Are you in need of a reliable blueprint on how to become a travel agent? Do you need the simple but logical approach to become a successful travel agent? If your mission is setting up a profitable travel agency without any issue, then this article will definitely be of help to you.
As a person who loves travel and meticulous planning changing such passion into a paid job by way of helping people have a better travel experience will be a business well established.
While there is a great deal in becoming a travel agent, starting out the business as an agency would be the best option. So this brings us to the thrilling question: How to become a successful travel agent with little capital investment?
Before answering such question, it is very pertinent we briefly explain what travel agency is.
What is travel agency?
A travel agency can be better explain as a business organization built and meant purposely for helping travelers plan and arrange their journey right from home down to their destination.
Equally, it is a firm that is established to help people locate a better place for holidays, the best hotels to lodge in at the destination city or country and do all other important things that travelers may need in the course of their voyage.
While travel agencies packages and processes the attractions centres, amenities, ancillaries and accesses the services of a specific country, they present such country and it beautiful sceneries to tourists and that’s why the travel agency is often refer to as the ‘image builder‘ of a country.
There are many travel agencies out there doing great in helping people plan there journey. So if you’ll like to join the league of these successful travel business organizations, then keep reading.
Read also: Profitable travel business ideas
Who is a travel agent?
On the other hand, a travel agent is the person responsible for helping intending travelers plan their journey meticulously right from the word go till they return safely back to their initial destination.
On a technical sense, a travel agent is the manager or owner of an agency, with other staff that are saddled with the responsibility of advising tourists, planning travel activities and selling of tour packages.
Essence, a travel agent may be a single person, firm and/or corporation that is fondly known as the travel agency.
As a travel agent, you must know places and you must be smart enough to give and recommend a right and better places for your prospective customers if you want to last longer in the field.
You should have a persuasive and convincing mind if you must start a travel agency. Reason being that you’ll come across different clients who will have a place in mind for holiday but with your expertise, you should be able to convince them to try a better place for their purpose.
Types of travel agency
Obviously, the travel agency is one of the highly sought industry in the tourism sector that plays a vital role in the process of building, developing and promoting a country’s tourist attraction centres.
However, there are two main types of travel agency and they are:
- Retail travel agency
- Wholesale travel agency
Retail Travel Agency
A retail travel agency is a kind of agency that sells tourists packages or products to the public directly in place of the products suppliers with an agreement to get a certain percentage of commissions return.
Thus, some tour products can be sold in two ways; either on a commission basis or mark up price basis. When a travel agency cut a tour deal on the marked-up price, then the cost of such tour will be marked up and sell at an inflated rate.
Wholesale travel agency
The wholesale travel agency specialized in organizing product tours that are marketed and sold to the tourists directly to the target clients or indirectly using the retail agency channel. As such, wholesale travel agency buys the tourists package components in volume and designs the tour product or package.
In addition, the wholesale travel agencies gather package holidays just to sell them out to their prospective clients through the instrumentality of the retail travel agencies. An ideal package tour may includes; air tickets, accommodation or lodge, and other essential services may be included like, entertainment, sporting, sightseeing, etc.
How to start a travel agency business
Starting a travel agency business can sometimes be fairly inexpensive, adopting the new business venture rule of thumb, you can actually start with a limited staff, a temporary location with little upfront cost.
That being said, building a successful travel agency depends greatly on finding the perfect niche in a stiffed and fiercely competitive market, plus adopting the online service where your target audience can book directly from the comfort of their house.
So to become a successful travel agent, it’s advisable you focus on an intensive market research, business branding and most importantly, marketing. You’ll also need to identify who your prospective clients are and what they are willing and ready pay.
How to become a travel agent in 10 simple steps
You should study the below steps on how to become a travel agent with ease.
Step 1: Write an efficient business plan for your travel agency.
Irrespective of the business industry you found yourself, the important of a business plan is no joke; make no mistake. Although a business plan has different forms and styles, so if you’ll not be seeking for a business fund in the future, a lean business plan will do.
Findings show that writing an efficient business plan help a new business grow faster, so you don’t have to skip it for your travel business service.
