5 Tips on How to Start a Successful Travel Agency.By David Thompson, UniversityHerald Reporter
Starting and operating your own travel agency is an exciting and rewarding endeavor few people get to experience. The travel industry is one of the largest in the world and with profit margins running in the billions, it is easy to see why investing in the sector is such a draw. Like running any other business, travel agencies require hard work, unrelenting commitment, and a lot of passion.
Starting a travel agency is one thing and running a successful travel agency is another. Like starting any new business on your own, you must be certain that you love and believe in the idea. Things tend to get tough at the beginning and that is normal. With a little patience and discipline, initial drawbacks should not make you lose your initial enthusiasm.
When you love what you do, the passion will continually push you forward. Here is a summary of the most important things to remember before starting your business journey.
Create a business plan.
Irrespective of whatever industry you plan to venture into, a business plan is the single most important starting point. The business plan will act as a blueprint to your whole operation, making sure everything runs as it should. It will help you come up with budget estimates, funding sources, and help you estimate your business's initial expenses and plan for them.
Business plans often include all the paperwork you will need to obtain legal licenses to your business. Remember, the most important thing for your travel business or any other for that matter is writing a business plan. The best part? You will only need to write one, period.
The travel and tours industry is highly fragmented and a business plan will most certainly help you narrow in on what your business' goals are. A clear-cut niche and an accompanying plan help your travel agency stand out from the crowd. Amidst cut-throat competition and discerning clients, a good business plan will help you establish a clear, focused vision for your new agency going forward.
Nurture the Right Mindset.
The belief or faith in one's own abilities is an important ingredient when starting out on a new business venture. A travel agency demands all that self-motivation and more. Everything you can master. Sure, unplanned stressful occasions will always come up now and then and you will have to get used to the fact that you will be dealing with a great deal of uncertainty and pressure from your clients.
That said, remember that the pressure is part and parcel of the job and your clients expect nothing short of top-tier service. Soon enough, you will learn to consistently deliver and exceed your client's expectations and how you deal with the constant pressure will make all the difference.
Find your Niche.
So, you have the requisite passion, a shiny new business plan and some good old self-motivation, what now? Well, as it goes, a market opportunity, call it a niche to occupy is all that is left. This means making an effort to know your target market. What type of people do you plan to attract to your travel agency? For example, ajkenyasafaris.com and masaimarasafari.in are both travel agencies that focus on the African safari niche. You need to be aware of what your ideal customer is looking for and what is going to excite them. Research what your potential customer wants versus what your travel agency has to offer.
For instance, look at your host city or country. Is it a tourist destination? What trends are popular? Research. Know everything there is to know. See if there are market gaps and know the challenges that you would face in the industry. It is also important for you to know what you are going up against. Know your competition and what they are doing well. This way you know what they are doing wrong and hence the gaps you can exploit and infiltrate the market.
Find an Ingenious Marketing Strategy.
Advertising your business is a no-brainer, otherwise how will people know about your travel agency? Familiarize yourself with top marketing tips for travel businesses, how to properly execute marketing campaigns and stay up-to-the-minute with what is popular in the market. Get out there and talk to other people who share your dream.
Researching the market trends allows you to find out more on what your travel agency needs to get done to curve out its niche. Talking to other investors in this space puts you right up there with the big boys. Build networks, the more you know the better.
The perfect marketing strategy will mean the difference between an exciting new startup and a dream that fizzled out quickly. As far as crucial business decisions go, this is one you would not want to overlook.
Insure your Business.
A not so obvious strategy, taking out an insurance cover when starting a travel agency will shield your business from potential risks and unforeseen events. Entering a new market space comes with its share of inherent risks and uncertainties so it should be a high priority to actually insure your business. Unlike most retail or service-oriented businesses, travel agencies typically involve an aspect of uncertainty that cannot be overlooked.
For starters, the success of your new venture wildly depends on factors outside of your control such as the political atmosphere, exchange rates, geopolitical factors and so on.
Your agency will also at one time own a fleet of tourist vehicles such as minibuses, safari land cruisers, or self-drive vehicles such as the Subaru Legacy, Mercedes SUVs, Land Rovers and more. Make sure all your assets are insured and take insurance for your guest trips or request them to buy travel insurance on their own.
Your new travel agency needs time to earn trust and build a reputation for itself. Before then, make the smartest decision any smart business owner would, remove the gambling mechanics from your business equation.
Right from writing a business plan, to finding the perfect business location to booking your first client, starting a successful travel agency is like nurturing a child. While getting the proper licenses and finding the right industry partners will go a long way towards your new venture's success, investing in exceptional quality of service is sure to set you on the path to roaring success.