Ann Chamberlin, ASTA Small Business Network President, discusses ASTA Small Business Network profiles and trends. The information is based on the recent ASTA Independent Agent Report.
What is the ASTA Independent Agent Report?
The Independent Agent Report provides invaluable insight into independent agent business trends, regarding host agency and franchise relationships, Global Distribution System (GDS) usage, commission structures, and sales and revenue data with the independent agent community.
The report was based on second half 2015 survey data from ASTA Small Business Network members. The independent agent community is 20,000 strong and growing—and ASTA Small Business Network members possess, on average, 16 years of industry experience. As such, industry suppliers are allocating more resources trying to better engage these travel sellers. Understanding how independent agents run their business is at the forefront of host agencies’ and suppliers’ questions.
Survey participation is critical to highlighting trends in our industry. Thank you to the ASTA Small Business Network agents who completed the survey.
What growth trends are you seeing?
Six in 10 ASTA Small Business Network member agents reported increased sales and revenues in 2015 compared to 2014, which indicates improved business trends since 2011.
What is a new trend?
Over four in 10 independent agents—about 44 percent—are either hiring employees or engaging independent contractors to catch up with travel demand in post-recession and cover for them while they are away.
What are the biggest considerations for joining a host agency?
While the majority of ASTA Small Business Network members are hosted, the 43 percent of them who aren’t are considering joining a host agency. The top three factors in an independent consultant’s decision to join a host agency are commission split, the host agency’s supplier portfolio, and the host agency’s reputation.
I would’ve thought that the technology and marketing support would be a higher factor in choosing a host agency, but training and education outweigh technology and marketing support. This tells me that ASTA Small Business Network member respondents have a stable book of clients with whom they have personal relationships. Staying educated and informed on new products and interesting destinations is a top priority in servicing their clients.
What are possible considerations against joining a host agency?
According to the report, reasons for not joining a host agency include the desire to have a more direct relationship with suppliers, the desire to have control of their own business, and the desire to have flexibility.
Where can ASTA Small Business Network members learn more?
For more information on trends, a full report is available for review at ASTA.org/ResearchReports.
For research inquiries, contact Kevin Wang, ASTA Director of Research and Industry Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article by Cassie Westrate
Photo courtesy of Deb Knoske