Is Your Host Agency in a Growth Mode… Does it Matter?
By Connie L Miller, CTIE, Your Travel Center/Montecito Village Travel
You’ve often heard the question, “Do you want to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond?” Although there are merits to each side, most people will respond that it’s better to be a big fish in a small pond.
I propose that the right answer might be to be a big fish in a growing pond because we all know what can happen to a small pond; it can stagnate. Now you might be thinking, why does it matter to me – I’m an independent contractor and I run my own business; how does my host’s growth help me?
Simply put, good things happen when your host is in a controlled growth mode – service, programs and opportunities increase -- and being a big fish in a growing pond puts you in the best position to build your business. You benefit from the close relationships you cannot get from a mega host and from the strength found in numbers (remember when you were a kid… more is better).
As the VP of Business Development for Your Travel Center/Montecito Village Travel, I’ve seen firsthand how host growth can benefit an advisor. During the past seven years, we have grown from 200 advisors to over 500 advisors and our sales volume has grown from $115M to well over $200M. Although our goal has never been, nor will it be, to be a mega host; we know that controlled growth provides advantages that cannot be denied. Seven years ago, we were very good; today we are even better, providing more services and opportunities than ever before.
Let me share with you some of the ways our advisors have benefited:
- A more formalized and robust orientation process
- Development of a proprietary online advisor booking engine for air and hotel
- Development of a new and better intranet for advisor use
- Creation of a lead generation program showcasing our independent contractors
- An internal cruise program providing added client amenities and additional revenue for advisors
- Increased coop marketing funds for independent contractor promotions
- Enhanced educational opportunities for all advisors
- A revamping our annual supplier retreat to much larger a full-fledged conference
- Stronger supplier relationships
- Greater fam opportunities
- Elevated the status of our Independent Contractors
Now, you may have noticed that throughout this article, I’ve mentioned “controlled” growth. Controlled growth is the key; it means that the host has adapted procedures and added staff to accommodate the growth which should equate to additional services.
So, if you are looking for a host, I suggest that you include these questions during the interview process so that you can find the best possible partner:
- What is the sales volume and the number of independent contractors hosted by the agency?
- How much growth has the agency experienced in the past five years (sales and number of independent contractors) and how the agency has responded to that growth?
- Lastly, ask for references from the host including newer advisors and those that have been with the host longer
Armed with this knowledge, you are in the best position to become a “big” fish in a “growing” pond.