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Franchise VS Host: Choosing the Best Path for Your Travel Business

Are you looking for a Host Travel Agency partner? Learn about the difference between a Host Travel Agency and a Franchise Host Agency


As a travel advisor, aligning yourself with a larger entity is a way to set yourself up for success and you have two options: franchise company or host agency. Whether you’ve established yourself in the travel industry or are just starting out, joining a larger travel company allows you to tap into an established vendor network and gain access to enhanced buying power, so why might a franchise be a better option?


As a franchise owner with a company such as Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative, you are more than just a member. You own and operate your own travel business while leveraging the power of an established brand. This means you have access to insider information and can earn higher commissions. You are also provided with robust technology, marketing and ongoing training and support, meaning that even as an independent business owner, you’re not alone.


Whereas, a host company is simply a membership organization. The collective buying power of the group allows members access to better rates from travel providers compared to an independent operator. As a member of the host, you may also have access to limited training, marketing and support.


No two companies are exactly the same, so it is important to verify specifics with each company. To get started on deciding which model is the best fit for you, consider the following differences:


1. Business Ownership

  • Franchise: With a franchise, you own and operate your own travel business. This means you’ll be your own boss and run your business on your terms, while benefiting from the turn-key model that includes tools and training available through a franchise company such as Cruise Planners.
  • Host: With a host, you are simply a member or independent contractor though you still technically operate your own business, you’ll have to lay the foundation for your business yourself.


2. Brand Recognition

  • Franchise: An established franchise gives you the power of brand recognition and the ability to advertise and represent yourself with the franchise brand name. This provides added value and instant credibility. With Cruise Planners, you’ll operate as Cruise Planners, meaning travel suppliers will know exactly who you are whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for decades. As a bonus, Cruise Planners is even an American Express Travel Representative, meaning you’ll get the brand recognition of one of the world’s most well-known brands.
  • Host: As a member of a host, you are not able to use the host name to represent yourself or your services and do not have built in brand recognition. You’ll have to create own brand awareness as you start your business, a daunting task for small business owners.


3. Proven Success & Established Systems

  • Franchise: A franchise like Cruise Planners has been developing successful processes and tools for over 25 years. When you join, you have use of proven systems to guide you and your business and jumpstart your success.
  • Host: Established systems with host companies are limited, if available at all. This means a huge investment of time and capital as you build your systems from scratch.


4. Tools and Support

  • Franchise: A franchise like Cruise Planners provides robust technology tools, marketing programs and ongoing training and business development coaching to help you grow your business. Even though you’re in business for yourself, you’re never in business by yourself.
  • Host: With a host agency, technology, marketing and personalized training are very limited, if they are provided at all. You’ll have to seek outside sources and programs for training and back-end support.


5. Commissions

  • Franchise: As a franchise owner, you keep 100% of commissions and pay the franchise company a royalty and sometimes a monthly fee with the amounts varying franchise to franchise. With Cruise Planners, you’ll start out earning the highest commissions in the industry no matter what your sales are.
  • Host: Host agencies have Commission splits between agent and host, not royalties, and sometimes charge monthly fees, but the host company is not investing is you as they primary focus in on their ROI.


6. Transparency

  • Franchise: Franchise companies are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Before purchasing a franchise, you’ll receive a Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) which gives you full disclosure of the company’s fee structure, financial information, litigation and more. To give you amble time to read and digest this information, you’ll have to wait 14 days after receiving FDD before buying your franchise.
  • Host: Host companies are not regulated by the FTC so they are not required to disclose any business information to you before you join, so there is less third-party oversight.


7. Cost

  • Franchise: Franchises typically have larger costs upfront, but you’ll start out with way more benefits, and when it comes to Cruise Planners, your franchise fee includes a robust training to give you the ins and outs of travel – no matter your level of experience.
  • Host: There are lower startup costs involved with a host company, however there are also less included benefits and more fees throughout the life of your business.


8. Brand Standards

  • Franchise: Carrying the name of a franchise comes with a level of standards you have to maintain. This ensures that your business and everyone else in the franchise network all carry the same positive recognition.
  • Host: Host agencies do not have established brand standards as there is less oversight among agencies. You can do whatever you want, but so can everyone else, diluting the brand message.


Take control of your travel business when you choose a franchise company. Gain brand recognition with consumers and travel partners – and the highest commissions – ensuring that your business investment is a smart and profitable choice. For more information on why Cruise Planners’ award-winning franchise model is a smart choice for those looking to start out in the travel industry or take their travel business to the next level, contact a Cruise Planners Franchise Development Manager today by calling 888-582-2150 or visiting