With the travel industry growing like never before and projected to continue in this direction with no end in sight, new travel agents and home travel agent businesses are springing up like never before. This huge growth also gives way to huge opportunities for entrepreneurs all over the world who seek to make selling the vacation of a lifetime and grand experiences to clients their profession. But the travel industry is vast and complex, and although a singular travel agent can, in theory, begin a business right from their own home within a matter of days, it is the complexities of setting up all of the suppliers, finding safe ways to book tickets, establishing relationships with reputable partners who will give your business good deals, and a whole multitude of other factors which can make it prohibitively slow for your business to thrive, especially just starting out.
This is why many travel agents decide to become part of a larger network. There are many benefits to being a part of one larger host/consolidator agency. Whoever you end up joining or working with, you will then split the profits – that’s a part of the arrangement. So what are some of the pros or cons of joining a host agency?
Businesses are of course most lucrative when they are actually attracting new customers and working to reach clients. If as a travel agent you decided to do it alone and not work with a host travel/consolidator agency, you will be spending much of your legwork trying to establish what these agencies have already developed – and that is an operational business model which has huge amounts of established suppliers, name brand recognition, and experience. With the support of an established travel agency that has already worked to make itself known within the travel industry, both you and your clients can have greater confidence in the services you can offer.
Of course one of the cons is that you may have an idea for an innovative business model which needs to be built from the ground up and that involves making contact with your own suppliers. Perhaps you don’t want to share your profits, or perhaps you already have an inside track in the travel industry and feel that you do not need businesses like this to help assist you on your way. But these individuals are few and far between and for the majority of individuals, the ease of access that these companies provide far outweighs what you will be paying out during your monetary split.
One of the most time-consuming efforts for a private travel agent wishing to build their own empire from scratch would be making contact with all the different suppliers. Opening accounts with different airlines, cruises, hotel chains, and transportation companies can all take hours away from growing your business. There are some groups like IATA (the International Air Transport Association) which work together with travel agencies to get ticketing deals. Many seats on flights are IATA seats which means if you are not a member of the IATA, you will likely need to become one of their partner agencies or become IATA certified to be able to book those tickets.
Becoming an IATA approved travel agent or joining with a host/consolidator agency could potentially impinge on your ability to develop new business relations in a way that you believe will be more positively monetarily beneficial to you. There are ways around having to be a part of IATA and one of those is through consolidation tools like TTS Consolidator. TTS Consolidator allows for any travel agency or independent travel agent to do their own ticketing even if they are not an IATA certified partner. This allows you to be able to run your business in the way that you desire and build the kind of connections that you want without being beholden to a larger entity and having all the autonomy of an IATA certified agency.
Read also: How non-IATA travel agents operate
Running a travel business can be hard work and whether or not you use a host/consolidator agency, the fact is there will be pros and cons to any direction you take. There are certainly benefits to joining a host/consolidator agency as well as drawbacks. Solutions like TTS Consolidator can help you circumvent some limitations which groups in the industry try to impose on upstarts but there are also many pros to working with a host/consolidator agency in the travel business itself. If you do decide to go and work with a host/consolidator agency, what are a few important pieces of advice to know?
It is important to remember that you are a valuable commodity, so remember you are interviewing them to see if you want to join them and not the other way around. Researching widely and talking directly with multiple travel agencies can give you a feel for the kind of group that fits your business vision and also fits your temperament.
It’s not all about money
Although your commission is important, finding a travel agency which will ensure you get to keep the largest amount of money is certainly not the be-all-and-end-all. One of the most important things to check is the kind of help and support a host travel agency will give you as a part of that split. It is not enough just for them to let you keep more money from the work you have done if they also don’t give you much support or assistance. There is a fine balancing line between how much you get to keep and how much help a host agency/consolidator gives you.
There are many pros and cons to any decision in life and in your choice whether to become part of a consolidator business or host agency or go it alone and build your business from scratch there will certainly be ups and downs. What is important is that you have the freedom to be able to work your business in the way that you desire, with partners who will support you and allow your entrepreneurial spirit to flourish as the travel industry grows into the future.