how to start a travel agency

Are you wondering about how to start a travel agency?

Author: Tanuja Rai
Date: 2020-04-21

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If you are someone who loves to pack your bags and wander around places, someone who loves to travel and make meticulous planning then you must definitely love to plan for others as well. Maybe you are considering starting your own travel agency and become a travel agent. There are ways to become a fairly inexpensive travel agent and run your travel agency efficiently with limited staff and little upfront cost.

2. Start a travel agency of your own

Start a travel agency of your own

But the question is how to start a travel agency? If you are seriously considering being a travel agent and start a successful travel agency, then you must know about some of the easy and effective ways and tips to start your business. There is no doubt that the market is fiercely competitive hence your success will largely depend on finding the right niche for your agency. But how to find the right niche you ask? The first step you can take is to start putting your effort into focusing on market research. You need to set up your mind and be decisive with what you find helpful during your research and take them into consideration. You need to research on many successful travel agencies and understand the back story, hard work, and the way they had started. You also need to put your effort into focusing on branding and marketing. Target your market, target the people with whom you will be working in the future once your agency will start the kinds of services that your agency will provide. Also start to understand the price suitable for you and what they will be willing to pay. You might have had to be in contact with a travel agent once or more in your life before and hence you might know a part of the service they give. A travel agency if started correctly and ran successfully will fetch you a good career and a sufficient amount of money. Since you have decided to start a travel business you need to start observing the works of other travel agencies and you will be stunned by little important things really important for running a business.

Having said that, you have to be a keen observer, a market researcher, and more but you might still be confused and wondering how to really start the business. Well! Here are some of the very important steps you should consider before starting your agency and these steps will definitely help you and give you a push to start.

Step 1 of How to Start a Travel Agency: Analyze and Create a Plan

While starting any business people often focus on making no mistakes and that is also something you must think about here. The first step in starting your travel agency is really crucial and important. As said earlier, you need to do some research about the market, services you are ready to provide, location, marketing and advertising, funds, and staff. In other words, you need to analyze many possibilities and plan accordingly. Planning is really important in starting a travel agency business, a new project, or any kind of business. Planning is something you do not want to skip. But how to plan and what do you need to plan? Well! It is simple you see. You do not have to have a formal business plan like they do in big companies. However, if you are going to take any amount of loan or investment funding for the travel agency you wish to start do not skip it. It has been scientifically proven that when you write down the plans you make, it will help your business grow faster. So you see this is something you do want to skip. You can write down your plans it won’t take more than an hour. You should be clear in your head about the kind of travel agent you want to become and the agency you want to run. If it is going to be a home-based travel agency you need to find a host travel agency for you. In this way you will be an independent contractor and if this is how your travel agency is going to be started your planning will be fairly straightforward. However, if you want to start your travel business from the ground up, you will need a much more lengthy process for planning but you will have more flexibility in building up your business.

3. Plan your business structure

Plan your business structure

Step 2 of How to Start a Travel Agency: Market Research and Finding Your Niche

You have planned for the basic requirements of your travel agency so what now? After you are clear with your plans and the kind of business you want whether home-based or in contract with other travel agencies or a business of your own, you need to conduct some market research. This is also an important step in starting up your travel business since this research will not only help you understand the position of the market but will also help you in finding your niche. What is this niche that we have been talking about lately here? Niche is the segment of a larger market defined by its own unique needs, identity, or preference like while shopping for suits you go to a shop that sells suits, not the shop that sells sarees. However, both of these items are clothes, which is the larger market and these shops are divided by their own segments of suits and sarees.

While finding your niche for the travel agency you are about to start, you have to understand the kind of travel business that the industry is looking for or the kind of travel agency your community needs. The most important thing to keep in mind is to provide valuable services to the customers keeping in mind the type of possible customers you may have and the type of requirements they need. Do some market research in your local community as well and find out the services they prefer this way you will find your niche for your travel agency.

4. Find the specific niche for your travel business

Find the specific niche for your travel business

Step 3 of How to Start a Travel Agency: Developing a Brand

Once you decide the specific niche that you will be filling for your travel business and understand what the market looks like, you will need to get down to the nitty-gritty in creating a well built and rigid image agency brand. Here, you have to put up all your creativity to create the best brand image that screams the vision you see for your travel business. Having a well built and outstanding brand logo will help you advertise your business in the competitive travel industry.

5. Choose a brand logo for your travel agency

Choose a brand logo for your travel agency

Step 4 of How to Start a Travel Agency: Deal With The Legal Side

After deciding the specific niche for your travel agency and finding the right brand logo for the business you would want to deal with the legal side. Starting up a travel agency is fairly simple when compared to some other businesses and setting up your agency legally is also not very hard unlike starting a brewery, drug store, or liquor shop. When it comes to becoming a travel agent and setting up your business legally, you will hardly find a lot of legal red tape. However, you need to keep all your documents updated and correct for travel license and certifications. The requirements and licensing procedures will vary by every state and country and if you want to start your travel agency with no hindrance, you will need to follow the procedures and steps your place has.

