Written By: Stacey Ray, CEO, Groupit Travel Host Agency
When searching for a host agency, it is important for an agent to research available options and choose one which aligns with their personal goals and mission. If for you, this means being a successful agent and operating under business practices founded on transparency, integrity, professionalism, and high service standards, Groupit Travel Host Agency may be the right host agency for you.
Groupit Travel was founded as a full-service travel agency in 2014 by the current owner and founder, Stacey Ray. Stacey is a seasoned traveler with map pins in over sixty countries and having logged over sixty cruises. It only makes sense that someone with such a strong passion for travel would create a successful career in the travel industry. Since entering the travel industry in a professional capacity, Stacey has racked up quite the extensive list of credentials. She is a two-time STAR invitee to CruiseWorld, having earned these invitations in both 2015 and 2017. She has been a fully-hosted buyer at many of the industry’s top events including the Global Travel Marketplace (2016), the Romance Travel Forum (2016), and the International Luxury Travel Marketplace (ILTM Americas – 2017). Earlier this year, Stacey was honored as a guest of ASTA at their table during the 2017 ASTA Global Conference Advocacy Gala.
All of this personal success is a reflection of the hard work Stacey puts into her host agency, and her personal investment in the success of her agents. The idea of starting the host agency came after Stacey discovered she was but one of many agents that felt alone and unsupported. She saw a need for a host agency that truly valued their agents and provided them with the support they needed for growth and success in the industry. Thus, Groupit Travel Host Agency was born with the primary goal of partnering with agents to ensure agent success.
Trust and Relationships
The success found by Groupit Travel Agents is built on a foundation of trust and relationships. “Being successful in the travel business is 100% about relationships,” says Stacey. This means the relationship between host and agent, with suppliers, BDM’s, and most importantly, relationships with clients. Agents also find camaraderie with their peers within the host agency. Whether they are performing site inspections on a FAM or chatting online, Groupit agents are always there to support one another.
With Groupit Travel as your host agency, agents know they are in a business relationship they can trust. Agents can trust that they will receive their commissions on time, in accordance with the twice-a-month schedule, and that those commissions will be at fair and highly-competitive rates. They can trust that their data, and the data of their clients, is safe and protected. Agents know that when they have questions, they are able, and encouraged, to ask them, and they can trust they will receive honest answers. Perhaps the most critical element to securing trust is that agents know with Groupit Travel as their host, promises made are promises kept.
Supporting Agent Growth
Groupit Travel offers its agents training and development opportunities which are unparalleled in the industry. Groupit Travel has a 70:30 ratio of experienced to inexperienced agents; an inexperienced rate drastically lower than found with most host agencies. Experienced agents act as mentors to younger agents, and are always willing to assist by answering questions and providing expert advice.
Each agent is encouraged to participate in strategic planning sessions, which are held one-on-one with Stacey. In these sessions, goals for the upcoming year are discussed, and a strategy for achieving those goals is developed. Subsequent to these initial planning sessions, quarterly reviews are held to determine where agents feel they need the most support from Stacey and the host agency at large.
In addition to the annual strategic planning and review sessions, coaching is always available to agents. Coaching sessions are unlimited, and participation is strongly encouraged. Scheduling for these sessions utilizes a user-friendly calendar app which enables agents to view availability and schedule themselves. Time slots are available both during the day and evening to accommodate varying schedules.
Social Media Support
Pop over to your favorite social media site and do a quick search for Groupit Travel. What you will find is a strong online presence with actively maintained public-facing pages. What’s more, is the presence of several Groupit Travel hosted-pages exclusive for agents. This includes the Groupit Travel Agents page, which has exclusive access available to hosted agents only, as well as the Group Travel Best Practices page and the Quest for Success page. Each page serves a different function and meets different needs.
On the Groupit Travel Agents page, agents find frequent updates including information about upcoming webinars, supplier specials, FAM opportunities, and daily tips and tricks. What many agents believe to be the biggest benefit to participation on this page, is the ability to ask questions and receive answers from a variety of viewpoints. It’s crowdsourcing at its best!
Group Travel Best Practices is a private group which was formed by Stacey to house content exclusive to group travel and the unique skill set required for success in this niche. The page, which currently has approximately 900 members, is not only a source for learning, but also a place where agents can share group space, ask for recommendations and advice, and has been widely popular across the industry.
Quest for Success is another private group started by Stacey. This group aims to be a “safe harbor” for both new and experienced agents to share advice and ask questions without fear of public shaming which is often found in other Facebook groups for agents. Stacey serves as group admin and enforces the zero-tolerance policy against bullying and any behavior which does not agree with the supportive nature of the group. Her group philosophy is simple: “All agents were once new to the industry, and there is something to be learned from both our colleague’s questions and their answers. No one should feel bullied when they enter the business.”
When first joining Groupit Travel, agents are directed to the private-access host agency site. This site houses vast resources for both new and existing agents including a comprehensive New Agent On-Boarding Training program complete with a final exam. “I’m amazed by all of the helpful resources on the Groupit site. I’ve hardly scratched the surface but have learned more in the past 2 weeks there and from your Facebook posts than in my 6 months with my previous host agency,” shares travel planner Kim Giovacco. The website provides agents not only with training materials but also preferred vendor information in addition to much more.
Groupit Travel Host Agency schedules exclusive webinars weekly, which includes supplier-based content, but this is done in addition to a variety of other topics including those focused on sales, how-to tutorials, and niche markets. All webinars are held on weeknights at 8:00 PM ET and most are recorded for future viewing. These are scheduled in the evenings because Stacey understands that many agents have full-time jobs during the day which are outside of the Travel Industry, and also that those working full-time in the industry dedicate their daytime hours to their clients. This scheduling allows for increased participation rates and gives agents the edge they need to stay ahead of the competition.
Some upcoming webinar topics include How to Financially Manage your Business as a Travel Agent, Marketing Your Business and Brand, The Psychology of Sales, and several formed in partnership with unique suppliers. Want to check out a Groupit Webinar and see what they’re all about? Watch this webinar, taught by Stacey Ray, about “Qualifying your Clients.” This is a topic she believes to be the foundation of a travel agent’s ability to be successful in this industry.
Agent Autonomy & Success
Groupit Travel Host Agency provides agents with the flexibility and freedom to grow and prosper on their terms. When agents sign on with Stacey, they are given a choice of self-branding or becoming a Groupit Travel branded agent. Whether agents choose self-branding or Groupit Travel branding, one thing is consistent – success. Agent Anna Goldshteyn shares that after switching to Groupit Travel Host Agency, she saw huge growth in business. Anna shares, “I booked more travel in the last two months than I did in the last six months with the previous host and that’s credit to Groupit Travel.” She isn’t the only one finding success. Agent Jane McCall writes that she has seen business growth since joining with Groupit Host Agency. She adds, “Stacey has based Groupit Travel on transparency, honesty and open communication. I am a relative newbie to the travel business but I know a great business when I see one!”