Similarly, depending on the kind of travel agent you want to become i.e. If you want to become a home based travel agent you might want to finding a host travel agency or firm to be one of their independent contractor.
If that is the type of travel business you will like to venture into, then the business planning exercise should be easy, simple and straightforward. That is because the agency is up and running already, you just need a plan on how to fit in properly in the business.
However, if your plan is to start your own travel agency from the scratch, you will need a much more lengthy working business planning process. Albeit bringing in a more flexibility atmosphere to business is encouraged too, the business is all yours, remember!
In the course of writing the business plan, there are some vital questions you need to ask yourself and answer and equally, there are some areas that you need to forecast against the future unseen.
You need to ask yourself: who are your target clients? What do they need and how can your service help them? Where can you find them? What exactly is their problem and how can you solve it? Finding a perfect answer to these questions will make your planning process look great.
That’s said, you’ll also need to write your travel agency mission statement, aims and objectives, future projection, intending marketing strategies, how to solve any problem in the future, etc.
Your ability to include all these in your travel agency business plan will see to the business that it becomes a successful and profitable business in the long run.
You may like to read: How to start a small business from the scratch 2020
Step 2: Define your niche.
To get your desire result on how to become a travel agent with little investment capital, you need to define your travel agency niche. It’s very vital to other steps to follow.
There are several niches in this industry and of course, it has been thoroughly settled above hence, take your time to review the available travel agent niches and pick one that suit your experience and pocket well.
There is a great opportunity for you in this industry, if you wish, you can take your business internationally and if it pleases you, you can become a local agent.
What is important is to have a definite niche you’ll be building in your sojourn to becoming a successful travel agent.
Step 3: Conduct a market feasibility
Another important step on this how to become a travel agent blueprint is to carry out a thorough market survey. To do this, you must firstly have a definite niche to capitalize on which of course; you must have defined before coming down to this sep.
Moreover, having a definite niche is one thing and understanding the kind of travel agency your local community or target market actually need is another. And that’s where market survey and feasibility comes in.
Accordingly, since the most important thing on becoming a travel agent is to render a valuable service to the interested parties then you need to understand the kind of services these people want.
This means carrying out a thorough market research on your choosing niche to see the kind of void you can actually fill inthe travel business. Perhaps, may be a perfect adventure for honeymoons is what they need the most or how to tour Paris with ease is what they’ve always wanted.
Thinking about your target audience and what they really need in your choosing need will help you greatly in your adventure of how to become a travel agent successfully.
Step 4: Develop a unique brand as successful travel agents does.
Haven defined your definite niche and knows what your preferred market looks like, the next thing in line is to creating a strong and unique brand image for your travel agency.
Since the travel industry is saturated and so competitive, creating a well-developed image or brand will assist your business greatly in standing out in the midst of other agencies.
Also, design a unique brand for your agency will make your customers feel ease when they browse through your website, watch your advertising, or when they engage your services. Building an amazing brand that will give your guests the true taste of traveling should be your priority.
At least, your target audience deserves to see a big difference in engaging the service of your travel agency rather than booking a trip anywhere online themselves. So the experience you will be providing with your agency that others can’t is what matter the most.
Offer unique services by partnering with your travel destinations locals that your prospective clients wouldn’t otherwise have access to. Planning people’s trip meticulously from the beginning down to the end and giving touches with great customer care experience are the kinds of branding you should work on.
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Step 5: Do the legal basics
Another important step that needs utmost attention on how to become a travel agent is doing filling all the necessary paperwork to establish a new business entity. Thus, doing the legal basic of a travel agency is simple and pretty easy.
Since you are not starting a dispensary, brewery or a pharmaceutical company, there is no much legal red tape involved in becoming a travel agent or starting a travel agency or business in the U.S.
How important is licensing to travel business?
In terms of licensing, becoming a travel agent anywhere in the U.S. doesn’t require any specific license; however, the law of each state varies. In Washington, California, Iowa, Hawaii and Florida, there is need for you to get “Seller of Travel” license.
Also, Canada has a licensing requirement for the travel agent and it varies by location. Similarly, in the U.K., before you become a certified travel agent, you’ll have to get “Air Travel Organiser’s License.”
