Which host agency should I join?

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Forming a relationship with a “host agency” is an important business decision for any serious home-based travel agent. Mind you, it is not the only important business decision you will make but it certainly ranks right up there. It is a decision that should not be made lightly, no matter what the initial investment. (Some host agencies charge new outside agents a fee ranging from a few hundred to several thousand dollars; others charge no upfront fee at all.)

In my home study course I spend a great deal of time discussing this important option, detailing the different kinds of host agencies and carefully weighing the pros and cons of each. I also provide a detailed methodology for analyzing the host agencies you are considering. If done properly, this “due diligence” will take some time. It certainly isn’t something that can be done quickly. Even if a host agency charges you nothing to sign up and the downside financial risk seems negligible, you should carefully consider your move.

Joining a host agency can be a crucial business decision. But above all, it is an intensely personal decision. In “Host Agency Directory,” which is part of the home study course, I survey scores of host agencies and no two operate exactly alike. One reason for this is that no two people are exactly alike. As I like to say, “What’s right for me, may not be right for you. What’s right for you may not be right for the next person.”

So I make it a firm matter of policy not to recommend for or against any specific host agency. I don’t even presume to decide for you which type of host agency to join. Or even if you should join a host agency. (There are other alternatives, as I explain in the home study course, although the vast majority of home-based travel agents have a relationship with a host agency, at least early in their careers.) My position is that this is a decision that only you can make.

Still, I get a steady stream of e-mail messages from people who want me to make this all-important decision for them. Here’s a representative sample:

“I’m thinking of signing up with agency XYZ. Are they reputable?”

How the heck do I know? And what do you mean by “reputable”? Are you asking me if there’s a possibility you might get into a dispute with the agency at some point in the future? Probably. That’s just the nature of business. Are you asking if they’ll go belly up a few years down the road? I’m no fortune teller. A well-known host agency that was one of the top 50 travel agencies (by sales volume) a few years ago is out of business today. Who’d have guessed?

Remember, in the United States it’s no crime to go bankrupt; it happens all the time. If this is a concern, there are ways you can protect yourself – by doing due diligence and by taking out insurance. If you think hearing me say, “I haven’t heard any bad reports on them” is a sound basis on which to make a decision, you’re being naive.

In “How To Choose A Host Agency,” another module of the Home-Based Travel Agent Success Course, I provide an extensive methodology for investigating any host agency, including simple (and more complex) steps you can take to look into the background not just of the host agency but its principles.

Remember, you’re in business for yourself. It’s your responsibility to look after your own best interests. Do your homework and choose wisely.

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“It’s come down to a choice between Agency XYZ and Agency ABC. Which one do you recommend?”

First of all, just by the laws of chance, it’s most likely I have never worked with either agency and therefore have no personal knowledge of either. Even if I have worked with one of them, it’s extremely unlikely that I have worked with both. And even if I have worked with both, it’s extremely unlikely that you and I have exactly the same personality, needs, and wants. Just because I’ve had a wonderful (or horrible) experience with a host agency doesn’t mean you’ll have the same experience.

There is a good chance I am familiar with these agencies simply because I make it my business to keep informed about the home-based travel agent industry. But what I know about them is based on the same information you have (or could reasonably be expected to uncover for yourself).

It all gets back to “What’s right for me, may not be right for you. What’s right for you may not be right for the next person.” I have no idea of what your personal situation is – your level of experience, your native abilities, your goals, your preferences.

Interestingly enough, the people who ask me to choose a host agency for them never seem to think to provide me with any of this information.

So I  recommend that your first step should be to think through and write down exactly what you are looking for. What sort of travel do you want to sell? What sort of support do you feel you need? What would your ideal host agency look like? How much are you willing to spend, assuming that you can’t get what you’re looking for at an extremely modest cost?

This list of questions just scratches the surface. You will many more questions, plus inspiration that will spark questions of your own, in “How To Choose A Host Agency.”

“I’m about to write a check for $2,000 to Agency XYZ. Please tell me I’m not throwing away my money.”

I’m tempted to answer, “If you’re willing to make important business decisions based on a snap judgment from someone who knows nothing about you or your business goals, then absolutely, you’re throwing your money away.”

Instead, I patiently reiterate the points I’ve made in this article about the importance of investigating every business decision very carefully and making your own, informed, decision.

Of course, I’m flattered that people turn to me for advice. It means they trust my reputation for giving sound advice and accurate information.

So please listen to this tidbit of advice:

There is a limit to what I can do for you. I can explain the intricacies of the whole host agency issue. I can point out the crucial differences between local agencies and “instant” agencies. I can walk you through the main types of host agencies (there are several) and explain the many pros and cons of each. I can show you a more than representative cross-section of the many host agencies out there, which will demonstrate vividly my statement that no two are alike. I can provide you with an exhaustive methodology for analyzing the offer of any prospective host agency. And I do all of this in my home study course.

What I cannot do is make your decisions for you. Nor can I operate your business. I can provide the tools and the background knowledge. You must provide the will and the gumption.

I hope this doesn’t sound too negative. Through my books and my home study course, I have helped thousands of people launch successful home-based travel marketing businesses. Just as important, in my view, I have helped some people avoid making costly mistakes by getting involved in something that wasn’t right for them.

This web site is part of that effort. Study it carefully. If you decide that being a home-based travel agent is something you’d like to pursue, I’ll be happy to help.

If you decide it’s not for you, terrific! I’ll feel I have done my job and I wish you the best of success in all your future endeavors. Perhaps you’ll recommend this site to a friend who is looking for an exciting home business and do both of us a favor.

If you are ready to order our home study course and launch a successful home-based travel agent career, CLICK HERE.

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