It was February, 2022, and I was frustrated with my then Host Agency (HA).
I joined that particular HA as a brand-new, hot-off-the-showroom-floor, certified Independent Travel Agent (IA). I was old to the travel business, but a new IA with my LLC. I didn’t have much money, so the $19/mo. (now$21) fee was attractive, but even MORE attractive was the 80-20 commission split, unheard of at other HA’s. This was, by far, the best draw of all! I did want a user-friendly Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, and I especially wanted customers! I didn’t realize it then, but what I really needed was a reliable support system.
My experience in choosing my first HA was in learning that specifics matter. I was general in my wants, and got exactly that. Every review in HAR has a “Program Details” section, and one of those details is ‘Lead Program’, indicating if that HA provides Leads or not. I casually dismissed the fact that my HA choice did not offer Leads, because I intended on building my business by recruiting my family and friends. It also wouldn’t hurt to post on FB that I was now a IA, then maybe pass out a few business cards. I did not need Leads because every one I knew was now miraculously ready to travel, and would immediately become my customer!
There were three. Three people. What I didn’t count on is that no one had immediate plans to travel. An 80% commission on nothing, is nothing. Avoya Leads do not pay 80% commission because they are Avoya customers, but these are actual Leads, not names off some outdated mailing list. They are vetted and real, and allow a new Avoya IA to earn income they would not have earned on their own. An IA is able to generate some income as they are building their own customer base at 80-20!
I learned that ‘advanced’ CRM, but that does NOT necessarily mean user-friendly. That system was not intuitive. There were multiple pages to navigate for simple information, and entering info was quite time-consuming. On the other hand, Avoya’s CRM is quite intuitive. It is almost as if IA’s had a hand it it’s design. One of my favorite features is the tie-in with Outlook Office 365. Every e-mail between you and PAX is auto-saved in the record. There is also a ‘Conversation’ feature that allows you to chat with your PAX. Those chats are then a matter of record. Everything is documented.
When I chose Avoya, I had no idea what an ‘available’ support system looked like. I did learn that ‘reliable’ support does not mean expeditious, nor does it necessarily mean availability when you need it. Support is needed after 5pm, and on Saturday! There were those times, during 9-5, that I would receive an answer in a reasonable amount of time, but there were way too many times I would have to wait hours, or even a couple days to receive a reply for a problem in which I needed immediate help.
Enter Avoya. In this industry, you are only as good as your access to correct information. Every IA is 100% dependent on access to the right suppliers, but we also depend heavily on a strong support system. Avoya has a very extensive, and easy to access Knowledge Base, but when additional support is needed, no support staff comes close to those at Avoya. They are always available, and they always respond. I have submitted a slew of Support Requests, and by far, the vast majority are answered within 10 minutes. This level of support is a crucial underpinning of every IA. You can be confident that Avoya support will not leave you floundering, or left in the cold. I did not know this level of support existed.
If you are searching for your first HA, or are switching to a new one, please take time to review what Avoya has to offer. A user-friendly CRM and a solid support staff are crucial ingredients for an IA at any level, and when you add in Avoya’s access to all the top travel suppliers, you have the best recipe for the success!