What Is a Host Agency?

February 28, 2016

Since you found Host Agency Reviews, you probably have a vague idea of what a travel host agency is. Heck, you may have even scoured our host agency list already! Either way, when you're getting started as a travel agent, it's important to be able to confidently answer the question, "What is a host agency?" and, "What are the advantages of using a host agency?"

Here's the short answer: A host agency is an umbrella organization that an independent agency can align with for better commissions, supplier relations and marketing/tech tools. The defining factor is that the hosted agency uses the host agency's accreditation number instead of having their own accreditation number. More on that in a second.

The truth is your travel agency can go a few different routes when they join the industry:

  1. You could get your own accreditation number (we call them independent agencies when they have their own accreditation number) and you'd most likely join a travel consortium.
  2. You could you could go with a host agency, using their accreditation number.
  3. You could go with a travel franchise that requires you get your own accreditation number like Travel Leaders franchise
  4. You could go with a franchise where you use their accreditation number, like Cruise Planners.

In the end, understanding what makes a host agency different than a travel franchise or what the heck a travel consortium is will help make sure you're making the right choice for your agency.

Short History

It all starts with one of my favorite things ever, the internet. Everyone knows the number of traditional storefront travel agencies plummeted when the internet went mainstream. But, while the internet made business more challenging for storefronts, it opened up a whole new frontier for some new kid on the block—the home based travel agent. With the new type of travel agent, a new travel agency business model appeared: the host agency.

The internet allowed agents to be able to work remotely. No longer did agents need to be tied down in the office, the internet allowed information to be transmitted via the web to wherever you wanted. Hot diggity!

As working remotely became more popular, host agencies grew. There are many smaller host agencies that work only with local travel agents or their own employees that are now independent contractors. However, over the years, mega-hosts have cropped up, with thousands of agents nationwide operating under their umbrellas.

What is a host agency?

Whatever the size, the basic business model is the same. The host agency acts as an umbrella for travel agents that belong to their organization. All agents under the host will use the same booking number (ARC, IATA, CLIA, etc.) and will be seen by the vendors as one agency instead of a conglomeration of agencies. Not sure what a booking number/accreditation number is? Read more on travel agency accreditation options.

The most common business model is for the host agency to offer a commission split with the agent. There may or may not be fees attached with it, and the commission level splits vary drastically so make sure you do some comparison shopping. Examples of other business models include a one-time fee and no commission splits thereafter, or a fee for each booking and no commission split.

By far, the majority of the agents that belong to host agencies are home based travel agents but it's not unheard of for a storefront to belong to a host agency.

Finding a Host Agency

If you're looking for a host agency, this site will provide a vast amount of information and expertise about the industry for you to soak up. The best place to start is on the resources page and read the most popular articles.

Connecting with host agencies can't be easier! You can go directly to their profile to write them via Host Agency Reviews' Q&A feature. The beauty of this is that tons of agents will also get to learn from your question too!

Have a burning question for a host? 1.) Click on their profile 2.) Click "Question and Answer" 3.) Ask away!

Finding a host agency isn't easy. Most agents feel confused and overwhelmed—rest assured, that's totally normal. We're not able to walk everyone through how to find a host agency, so we've created a video on what we'd tell you if we could!

A great next step is to check out this spiffy worksheet that will help agents know what questions to ask when looking for a host. This will help narrow down options of what you are looking for in a host agency (frankly, I can't recommend it highly enough).

Once you've watched the video and checked our the workshop, you'll be chomping at the bit to find a host! The last step is to check the most comprehensive host agency list on the web. There's no better way to learn about a host than through those who've worked with them directly, so each profile includes includes travel agent reviews.

Questions? Ask Away.

If you still have questions, drop us a line, join the conversation in the comments below, or connect with me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

If you like what you read, join 23,393 agents and sign up for our monthly newsletter for more helpful articles and drop by our home based travel agent resources page.

About the Author
Steph Lee - Host Agency Reviews

Steph Lee

Steph grew up in the travel industry. She worked with thousands of agents in her role as a former host agency director before leaving in 2012 to start HAR. She's insatiably curious, loves her pup Rygy, and -- let's face it -- is kinda quirky.

If you’re looking for Steph, she's leaves a trace where ever she goes! You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest as 'iamstephly'. 🙂