If you may be considering becoming an agent, or if you already are an agent you may also be considering the option of joining some form of agency structure.
An agency allows agents, especially new agents, the resources and the support that will help them to get their businesses off and running smoothly and successfully.
Perhaps the 3 most common agency structures that travel agents consider, are to join a Host Agency, to join a Franchise organization, or to join a Consortia.
Some more experienced agents may even look into the option of starting their own agency.
Depending upon the type of agency structure that you would choose, forms of support that potentially could be provided are the following; customer assistance when you may not be not be available, offering memberships to agents for accrediting bodies in the travel industry, special offers and discounts for your clients, and event potential incentives for you as an agent.
According to the Travel Quest Network, 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.
Additionally, Host Agencies may also provide their agents with resources such as education & training programs,mentoring programs, technology, marketing options to name a few.
In the article What Are Travel Consortia & Travel Co-Ops?, a consortium, similarly to Host Agencies, helps agents and agencies with marketing, training, technologies and supplier negotiations among other supports that would be otherwise difficult for individual advisors, agencies and even host agencies to develop on their own.
Typically to become a part of an agency or agents will need to meet certain sale volume requirements, so having some experience under your belt as an agent would be encouraged when considering this option.
Additionally, as TripSavvy lists in their article What Is a Consortium in the Travel Industry?, consortium negotiate with hotels, resorts, cruise lines, and other suppliers on behalf of their agent members. They can also deliver huge volume, thanks to a large number of members. That provides an incentive for suppliers to offer preferred benefits that are exclusive to consortia clients.
A Franchise organization, as Travel Professional News nicely puts it, is a “Business in a Box”. Or in other words, much of the organizational process is turn-key and the branding is generally recognized nationally.
When an agent wishes to “join” a franchise they will be becoming part of that recognized brand and operate their business under that branding.
Again in reference to Travel Professional News, Franchisors can also be a great opportunity for those new to the industry looking for a turn-key opportunity where all the work is already done for them and all they have to do is start marketing to generate an income.
How to Choose?
This article listed and gave a brief overview of the most common agency structures to consider
Although these different structures may be similar in a variety of ways, they also vary in the support and resources that they offer.
That being said, it is important to take the time to do your research and look into what agency structure with your work style and business best.
Ask yourself the questions of, What you will need? What is important to you? Where in your career are you? – at the beginning? Are you an experienced agent? Are you a veteren in the business? What could you do without? How will each structure affect or influence how you run your business?
If you have any connections that are agents or have been agents, ask if they were part of an agency, what their experience was like, what they would list as their pros and cons of being a part of one.
You will always be your best advocate, so do your due diligence, do your homework and see if joining an agency and what type would be the best fit for you!