Can you be a successful travel agent without a host agency? We're sharing insights into the pros and cons of being independent, as well as the benefits of taking a hybrid approach.
Originally published October 2022; updated February 2024
Hey there, travel enthusiasts! Today we're diving into a topic that's often buzzing around the travel community – can you be a travel agent without hosting under another travel agency? It's a question that's on the minds of many aspiring agents so we're unraveling the complexities to help you figure out if being an independent travel agent is the right choice for you.
Here at Wanderlust Campus, we’ve seen the landscape continuously evolve and have supported thousands of individuals as they embark on their travel journey. So we can say with confidence that the question of whether to go independent from the start or work under a host agency is a personal one and heavily influenced by your goals.
With that said, let’s address the elephant in the room – yes, you can technically be an independent travel agent without hosting under another agency from day one. However, the real question is, should you?
Rather watch than read? Check out the video below!
What Does it Mean to Have a Host as a Travel Agent?
Being a travel agent under a host agency means you operate as an independent contractor under the umbrella of a larger travel agency, AKA, your host.
In this arrangement, the host agency provides the necessary infrastructure and support for you to conduct business. This includes access to credentials, relationships with travel suppliers, and basic guidance to kickstart your journey.
Typically, a host charges a fee (usually a startup and monthly fee) and in return, the agent shares a portion of their earned commissions with the host.
A Few Pros and Cons of Working with a Host
- Faster Setup: Utilize existing credentials without the hassle.
- Basic Support: Receive initial guidance to kickstart your journey.
- Credential Access: Tap into a host's established relationships with suppliers.
- Commission Sharing: Expect to share a portion of your earnings with the host.
- Limited Autonomy: You have to follow the host's rules, branding, and systems.
- Sales Recognition: Your sales may contribute to the host's overall performance rather than earning you individual recognition.
Reasons Why You’d Want to Be an Independent Travel Agent
Some aspiring agents are hesitant to share their hard-earned commission with a host agency. The desire to keep 100% of the earnings is a valid reason for choosing to go independent.
Being an independent agent grants you the freedom to craft your brand, make decisions tailored to your business, and avoid adhering to someone else's rules.
Independent agents often choose this path to avoid any growth ceilings imposed by a host agency. They aspire to build their agency and shape their destiny.
Not all host agencies are created equal. Some may not align with your goals, and choosing the wrong one can lead to a less-than-ideal partnership.
Not sure how to pick the right one? Check out this post on the key questions to ask your potential host.
The Top Challenges of Being an Independent Travel Agent
No Industry Experience
If you're entirely new to the industry, it can be a little (or a lot) daunting to learn the intricacies of booking clients. Things like booking procedures, supplier relationships and itinerary development can quickly lead to overwhelm. These are all elements that you’d generally get support with when working under a host.
Setting up your own credentials to be eligible to book travel involves a time-consuming process. Add this to learning all the above elements of actually booking, well, it can often feel like too much. Host agencies on the other hand, provide a faster setup because you’re utilizing their existing credentials.
Independence means you're on your own. Host agencies typically offer basic assistance, so when you forgo working under a host, you instead take on the training and problem-solving.
Why Not Take a Hybrid Approach?
In our experience, a hybrid model offers the best of both worlds. You get to gain experience under a host, benefit from their support and credentials, and then transition into an independent agent when the time is right.
Regardless of the path that you choose, remember that not all hosts are created equal. Do your due diligence, or better yet, seek professional advice for a tailored match.
And, if you’re still in the consideration phase, we highly recommend checking out our free masterclass. It's a comprehensive guide to help you navigate the diverse ways to enter the travel industry.
Until next time, happy travels!