4 billion passengers. That’s how many people flew in 2017, setting a new record for air travel, according to Forbes. This means that travel is not about to lose popularity any time soon. Airfares are much cheaper than they used to be. Destinations are more accessible than ever. With a little help from my Frontier FiOS internet plans and Google, I can map out a travel plan for myself. So can you. But mapping a travel plan is not the same game as organizing a smooth travel experience. This is where travel agencies come in.

Starting a Travel Agency

How hard could it be? If you’re thinking about starting a travel agency, you need to give it serious thought. The job can be demanding, especially during tourist season. People are traveling more than ever, for both business and pleasure. If you play your cards right, you can position yourself to take advantage of this. If not, you may be left struggling to stay afloat. But don’t worry. Here are some ways that can help you start and run a successful travel agency:

  1. Define your Niche
  2. Create a Business Plan
  3. Make your Agency a Brand
  4. Do your Legal Homework
  5. Arrange Sufficient Funds
  6. Location, Location, Location
  7. Market your Agency

Below follows a brief look at each step.

Define your Niche

The first thing you need to do is find your niche travel market. You don’t want to sell everything. Mainly because everyone else is selling everything. You invite too much completion from much bigger players than you. This can be difficult to handle, especially during the early stages. So pinpoint a particular segment you can be a part of. There will be fewer agencies to compete with, and a better chance to establish yourself.

Create a Business Plan

Okay, so you’ve found your niche travel market. The next step is to make a sustainable business plan. A good business plan is your guide to staying on track. This means you can’t go around setting random goals. The more detail you add to your plan, the more you have to go on. Among other areas, a business plan should focus on strategies and market analysis. You also need to define how much funding you’ll need, sales you can safely forecast, and so on. The plan should also include a SWOT analysis, comparing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.  

Make your Agency a Brand

Don’t run your travel agency like a half-baked job. Turn it into a brand. This means you need to go through certain branding exercises. Branding makes you stand out from the rest of the competition. In the long-run, your brand can become a thing of significant value. Since visuals are still the best means of communication, logos are your first stop. You will need glossy brochures, newsletters, and business cards as well. The idea is to convey your brand message to your target audience. You want them to think of you like a good, high-powered option. Branding can help you do that.

Do your Legal Homework

Before you start getting clients, you need to work out the legal and bureaucratic red tape. You don’t want a lawsuit on your hands. Luckily, the US makes it very easy for travel agencies to meet legal requirements. Federal laws only require you to fill out a single form. State laws vary, so it’s best to get some legal advice on what laws are in force in your state.

Arrange Sufficient Funds

You can’t start a travel agency without a little seed money or capital. Whether you’re starting one at home or in an office space, you need funds. If you’re working from home, friends and family may be willing to help out. But for larger agencies, you may need to take out a loan. Most of your expenditure will be on marketing, staff, office space and utilities. So budget according to your business plan.

Location, Location, Location

Location is an important factor in the success of your travel agency. One aspect to consider is foot traffic. You need your office to be at a place with frequent gatherings and crowds. Visibility is everything. You also need your office to be in a nice, friendly area. Finding the right location for your agency can be tricky but necessary for success.

Market your Agency

So you’re done with all the legalities, found funding and got the perfect location. What now? The answer is marketing your agency. Remember, you’re just another agency out there to your customers. You need to get your agency to them. Luckily the days when effective marketing was limited to big firms are long gone. Digital marketing makes it easy for businesses of all sizes to compete on an even footing. Go where your audience is. Market your business on social media. Hire someone to handle search engine optimization. Get someone to generate good, SEO-friendly content for your business. Get professionals to run your pay-per-click campaigns. All you need to coordinate your digital marketing efforts are good professionals and reliable internet like Frontier internet deals. Once your team is working, you can improve your efforts as needed. Marketing can be tricky, so be patient and don’t be afraid to experiment.

Published by Rosie Harman