We are on the other side of this thing now and business is about to boom.
We don’t only feel it, we can see it. Our Independent cousins in the U.S., part of Flight Centre’s global focus on the Independent business model, have been booking up a storm for months and it’s only a matter of time before the pent-up demand is unleashed here in Canada.
And one of the biggest trends we are starting to see from our agents is in the sub-contractor space: building a team so that they are ready for the business when it comes.
What happens when your entire client base all wants to book travel at once? They aren’t spacing out their travel enquiries over the course of a year, they want to get away now and who can blame them?
There are a number of successful agents in our business who are looking at creating teams as their solution. They’re finding agents who they work well with and establishing a team model.
In IFC we facilitate a sub-contractor model where the sub-agent has access to all of the IFC systems and technology, but is also under a contract directly with another agent, a main contractor, who collects all the commissions and pays all the fees.
How the remuneration works, then, is up to the main contractor completely.
It’s a process and program facilitated by many host agencies that we believe will only increase as travel resumes.
For the main contractor or business owner, it’s a win-win. Not only can they ensure that their clients are being looked after and potentially still retain a piece of the commission, but the clients their sub-contractors bring with them into the business increase the overall volume of the business as a whole, again, with commission splits to be shared amongst the team.
We are also seeing agents get very strategic about their teams, cultivating a team that has agents across a variety of niche markets and specialties. Having an agent that loves cruises, another that is great with weddings and groups and another who is an expert at airfare, not only rounds out the experience of the whole team, but can help ensure a prospective client is matched with an expert in what they are looking to book.
Add to all of this the peace of mind and work-life balance that running a team brings with it, and it’s no wonder we are seeing many of our top agents look at this route.
The question I often get from agents looking to grow their business by growing a team is: why would anyone want to be a sub-contractor?
From their perspective, as the business owner, it can be tricky to understand why someone might want to give up that control and, essentially, work for someone else.
There are a number of reasons and each one holds a fair amount of substance.
1. Generally, there are lesser host agency fees to be paid by being a sub-contractor and potentially higher commissions to be earned if the business owner is at a higher percentage.
2. Less overall responsibility for running the business side of the business.
3. Being a part of a team and enjoying the benefits that come along with that, including having backups for your clients when you are away and the pool of shared knowledge and peer to peer support when you are quoting and booking your clients.
4. It’s a perfect way to introduce yourself into the industry as a new agent and get the hands-on learning and one-to-one support you may need as you are starting out, with the potential to gain leads from more experienced agents.
5. It’s a perfect way to enjoy semi-retirement in your business. If you are thinking about winding down your business in the coming years, keep the clients you want to keep and ensure everyone else is taken care of by transitioning them to agents in a team you are still a part of.
Our role as a host agency moving forward in this space is to really listen to our agents and understand what they want.
If we have a solid understanding of who wants to lead a team and who wants to simply be a part of one, we can help facilitate bringing both agent groups together in an environment where everyone wins, including the customer, who gets the service they have come to an agent looking for in the first place.
With so many customers about to knock on our doors (some are banging them down already), the idea around this model really does give an agent a lot to think about.
Lee Zanello is the General Manager for Independent by Flight Centre, Flight Centre’s Host Agency offering. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org