Interviewing a Host Agency: A Guide for Aspiring Travel Advisors

June 14, 2024

Choosing the right host agency is a crucial decision for any travel professional. Reputable hosts provide the necessary tools, support, and networks to help your business thrive. In the beginning stages of your research, you may be overwhelmed by the sheer number of options! But it’s essential to take your time and speak to at least 2 - 3 different agencies. Here are some ways to conduct a thorough interview so your questions are answered, and you can feel confident with your new business partnership. 

Don’t waste your time, or anyone else’s. Define your goals!

Do not pick up the phone and start calling hosts without any preparation. Before starting the interview process, define what you need from a host agency. Consider your ideal client, business goals, preferred niches, and the kind of support you expect. Determine the key factors that are important to you, such as commission structure, educational programs, technology support, and marketing assistance. Have a clear vision of where you would like your business to be in 1-5 years and prioritize the following:

Commission and Fees

  1. What’s the commission split?
  2. Are there any monthly or annual fees?
  3. Are there additional costs for using certain tools or resources?

Support and Education

  1. What type of educational opportunities are offered?
  2. Is ongoing support and mentorship available?
  3. Do they provide access to industry events and conferences?

Technology and Tools

  1. What booking and CRM systems are used?
  2. Do they offer marketing tools and resources?
  3. Is technical support available for these tools?

Agency Reputation and Network

  1. How long has the host agency been in business?
  2. Can they provide references from current travel advisors?
  3. What supplier relationships and preferred partner programs do they have?

Legal and Contractual Matters

  1. What are the terms of the contract?
  2. How easy is it to leave the host agency if you decide to?
  3. Are they willing to share a copy of the agreement and answer questions?

"If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." — Isaac Newton

Evaluate the Responses and plan accordingly.

Dollars and cents

Establishing a crystal-clear financial plan is essential, even if you believe it will change. Host agencies technically all serve the same purpose, and there’s no best one, only the best fit for your business. Ensure that the commission structure aligns with your goals. Be clear on any hidden fees or additional costs. Understanding your potential income will help you determine a realistic cost of doing business.

Your Wants and Needs

Evaluate the quality and extent of education and support. A host agency that invests in your development can significantly impact your success. How often do they offer product or destination training? Do they provide business development of any kind? Do you have ways to collaborate with fellow advisors?

The Technology and Resources

Ensure the provided tools meet your needs. Efficient booking systems and robust CRM platforms are essential for managing your business effectively. Do they provide clear instructions on how to seek out support for those tools? Is their support process realistic for the needs of your business?

Check Reputation and Network

Research the agency’s reputation in the industry. A host agency with strong supplier relationships and a good track record can provide better opportunities for you. Does the host encourage you to build relationships with those suppliers? What sort of professional affiliations does the host have? Do they align themselves with other reputable organizations such as the American Society of Travel Advisors or the Professional Association of Travel Hosts? 

Review Legal and Contractual Terms

Understand the contract thoroughly. Be aware of any restrictive clauses that might impact your business freedom in the future. It may be helpful to have the contract reviewed by an attorney before signing. Do your best to find an attorney who is familiar with host agency contracts. 

Contact Current Advisors

Don’t be afraid to ask for references! Ask to be connected to advisors with similar goals as yours. Speak with those advisors to get firsthand insights into their experiences. What was their onboarding like? Do they feel the host has continued to provide the opportunities they promised? If they had to do it again, would they still choose XYZ Agency?

Verify Claims

Confirm the claims made by the host agency during your interview by checking online reviews and industry forums. Travel advisor Facebook groups are a great resource for this. 

Weigh Pros and Cons

Based on your interviews and research, list the pros and cons of each host agency. Consider which agency culture best aligns with your goals and offers the most value. And above all else, trust your instincts.  

"Surround yourself only with people who are going to take you higher." — Oprah Winfrey

Interviewing potential host partners is a vital step in building a successful travel business. You should never be pressured to commit, based on some arbitrary deadline. Take your time and weigh your options carefully. The right partnership will feel good and lay the groundwork for a rewarding career. Preparing well, asking the right questions, and thoroughly evaluating the responses will lead you to a host that will support your growth and help you succeed.

About Uniglobe Travel Center

Uniglobe Travel Center (UTC) offers a variety of programs to support your independent travel business, all of which provide top-tier commissions and assistance with the development of sales and marketing plans. Each comprehensive home-based travel agent program is geared to your level of experience in the industry and helps you grow to the next level.

With 200 years of combined travel experience, our dedicated host agency staff are fully equipped to help you reach your goals. We focus on support, business development and coaching, and will give you the right balance you require of each element to become the best home-based travel agent you can be.

The Uniglobe brand is an internationally trusted and respected name in the travel industry, celebrating over 26 years of working and growing together. Since 1996, UTC has been a leading host agency helping travel agents build their businesses and realize their dreams.

Recognition from our Supplier Partners

  1. Globus Family of Brands - Key Partner Member
  2. Viking River Cruises - Platinum Circle Plus Agency
  3. ALGV - Elite Diamond
  4. Delta Vacations - Diamond Elite Agency
  5. Oceania - Connoisseur Club
  6. Holland America - Elite Pinnacle
  7. Windstar - Club 180 Agency
  8. Celebrity - Host Agency of the Year 2018

Professional Affiliations

  1. Virtuoso Enhanced Member
  2. CLIA Premier Member
  3. ASTA Premium Member
  4. ASTA Host Agency of the Year 2023
  5. CAC Member
  6. PATH Member

Uniglobe Travel Center Accolades