The travel industry is a big industry within the tourism industry. Everyday, people are traveling from one part of the world to the other. And we all know that where there is demand, money is bound to flow and wherever money flows; entrepreneurs are there to tap into such opportunities.
The major players is this industry are the transportation companies (Airline, Cruise and Shipping companies and other transporters) and a special category of people that work behind the scenes to ensure that travelers are comfortable on their trips and get value for their money. These people are known as travel agents. Their duties include but are not limited to-:
10 Duties of a Travel Agent
- Making travel arrangements for their clients.
- Creating travel itineraries according to their clients’ interests.
- Hunting for the best prices on services from travel tickets to hotel accommodations and even event tickets.
- Travel ticket booking and reservations.
- Hotel booking and reservations.
- Provision of ground transportation through car rental service companies for clients during their stay in foreign countries.
- Arranging special tours for people who wish to travel or go on vacations.
- Arranging for travel insurance for their clients.
- Providing visa assistance and travel advisory services to clients.
- Providing any form of service or assistance that would improve the travel experience of clients.
Since you are interested in starting your own traveling agency, it is important to have a good grasp of what traveling agency does and how they make their money. Of course one of the best means to know how travel agent work and make their money is to work and understudy a successful travel agent.
6 Discreet Ways Travel Agents Make Money
For the purpose of this article, we are going to categorically state some of the key responsibility of a travel agent and how they make their money. Some travel agents might be creative enough to be able to create non – conventional ways of making money, which is the reason why you should understudy a successful travel agent around you. It makes it easier for you to learn the ropes before starting out as a travel agent.
Now let us consider how travel agent work and how they make their money as well;
a. Travel Agent Sell Transportation
Part of what travel agent do is that they sell transportation to individual who wants to travel. Most people find it easier, faster and convenient to buy their flight tickets, train tickets and ship – cruise tickets from traveling agency. What travel agents do is that they buy this ticket at a discount price and when they sell the ticket they make their money or they enter an agreement with the transport company and they sell their tickets and make commissions as agreed.
b. Travel Agent Sell Lodging
Another key business activity of travel agents is that they sell lodgings to their clients. Selling lodging means that they help in making both local and international hotel reservations for their client. If you want to travel to a country and you intend lodging in a hotel during the course of your stay, it is the duty of travel agents to help source for suitable hotel that will fit into your need and budget and then book the hotel on your behalf. In some cases, the traveling agent might have a business relationship with the hotel. In this regard, they make their money from commissions.
c. Travel Agent Sell Tickets to Entertainment Activities
Travel agents also sell tickets for entertainment activities all around the world. For example; if you intend traveling from Lagos to Los Angeles to attend The Grammy Awards ceremony, it will be easier for you to get your ticket via a traveling agent because they know how to handle the logistics involved in securing such tickets that might seem scarce. Well established travel agents know how to negotiate with big time event planning organizations both locally and internationally to be their accredited agent. When travel agents sell tickets on behalf of their clients, they make their money via commissions.
d. Travel Agent Consult for Individual and Organizations
Another business activity that travel agents do is that they serve as travel consultants to individuals and organizations. Some people prefer talking to an experienced and well versed travel agent before making their choice of holiday destinations. The truth is that if you are at a cross – road between two tourists destination, it will pay you to talk to a travel expert and you will be well guided to make a good choice that you will be glad you did. Of course you are going to be charged consultation fee, but you are sure going to get value for you money.
e. Travel Agent Arrange Trips, Vacations, and Excursions for Clients
Travel agents arrange trips, vacations and excursions et al, for their clients. Creative travel agents package affordable vacation (transportation, lodging and sight seeing inclusive) and then market it to interested individual. Most people who ordinarily would not want to go on vacation on their own normally take advantage of such offer.
Some travel agents also go as far as packaging trips for people who want to spread payment over a period of time. They target schools, corporate organizations and even religious bodies to sell their various travel packages. In this regard they make their money (profits) from the sell of their travel packages; of course they would have factored in all the cost involved in organizing the vacation / excursions et al and then add their own profit.
f. Visa Procurement
Another business activity that travel agents do is that they help in counseling and procuring visas for their clients – they prepare their clients for visa interviews et al. They handle all the logistics involved in obtaining travel visa and transit visa. They make money via commission of via the fee they charge. The fees or commissions vary from country to country.
As was stated earlier, there are other legal ways travel agents make their money, some travel agent refer clients who have immigration challenges to immigration lawyers and they make their commissions.
At this point, i believe you have understood the different ways to venture into this business. So if you are interested in tapping into travel industry as a travel agent, then below is a guide on how to start a travel agency from home.
Starting a Travel Agency – Sample Business Plan Template
Before I go into the details of starting a travel agency business online, I want to emphatically state that the information provided in this article does not in any way replace the need for you to conduct a feasibility study, write a travel agency business plan and do your own due diligence.
Secondly, the information shared in this article is applicable to any locality; be it USA, Canada, UK, Nigeria, Ghana, etc. Without wasting your time, below are creative ways on how to start your own travel agency business from home with little or no money.
1. Start from home-: Yes, you can easily start a travel and tour company from home with access to the internet, a telephone and the right contacts. This would even help you to increase your profits because you would be able to reduce overheads. From home, you can easily sell travel tickets and provide other travel services to your client if you have a strong internet presence and you are able to gain credibility over time.
