“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Saint Augustine
Do you love all that has to do with travel? Would you like to make a living out of helping other people travel and find new places? The travel agency business calls for you.
What type of business is a travel agency business?
It provides the travel arrangements, transportation, housing and advice on the travel destination to its customers.
Why Start a Travel Agency?
It is not as expensive as many other businesses. In the travel agency business, you can thrive even with a few staff. You also get to travel at a discounted rate to different countries.
So, how profitable is a travel agency?
The earnings annually can range from $50,000 – 100,000 and up to $500,000.
To stand out, you need a niche. An area to specialize in that meets needs and is not choked up with the competition.
The market is however competitive. To stand out from the crowd you need to put work into your branding, marketing and market research. This would help you find out who your target market is and what their desire is.
How to Become a Travel Agent
A travel agent, like every other agency business seeks to provide travel services to its client base. Starting one would require not just your understanding of travel business but how to start a business as well.
You Need a Business Plan
Having a business plan can increase the chances for your business to happen. It is scientifically proven in fact.
A business plan does not have to be formal, especially if you’re not writing it for a loan. Writing a business plan gives you a goal and helps build a plan, a setting for your business.
It should include the type of travel agency business you wish to have, what your business aims to achieve, management of funds and the business entirely. It is also necessary to influence your acquiring of loans, investors or grants.
You can either be an independent agent working at home for a host travel agency or you can build your travel agency. This would influence how you write your business plan.
If you wish to start a travel agency and require a loan, a formal business plan is required. A lean business planning is simple and can be used for less formal business planning.
It can also be used to begin a formal business plan with the rest of the necessary info included afterwards.
Making a business plan is putting all about your business, profit margin, aim, target market on paper. Putting it out to the world what you want to do and the universe blessing it.
Perform Market Research and Get a Niche
What does the travel market need? Market research helps you to find out the needs of the market and the spaces that need to be filled.
A need that no travel agency has met but is clamored by the public. This brings value to your travel agency business because you would be meeting a real need by real people.
Perform market research to learn about the market, the niches and your potential competition and then figure out your target, the people on the receiving end of your travel agency business and how you would meet their needs.
Build a Brand
Now, that you already know what niche you chose, what you are offering and your target market, the next thing is to build your brand.
This is what distinguishes you from other travel agencies. It is your spice that your own business brings.
This answers the question “what makes your business different?”
Legalities and Business Structure
Do you need licensing? This depends on the country or state where your business is located. Some places don’t require you to have a license while some do. Find out and get one if required.
What business structure would work best for your travel agency business? Sole ownership, a partnership, a limited liability company? This depends on the needs of your company, where the funding comes from and your business plan.
Source of Funding for Your Business
Starting your travel agency business requires low starting costs. You would not need a large space at the start. If you would be working from home, you don’t necessarily need a work office as long as you have a space set aside for work.
The source of funds for your business can be from what you saved up or a grant or loan. This cost is also necessary to cover advertising and branding. There are many more ways to fund your travel agency business.
Location and Employees
If you would be working away from home and getting office space for your business, you need a location.
You may not need employees while just starting.
While a physical location is good, a virtual location, your business website is very important. Your target market is not only those living in the area. They are in other states and countries and while a physical location gives some formality to your agency, your virtual location is important, if not more important.
Market Your Travel Agency Business
What’s your marketing plan? How do you intend to reach the people who your business aims to reach? Your target customers and your niche choice both influence your marketing technique.
Guerrilla marketing techniques and social media marketing are key marketing techniques to help guide your marketing plan.
Build Online Presence
It’s much easier to market travel services online. A well planned online presence can help boost your marketing and attract regular customers to your Agency. Exploring different online channel may open up your Agency to new customer inflow.
Online channels to consider:
How Much You Require to Start
The cost of starting a travel agency is about $500 on average. It’s an international business. The amount is not fixed. You can also start without capital, depending on your circumstances.
Starting As An Independent Agent
An independent agent is like any other travel agent except that they are more flexible especially with the presence of technology allowing them to work anywhere even while on the move.
Pick a Host Agency or Franchise
A host agency is crucial if you are starting as an independent agent. Host agencies not only provide you with the training you need to be an independent agent, but you also enjoy the benefit of having the support and guidance of experts.
Vital tools needed to perform as an independent travel agent would also be provided which is priceless for someone just starting. It also reduces starting costs.
Challenges of Travel Agency
Creating and maintaining an online presence. Your online presence, your website and its functionality are important to put your services out. Your website should allow for easy booking, questions and recommendations from the customers.
A solution to the problem of not having good online presence is to have a website that is responsive to the customers and is travel inclined. This website should also be search engine optimized for organic audience reach.
Knowing your Customers’ Needs
Since the recipient of your business is your customers, knowing and understanding their needs would make you understand them better and what they expect from you.
The questions they ask, suggestions they make, complaints and feedback would give you insight so make sure to ask for these things.
Meeting customers’ needs according to individual requirements. Feedback and reviews from your customers would give you the insight to know exactly what they need. Also, this would give them a personal and unique experience.
Maintaining your Business Standard
Keep up with the standards you have set off for your business. This would keep your customers coming to you. It’s better to retain your standard than reduce it. Increasing your standard is also a good option.
Let your booking process be straightforward. Your customers should be able to figure out the booking process easier. Make it available and straightforward on your website.
You can have a specific dashboard for the booking process that is easy to locate and with multiple choices for a variety to choose from.
The travel agency business has the marvelous benefits of building interpersonal relationships with its customers, exploring new grounds, adventure and a lot more.
Like Helen Keller said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
Finally, you must constantly seek to know more about travel agency business.