Home-Based Agents and Host Agencies: A Fresh Perspective

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?”

Don 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.

“From 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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