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Starting a Travel Company: Franchise vs. Host Agency Comparison

Initiating a travel agency enterprise can be a thrilling endeavor, but it can also be overwhelming when deciding which path to take. Two popular options are to become a franchise or a host agency. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to weigh them carefully before making a decision.

What Is a Franchise?

A franchise is a business model where the franchisee (you) pays a franchise fee and ongoing royalties to the franchisor (the company) in exchange for the right to use their name, brand, and business model. The franchisor provides training, support, and a proven system, while the franchisee is responsible for running the business.

Benefits of Owning a Franchise

Owning a franchise has significant benefits, such as acquiring a tested and successful business structure. This includes having an established brand, access to promotional resources, and the ability to connect with other franchise owners for guidance and assistance.

Another advantage is that the franchisor will provide training and ongoing support, which can be especially helpful if you are new to the travel industry. You can also benefit from their purchasing power, which may result in lower costs for supplies and equipment.

Downsides of Owning a Franchise

The main disadvantage of owning a franchise is having less flexibility and control over your business. You will be required to adhere to the franchisor's policies and procedures and may have to buy supplies and equipment from approved vendors.

You will also be required to pay ongoing royalties and fees, which can eat into your profits. Additionally, the franchisor may restrict where you can operate and may require you to meet specific performance standards.

What Is a Host Agency?

A host agency is a type of travel agency that provides support and resources to independent travel agents. As a host agency, you can operate your own business under your own name while benefiting from the support and resources of the host agency.

Advantages of Joining a Host Agency

Joining a host agency offers a significant benefit, as it allows you to run your business using your unique brand name. You will have more control and flexibility over your business and can set your own policies and procedures.

Secondly, you can benefit from the resources and support the host agency provides. This can include access to booking platforms, marketing materials, and training and support from experienced travel agents.

Becoming a member of a host agency may be a more economical choice compared to establishing your travel agency from the ground up. You will not have to invest in expensive equipment or marketing materials, and you will not have to pay for ongoing royalties and fees.

Disadvantages of Joining a Host Agency

A primary drawback of partnering with a host agency is the reduced ability to manage your enterprise. You will be required to adhere to the policies and procedures set by the host agency, and you may have to use their booking platform and other resources.

Aside from that, you may be required to pay a fee to join the host agency, as well as ongoing fees for their services. These charges can reduce your earnings and potentially hinder the expansion of your business.

Making a Decision

When deciding whether to become a franchisee or join a host agency, it's important to consider your goals, budget, and experience in the travel industry. If you are new to the industry and want the support and training a franchisor provides, a franchise may be the best option for you.

Conversely, if you are more experienced, want more control over your business, or are looking for a more cost-effective option, joining a host agency may be the best choice. Whichever path you pick, carefully research your options and select a reliable company that has a demonstrated history of accomplishments.


Starting a travel agency company can be a rewarding and lucrative venture. Whether you become a franchisee or join a host agency, it's essential to carefully consider your options and choose the right path for you. With the proper support and resources, you can build a successful travel agency business and help your clients create unforgettable travel experiences.

Join Gateway Travel today and take your travel business to the next level. As an agent-led and agent-minded company, we provide a supportive atmosphere for you to grow your business.

With industry-leading technology, marketing tools, and education, we give you the tools you need for optimum growth. Contact us and become a host travel agency today!


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