Have you always wondered how to start a travel agency? While it is not a walk in the park when it comes to how to start a travel agency business, becoming a travel agent is not as difficult as you think. You can easily become an online travel agent by opening your own online travel agency. All you need to know is the steps of how to start a home-based travel agency and before you know it, you can be helping your first client plan their dream vacation.
How to Start a Travel Agency: 15 Steps
1. Determine Your Selling Niche
While you are going to be tempted to sell every type of vacation possible, you will be much more successful if you choose a niche for your online travel agency. This is always going to be your very first step when it comes to how to start a travel agency business, because it is the most important.
Selling all types of travel options will bring fierce competition from every other travel agent in the world, but when you have a niche, your competition will be less. A few niches to consider for your online travel agency include honeymoons, beach vacations, executive options, and backpacking adventures. Please remember, the possibilities are endless, so do some research and see what piques your interest the most.
2. Determine Your Target Market
Now that you know what niche you are going to specialize in for your travel agency business, it is a good idea to determine your target market. These are the people you will spend most of your time marketing to. This isn’t to say that you will skip over everyone else completely, but your focus will be those within your target market.
3. Create a Business Plan
No business will succeed without a business plan, which is why you will want to go through the process of creating one when you are learning how to start a home-based travel agency. The goal of this plan is to keep you on track, so you know what you should be doing when, and where you should be financially. A couple things to include in this business plan for your online travel agency include the goals for your business, the resources that are available, and how you will prevent any problems that arise along the way.
4. Create Your Travel Agency Business Name
Before you can create the brand for your new travel agency business, you must have a name. Some people choose their name long before they choose their niche, but there are others that wait until they decide what they will specialize in first. No matter which option you choose, before you go any further, you must have a name for your travel agency. We recommend making it something that is easy for people to remember and easy to search for, so no one has any issues finding you when they need you.
5. Create Your Brand
Every business needs a brand, because it shows everyone exactly what your business is about and what you sell. Once you have an idea of what your brand will be, it will be time to design your logo. As soon as you have your logo, you can have business cards, brochures, and other visual items printed.
Likewise, regardless whether you will have a physical location or be online, you need a catchy and beautiful website with a domain name. There are professional website development companies out there, so this is something to have a professional do so that you have keywords people can find on search engines.
6. Determine All Things Legal
There are many legalities when it comes to running a travel agency business and you must make sure they are all fulfilled before you book your first client. First, you must obtain your license for being an online travel agent. This is as easy as filling out a form in many states. However, if you are in the state of Hawaii, Washington, Florida, or California, there are other laws and regulations you will need to be aware of and follow when you are opening your online travel agency.
Once you have met all those guidelines, you will need to apply for a Federal Tax ID number and fill out the paperwork to have your business trademarked. This trademark will ensure your logo, and everything to do with your brand, is legally registered, so no one else can use it.
7. Find the Funding You Will Need to Start
You may not think that you need any money to start up your online travel agency, but that is simply not true. There are going to be some expenses that you need to cover, and you must have the funding in place well in advance. Of course, if you are opening a travel agency business where you need an office and staff, you will need even more money in the beginning.
8. Choose the Proper Location for Your Travel Agency
If you are starting an online travel agency, then it doesn’t really matter where your office is located. However, if you are going to have a travel agency that people can walk into off the street, you must choose a location that has a lot of foot traffic and can be seen easily. Bonus points are given for having ample parking for all your clients.
9. Promote and then Promote Some More!
You must spend a good amount of time every single day promoting your travel agency business and letting people know you are becoming a travel agent. When you are in the planning stages, start talking to everyone you know and give them a heads up about your new business. This will allow them to be aware that you can easily help them plan their next vacation. As you are getting close to your opening day, start placing ads in your local newspapers. You can also hand out brochures and business cards to people you meet throughout the day. It is best to have a budget for promoting your travel agency business, because this is an area where it is so easy to overspend without realizing it.
10. Be Seen on Social Media
The most successful businesses nowadays have a prominent presence online, so you must make sure that you are posting about your travel agency business on many different social media platforms. You may be tempted to stick to one social media platform, but you will have the most people following you if you post on all of them. The reason for this is not everyone uses the same social media platforms. Some people may spend all their time on Facebook, while others utilize Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram the most. It is best to have a dedicated social media page, so people can easily find you on every platform. Then just post regularly, so your content is being seen every day.
11. Build a Thriving Customer Relationship
You may have a couple people contact you about becoming a client and they use your services without getting to know you better. However, you will need to build a relationship with many people before you can actually call them your clients. Taking the time to build these relationships will pay off in the long term, because these people will always return to use your services.
While building relationships in person is always the best, you can also create videos that answer the questions people have the most. Sending emails to alert them of different travel related information is also an excellent way to stay in touch and keep the relationships growing.
12. Find a Few Partners
While selling airline tickets and hotel accommodations is an excellent start when you are just learning how to start a travel agency business, you must sell packages if you want to succeed. When you want to sell packages, you must have permission from the travel companies that offer them. You must know your commission percentage prior to approaching these travel companies and it must be competitive if you want to receive their okay.
In the beginning, when you are opening your travel agency business, you may want to keep your commission percentage low. You can always ask for a higher percentage later on, once you have earned the trust of the travel companies you are working with.
13. Keep Your Online Travel Agency Business Optimized
No one will be able to find you online if you are not optimized for the keywords that are being typed into searches. You can accomplish this optimization by having perfect web design, strong content, and important keywords inserted throughout your site.
14. Create Practical Goals
Every online travel agent needs practical goals if they want to succeed. We understand wanting to reach higher goals immediately, but it is better if you can meet the steppingstone guidelines first. A lower sales target that is met will give you more of a confidence boost than a higher sales target that you miss month after month.
15. Create Your Own Sales Opportunities
When you are learning how to start a home-based travel agency, and becoming a travel agent, you cannot wait for the sales opportunities to find you. Instead, you must step out of your comfort zone and contact potential clients every single day. This will ensure you always have new clients coming in, even if it is just a couple a day at first. That is much better than hoping someone will call or walk through the door, while you sit there doing nothing!
These are the fifteen steps you must follow when you are looking at how to start a travel agency and becoming a travel agent. As you can see, it is not that difficult when you are learning how to start a travel agency business and becoming an online travel agent. However, you must follow these steps in order, as you learn how to start a home-based travel agency. At the end, you will find you have a successful online travel agency that you will love growing even bigger in the future.