Do Your Relationships Save or Sink You?

August 11, 2013

It’s not just what you know, it’s who you know, and as an independent Travel Consultant, you are constantly told to build strong relationships to stay ahead. But how do you make sure your relationships are working for you and not holding you back?

The Agent-Host Relationship

Relationships change depending on how much you rely on one another. You rely on your suppliers, host agency, industry organization, and your customers to keep your business successful. But these relationships can’t be a one way street. Since you are reading this on, you may be looking into a new host, so let’s focus on that relationship. If your host agency expects you to hold up your end of the bargain but does not support you when you need it, they may be holding you back. And if you do nothing, you may be holding yourself back.

Your End of the Bargain

You should consider the points below to make sure you are an effective partner.

  1. Attend events or functions that your host agency sponsors and make a point to connect with them. Showing an interest in what they offer you will open the door to more opportunities.
  2. Connect on social media so you can keep the conversations rolling and share pictures even when you are across the globe.
  3. Attend their training opportunities and let them know what you like and what you would love to explore in the future.
  4. Know what is expected of you. You can’t expect your host agency to bend over backwards if you are not booking with them.
  5. With a little effort, you can turn a working acquaintance or faceless email address into a lifelong partner who is happy to help when you need a hand. This is especially important in the luxury niche. You have to work a little harder to impress these clients, and as they say many hands make light work!

The Host's End of the Bargain

But what should you expect from your relationship with your host? What if you do all you can to put forth the effort and have plenty of clients booked regularly, but you still don’t feel supported? Well maybe it is time to move on. Think about it this way - would you expect your client to remain loyal if you did not meet or exceed their expectations? If you are making a difference to their bottom line, shouldn’t they also make a difference in yours?

Think about these must-have expectations in regards to your host agency.

  1. Are you free to contact them when you need them? Sometimes to keep your clients happy or to get a certain price, you really can’t afford to wait.
  2. Do you feel intimidated to make special requests or ask for a favor for your clients?
  3. If you make a mistake, can you count on them for help and support?
  4. Do they understand your business and niche? They may be really nice people, but if they don’t understand what you need, it may all be for not.
  5. Do they have the connections you need? With a magical namedrop of your agency to a supplier you like to book with, does your affiliation get you special perks or privileges for your clients?

Tying it All Together

If you read the bullets above and are smiling right now, then you should be proud of your relationships. But if you are feeling a bit jaded, you may need to rethink your connections. This is precisely why Luxury Travel Network is so selective when choosing travel advisors for their host agency. You can’t be everything to everyone, so stay focused and build the relationships that make since.

Luxury Travel Network has established relationships in the industry and has been able to give advisors upgrades, get waitlists cleared, and offer client gifts, amenity points in groups, reduced fares when expires (waivers), Tour Conductors increase, and special requests for all sorts of situations. Our agents have been saved many times not only because of the relationships they have built, but because of the relationships that Luxury Travel Network has built with suppliers, media outlets, and industry organizations.

Photo Credit: Matt Gibson