If you don’t know, tourism is the largest industry in the world. The business has evolved over the decades but hardly has ever seen a recession. Businesses around tourism remain a flourishing industry, and travel agency remains the most lucrative business option.
While traveling and lodging options will change with time, the gateway to these services will stay in demand.
Whoever wishes to travel, will need a middleman for these services. Either an offline agency or an online aggregator, these services will be there in the market. So, if you plan to start a travel agency from scratch, here’s a complete guide.
Travel Agency Business Plan for Beginners
We have covered all the points in simple steps on how you can start a travel agency from scratch.
1. Market Research
You need to understand the basics. Digital travel now is at the center of the new-age travel industry. So with an only-offline model, you won’t be able to exist for long. Offline travel agencies have seen a huge slowdown in their businesses. So you need to research the market and first find out who’s your target market. And at the same time, you need to make sure you are available everywhere.
Even if a customer wants to know about any specific package, he should get the details at 3 o’clock in the night on your website.
2. Finding A Niche & Business Model
You first need to find a niche. Instead of going on a general all-corner basis, find a niche first. Don’t try to sell everything in the initial phase. You will always have the scope of expanding in the future, but if you fail to offer every service, this will create a bad impression. So, start with a single category or two.
When you start with a particular segment of the market like the best bed and breakfast options or packages for solo travelers, you will be able to reduce the competition.
Coming to a business model, you need to finalize how you wish to operate. But given the massive online market, you can choose to set up an online travel agency with a conventional office to deal with the customers in person.
3. Create A Business Plan
This is crucial. All successful businesses have one thing in common, effective business plans. A well-detailed business plan will help you to stay on track. Start with the objectives, goals, and a rough idea of how you want to run your new travel agency.
Include your market research, analysis, and sales strategies you wish to carry out in the future.
4. Name your Travel Agency
Selecting a catchy and relatable name for your travel agency business is critical for building a positive brand personality. You must put a lot of thought before finally choosing the right name. Furthermore, check whether there is any trademark name conflict and whether a relevant domain name is available or not. If the website domain name is already taken, it becomes very difficult to create an effective website in the future.
5. Financing A Travel Agency
If you wish to start with a niche, it won’t be a huge investment. Having an offline facility will definitely add up to the cost. But in case you wish to start with an exclusive online travel agency, this will help you keep down operational costs.
You will have to partner with airlines, hotels, and different other services, so the initial investment is going to be high.
6. Legal Requirements
As a travel agency, you must follow all the required legal responsibilities. This will vary from country to country, but in general, you will need to have a few licenses as a certified travel agent. Every country has its own set of laws, so take legal help so that you make sure you abide by all the laws and regulations as a travel agency.
The registration process and the licensing are different for specific states and continents. You have to register your business, and then apply for a separate tax profile.
For example, if you are from the United States, one of the most preferred business structures is a Limited Liability Company or LLC. Forming an LLC will not only provide extra protection to your personal assets but also help in the smooth filing of annual taxes.
7. Getting Partners Onboard
Once you are done with the setup, it’s now time to find partners. From selling tickets to offering packages, you will have to find partners. It’s better to approach established travel companies initially for permission to sell their packages from your agency.
You can charge a percentage for the services you sell for them, like an affiliate marketer.
But, you will need attractive offers to make money. You have to maintain your goodwill. If you are able to bring in customers and offer good services, more partners will like to tie up with you. As a travel start-up, building a market is important as a news agency.
8. Marketing Your Travel Agency
Now you need to take the word out. As a new travel agency, you have to promote your new business aggressively across different media channels and platforms. As a new agency, first, let people know about what you do. You need to have a separate budget for aggressive promotions. Start with marketing campaigns to target customers.
You may start small, but make sure you work on aggressive marketing and advertisements.
As a new travel agency, it’s now your duty to make people aware of your agency. Customer awareness plays an important role in this business. You may not see conversions straight away, but even, if a customer plans to visit a particular place six months later, he will remember your company if you can deliver the right ads.
9. Hiring Employees & Customer Support Setup
As you will deal with customers in person, make sure that you are there whenever anyone needs any assistance. You will need to hire employees depending on your size of operations and how to wish to expand your services. Building a good customer relationship will help your business with repeat customers and word-of-mouth marketing.
Even if you are a single-man agency, make sure you are there for your customers whenever they need them.
If you operate at a medium scale, having a dedicated customer support team is highly recommended for a travel agency.
Your staff should be aware of all the details and essentials. They should be trained well so that they treat your customers well. There could be times when an angry customer may call and abuse for some poor service. You should be open to criticism, and try to fix it rather than abusing them back.
10. Getting An Exclusive App & Website
While a website will definitely do your job to serve an online audience, having an app will help you attract more users. Firstly, having an app will help you keep in touch with your customers. Then you can directly send them offers and as well as be in touch with them all the time.
Users also find it convenient to have an app with all the booking and transaction details in one place.
Finally, now it’s time to kickstart your new travel business. Make sure your marketing campaigns are live, the customer support team is ready to answer queries and your online platform is ready to serve customers. In this business, you will have to go out and approach potential customers. Either it can be corporations or individuals.
Offer deals on packages, run offers on airline booking, and hotels, and finally throw in discounts one can’t resist. You have to create a demand. One may not plan a tour this weekend, but you offer a package that may generate interest.
Instead of waiting for the clients, you should approach them first, either by advertisements or in person. As a new travel agency, you should focus on creating your market and look for potential clients!
About the Author: 99businessideas.com led by Rupak Chakrabarty is committed to helping beginners, entrepreneurs, and small business owners in starting, managing, and growing their businesses.