to become familiar with the tools and resources available to travel agents. The longer it takes to book something, the less money you make per hour. Most host agencies do not offer full training on booking tools and benefits programs. Many host agencies are ancient in their approach, causing online resources to be a scarce luxury. You might think you can google the platform and teach it to yourself. Unfortunately, tools like GDS have custom commands and codes defined for each host agency. If your agency lacks concise resources, you must call or email the agency regularly. This lag time can cause you to lose a deal on last-minute bookings.
Understand the host agency's Niche.
Don't assume all host agencies service all markets. Some host agencies only sell domestic travel, and some only sell internationally. Let's say an agency focuses on Disney vacations; they likely don't have well-negotiated commission agreements with international luxury brands. Get a feel for what makes up the bulk of the host agency's business, and you will gain insight into how you will either align or clash. Not all host agencies have the same commission agreements. At LuxRally Travel, we constantly renegotiate our earnings with vendors, maximizing profit potential for our agents.
Identify the company culture.
Agency culture can make or break your travel agent career. Before we broke off into an independent host agency, we were just like you, agents at a host. We found that travel agent culture could be cold and antiquated. Agents were often suspicious or jealous of other agents and easily agitated when innovative ideas were suggested. Some agents were obsessed with FAM trips (free group trips with other agents) and not concerned about taking care of their clients or growing their businesses.
All in all, it was not a place we felt we could turn to for help. After becoming our own agency, we focused on creating a tight-knit community; we have group chats where agents ask each other for support, whether they need recommendations for a city they are unfamiliar with or need a refresher on how to use a tool. Whatever your cultural desires are, factor this into your assessment of each host agency.
Get started in your evaluation.
LuxRally Travel is a unique, young, innovative host agency founded by the world's largest top-producing travel agent. We know we are not for everyone. If you want a fast-paced, fun, hard-working group that has your back at each step of the way, we invite you to apply to our free travel agent training program.