When you first become a travel agent, whether you work from home or in an office, having a consortium that aligns with your business’ objectives is incredibly important and powerful. But I realize how confusing it all can be because one of your first steps is to find the right host agency or franchise. Now, I’m telling you to find the right consortium too?So what in the world is a consortium anyway? Wikipedia’s definition for the word consortium is “an association, typically of several business companies.” This is a good start. In the travel world, a consortium is a for-profit company that creates relationships between suppliers, vendors, travel agencies and uses its collective buying power to negotiate benefits for all parties involved.They say there are at most 6 degrees of separation from any 2 people. From the travel agency owner’s perspective, a good consortium will shrink the degrees of separation giving him or her access to a relationship he or she may never have garnered on his or her own. Even though a host agency will be developing the relationships with suppliers for their independently contracted travel agents, the consortium can close the gap even further.That’s just one benefit of a consortium. Using its collective buying power, a consortium can negotiate benefits for the end user (travel client) like room upgrades upon arrival, shipboard credits, free breakfast, etc giving the member travel agent a unique selling proposition relative to other travel agents or the online booking engines. In addition, the consortium can negotiate preferable commission structures that can then get extended to all travel agency members.From the supplier’s perspective, the biggest benefit to being a part of a consortium is access to travel agents and their clients. The travel agent has a sea of choices to put in front of their clients. If he or she is a member of a consortium, he or she is likely to show the client supplier choices that are also members of the consortium first because of the benefits and more preferable commission.There are many consortia in the US and Canada and not everyone will be a good fit for your travel business. It’s important to research the different options to identify the one that make a good match for your business. For example, if your business objective is to work with high end, super luxury travel clients, then you will want to identify the consortia that have relationships with the most luxurious travel suppliers in the world. But, if your business objective is to focus on mainstream family travel, you will want to identify the consortia that have the largest offering of mainstream and family oriented vacation suppliers.Once you have identified the right consortium or consortia for your travel business, then find out what host agencies or franchises are members - which is a great way to filter out the best host agency for your travel business.