When evaluating a travel agency franchise or host, we often look at tactical aspects—what marketing programs they have; what technology they provide; what training and ongoing business development they offer. These are all incredibly important to consider and can differentiate a great host from an average one. But one aspect that sometimes gets overlooked, and is equally important, is company culture.
The term “company culture” gets tossed around a lot and can end up feeling contrived. But a company’s culture is more than just foosball tables and unlimited snacks. Culture, and the people that make up that culture, are the driving force behind how a company operates. It determines how the company makes decisions, what areas it invests in, and how it values its people.
As a travel advisor, it is important to be part of a franchise or host that has a strong culture that aligns with your personal values. Because many travel advisors are home-based, foosball tables and snacks probably aren’t going to be that appealing. Instead, you should consider things like how your host interacts with agents, how it fosters community and cooperation, how it handles feedback from agents, and how invested it is in agents’ success.
Ultimately, only you can decide what is most important to you, but aligning yourself with a franchise or host whose culture matches your values can go a long way in bringing happiness and overall satisfaction.
A positive company culture can go a long way in taking your passion and giving it purpose, ultimately leading to a higher sense of personal satisfaction.
Why Company Culture is Important
You’ve probably heard the saying “if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” While some argue this minimizes the value of hard work, the sentiment is true—things feel less like work and can bring more joy if you are passionate about them. Afterall, your love for travel is probably one of the main reasons you became a travel agent. But passion alone is not the only determiner of happiness.
You may love what you do, but if you don’t feel appreciated or respected or if you don’t have the tools to properly do your job, you are going to feel a sense of frustration, no matter how deep your passion.
A positive company culture can go a long way in taking your passion and giving it purpose, ultimately leading to a higher sense of personal satisfaction. If you feel appreciated; if you feel supported; if you feel your voice is heard; if you feel like what you are doing matters, you’re probably going to enjoy what you do a lot more.
And I know what some of you are probably thinking: that all sounds great, but how does this affect my ability to earn money? It’s a fair question, but company culture can absolutely have an impact on your earning potential.
As an example, a franchise or host that has a culture rooted in innovation is going to continually develop new tools and technology designed to help you work more efficiently and drive sales.
Company culture can also go a long way in shaping a brand’s reputation. Customers want to do business with companies they trust and feel a personal connection with. A franchise or host with a culture based on putting the customer first and having fun while doing it can lead to a positive brand identity, and ultimately more clients for you.
Great travel agents are the lifeblood of any successful host, but the relationship shouldn’t be one-sided. A host should be committed to engaging with its agents and fostering meaningful personal relationships.
How to Evaluate a Host Company’s Culture
Ultimately, everyone values different things, and one company’s culture may be a perfect match for you but not for someone else. There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong culture, but there are definitely telltale signs of a positive culture. When evaluating the company culture of a franchise or host, here are some things you should consider:
Are the needs of the travel advisor put first?
The best hosts will have supporting their agents baked into the fiber of everything they do. They will continually provide the best tools and support to help travel agent businesses thrive, and the decisions they make, from their investments in technology to the home office team members they hire, will be driven by how they can help their travel advisors.
Do travel advisors have a voice?
A franchise or host with a positive culture should be committed to listening to its advisors. The host should empower agents to provide honest feedback, and when it receives feedback, it should act upon it. A company that values the input of its advisors will also provide consistent opportunities for them to have their voice heard, whether through agent advisory boards, direct conversation, or other channels.
Is the host engaged with its travel agents?
Great travel agents are the lifeblood of any successful host, but the relationship shouldn’t be one-sided. A host should be committed to engaging with its agents and fostering meaningful personal relationships as well as providing recognition for accomplishments.
Is competition or cooperation more prevalent?
Competition among agents may seem inevitable, especially for those in the same region, but it doesn’t have to be. The culture a franchise or host sows and can encourage agents to work together to support each other rather than compete with one another.
Cruise Planners travel advisors Janice Sinardi and Andrea Campbell took this to heart when they formed the Tampa Area Travel Advisors (better known as the TATAs). With more than 50 Cruise Planners advisors in the area, Janice and Andrea wanted to pool their resources and knowledge to help one another. Together, the group hosts lunch-and-learns, shares tips and tricks, travels together and coordinates vendor trainings and information sessions.
Although the group was conceived entirely by agents, the established company culture of cooperation over competition allowed it to blossom.
Is a positive culture a priority?
Great company culture doesn’t happen by accident. It takes a true investment of time and resources. The best franchises and hosts make developing a positive company culture a priority, incorporate it into their mission, and then act upon the values the espouse.
Culture at Cruise Planners
At Cruise Planners, we are committed to making culture more than just a buzzword. We have defined it in our mission, and we even have an entire People & Culture department. We are dedicated to supporting our travel advisors above all else, continually innovating to help their businesses succeed, fostering meaningful relationships built on mutual trust, and spreading Cruisitude.