6. Deal with legal side for starting up your agency

Deal with the legal side for starting up your agency

Step 5 of How to Start a Travel Agency: Determine a Funding Strategy

Now when almost everything has been set up for your travel business, step 5 is a step taken according to step 1 planning. While planning your travel business, you sure have had planned your funding strategy whether an investment funding, a loan, or the amount you might have saved. Sometimes, while starting up a business the funding can also be provided by someone who does not do anything in starting or setting up the business but provide you the funds. All these are planned in the first step of starting a travel agency.

Here in this step, you will put use to the amount that you have collected earlier into your travel business. Do not be worried about the kind of costs and amount it might take because luckily the starting costs will be fairly low. In the beginning you do not have to buy expensive equipment for your travel business and also do not require a huge space for running your business. If you are going to be a travel agent working from home you will not even need an office or space to run your business at all. Most of the funding will be required in marketing, advertising your travel agency both online and offline, like creating websites advertising them, for flyers, cards, posters, maintaining websites, etc. You will also want to create your business card. Your initial budget will also be used for branding and you need to save some amount in the beginning to hire employees and pay them.

7. Choose funding strategy for your travel agency

Choose a funding strategy for your travel agency

Step 6 of How to Start a Travel Agency: Set Location and Hire Employees

In the beginning, while planning for your travel business, you also plan for the logistics of starting and opening up your travel agency. If you are going to be a home-based travel agent then you do not need any office however, if you are starting a travel agency that requires an office, you must have then planned the location where your office is going to stand.

Choosing the location while starting up a travel business plays one of the vital roles for the success of your travel agency. The location of your travel agency is, however, chosen during the first phase of planning while starting up your business. The setting up of this office is done in this phase. After setting up the office you would now like to hire employees who would work for you. In the beginning you may not even need to hire any employees but this totally depends on the expansion of your travel business. If you are hiring some, you might not need many of them in starting until you decide to expand your operations and services. There are many travel agencies that hire employees who work from remote locations and do freelancing as well. If the requirement is not high you can ask them to do freelancing since hiring full-time employees will cost a huge amount of money and it could be difficult for you in the starting. However, as your travel business start prospering you will definitely need them to be in your office and work with you.

For people starting up their travel business from home do not need any office space elsewhere and may not need to hire full-time employees. They will have to skip the former step but they can also consider hiring people who can freelance for them.

8. Hire employees for your travel business

Hire employees for your travel business

Step 7 of How to Start a Travel Agency: Market and Launch

If you have completed all the above steps or they seem quite easy to follow and practice, congratulations! You are about to start up your brand new travel agency. Step 7 may seem easy but it requires hard work and a lot of patience. You have planned for your travel business, found the specific niche, chosen brand logo, dealt with the legal side, determining funding strategy, set up travel business office, and hired employees. Now, you need to do some marketing for your travel agency, advertise it and launch your business.

As mentioned earlier, most of your initial funding will likely to be used for marketing. This is an important area to focus on while starting up a travel agency or any kind of business or when you are trying to become a travel agent. Coming up with different marketing ideas is a good way to start up your travel business. Think of this as basically an idea of spending some money to make more money. Advertising your travel business through various ways, the efforts required and all the hard work may sometimes not pay enough. That is how any business runs. You have to be really patient and optimistic while doing so. You have to come up with creative ideas and reasons why the hotels, resorts, and homestays you want to be in collaboration with should collab with your travel agency. This process is tiring and people may not even listen to you but looking on the bright side, once this phase is over your travel agency will be up and live, giving services to your customers. When most of these processes are over, it is time for you to launch your travel agency and provide great service to your customers and the people you are working with. These first impressions will last for a long time and their feedbacks will help your travel agency to grow and improve. To advertise your travel business you can put plenty of your focus on social media marketing too. The social media marketing and the guerrilla marketing tactics will help you a lot but do not make the mistake of thinking that the advertisements you have done are enough and that your efforts revolve around paid advertising only.

9. Market and launch your new travel business

Market and launch your new travel business

When you are starting a travel agency business, you have to take care of a lot of aspects and there are some simple but really necessary things you should not keep your eyes away from. Like building good relationships with customers, promoting your agency, asking for feedback, regularly putting up your travel agency on social media, making effective business plans, getting partners, practicing goals, optimizing online business, sales opportunities, etc. You must always come up with ways and ideas to improve and increase your business and never stop learning or observing. Good luck!

Also check:

Travel Agent Guide

Maintaining accounting for travel agents

Software for travel agents

Guide to tour operator software


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