Choosing your preferred business structure
Other than the specific licenses, there are other licenses that are general and you’ll have to possess them before you can kick-start any kind of business venture. So to get these kinds of license, you’ll need a to choose a specific business structure that suit your needs establishment.
So on this guide on how to become a travel agent, we’ll advise you to go for a Limited Liability Company (LLC) as it’s the appropriate business structure for what you’re trying to achieve. Though a sole proprietorship is not bad either, and you can establish a partnership deed too
But if you have no intention of seeking fund in public or securing any formal investment, LLC is a very simple and easy to start organization structure. It has an ease governance attribute with some compliance that’ll will give your travel agency business the kind of joy it deserves.
However, before you choose any business structure, understand your business plan and the intending strategies to fund it. If for instance, you plan to pitch investors for investment capital, you might want to consider starting your travel business as a “S” corporation.
Name your travel agency and apply for the Federal Tax ID number.
There is need for you to name your travel business formally although this tip on how to become a travel agent isn’t necessary as everyone will have the intention to give their small, medium or large scale business a name.
That said, becoming a travel agent involves filing an application for a DBA — doing business as — and you’ll equally need to fill an application for a Federal Tax Identification number Employer Identification number (EIN or FEIN).
Haven got all these right, then you can proceed to the next step on your sojourn to becoming a successful travel agent.
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Step 6: Source of fund
In your business plan, you most have make some arrangements on how to get your business fund. Hence, now is the place to put the strategy into use.
Although if you have your initial start-up capital on you, then you can skip this step but if the reverse is the case, it’s of utmost important.
Moreover, travel agency business start up cost is fairly low. There is expensive equipment or tools to buy and there is no need for an extensive office in the beginning; most especially if you’re considering starting out a travel agent right from the comfort of your own house.
Whatever the case may be, endeavor to have a working plan in place on how to secure business funding. At least, you’ll need money for marketing out the agency; both online and offline using the business website and flyers, posters, banners, business cards respectively.
Step 7: Choose a perfect location
Next on how to become a travel agent is to choose a nice and perfect location for the travel agency. Not only that, you’ll also need to make an arrangement for logistics before opening your travel agency to the general public.
This part will however be relevant to those that will be starting the travel business outside their home. After all, you can run the business in a vacuum; there’ll be a need for an open space.
Additionally, you’re encouraged to set up your business location where the business desire brand image will be reflected and in an environment that will accommodates all the space you need.
Step 8: Hire your staff/employees
As easy as travel business may seems there is need for you to hire some staff to assist you in doing some important things. You can’t take control and run everything by yourself and thus, you have to hire your own staff.
Pick the best candidate that suit the best job and make sure you only employ people to position that are important. For instance, there will be need for a secretary in the firm, a clerk, messager, cleaner and accountant. These are the vital position that needs to be filled for the main time.
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Step 9: Launch your travel agency
Haven put all the above steps into order, there is nothing left than to launch the agency in style. Give it a grand opening and offer a free service for the time being.
Draw the attention of your target audience and let them know that you are capable of solving their problem. Tell your friends, family and neighbors that your travel agency is up and running.
Doing all these will put your business in the same boat with your competitors and as such, you’ll know what it means to be in the travel industry.
Step 10: Market your travel business
Marketing the new business will be where you’ll spend most of your initial business funding on. It is a vital area that you have to focus on in your journey to become a travel agent as well as starting a successful travel business.
Such is one of the reasons why it is always encourage to draw up some marketing strategies in the business plan from the inception.
Based on your financial budget and marketing projection, you should market your travel agency both online and offline. Create a website, use the various social media platforms and adopt the traditional offline advert.
Read also: Small business marketing ideas
Distribute fliers to your prospective clients, erect a billboard depicting your business image brand, use poster and place banner where necessary, etc. All these and others will serve as your travel agency stepping stone to success.
Starting a travel agency in a bid to become a travel agent is not a difficult task. All it takes is careful planning, persistence, and ability to take risk. Although the risk here is minimal.
Therefore, study and digest the above steps on how to become a travel agent in 10 simple ways and your business will definitely be a success in no time. Salute!