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Host Agency Leaders See Vital Role for PATHMarch 30, 2009 By: George Dooley
Helping home-based agents get the marketing training and support needed to succeed will be among the key goals of the Professional Association of Travel Hosts’ (PATH) newly elected board of directors. The association of major host agencies was formed in 2006 to set industry standards and provide consolidated leadership for host agencies.
“PATH’s mission will be to continue to demonstrate the value of membership by setting the highest standards for host agencies. Because of the strict membership criteria, background and credit checks required for membership, PATH wants the industry to look at our members as if they have obtained the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval,” said Anita Pagliasso, owner of Ticket To Travel and member of PATH’s Board.
PATH seeks to involve its entire membership in solving common challenges for host agencies. Pagliasso says that by doing so, "PATH will present the travel industry a united front with one united voice.”
“Affiliating with a credible host agency can really help home-based agents get the tools, training, marketing and support that can really help them grow their business, especially in a tough economy. The challenge for agents is to navigate through the different host agency models to find the one that best meets their needs,” said Jackie Friedman, general manager of Nexion and vice president of PATH.
“No two hosts are the same, and now more than ever, it is critical that agents take the time to do their homework to find a financially secure host that has their best interests in mind. The PATH website is a great place to start. Our member agencies must subscribe to a strict code of ethics and they only qualify for PATH if they meet those requirements that protect the interests of independent home-based agents,” said Friedman.
“The unfortunate situation with Joystar and YTB demonstrates the need for agents to be knowledgeable before they sign with a host. We need to be proactive and provide them with the necessary tools to evaluate host agencies. CLIA needs to do a cursory background check before issuing a number. Presently anyone with $390 can sell travel. Unless this changes, our industry will continue to attract bottom feeders that reinvent themselves under different names after being placed on a stop sell,” according to PATH board member Dennis (Mike) Neidhardt, CFO, Cruises-N-More/American Express.
“Agents need to expect any host they look at to do their due diligence on the agent via a background or credit check, and the agent also needs to do their due diligence on any agency they look at to host them. A guide on how to evaluate a host agency can be found at www.PATH4Hosts.com,” advises Betsy Geiser, director of administration and sales for Uniglobe Travel and secretary for PATH.
PATH’s new Board of Directors includes: Andi Mysza, Montrose Travel: president and co-chair supplier relations committee; Jackie Friedman, Nexion: vice president and co-chair host agency symposium/trade show committee; Betsy Geiser, Uniglobe Travel: secretary and co-chair public relations/communications committee; Tony Gagliano, Travel Planners International: treasurer; Anita Pagliasso, Ticket To Travel: board director, co-chair public relations/communications committee; Dan Chappelle, Expedia CruiseShipCenters: board director, co-chair host agency committee; and Mike Neidhart, Cruises-N-More: board director, co-chair supplier relations committee.
PATH provides a resource for independent and home-based agents that are looking for a host agency partner. PATH's key mission is to gather best practices from across the industry and to provide a set of industry standards to ensure the integrity of host agency operations.