May 24, 2018 Blog

When people begin exploring the travel industry they are often confused by the concept of a host agency. But once they figure out they need one, they begin looking to find the “best” one. There are so many differences it can be hard to compare, but they usually pick one based on what they feel is most important to them.

But sometimes after they have been with an agency for a while, they figure out what they thought they needed isn’t what they really needed; and perhaps there are things they never thought of that they really want. And sometimes that is when they talk to me because they found us on one of the sites that shares information about host agencies. This is what I often hear:

“I’m not getting the support I need.”

“There’s no support from my host [or franchise]”

“I need a host that supports me.”

When I ask them to tell me more about what type of “support” they are looking for, they start to talk about how they are on their own, how they aren’t being taught about how to market or get clients, and generally they just feel like they aren’t getting any training or guidance other than learning about products.

In most agencies the majority of training is focused on vendor or product education. Why? Because there are vendor or destination representatives who are subject-matter experts that will do the training. Many agencies don’t have staff that are skilled trainers who can develop curriculum and teach it.

But people quickly figure out while it is fun to learn about the products and destinations, that’s not the only thing they need to learn. They want to know how to make more money. They want to know how to attract clients. They want to know how to effectively use social media. When they signed up they saw “training” would be provided by the host and made their own determination about what that meant. They thought they were going to be taught all they needed to know to build a business. And in many cases they were wrong.

Or perhaps the agency has a handbook or a few recording training sessions to get you going. But there wasn’t anyone to help you if you have questions. You want someone to guide you and talk to you and HELP you. To be technical, that is “coaching” and it is an important partner to training, but not the same thing. If you combine great training and great coaching together you have a powerful duo that incrementally improve learning and success.

Some of you are probably nodding your heads and saying, “Yes that’s what I need!” You want someone who understands that you are new to this industry that you love and want to be successful in. You want to know the tricks of the trade, absorb as much as you can, and share that excitement with other people who feel the same way. You really want a guide to teach you.

I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but your expectations are unreasonable.

A host agency is designed to support experienced travel agents. They were created in response to lots of highly skilled travel agents who wanted to do things their own way and didn’t want to be employees anymore because they could make more money on their own. Those agents already knew what they were doing and needed a partner (the host agency) to provide the infrastructure so they could do what they loved: book travel.

Simply put: host agencies aren’t designed to train you to become a travel agent.

There used to be travel schools that were independent companies that trained people to work as an employee in a travel agency. Those have pretty much all disappeared, but thankfully some host agencies have stepped in and added training programs in response to the large number of people who want to get into the travel industry.

But not all training programs are created equal. Anyone who has worked in travel for a while will tell you there is so much more to learn about the industry, but there is even more to learn about owning a travel business. And that’s what you will be doing: owning your own travel business. You aren’t going to be an employee. So you need a robust program that will tackle both parts of the equation: product training and business training. And ideally that will be combined with coaching for maximum success.

Next week I am going to take a deeper look at how to find a training program for those who are new to the industry and where to go to get help if you have been doing this for a year or two and are struggling to find success. And most importantly, how to compare them so you find the best fit for you!

But I also want to share a great way for you to access some amazing and FREE training! Our sister company, Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneurs (GIFTE), is a hosting the 3rd annual Travel Entrepreneurship Week. This is a week-long celebration of the travel entrepreneur where we provide outstanding content to celebrate the people in this industry. You can read more about the sessions (all of which are free!) and reserve your spot by visiting www.TravelEntrepreneurshipWeek.com. And all GIFTE content is completely independent and appropriate for agents affiliated with any agency.

By Sandy Saburn