How to Become a Travel Agent : Starting Your Business
The world hides exquisite beauty at every nook and corner. Travel agents are the saints who help us find it, bask in its glory, and rejuvenate our souls!
Indeed, taking a trip is much easier with travel agencies, which streamline trips to various destinations. Simply put, a travel agent takes care of an entire trip: starting from the ticket purchase, accommodation, food, and other entertainment plans to unique itineraries for different destinations.
The Need for a Travel Agent
In recent years, travel agents have taken over the virtual world. And why not? People have started using online websites and other platforms to gather information about travel and tourist destinations, browse various packages, and choose the ones they like the most. Additionally, buyers are delighted to use online forums of travel agencies to buy tickets and avail exciting offers related to their trip!
Even though the online boom has decelerated the business of offline travel agents, more and more agencies are putting themselves up on online portals. Surveyors have found that online travel sales have rapidly increased, while experts predict further growth in the coming years.
Still, this should not dishearten the offline travel agents out there. Especially, when established and renowned travel agents continue to report steady growth in sales.
Regardless of whether you are forming a traditional offline or digital travel agency, there are some key points that will aid your efforts. You must have comprehensive data on your competitors and keep in mind that established travel agencies are always preferred by customers. In such a market, your primary goals revolve around maximum reach and reliability. Given below are some pointers on how to establish your own travel agency.
Cater to a niche tourist group
A rookie mistake that a lot of travel agencies make is that they try to cater to anyone and everyone. In turn, they tend to offer a wide range of services, even when they don’t have the required investment or expertise. Such a plan turns out to be costly and provides smarter agencies an edge in the market.
Instead of catering to the interests of all kinds of customers, as an intelligent travel agent you should figure out what customer base you should cater to. Then, you have to compile data on the buyer group, analyze and identify the best services and plans that you can offer, and finally implement such strategies. By deciding to serve a niche audience within the travel and tourism market, you can reduce the number of competitors you are up against.
The more niche your customer base, the lesser the competition and the greater the growth! So, do your research wisely? To start with, you need to accumulate and analyze the customer trends and travel requirements of your niche buyer pool. By weeding out irrelevant agencies and competing against only a few which provide similar services, you can exponentially increase your chances of growth.
For instance, many married couples look for exciting and adventurous destinations where they can find an exhilarating adrenalin rush. Far from wanting to relax and laze around the poolside, these couples are into adventure sports and the like. Upon research, you may find that there aren’t many agencies that offer packages containing such niche services, although there is a vast market for the same. In that case, grab the opportunity at the first chance.
A solid business plan
Before you decide exactly what level of services to offer your tourists, you should have a clear and viable business plan in place. A well thought out business plan is crucial to your success as a travel agent. Evidently, you cannot go wrong in this aspect, as it facilitates every other step of your career.
How can you chalk out a plan that is detailed and destined for success upon fruition? A careful combination of sales strategies and market analysis is imperative. In addition, you should figure out how much funds you need as well as the financial projections of your agency. An effective business plan is evaluated by the clarity of the business goals.
If you already have some of the requisite resources, consider yourself lucky and make them count. On the other hand, analyze and identify any operational constraints or hazards that you might face in your travel business. In turn, you can create strategies that will effectively break such barriers and ensure the seamless growth of your agency.
Brand outreach 101
Which business person is not aware of the invaluable nature of branding? An agency must ensure maximum brand outreach if its goal is to flourish. Simply put, branding involves constructing a niche image for a business and the products/services it offers. Thus, you should create and expand your brand image and market your travel agency to its fullest potential.
You can go about branding in various ways, depending on your investment and customer interests. For example, excellent visuals such as logos, catalogs, business cards, advertisements, leaflets etc. will let you catch the eyes of interested customers easily. Keep all of these at hand, so that you can give them to any new client who knocks at your door!
For maximum brand outreach, you must implement aggressive promotional measures. Depending on whether yours is an offline business or online endeavor or both, customers should constantly be reminded that you are one of the best in the market. To retain your loyal clients as well as influence target customers, you should utilize any and all modes of advertisement and branding that are available. In this vein, consider setting aside separate budgets for online and offline promotional campaigns.
Location of offline agencies
If you are an offline travel agent, the location where you set up your agency is extremely important. Not only should it be easily accessible, but it should be situated in prime locations.
The reason? First, accessibility should make you consider whether your business location (particularly your agency signboard) is visible, situated in a place frequented by plenty of people, and stands out in terms of being catchy. Moreover, positive impressions by clients depend on whether your agency is located in a nice and safe area with facilities such as washrooms, car parking etc.
Even if a posh location is expensive, you can alternatively opt for a place that has high foot traffic. Thus, you will ensure that your office space is visible and frequented by customers. In addition, it should be spacious and exude cordiality.
Social media outreach
Today, travel agencies are moving from offices and in-person meetings to expand their presence on top social media platforms. In an era dominated by virtual media, smartphone devices, and the internet, you as a travel agent can effortlessly engage in social media marketing campaigns. Particularly, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., are jungles where you can find a huge number of potential clients.
To do this, you have to create social media pages in as many platforms as you can. With respect to this process, you should ensure that the design of your page looks unique, cool, and professional. Conduct extensive research on the social media pages of your competitors and, thereafter, make your page as outstanding and niche as possible. From the start, this will give you a sleek edge over rival agencies.
Next, start creating, curating, and posting exciting content on your page on a daily basis. To take an example, post information regarding the latest travel packages, exciting offers and discounts, updated features and methods of payment, etc. You can also introduce chatbots or sales personnel that will interact with customers and make them dream about amazing destinations!
Before you go about operating your travel agency, make sure you have taken care of every legal procedure. The legal hassles are dependent on the country, state, or city in which you have set up your business.
Again, the simple trick is to comprehensively research the laws and regulations associated with travel agencies in at least your state and country. This process becomes much easier if you talk to a host agency, which will clarify the procedures of registration and licensing.
First, apply for a Federal Tax ID number. Second, acquire a trademark logo for your agency. Thereafter, get your logo legally registered with the right authorities.
It is imperative to build a good rapport with your clients, be it loyal customers, first-timers, or future clients. The most effective way to do this is to recruit and train your staff meticulously.
For example, the tour guides, cooks, chauffeurs, hotel personnel, and all other staff should know that the customer is god. If they treat their clients well, your customers will come back every time and choose you over any other travel agent. Furthermore, they will sing your praises to all their friends, colleagues, and relatives. This will increase your customer base via word-of-mouth outreach.
Additionally, heed and resolve any complaints or grievances by customers with regards to their travel experience. Quick response to feedback and resolutions to existing problems will only benefit you in terms of reliability and trust.
To sum up, these are some of the key requirements you must fulfill if you want your travel agency to prosper. However, this is by no means an exhaustive list. As you grow and broaden the scope of your travel and tourism business, new obstacles and barriers will arise and have to be overcome. Still, paying attention to these points will help you establish and consolidate your unique travel agency!