If you have a passion for travel and have always wondered how to turn it into a career, then a host agency for travel agents could be the key to a career path you’ll love.
Getting started in the travel industry can quickly become overwhelming and feel as though you’re reading another language. That’s where a host agency can make your life as a travel agent easier, especially in the first few months. In this guide, we’re going over what a host agency is, what they can provide to new and aspiring travel agents, and how to decide on the right host agency as you start your travel business.
What is a travel host agency?
There are many things you need when getting started as a travel agent: access to suppliers, registration numbers, CRM software and invoicing systems, trip management software, and more. As a first-time travel agent, it can be difficult to know where to begin, and you might not even qualify for certain opportunities without proven sales.
A host agency is a company that helps to support home-based travel agents by providing the right resources and access to tools to start a travel business right away. When you sign up with a host agency, you have the benefit of working under your own name or agency, but have access to the resources curated by your host agency. Your host will provide you with CRM software, their supplier database, CLIA and IATAN numbers, and more travel industry essentials. A great host will even provide additional support with marketing, training, and education as well.
Instead of figuring everything out on your own, you can sign up with a host agency today and start selling travel by this time next week!
Host agencies can be a great source of travel industry information.
Starting a new career means learning a lot of new information. This can quickly become overwhelming when trying to book directly with suppliers or trying to get special perks for your customers. Certain host agencies will provide their agents with walkthrough videos and a variety of expert-led trainings to jumpstart new agents into growing their business and understanding how supplier relationships work. You can expect to broaden your knowledge on different travel suppliers, booking engines and stay up to date on new travel information and trends.
Host agencies give you instant access to relationships with suppliers.
Supplier relationships are an important part of being a travel agent. These relationships form after booking multiple times with the same hotels, airlines, tour operators, etc. Having a good connection with suppliers can save you for when issues arise and you need a favor, or simply trying to go above and beyond for a customer. However, it’s not easy to create these connections. Which is why many agents opt to start with a host agency, ensuring they will get access to hundreds of suppliers on day one.
Your host agency will determine your commission rate, and many are structured differently.
When you’re just getting started as a travel agent and you don’t have a proven sales record, getting the best commission rates with suppliers and vendors can be a challenge. When you work with a host agency, it’s like getting their track record attached to your name on day one.
Travel host agencies work in bulk with suppliers which can mean higher commission rates for you. Many suppliers even provide exclusive sales to host agencies to create incentives for their agents. Since host agencies are able to bring in higher sales, the commission rates will be higher for the agents.
How do commission splits work with a host agency?
Working with a host agency means you’ll split your commission with your host. A select few hosts (including Pickles Travel Network) allow you to choose your commission rate when you sign up. Many others will increase your commission based on sales. When choosing a host agency, this is a huge factor to keep in mind. Generally, you don’t want to accept anything less than 70% in your commission split. We allow agents to choose from 70%, 80%, and 90% commission splits when they register for a flat monthly or annual fee.
Host agencies allow you to create your own travel agency brand, but should support your marketing efforts as you get started.
Working with a host agency is a little bit different than working as an agent for a traditional travel agency. Under a traditional agency setup, you’d likely be using that agency’s brand name, logos, and marketing materials. When you work with a host agency, you have the ability to create your own brand and marketing plan that’s in line with the type of travel and audience you want to work with.
While host agencies won’t control how you market your business, a good host agency should provide tools and resources to help you along your marketing journey. Every travel host agency takes a different approach to this.
At Pickles Travel Network, we offer many different resources and tools to educate you on promoting your business. As a member you’ll have full access to live group coaching, leads through Agent Profiler, and live supplier and marketing training. We also curate our favorite tools for email marketing, social media scheduling, client communication, branding, and more, which you’ll be able to access any time. Many of these tools come with members-only promo codes or discounts to get you a step ahead.
We even have exclusive partners that provide marketing calendars, content, and guidance specifically to travel agents, such as industry leader Wanderlust Social.
Working with a host doesn’t mean you have to stay solo. You can add agents to your team, even under a host agency.
If you know you want to eventually grow your team of travel agents, a host agency can be a great place to start. Some host agencies allow you to add subagents to your team when you’re ready, and may even offer a discounted subscription rate for your agents. At Pickles Travel Network, we encourage agents to grow their teams when they’re ready, and make it easy for members to add agents to their accounts. Your agents can sign up directly with us and group themselves under your team with your approval, plus get a discounted rate for the network. That means everything we offer to you, you can offer to agents as a benefit to joining your team!
A host agency provides you with support and guidance as you begin to grow your travel agency.
It can become pretty overwhelming starting a new business in the travel industry. There are so many suppliers, coaches, programs, tools, and so much good and bad information out there. The main benefit of a host agency is that you’ll get everything in one place that’s already been sorted through and verified for quality. You’ll have a CRM software chosen, itinerary tool at your fingertips, and hundreds of other tools and suppliers on your first day in business, rather than spending years trying to figure it out.
With Pickles Travel Network you will never feel alone when it comes to questions and concerns that may arise. As your host agency, we provide you with a support team that allows for quick communication to keep you feeling confident and in control of your business.
Commonly asked questions about host agencies…
Do you need experience to become a travel agent?
Nope, we welcome new and experienced travel agents! The benefit of working with a host agency is that you can run your own business, but access the training and support your host agency provides. We have all the tools you need to be successful as a travel advisor new or experienced.
How soon can I start?
How about right now? Seriously, when you sign up for Pickles Travel Network, you get instant access to the Agent Portal. This includes our network of affiliates and exclusive agent deals, our video resource library, training tools, and more! Within 5 days of signing up, we’ll get you enrolled with our supplier network, Travefy, VacationCRM, and other tools you need to run your business – all included.
Would I be considered an employee of Pickles Travel Network?
No, you are an Independent contractor of Pickles Travel Network operating under your own name or business entity.
Do I have to stay with Pickles Travel Network forever?
You can cancel your membership with 30 days notice at any time. At that point, we would remove you from our accounts, but you’d be able to use your experience, client base, knowledge of tools, training, and recommendations on your own. Most of our agents do choose to stay with us long-term because of the generous commission rates and constant additions of new suppliers and training, but we want to support you no matter where your journey leads.
Have another question about our host agency? Click here for all frequently asked questions.
Host agencies: the bottom line.
Working with a host agency can give your travel business the kickstart it needs to get off the ground, and can even be a long-term strategy to run a profitable travel agency team. It’s essential to decide what’s important to you, research potential host agencies, and go with the host that suits your needs best.