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Why Having a List of 6-10 Suppliers Will Save Your Travel Business

How much time do you spend managing that endless stream of supplier emails pouring into your inbox every week? How do you keep track of all those promotions, updates, and training sessions? How great would it be if you could dial down the email overwhelm and choose to work with a handful of suppliers instead?

Having a preferred portfolio of suppliers in your back pocket has endless benefits, but let us walk you through some of the main reasons why it's time to scale back and zero in on your favorites.

#1 Reduce your inbox noise

Supplier emails can account for up to 70% of the communication coming into your inbox. If you don't have an organized system of placing those emails somewhere, more important emails will get lost in the mix.

One option would be to choose your list of 6-10 suppliers, create a label in your inbox, and direct those emails to that particular folder. That way, you can set aside time in your day to read over those supplier emails specifically.

Another option would be to create a folder that captures all of the other supplier emails, so what ends up in your inbox is only your preferred suppliers. Do yourself a favor and slowly unsubscribe yourself from these unnecessary emails. If you need something you can reach out to them directly.

#2 Prioritize Your Training

Webinars, Zoom sessions, and virtual and in-person trade shows are all invaluable opportunities to enhance your travel education. But you do not need to attend them all. It would be like attending every class on a college campus regardless of your degree.

Almost every major supplier provides learning opportunities, often with booking incentives and unique offers. Keeping your supplier paired down means you can hyper-focus on their training sessions, and you won't feel the pressure or temptation to hop onto webinars that are not relevant and waste your time.

#3 Focus on your niche

You know that niching down in your business is what separates you from the average order-taking travel advisor.

Working with a specific group of suppliers will help you increase your strengthen your niche knowledge specifically for destinations and experiences because you are working with experts on the ground and locals. The continuous communication and contact with them expand your knowledge bank for each new client.


Great suppliers become industry friends and they reward loyalty, especially in this new era of travel planning. Whether it's extra amenities and benefits with a cruise brand, price reductions and reduced deposits with a particular tour brand for repeat clients, or agent discounts for repeat bookings, working with your favorite suppliers is a win-win for everyone.

Now that you know how you can benefit from focusing on 6-10 suppliers, how do you go about doing that? With hundreds of options available, here are some criteria you can use to help you decide which suppliers to work with.

  • What Commission Rates Net Rates Do They Offer?

It makes sense to work with suppliers who compensate you well. If you're working with a host agency, there will often be higher commission rates for affiliated advisors. If you are not with a host agency, approach your favorite suppliers and negotiate commission rates, especially if you're bringing them volume. Use your 2019 sales if you are negotiating post-pandemic. If you're regularly working with a destination management company, you want suppliers that provide net rates that allow for generous mark-ups.

  • How Do They Treat Travel Advisors?

The pandemic pulled back the curtain and really showed us which suppliers looked out for travel advisors and which did not. Who will protect your commission? Who will call you back? Who helps you when you make a mistake? Who provides training and support?

How a supplier treats you as a travel advisor is a preview of how they might treat your clients, or you when you're in a jam.

  • How Do They Treat Your Clients?

Does your supplier treat your clients like royalty? Do they support your clients while they are at a destination? How did they treat clients during the pandemic? Are cancellations or changes difficult? Were refunds a challenge? Were they mindful of special circumstances? Did they listen?

Taking inventory of a supplier's customer service track record is essential. You want to work with reputable suppliers who operate with integrity and they are an extension of what your business stands for.

If you've been struggling with too many supplier options, and want some peace in your inbox, having fewer relationships to manage is a good start.

153 views2 comments


This is a great snippet of advice. I'm compelled now to narrow down those suppliers to reduce inbox overwhelm!


Unknown member
Jul 22, 2022

How many “focused suppliers” do you have? Who are they?

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