Is your host agency the best fit for your business needs? Here are three things to keep in mind when planning for your success.
You work hard to satisfy your clients; is your host agency satisfying you? There are many reasons why an advisor makes the difficult decision to break up with their host partner—sometimes your business outgrows the support of your current host; sometimes it comes down to dollars and sense for what is best for your business to prosper.
“Switching agencies is a big decision—not only do you need to determine ‘fit,’ but you also need to plan for the transition,” says Michael Johnson, Executive Vice President of the luxury host agency Travel Edge Leisure. “Advisors need to be clear on the process and what level of support is available as they transition their business. The best agencies make transition easy for you and your business, and serve as your partner as you plan for the future.”
Timing can also be key. For example, Johnson notes, “There has never been a better time to assess your business model. While Travel Edge is focused on building the luxury agency of the future, we need to acknowledge the reality of today and the tremendous strain on the independent contractor (IC) community.”
To that end, the company has created an investment fund for ICs looking to join the Travel Edge network—a limited-time signing bonus that can pay up to 35 percent of 2019 commissions, with 50 percent payout upon signing. “We believe this combination of building a better future together, while offering support through difficult times, is a winning combination,” says Johnson.
Is now the time for you to change host agencies? As you make the tough and often necessary decision around changing host agencies for the benefit of your business, here are three things to keep in mind when planning for your success.
1. Preferred Access
You have worked hard to grow your business, and you should choose a host agency that can help support your momentum. Elite access through preferred contracts, partners and exclusive amenities can be your strongest advantage over your competition.
“As part of Travel Edge, travel advisors have access to the highest yields and splits in the industry, rewarding you for doing what you love—selling travel,” says Johnson. “Travel Edge has a dedicated team negotiating for ICs to have the best contracts, relationships and exclusive amenities in the industry.”
Johnson also points out the advantages that come with associating with a host agency that has robust purchasing power. “We have the best high-margin contracts, which comes from being one of the largest buyers of luxury cruise, hotel and air in North America,” he says, noting that “gives our ICs more buying power for their clients.”
2. Premium Technology
Partnering with a host agency that focuses on innovative technology is key to maximizing your efficiency. Look for a partner that understands the selling cycle of travel and provides technology to make selling travel easy and enjoyable for you—and that can also help you to identify seamless ways to improve the efficiency and earnings of your business. And don’t forget to assess how the technology affects your clients’ interactions: Top-notch technology elevates the client experience as well.
“Technology has always been a fundamental part of what separates Travel Edge from others in the community,” says Michelle Leal, VP of Advisor Services for Travel Edge. “We've invested over $50 million in our ADX (Agent Digital Experience) platform, with the sole focus of enabling our advisors to easily improve their commission yield and sales efficiency.” Leal points out that ADX makes selling travel easy with automated invoicing; one-click insurance; automatic population of amounts, names and dates; and no need to re-create a quote when accepted. “Technology support should be your greatest asset in growing your business,” she says.
3. Passionate Community
Is your agency invested in both your success and the creation of a strong independent contractor community? Community is about more than just supporting each other. A passionate community should also provide a platform for growth and learning through specially curated regional supplier training, development opportunities and exclusive travel opportunities.
“The role of community is integral for the success of all,” says Mary Kleen, Travel Edge Director of Advisor Services. “At Travel Edge, our ICs are stronger together—and through the focus of community, we are able to learn from each other and benefit from our talented peers. We also believe in regular and constant communication with the advisors—company-wide, by branch and by individual agent.”
Curated content and education specific to your sales specialties and travel passions can be especially helpful in growing and differentiating your business. “Last year we recognized that we needed to curate itineraries that were as unique as our luxury advisors,” says Kleen. “We offered six exclusive departures that allowed ICs to experience properties and product that were beneficial to the goals of their business. After all, why take an advisor to an all-inclusive beach property if they only sell cruises or European travel?”
“Education and familiarization trips are just part of what can really take your sales to the next level,” continues Kleen. “From preferred access and technology to community and learning experiences, your host agency is your partner in your success.”