What is a Host Travel Agency?
Are you interested in becoming a travel agent? Partnering with a host travel agency is one popular option, but there isn’t a ton of information out there about the role host agencies play. They aren’t travel agencies, and they aren’t travel suppliers. To say that host agencies are middlemen between the two isn’t false, but it is an oversimplification.
Before you become a travel agent, it’s important to understand the main functions of a host agency, and how they can impact your business. So… what exactly does a host agency do for its agents?
One of the most important things a host agency provides is a solid foundation of travel knowledge and practical training. This includes everything from booking engines and which suppliers to use for which destinations, to general business knowledge and how to . Many host agencies offer a mix of online courses and in-person educational opportunities to keep agents up-to-date on all the latest travel trends, supplier products, and business practices.
Allows for Low Start-Up Costs
In order for airlines, tour operators and other travel suppliers to consider your travel agency legitimate, it must meet several standards. It can take years, and thousands of dollars in business to obtain CLIA and IATA credentials, the most widely accepted marks of an authorized seller of travel. Agents that partner with host agencies have access to their established credentials, as well as their Errors & Omissions insurance policy, which allows them to book travel with confidence, right off the bat.
Provides Access to Suppliers & Networking Opportunities
Host agencies already have established relationships with the BDMs (Business Development Managers) of their Preferred Suppliers. These connections are invaluable for agents when dealing with , or even to help them work out an issue when a client is traveling. At KHM Travel, agents even get a chance to network with supplier representatives in person at our live events, Seminars at Sea, and FAM trips!
Acts as a Bookkeeper
A host agency keeps track of your commissions for you, and should allow you to track the money you’ve earned and run reports. The system that KHM Travel Group agents receive to do this is called myTravelCRM. At the end of the year, your host agency will send you a 1099 with all your earnings. More advanced host agencies will offer tips for keeping track of your finances and taxes as an independent contractor, saving your new business a lot of hassle.
Supplies Marketing & Technology Tools
The biggest struggle many new agents face is figuring out how to promote their business. Host agencies know this, and use their resources to educate agents on the best ways to attract clients. With KHM Travel, agents get their own website they can personalize to launch their web presence, plus access to an entire library of marketing templates, tools and graphics.
Offers Higher Commission Rates
Host travel agencies have the buying power of an entire collection of agents. This allows them to have more weight with suppliers, which translates into higher commission rates for travel agents. Plus, suppliers work with host agencies to provide exclusive sales incentives and prizes just for travel agents — sometimes, just for the agents under a specific host agency!
Provides Personal Support
With the right host agency, a travel agent will never feel like they are alone in trying to grow their business. Being able to reach a real person on the phone, or via email, or even through Facebook, is an invaluable benefit of working with a host agency. A host agency’s support team should be available to answer your questions, whether you’ve been an agent for just a few hours, or for many years!
Advocates for Travel Professionals
A reputable, well-connected host travel agency will have representatives actively participating in organizations like the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), and the Professional Association of Travel Hosts (PATH). Involvement in these groups means that the concerns and interests of independent travel agents are being heard on a larger scale. Through events like the ASTA Global Convention and the PATH Symposium, host agencies are able to be a part of the discussion about where the industry is headed and what policies will benefit travel agents.
Contact our Memberships Team at 1-888-611-1220 to learn more about becoming an independent travel agency with us! You can also visit our Programs page to get details on joining KHM Travel Group, including payment options.