HOW TO EVALUATE AND CHOOSE A HOST AGENCY
This web page was constructed for two purposes.
1. To help and give direction to travel agents seeking a Host Agency.
2. To help and give direction to Host Agencies as to what the travel agent may be seeking in a Host Agency.
There is a different business model for every Host Agency. We hope to provide you insight and direction to help you to find that Host Agency that fits your needs. We should emphasize that we are assuming you are desirous of becoming a serious travel agent, whether you are part-time or full-time and that you are motivated to give your clients the best travel experience you can offer.
Here are some of the ways or questions to ask in order to evaluate and eventually choose a Host Agency.
1. Do your homework diligently. Choose five Host Agencies that look appealing to you and check them out as well as thoroughly reviewing their websites.
2. The best of the Host Agencies are PATH members so you can be assured their Host Agency members have gone through a rigorous business and personal background check. They also subscribe to a strict code of ethics and are only admitted to PATH if they qualify under our membership requirements. Please visit the other areas of our website.
3. Once you have chosen your five potential Host Agencies you will need to ask the following questions.
A. If you are primarily selling corporate travel or planning on focusing on air you need to seek out a Host that also does ticket fulfillment most commonly referred to as ARC agencies using from one to the four global distribution systems (GDS). If you are selling occasional domestic air you can work with any PATH Host Agency.
B. Ask if the agency has been a Host Agency for at least three years as is all PATH members.
C. If the Host also does consumer sales, be sure the consumer sales division is a separate activity from the Host Agency division otherwise there could be a conflict of interest. All of PATH's Host Agency members who are involved in consumer sales separate the activities.
D. Ask about support hours and 24 hour emergency numbers. A National Host services all the time zones seven days a week and provides an emergency telephone number for you (not your clients) during after hours.
E. It is not especially important if the Host offers E & O insurance or a free consumer website. You really should have your own E & O policy and free websites are worth the price you pay for them. Get yourself a professional travel website that you control. PassportOnline.com and Onlineagency.com both have consumer websites and supplier content is provided. PATH members offer an array of consumer websites for you.
F. Avoid Hosts that use high pressure tactics or offer you free trips in trying to sell you an affiliation. This is strictly forbidden for PATH members.
G. Try to ask questions of the owner or as high up the ladder as you can. Do not be afraid to ask the tough questions that are important to you.
H. The cost of the affiliation with a Host should have no bearing on your decision. Free is not always the best and neither is paying too much the answer.
I. Ask if your Host is profitable and find out if commissions are paid on time and whether they are paid if you should choose to leave their program in the future. What are the commissions based upon; base only or base plus overrides?
J. Be sure your Host is properly licensed in its state of residence and also in
K. Ask for references from other agents in their program.
L. Ask what consortium and industry affiliations your Host belongs to and how it will benefit you.
M. Ask about the kind of support they provide their agents in the areas of technology, marketing and operational.
Do your homework; ask the right questions and go with your gut feeling.