At FindaHostTravelAgency.com, our goal is always to provide you with the most current and up to date information needed to help you find the right host travel agency for your business needs. In the article entitled What a Host Travel Agency Is and What Exactly a Host Agency Can Offer Travel Agents, we shared information to help provide you with insight on basics of the role of the Host Agency and what you might expect to see offered and provided. In this article we will talk about the role of the Host Agency in the relationship.
If you have already spent a bit of time on this site, you will have seen the wide variance between the different Host Agency programs and what they offer their affiliated agents. While they all offer varying degrees of support, commission levels and benefits to the agents they work with, following are the most common services offered.
Most Host Agencies will have a unique identifier (number) that is used by their affiliated agents to make reservations with suppliers such as cruise lines, tour companies, all inclusive resorts, car rental firms, hotel chains and other providers of travel product for your customers. This unique number is often referred to as an ARC, IATAN, CLIA, or other a pseudo identification number. Let’s dig even deeper here to understand what each of these numbers stands for and might offer you when you are making a decision on what host to work with.
What is an ARC Number?
ARC stands for the Airlines Reporting Corporation and appoints agencies who qualify for the ARC appointment to issue airline tickets. ARC numbers are now recognized by almost every supplier of travel product as a means of identification for booking purposes. An ARC number is an 8-digit numeric code unique to each ARC affiliated agency. If you are planning on selling airline tickets, be sure to look for a host with ARC affiliation.
What is an IATAN Number?
IATAN stands for the International Airline Travel Agent Network. As our industry continues to change so do all of the various kinds of accreditation. IATAN recognizes a diverse sector which includes store front agencies and home based. It like ARC’s appointment has qualifications and fees associated with it. Like an ARC number it is an 8-digit numeric code unique to each IATAN affiliated agency.
What is a CLIA Number?
CLIA stands for the Cruise Lines International Association. The CLIA Travel Agency Membership provides the holder of the appointment at CLIA Industry ID Number which is used to book directly with CLIA Cruise Line Members and other Executive Partners that recognize the booking number. Most Host Agencies carry a CLIA appointment. If you are going to sell cruises, be sure to look for a host with CLIA affiliation.
What is a Pseudo Identification Number?
Any supplier of travel product can decide to create a relationship with any agency they chose. Many will issue a “pseudo ARC number” with which to book travel with that supplier. Typically a Pseudo Identification Number will also be a unique 8-digit numeric code.
The bottom line is that you will need a number that is recognized by the suppliers you wish to work with in order to make reservations and earn commission for your travel sales. Choosing a Host Agency that has the number(s) that will allow you make reservations with those suppliers you wish to focus on is a must.
As you are searching for your Host Agency partner it is important to study their technological tools and offerings for their agents. The vast majority of good Host Agencies will provide a wide variety of tech tools to enable you easy access to their programs and enable you to do your business faster and smarter. These tools can cover a wide variety of sales and marketing options as well as business bookkeeping, commission tracking and client relationship management (CRM) tools. Some hosts even have very savvy apps that can be extremely useful for you and your clients to engage and connect.
Review the various filters at www.FindaHostTravelAgency.com when looking for your host and check out their unique technology and offerings. Why not make your business more efficient without having to invest in all the technology on your own? A Host Agency’s technological platform can be invaluable to your success.
Most of the more formidable Host Agencies offer a variety of marketing options for their agents to tap into. When you are just starting out one of the biggest challenges is finding customers and that involves marketing you and your business. Host Agencies often have a myriad of free or low cost options for their agents to take advantage of to build their respective businesses. They may offer things such and newsletters, social media programs, direct mail pieces, email marketing and more.
One of the most valuable offerings that a Host Agency may offer you is a mentoring program. This is especially helpful if you are new to the travel industry. When you work from home, the isolation it fosters makes it hard to get answers sometimes. This is where a Host Agency that has a mentoring program in place can really be an amazing benefit. Remember that whatever Host Agency you choose, they want you to succeed as much as you want to succeed. Therefore, if they offer mentor programs and you need some guidance, be sure to take advantage of this feature.
One of the most valuable benefits you can receive working with an established Host Agency is their experience and expertise both in selling travel as well as hosting independent agents. If you are new to selling travel this can be so helpful. They have walked the walk and talked the talk and know the in’s and out’s of travel sales and can share that experience with their agents. Think carefully choosing your host partner and be sure you choose one that has a track record of success supporting independent agents.
The IRS indicates that training for an independent contractor cannot be supplied by the principle (Host Agency). Therefore most Host Agencies will offer substantial educational and training options through a separate entity that specializes in training and support for independent travel agents. If a Host Agency does provide training they should be charging a fee for it to protect you and them regarding the IRS rules and guidelines.
Host Agencies have found that providing vehicles for their independents to gain education and training has a major impact on the agents success. Therefore the programs offered by the hosts are substantial and may involve onsite training, webinars, host events and conferences as well as training at industry conferences and events. Be sure to search out those hosts that offer programs that will help you grow and prosper in your new business.
Without question this should not be your first priority. Travel benefits need to be earned based on sales and volume. It is fair to find out if the host is willing to pass along benefits as they become available to them. How do they decide to share these benefits and what is the process for requesting said travel perks if they are available? Here are few questions you could ask. Who has priority for various familiarization tours, inaugural cruises as they become available to the Host Agency? Are those offers made on a basis of seniority or productivity? It should be based on productivity.
These are just a few of the many things offered by a Host Agency to their independent agents. Take the time needed to fully understand your needs when choosing a Host Agency so that you will both succeed and prosper being affiliated with one another!