“A high tide floats all boats.” I love that: when conditions are great, everyone reaps the benefits. It’s when times are tough (like right now) that in any industry, ours included, the players with deep roots and deep pockets will survive.
If you love your current host agency, that’s wonderful. Stay where you are. But if you think there may be room for improvement in your relationship with your host agency – or if your specialty or style of doing business doesn’t mesh perfectly with theirs – perhaps it’s time to look around and see what’s out there.
Here are some points to consider in your shopping list:
1. How long have they been in business and how big a part of the industry are they?
2. Does your host agency insist that your client is actually their client? If you don’t agree with that, you might want to shop around. Look for a host that believes that the advisor, not the host, owns the client.
3. Does your host provide leads? Can they provide concrete examples of leads which have resulted in five-digit bookings?
4. What sort of back office support do you need? Do you have access to all GDS, SIREV and online tour operator, cruise and hotel booking tools? (Here at Vision we have our own version of Passport Online which advisors tell us they love.)
5. How respected are they in the industry? You may wish to work with a host which is a preferred partner and on the advisory board of the suppliers you deal with. Is your current Host a member of elite circles and top producers’ clubs? How many industry awards has your host won?
6. Can they provide you a desk if you prefer to work in an agency? When the time comes that we can work outside home, some of us may definitely welcome the opportunity to get out of the house and work with colleagues.
7. Can you “cross pollinate” your business? Do you have access to corporate accounts or incentive business? If so, does your host have experience in helping you manage that?
8. Are you earning a fair percentage of your commission? What is your earning potential? A good host will have a revenue program that allows you to keep at least the majority of your commission – from dollar one.
One of the things I miss most with COVID-19 is that we can’t shop the way we used to. But this shopping expedition is one you can do during these trying times – and one which may be the best investment of your time you can make.
Lynda Sinclair, CTM, is the Senior Vice-President – Leisure at Vision Travel, which has an ever-expanding and vibrant program for independent agents. With 35 years in the Canadian retail travel industry, Lynda “lives and breathes what goes on at the front line” and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org