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Home-Based Agents and Host Agencies: A Fresh Perspective

March 4, 2009 By: George Dooley Home-Based Travel Agent

Don Gould, a veteran agent and CEO of GTM Travel Group, an established host agency, as well as CEO of IT Group,
a consortium, offers a fresh perspective on key issues facing
independent agents and hosts as well as suppliers. In this first of
three features, Gould sets the stage on the ongoing debate and directly
addresses the key commission issue.

The majority of independent agents, especially those with industry
experience, appear to question the benefit of working with a host
agency and commonly give two reasons for not establishing a partnership
with a host: “Why should I share my commission?” and “Why should I give
up my identity?”

Gould is a 30-year veteran of the travel industry. He is one of the
first to recognize the importance of independent agents and launched
GTM Travel Group in 2001. GTM now has 400- plus members. Gould also
broke new ground with the consolidation of consortia with the IT Group
formed in 2002 from International Tours, GalaxSea Cruises, BTS Travel Network and the Travel Authority.

Most recently, GTM has offered a home to Travelstar/Joystar agents impacted by the collapse of the company.

my perspective the real problems of Joystar is that the margins in this
business aren't big enough to support the overhead companies take on by
maintaining a high-priced staff along with making large expenditures to
let everyone know how big you are,” Gould said.

“The Joystar
model for the serious seller of travel was a good one—the company
invested in providing their agents with some great tools to support
their business. The problem they had was letting their overhead get way
out of control because they felt they could break the bank as a stock
play. We have picked up a significant number of Joystar agents and I
can tell you they are good producers—they are not newbies who think
being a travel agent is fun."

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