Thinking of going home-based? How the host agencies stack up: a 4-part series

Thinking of going home-based? How the host agencies stack up: a 4-part series

Thinking of going home-based? How the host agencies stack up: a 4-part series

Host agencies have multiplied in Canada over the past couple of years and more agents are making the switch to their own home-based businesses. By some estimates, 25% of Canadian travel agents are now home-based.

These days, it seems, there are almost as many ways to sell travel from home as there are travel products to sell.

Any agent sizing up the host agencies has a lot of questions. How much commission do I keep? How much will I pay in fees? And who has the best training programs and marketing support?

Sphere looks at all these criteria and more with its new four-part Host Agency Series. The series kicks off this month with Part 1: Commissions, Contracts & Consortium Affiliations.

Next month we’ll look at Fees & Renewals. In May, we tackle Productivity Reports, Preferred Suppliers & Referral Programs. The series wraps up in June with Training, Marketing Support & Who Owns the Clients.

Taking part are Nexion Canada, Flight Centre Associates, The Travel Agent Next Door, The Destination Experts, Vision Travel and TravelOnly.

One of the newest players, The Destination Experts, has nearly 200 home-based agents in Canada. “We have a sales activity rate of 80% within our organization. Currently we offer our program in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, PEI, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba and we are moving into Ontario in June and B.C. later this year,” says President Deanna Byrne. The Destination Experts is based in Nova Scotia and has grown at a rate of 20% in sales and recruiting volume every year since opening in 2011, she adds.

TPI was unable to take part in Sphere’s Host Agency Series, citing a new program in the works. More details are coming soon. And watch for news about Travel Counsellors’ Canadian operations in an interview with Managing Director Steve Byrne in next month’s issue of Sphere.

Whether agents are considering a switch from bricks-and-mortar to their own home-based agency, or from one host agency to another, it’s important to do your homework, says NACTA’s President Ann van Leeuwen.

NACTA (The National Association of Career Travel Agents) represents independent travel agents through North America and has a number of host agencies as members. While it doesn’t provide all the services of host agencies, it keeps an eye on their practices and their benefits for NACTA agent members.

Take commissions, for example. “Money, of course, is a major concern and a good host agency will offer meaningful commissions and overrides,” says van Leeuwen. “This means the agency should be large enough and connected enough to demand larger commissions for its members on a range of travel products like domestic airline tickets and cruises. Agencies affiliated with consortia may offer more sophisticated services and overrides along with higher commissions coupled with better benefits for travelling clients.”

And contracts can be “enlightening”, she adds. “Agents should determine if a contract ties him or her down for the long term. And does the contract show the agency is committed to developing a professional independent agent network and offering ongoing support?”

So how do some of Canada’s biggest host agencies stack up?

Part 1: Commissions, Contracts & Consortium Affiliations

Part 2: Fees & Renewal Processes

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