2. Become an Independent travel Agent-: As an independent agent, you would be attached to a much bigger travel agency but you would work on your own. You would help to sell their products and drive customers to their business for commission. As an independent agent, you can have access to resources needed to start a travel and tour company, get the necessary experience, build your own client list and then leave eventually to start your own company. Again, you can start this business from the comfort of your home (bear in mind that some clients would like to schedule visits) and work with more than one travel agency.
3. Consider the start-up costs involved
Where you decide to set up your travel agency business office will greatly have an effect on how much capital you would need to start. This is an important element to consider when learning how to start a travel agency business. Home-based travel agency businesses usually get by their first days with only a computer and a phone. If you prefer having an office, then you should be aware of the additional costs such as the electricity, furniture, and rent.
4. Consider Buying a Franchise-: You may want to start a travel and tour company without all the stress or experience, well you can when you obtain a franchise from an established travel and tour company. All the training and materials that you need would be provided to you by this company.
5. Know your Responsibilities
One of the most essential requirements in learning how to start a travel agency business is to know the extent of a travel business owner’s responsibilities. Though the usual knowledge lies in booking of cruises, airline tickets, and hotel rooms, there are also additional services which can be rendered to clients.
These include help with obtaining of passports and visas; arrangement of airport-to-hotel transportation; conducting research on different retreats for companies and groups, conferences, or business meetings; and even the participation in event planning for events like birthday parties or weddings.
6. Have Adequate Client Knowledge
In learning how to start a travel agency business, you should know that there are two main markets you should target. The first market includes consumers and customers that travel. The second market is the business or corporate category.
- Specialty Travel Services-: This kind of travel agency provides service to a selected category of people. For instance a travel agency might choose education as its niche and only provide travel assistance to people travelling abroad for educational purposes. They may help with admission, student visas, accommodation, job placements and similar services for students. Other niches include maternity travel for pregnant women, business travel, vacation, destination wedding services to mention few.
- Corporate Travel Services-: Some companies have departments that take care of travel arrangements for its staff and visitors but due to the recent downsizing that most companies had to do because of the economic recession, a lot of companies now outsource this service to other companies. Corporate travel agents handle inbound and outbound travel services for corporate organizations.
You also need to know the category of people that use travel and tour companies so as to understand who your clients would be and how you would reach them. Most of the people who make use of travel and tour services are-:
- Newly wedded couples going on honeymoon.
- Businessmen and women visiting other countries for business.
- People who are relocating from one country to another.
- Students who want to go on excursions or for summer vacations.
- People travelling for vacation.
- Special groups going on tours like religious groups, clubs and social groups.
- Other random travellers.
These are just some of the people who use travel and tour companies and for your business to thrive; you should try to have a package for everyone. You can organize trips for kids during summer, offer special packages for businessmen, and help with honeymoon planning services. As a travel agent, you are handling a job which is based on performance and the amount of people you successfully book for traveling. As long as you know how to handle the business well, you might possibly earn about $100,000 annually.
7. Write down your business plan
Writing down your plan will assist in providing you a solid foundation, and will assist you also to secure fund from investors if you require additional capital to begin your business.
8. Check your state and local government guidelines to start a travel agency
Based on where you reside, you may have to file the necessary paperwork so as to be able to legally carryout your business. You will also need to file the appropriate paperwork to become legally incorporated in your state and L.G.A.
- Register your business-: After you have chosen the type of Travel and Tour Company you want to start from the ones listed above, you should register your business with relevant authorities before you commence.
9. Equip your office-: Whether you choose to operate from home as an affiliate or you want to float your own company, you would need some office equipment like a telephone, computer, fax machine, internet connection, files and cabinets, tables and chairs and other things that you would need to perform your job smoothly.
10. Open two bank accounts
The first account should be for your business as an independent travel agent, where all your track funds coming in to and as well going out of the business will be kept while the other account should keep hold of all the money that your clients will provide to book their trips.
11. Look for companies you will work with
Contact various travel companies to negotiate package deals you can offer or to determine the kind of referral commissions you can be earning. When you are dealing or are in business with more than one company, you can get more to offer your clients and this can provide you with additional money.
12. Join organizations and societies specifically for travel agents
Next, you would have to register with professional bodies like International Air Transport Association (IATA) or work with an agency that is already licensed. This license would enable you obtain airline tickets on behalf of your clients. You can also join the Nigeria Society of Travel Agents (NSTA), or the National Association of Commissioned Travel Agents (NACTA). If possible, you can join the three to boost your business largely. These organizations and societies can maximize your visibility to consumers along with your credibility as an agent.
13. Network with other travel agencies
Get connected to a travel agency that can serve as your connection between the airlines, accommodations and cruise lines. Once these connections are available, you can acquire additional time to make much connections in the industry.
14. Advertise your business-: The most important thing in this business is not registering your business or having a fancy office. The most important thing is getting clients to patronize you. You can get clients through the following means-:
- Advertising in Newspapers and Magazines.
- Having a Search Engine Optimized website.
- Purchasing Marketing leads and Making cold calls.
- Getting listed on business directories.
- Sending Proposals to corporate organizations.
15. You should consider taking a few business courses so you can learn more about how to begin and maintain your business more efficiently and effectively. These courses are available nationwide at local community colleges and online. Any fees paid to participate or to be enrolled in the course are tax deductible as a business expense.