We’ve all heard about the onion and how when you peel off a layer it reveals a new layer and how, as you peel, it gets stinky and makes you cry. Choosing between travel industry host agencies is similar to that onion. You really need to peel the layers and get to the stinky core―you may even shed a few tears―on your way to choosing your host partner. You won’t find anything here about how much commission you’ll get or whether a host agency gives away leads or has 100 reasons for you to join. Those are the more simple aspects of your host agency decision-making process. They can all be evaluated in a side-by-side chart, and whoever has the most “yeses” is readily apparent.
These factors are simply the first layer of the onion. To make a sound business decision about a host agency, you must peel further…
Training―The first layer that bears deeper peeling is the one devoted to training. Many host agencies offer training in a box. As long as what you need matches what they have already packaged, you will have training. An excellent host agency will offer classroom training or live virtual training, regional conferences, one-on-one teachable moments and continuing travel industry business opportunities to learn about the travel industry and how to grow your business. Cruises, Inc. provides all these training opportunities.
Rules and regulations―Being a home-based travel agent has so many rules. It can be very intimidating! Interpretation of rules is one of the weights an agent will be held accountable for by their clients. If you want to spend your days selling and earning, do you really want to worry about whether your host agency knows and is following the rules? How can you peel the “rules” layer? Look for evidence that the host agency is complying with Seller of Travel laws, not just in the state where they are located, but also in the state where you are located. Inquire about whether the host agency is in compliance with Federal Trade Commission laws regarding business opportunities. Ask how they stay current on rules in their state, your state and the industry. Look for the leadership’s names in trade publications and at conferences. Are they known and respected in the industry? Ask how a host will keep you informed of rule changes. Cruises, Inc. will provide you with documentation of all these things.
Networking―Peeling back another layer, will you make new friends? Isolation is tough on the home-based agent. Will the host agency you’re investigating allow you to communicate with other hosted agents? Will you be encouraged to share ideas with other agents, network at conferences and help each other with day-to-day questions? If a host agency is treating all agents in an ethical, fair and consistent manner, they will have no reason to discourage these interactions. Cruises, Inc. encourages networking through an online chat tool, regional and national conferences and weekly voluntary phone meetings.
Core values―Finally, peel to the core of the host agency onion. There you will find values. Values are defined as “a principle, standard or quality considered inherently worthwhile or desirable.” The root for value is valor, which means strength. Values are sources of strength, because they give people the power to take action. Some organizations mistakenly think of values as a series of “shoulds,” telling you what we can and cannot do. Rather, values are energizing, motivating and inspiring. What do the host agencies you’re looking at value? Do those things match the concepts you value?
When you work with a host agency like Cruises, Inc., where your work activities are aligned with what you consider important, your desire to achieve will emerge. When you care passionately about something, you can spur yourself on to great achievements. So, look below the thin outer skin of the host agency onion. Get down to the core and make sure you have a match beyond the surface. The bottom line is: you cannot cut a bad deal with a good host or a good deal with a bad host. Do your homework and make sure you know which is which―and know that you won’t find the answer in how much they pay.
Terri Maldonado is a Cruises Inc. Recruitment Specialist. Cruises Inc. offers you the flexibility to work when you want, where you want and how often you want, all from the comfort of your own home. And it doesn’t get much better than that!