How to Research and Apply for Host Agencies in the Travel Industry
Thinking about becoming a Disney Travel Planner or Travel Agent? You’ve come to the right place! My mission is to help Disney fans jumpstart their careers in the industry. A Disney Travel Planner helps vacationers plan their dream getaway and I’m here to help you start your dream job!
The first (and most important) step to becoming a Disney Travel Planner is to join a Host Agency. Granted, you can also plan vacations by being employed a “Brick or Mortar Agency.” Most Travel Agents choose to use a Host Agency for various reasons. We’ll get to those various reasons in a moment. Let’s go over the basics, how to research agencies, and where you can go to learn more!
By the way, I get SO many questions about Host Agencies that I created an entire course devoted to agencies for hopeful Disney Travel Planners. Check out Magic Side Hustle: Host Agency Bootcamp here!
Or, sign up for my free Disney Travel Planner course below and get a special offer on Host Agency Bootcamp!
What is a Host Agency?
A Host Agency employs Travel Agents as independent contractors. The agents will not be given full-time or part-time employee status and they won’t receive benefits like medical or a 401K either. The biggest identifier is that Travel Agents under a Host Agency will file for a 1099 when tax season rolls around. (As opposed to a W-4 for regular employees.)
Once signed with a Host Agency, Travel Agents can use the agency’s IATA number to book travel and earn a commission for vacations. Without this special number, you won’t be recognized as a Travel Agent. The Host gives a chance for new Agents to book travel without much experience.
The benefits of a Host Agency is that they are essentially a support system for new Travel Agents. Hence, the use of the word “host.” The Agency is your host and you’re the one calling all the shots. You choose your clients, decide on planning fees, and work your own hours.
The Agency may provide simple marketing tools, training, or administrative support in exchange for a cut of your commission or a fee as well. Let’s learn more about Host Agency benefits, shall we?
Pros and Cons of a Host Agency vs. a Brick and Mortar Travel Agency
Brick and Mortar Travel Agency
“Brick and Mortar” means it’s a traditional Travel Agency based out of an office. This type of Agency dipped in popularity when companies like Expedia came around. Many agencies closed their doors once vacationers had the ability to book flights online. The industry has changed a lot since then!
Here are some pros and cons for working at a Brick and Mortar Agency.
Pros of Working for a Brick and Mortar Agency:
- Receive paid training
- You’ll be on the payroll and possibly receive benefits like medical insurance or paid vacations
- Guaranteed hours
- You usually don’t need to find your own clients.
Cons of Working for a Brick and Mortar Agency:
- Fewer work opportunities
- You usually don’t have the flexibility to make your own hours.
- You may or may not work for commission if you’re employed by a larger company.
- You may or may not have the option to work from home.
This is the most popular option for new Travel Agents. A Host Agency will help you receive the tools you need to start booking clients and earning commission right away.
Here are a few pros and cons for working with a Host Agency!
Pros of Working for a Host Agency:
- Your Host Agency might pay for Error & Omission insurance as well as any business and seller licenses needed
- Some Host Agencies provide training
- Some Host Agencies will help find you clients. (Although, this is fairly rare.)
- Most Host Agencies offer support if you need help.
- The Agency already has connections to suppliers like Disney, Universal, hotels, etc.
- After making a certain amount of commission, they will provide you with your own IATA/CLIA card.
- The Host Agency will take a small cut from your commission or charge you fees for their services.
- You will most likely need to find your own clients by using your own marketing techniques.
- It will take some time before you get a regular amount of clients and a steady income.
More of a visual learner? Watch Host Agency 101 on YouTube complete with slides to follow along!
There’s way more to Host Agencies and what they offer Travel Agents. I cover EVERYTHING about Host Agency benefits like marketing, training, and commission in Host Agency Bootcamp too!
How to Research Host Agencies
This is where many new Travel Agents get stuck. How do you find legitimate Host Agencies and where do you go to research? First, you need to decide whether you want to sell only Disney travel or other destinations as well.
Popular Host Agencies for Disney, Universal, and Family Travel
Travel Agents who only want Disney can search for Hosts that support these destinations. The results are much smaller than the businesses who allow Agents to book other travel. This may seem super trivial but the best advice I can give is to simply Google “Disney Travel Planners” and inquire to Facebook groups.
I’ve listed a few of the most popular Host Agencies with a focus on Disney destinations below!
These are just a handful of Disney Travel Planner websites. I’ll tell you how to apply for them in a bit!
Popular Host Agencies for Any Destinations
I personally advise opening yourself up to other destinations if you have knowledge in other regions. Are you a Disney World and Las Vegas expert? That’s great! You can book travel for clients wanting to visit either destination. I highly advise visiting HostAgencyReviews.com to research all general agencies and learn more about them. You can read reviews of the Host Agencies from real Travel Agents and get a better feel for each one.
Here are a few popular Host Agencies you may want to research!
P.S. I’m not advocating for any of these agencies. I personally don’t have experience with all of them so use your own discretion when interviewing them!
How to Apply for a Host Agency
Applying for an agency is usually pretty simple. Most Host Agencies will have a “Join Our Team” or “Career” tab that will allow you to apply directly from the website. Others may not have obvious application forms but you can usually find an email address or contact information.
Remember, you’re essentially applying for a job so keep your application or emails as professional as possible. Proofread your correspondence and be detailed! You’ll want to highlight your travel knowledge and ability to sell vacations.
You will most likely need to follow-up with the company once you’ve applied. Many agencies receive loads of emails or job inquiries throughout the week. If you don’t hear back after a week, consider sending the company a brief follow-up email.
Pro-Tip: You may be asked the question, “Why do you want to be a Travel Agent/Disney Travel Planner?” Do NOT answer with, “Because I plan my own vacations all the time!” Planning your own vacations and planning a stranger’s vacation is a totally different experience.
Instead, highlight any relevant experience like sales, customer service, or travel booking. Then, talk about your passion for travel, knowledge in the field, and how you can make your client’s dreams come true!
Choose a Host Agency and Get Started!
The last item on your agenda is to start applying for Host Agencies, compare benefits, and make a choice! This process can be lengthy but choosing the right agency will start you on the right foot. You’ll want to make sure you’re getting the best support you need in order to succeed!
Interested in learning more about Host Agencies? My Bootcamp covers what kind of benefits Host Agencies provide, how to find the right one for you, and how to apply (even if you don’t have Travel Agent experience!). Learn more about Host Agency Bootcamp here!
You can also sign up for my newsletter (receive a free Travel Agent course!) right here and get a special offer on the course. This is especially helpful for Disney fans who want to learn more about the process of becoming a Travel Planner.
Have more questions about becoming a Disney Travel Planner? Be sure to post them in the comments below! You can also find me on Instagram and I’ll answer any of your questions there too!