What Are Travel Consortia & Travel Co-ops?
What is a travel consortium or a travel cooperative? The very very short answer that will get you through a cocktail party banter is this: A travel consortium is a collective of host agencies, travel agencies and/or travel advisors that join forces and combine resources to increase their industry footprint including buying potential, benefits, & commission levels. In fact, we have a list of travel consortia right here for you!
SNOOZE. That’s not a very fun definition. So allow me to defer to a space analogy, because space makes everything more fun.
Imagine your agency is the star, Upsilon Carinae. When you introduce yourself at parties, you’ll probably get a lot of blank stares. But if you introduce yourself Upsilon Carinae, a part of the Milky Way, then your star acquaintances will understand more about you (without launching into a major astronomy lesson).
While stars have a heckuva lotta light, a single star may not have enough luminosity to be seen from earth all by its lonesome. If an advisor is a star, a host agency might be like a constellation. A bunch of stars that are more identifiable together and provide more collective light than a single star. But a travel consortium is the entire galaxy—they’re the Milky Ways of the travel world.
Imagine how much more luminosity the Milky Way provides compared to a single star or even a constellation. If a star is a part of that galaxy, they get the benefit of greater visibility from all that collective light.
Ditch the Metaphor. What do Consortia & Co-ops Provide their Members?
At its most basic, a consortium helps agents and agencies with marketing, training, technologies and supplier negotiations among other supports that would be otherwise difficult for individual advisors, agencies and even host agencies to develop on their own. Here’s a few examples:
This can include direct mailings, hosted websites for agents, social media content and so much more. If you're looking for specific marketing tools, this can help guide your decision.
Consortia technologies offered might include websites/ web templates, CRM (Customer Relations Management) systems, advisor resources websites/newsfeed, online booking programs and other goodies. Again, if you are looking for specific tools, this is another great way to narrow down your choices.
Some consortiums may offer training opportunities including webinars and online courses, events with educational panels, or (non-required certifications (such as Travel Leaders Adventure certification).
Higher Commissions (Supplier Negotiations)
Since (most) consortia have greater aggregate buying power than an advisor, agency, or host agency, they are also able to leverage higher commissions and more amenities for their members. This is a benefit that "trickles down" to individual agents if you're part of the consortium . . . OR if you're with a host that belongs to the consortium or co-op. Allow me to elaborate.
What Doesn't a Consortium or Co-op Provide? How is it Different from a Host?
It’s probably really important to point out that a travel consortium or co-op does not provide an accreditation number. This is a biggie. So if you want to fly solo (without a host agency or franchise), you will still need to get your own accreditation number even if you join a consortium.
A consortia also does not provide day-to-day back office support, like tracking commissions and basic bookkeeping or daily reports. If you are wanting a little bit more “constant support,” a host agency might be a better option (if you’re not a part of one already).
But the good news is that host agencies do provide some of this day-to-day backend support. You can read up more on what a host agency provides here and what the difference between a franchise and host agency is here.
Even if you are with a host agency, it’s good to know a little bit about consortia. Why? Because just about every host agency is a part of a consortia—and if a host agency belongs to that consortia, some of those benefits may pass along to to you.
Should I Join a Consortium? What Does it Take?
For many consortia, members must reach a certain sales threshold among their preferred suppliers before they can join. Members are also expected to pay member dues (which will vary depending on consortium). Consortium membership is a good fit for agents who have their own accreditation, and don’t really need back end bookkeeping support.
If you're not eligible to join a specific consortium, a good start is to choose a host that is a part of that consortium. How do you know if a host agency is a part of a consortium? Never thought you'd ask.
- Go to our consortia listings.
- Click on your consortia of choice. If you want, you can filter it!
- Look at which hosts are listed and linked at the bottom of their profile. This is a FABULOUS way to help you choose a host agency. Here's an example below:
If you you have fallen in love with a specific consortium but still want to be hosted, you can ask hosts how they leverage their consortia tools.
Questions to Ask a Consortium
- What are member requirements? (Sales thresholds, location requirements etc?)
- What are membership fees?
- How many members are a part of the consortium (agency members and/or individual advisors)?
- What are their annual network sales?
- What technologies are provided?
- What training/education is provided?
- What marketing is provided?
- Do they offer a leads program or Agent Directory?
- How long has the consortium been established?
- If it's regional, what region does the consortium serve?
- Does the consortium have local or regional chapters?
- If your host agency belongs to the consortia, how do those benefits translate to the individual advisor?
- If you already belong to a host agency, what is the added value of joining a consortium?
A Brief Grammar Lesson Because I Literally Cannot Help Myself
I had to hand in my grammar nerd card. Why? Because as I was reviewing this article to update and republish, I noticed how many times I used the word "consortia" incorrectly. I fixed it in the update (Massive cover-up, and a huge scandal for sure). But I want you to learn from my past mistakes just in case you are trying to woo a fellow grammar nerd. So here's the answer to your burning question:
When do you say "consortia" and when do you say "consortium?"
Never thought you'd ask!
- Consortium is singular: That's right, just the one.
- Consortia is plural: consortia is used to indicate multiple consortiums. *GASP!* You can also use the word consortiums as its interchangeable with consortia.
What, you want me to use them in a sentence? You really do know how to woo a grammar nerd. Here you go:
- My host agency belong to MAST. It's a travel consortium.
- Wow! HAR has 16 consortia profiles on their list!
Have I made amends well enough to get my grammar nerd status back? I hope so.
Okay, What Now?
Are you a lone star looking to combine forces with other stars to increase your luminosity? In case you haven’t heard, Host Agency Reviews has majorly expanded. This means that consortia now have their own space (pun intended) on our website! Go check out the consortia profiles to read reviews, leave a review, and/or dig deeper into each consortium’s specific technologies, marketing support, amenities and education that each consortia provides!
Once you get all buddy-buddy with your consortium, don't forget to leave a review of them on the site! Your experiences and insights will help other agents make smart and informed choices!
Editor's Note: This article was originally published Nov. 2nd 2018 and updated Jan. 12, 2021 for clarity . . . and, quite frankly, to make it more fun.