How to start a travel agency?

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If you love to travel, are well organized and enjoy working directly with people, becoming a travel agent is a great career choice.

You would think that with the ease of using internet search engines, the travel industry is not thriving. But it is.

According to statistics, a person can spend 20 hours (wasting) on ​​internet research before booking a flight. The internet is full of info which is why the benefits of using a travel agency will always be valuable for the majority of travelers.

What is a travel agency business?

A travel agency is a company that provides travel and tourism booking services and planning for people. You can think of arranging things like air travel, car rental, hotels/accommodation and travel insurance. Before you start, find out how travel agents make money and see if you can find new ways to generate income.

How much does it cost to start a travel agency?

Great news! You don’t need any special training and/or certifications to get started – although you should complete the training and certification early in your career. Many travel agents only graduate from high school before starting work as a travel agent.

Why wait to get the training and certifications? Once you officially register your business and start operating, the cost of training and certifications can become a tax deduction.

You can gain knowledge by working part time for successful travel agencies, or you can start by starting a travel agency. The costs will of course vary depending on whether you are starting a travel agency at home or renting office space.

At a minimum, you need a dedicated high-speed Internet line and basic office equipment such as computers, software, and printers.

How much can you earn with a travel agency?

The average salary for someone who works for an established agency is $19 an hour. The median annual income for independent travel agents is $36,000. That depends on your geographic location and the type of travel company you have chosen as a specialty.

18 Important Steps to Start Your Own Travel Business

Here are the key steps you need to take to get started in the travel industry. You have to decide early on whether you want to work for a travel company or work on starting a travel agency.

1. Complete relevant training

Colleges and business schools offer associate and four-year degrees in tourism. There are some independent educators like The Travel Institute that offer certifications.

All of these studies include courses in business management, marketing, accounting, and customer service. As part of continuing education, you should also keep an eye on international affairs and weather conditions.

2. Watch the match

Travel industry agencies typically offer all types of services, but specialize in a particular niche. For example, some travel agencies focus on luxury travel, others on the adventure travel industry.

Smart travel agents know their competition well, especially before starting their own business.

3. Choose between host agency, independent travel agency and franchise

Under the umbrella of a guest agency, you can work as an hourly or salaried employee. In addition to your regular salary, you may be eligible for commissions.

When you start a travel agency, you work independently. Your source of payment is the fees you charge customers, plus commissions you earn from travel providers, such as airlines, hotels, and car rental companies. Some companies function solely as online travel agents – these are often focused on arranging business trips.

You can also choose to purchase a franchise such as Dream Vacations. A franchise will offer training programs. Both a host agency and a franchise benefit from existing supplier partnerships.

4. Find a specific niche and target market

Perhaps your idea of ​​a dream vacation is renting bicycles and traveling from Inn to Inn in New England. Or maybe you prefer canoeing wilderness rivers and staying in tents.

You may want to book an all-inclusive trip, where the price includes flight, accommodation, food and drinks.

Your preferences are not the most important. You need to think about your potential customers and clients. Learn the demographics of your local community and the average income of potential customers.

5. Choose a company name and register your travel agency

Before you hack into the name, go to the website of your secretary of state. Companies are registered there. You can verify that the name you want to use is not similar or identical to a pre-existing travel agency before spending money on business cards or a website.

6. Write a business plan for a travel agency

Here are some helpful tips for creating your business plan. A business plan should include the key elements of a travel company business plan:

New company name and website

Physical location of the company

Company structure

Industry niche

Creating partnerships (cruise lines, hotels, rental companies, etc.), especially if you’ve been a travel professional for more than a year.

Plans for marketing/expansion in the industry.

7.Open a Business Bank Account

Open a business bank account and get a business credit card.

8. Make sure you have the necessary licenses and permits in your country

General Business License as required by your business location.

Travel Agency License – If required by your state.

Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) – needed for paying corporate and payroll taxes, if you have employees. You need the EIN when you file your tax return.

Zoning – If you work from a home office, make sure your residence meets the zoning requirements for home travel agents.

9. Create a travel agency website and choose a location

You can start your own travel agency with the glitziest, most informative and beautiful website you can imagine.

But its use will fail if it is not linked correctly – called search engine optimization. Unless you’re really good at this, it pays to hire a professional to make sure customers find your new business and social media accounts. That is an important part of your marketing strategy.

10. Sort Your Accounting Software

You need to financially manage travel contracts, travel bookings, invoices and receipts, suppliers and more. Here are some of our recommendations:

Zoho

Fresh books

itour operator

11. Choose a business structure

You need to choose a structure to start your travel agency. Many travel agents choose the Limited Liability Company or LLC. The LLC allows you to protect your personal assets, especially if you work in your own home.

Other common structures chosen by many companies in most states are partnerships and corporations.

12. Get your taxes in order

Basic needs: an EIN, accounting software to track deductions/expenses and payments.

13. Buy Business Insurance

Common insurance policies are required, such as BOP, professional liability, business liability, errors and omissions, and general liability insurance.

If you are going to sell travel, you must offer travel insurance. What if travel restrictions suddenly affect a location? What if a natural disaster destroys plans for a beach wedding destination?

14. Join Travel Associations

Here are a few that can serve as additional resources for you (help you find customers):

USA travel

American Society of Travel Advisors

Association of Independent Tour Operators

15. Set up your office and invest in equipment

You will need typical office equipment such as computers, software, internet, telephone system and fax. If you offer personal travel services, you need comfortable furniture and a meeting room, as well as ample parking.

16. Marketing

What do other agents do to make more money? Read and attend seminars.

Learn all you can about the best ways to market your business and earn money comparable to top pay.

17. Find partners

Partners can add elements of a destination, for example a motel, B&B, restaurants or spas.

A partner can also be a media company, such as a newspaper, radio or television station. You buy ads from them and negotiate a discounted trip for an owner or manager.

18. Build trust with your customers

You build trust by being easily reachable and responding quickly to any issues. For example, a customer picked up luggage at the airport but was told by the rental car company that there was no reservation. What are you going to do about it?

Your response to such problems will build your reputation. Word of mouth is the best advertising your new travel agent can get.

Competing with major brands in the travel industry?

To run a successful travel agency, you have to accept that you are no match for the big ones. Instead, create your niche – a type of travel or destination that is not common in your area.

Image: Depositphotos

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