The grass is greener on the other side. It’s took me several years to find this out but when I did it changed the way I booked travel. I got tired of dealing with long term contracts, monthly and yearly fees and below average commission splits. I had already formed a great book of business but I wanted to get more out of it. I needed to get more out of it. So I started my search for the best host agency out there and ended up coming across one that fit my needs in every way while still giving me my freedom.
The Best Host Agency In Travel
Where I landed was MainStreet Travel Agency (and their sister company Boardwalk Travel which I’ll explain in just a bit). They are the first of their kind when it comes to independent travel agents. I would call them a Hybrid Agency; a mix of host and private where independent agents can get a solid start if they are just beginning or a fantastic place to bring an existing book of business.
The core of MainStreet Travel is agent freedom and education. They let their agents build their business on their own terms. No minimum booking requirements or hours each week. Anyone from a full-time teacher to a homemaker can succeed with them.
For me, I was looking for someone who could offer me a lot of education and training opportunities as well as industry-high commissions from both the supplier and the agency but do it without big brother looking over my shoulder.
And while MainStreet Travel has a few thousand agents, they have managed to keep the feel of a close knit family along with offering amazing FAM trips and agent rewards every year. In fact my fourth month in a won $600 cash just for entering my bookings into their monthly giveaway contest. They are constantly rewarding their agents and spend a lot of time supporting and providing resources.
This is exactly what you want out of a host agency. Tons of opportunity while maintaining your freedom. Here are some of the reasons I love working with them:
Industry-high commission rates with suppliers
Fantastic commission split
No year-long contracts
No on-going fees
Your book of business is YOURS
Tons of support and training
FAM Trips for ALL agents, not just the high-revenue booking ones
Monthly giveaways that you actually want
In the end, making the switch over to MainStreet Travel was the best decision I made.
Growth With No Downside
That’s what I’ve been experiencing since I joined their host program. My book of business has grown tremendously and I haven’t had to give up anything along the way. Even when COVID happened and my business came to a halt, I was able to manage my agency with their on-going support while working a part-time job.
And really, I think that’s what everyone is looking for. The chance at a side-hustle without having to leave their primary income. Being able to work the hours you want while still earning additional money is huge. Then when you’re ready to, move into the travel industry full-time with your existing and continually growing book of business.
Even MainStreet’s growth hasn’t ruined their program. While they may have several thousand agents working with them, they’ve still be able to maintain the support and opportunities that I’ve needed. While most host agencies just want to continually bring in new agents, MainStreet is focused on internal growth, which is why they let existing agents start a sister company called Boardwalk Travel.
Boardwalk offers the same great program and environment that MainStreet does. Neither one of them are looking to become a massive host agency; they’re both looking to create a close-knit environment that offers the most for their agents.
No monthly or yearly fees: Whether you’re actively booking or not, you shouldn’t have to pay to do it.
No minimum booking requirements: Whether you just joined the travel industry or have been booking for years, grow at your own rate with no consequences.
Maximum commissions: Book at the highest commission rates possible with suppliers. It’s more money in your pocket for the same work!
E&O Insurance: Your host agency should be providing coverage for you. One less bill to pay.
No long term contract: Don’t get stuck in a contract you’ll regret later.
Keep your book of business: Any clients you book while with your host agency should be yours forever.
You’ll also want to look for other things like agent incentive programs, FAM trip offers and on-going support and training.
MainStreet and Boardwalk both offer some amazing agent incentives including monthly cash giveaways, agent of the month and an agent rewards program where you can earn gift cards to your favorite places.
FAM trips or Familiarization trips offer agents a cheap way to experience a product first hand. For instance, I attended one at the Disneyland Resort with MainStreet where I received training from the agency and suppliers, a ticket to access the parks and a dining gift card. It only cost me my travel there and back and was well worth it because I got to experience everything new at the resort.
Other FAM trips can include your hotel, ticket, dining, training and more for a very low price to the agent.
I LOVE Fam trips not just for the opportunity to learn but to also get to know my fellow agents better. It makes us closer and really feel like a family.
On-Going Support and Training
This is huge as you always want to be up to speed on the industry whether that’s cruise lines, all-inclusive resorts or theme parks. But it’s not just about the products you sell; it’s also about HOW you sell that product.
Training on how to be a good sales person is vital to growing your book of business. This covers topics like marketing, client engagement, calls and emails and follow-up. Learning to give your client a fantastic experience will keep them coming back and spread the word about you.
MainStreet offers training opportunties in both of these categories. They have suppliers conduct monthly trainings including Disney, Universal, Expedia, Cruise Lines and more. These personal agency trainings help you stay up-to-date and in the know on specific products. It’s also a great time to ask questions or voice concerns you may have.
Agents also have access to online training from each supplier. This gives them a foundation to each product that they can sell and is done at their own learning speed.
MainStreet also offers access to several online academies where you can start or sharpen your sales experience.
Quick Commission Payments
It’s one of the main reasons we sell and because it’s a priority to us, it should be a priority to your Host Agency.
MainStreet has made it clear to their agents: they don’t mess around when it comes to your pay. They have a very easy submission process online and payments are typically processed in 24 hrs or less.
And instead of receiving a check or getting paid once, they ACH your payment to you and will pay as often as you submit a completed booking.
You work hard for your money so make sure it’s simple to get.
A Place You Love To Work
This is the most important part when you’re looking for a host agency to work with. You don’t want to be in a constant battle them. You don’t want to have to worry if they are going to pay you on-time or not. You should be able to count on them for support. You should be having fun!
I have found all these things to be true with MainStreet Travel and look forward to many, many years with them. If you’re thinking of switching to a new host agency I highly recommend you check them out. They will be open and honest about their program. They’re not in the business to just say “yes, we’re a perfect fit for you.” They let you make that decision.