Are you detailed oriented, passionate about traveling, loves planning, and keen on helping others visit new places? Maybe you should consider venturing into the travel agency business.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, the travel industry was booming, generating trillions of revenues every year. Even though the COVID-19 outbreak affected the business, we are hopeful that the industry will bounce back.
It is a business that offers a wide range of valuable and time-saving services to individuals, groups, and corporate clients. They provide travel and tourism-related services to diverse groups of people. Besides, they act as agents for outdoor activities and work with hotels, cruise lines, airlines, travel insurance companies, car rentals, bureau de change, etc.
A travel agency will suggest destinations that appeal to customers, offer timely information, and advise clients on how best to enjoy their vacations.
Starting a travel agency business can be relatively cheap. You can start with little capital from the comfort of your room and as time goes, expand. Also, you can run on flexible working hours as long as you have built your clientele.
To succeed in this business, you need to operate in the right niche, choose your target market, brand your business, and render quality service.
If you have always contemplated starting a travel agency business, this article will guide you on your journey. Sit tight and enjoy the read.
Watch the full video on how to start the travel agency business here. Also, subscribe to our channel for more business ideas and insights.
The travel agency business is a vital business area in the travel and tourism industry. It is a business that gives travel advice, expertise, and connections that are of great value to travelers. They market prepackaged travel tours, holidays to potential travelers, and eliminate all hassles attached to the process.
Travel agencies act as general sales agents for different kinds of companies or countries and even sell travel products and services on behalf of a supplier. They can package all the attractions and amenities of a country, and become an agent to airlines, hotels, or other service-based companies who may not even be in their location.
They make arrangements for travel tickets on air, rail, road, and sea; prepare travel documents like passports, visas; then make arrangements for accommodation, cruising, cycling, culinary tours, backpacking, etc, for clients.
Travel agents can operate online, from a physical location, or both. This way, travellers can have face-to-face conservation or reach out on phones or emails depending on their preferences.
Moreover, with the advent of online and apps that can help customize up-to-date travel itineraries, travel agencies are successfully providing a personal touch for travelers and increasing customer satisfaction rates. As a result, their services are in high demand by leisure travelers, business travelers, and tourists.
How To Start A Travel Agency
Every business requires planning. In planning, one needs to consider the area of interest, the startup cost, target market, human resources, and every other step required for success.
Hence, to make the planning process of a travel agency seamless, I have highlighted below the basic steps required to make a success of the travel agency business.
Step 1: Create A Niche
Travel agency deals in a wide array of services. The business can center on corporate, luxury, religious, educational, holidays, or specialty trips. Also, it can include persons with disabilities, men, women, footballers, executives, or can be tailored around a specific group.
More so, to be effective, it is advisable to find a niche in the travel market that has not been explored and grow in it. In doing this, it will reduce the competition you will face and make you stand out in the industry.
First, conduct thorough market research and find out the major needs of the people. Also, decide if you want to render service to people of a particular age, gender, sector, or industry.
In doing all of these, your business will be more effective and you can build a brand that will resonate with people in the industry.
Step 2: Create A Business Plan
A business plan helps you map out the specifics of your business and discover some initial unknowns. It will help you stay on track and serve as a guide on how to operate.
A viable business plan should be based on your market research and analysis. It should include some key points like the existing competition, pricing, product, organizational structure, aims and objectives, financial plans, and projections. Also, it should contain the description of the business, niche, goals, and how you intend to overcome the likely challenges you will face in the travel industry.
As long as you have a business plan, it will be easier to secure funds from banks and other financial institutions.
Step 3: Secure Funding
Finance is important to start and to maintain a business. Having enough funds is one of the realistic ways to bring ideas to live and gives one the capacity to put the best foot forward in business.
As a travel agency, you need funds to secure a location, set up an office, build a website, create promotional materials, and pay for labour. Besides, to keep up with the smooth operation after the business has been set up, it is important to set aside some cash for the day-to-day activities at least for the first 1-4 months. So, you must ensure that you have a source of finance before you swim into the ocean.
Hence, decide if your personal savings is enough to set up the business. If not, you will have to source for funding through crowdfunding or reach out to family and friends for support.
Also, you can write to commercial or microfinance banks for loans or approach investors to invest in your business. Perhaps, you can team up with few people who are also interested in the travel industry and form a partnership.
Step 4: Register The Agency
A travel agency can be structured as a limited liability company, a sole proprietorship, or can be set up as a host, franchising, or consortium structure. Also, it can be a small and privately owned company or part of a larger entity. Whatever structure you want the business to take, it must be registered.
First of all, register with the Corporate Affairs Commission, an agency in charge of business registration in Nigeria. This can be done through the online portal of the commission or you can approach ReDahlia, a brand preoccupied with offering business solution services to entrepreneurs.
Secondly, if you are hoping to operate on a large scale, you will have to obtain a license from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). You have to meet certain criteria before applying for the license. To obtain the license, log on to the official website, and follow the process for license application.
Thereafter, proceed to register with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). The NCCA regulates, supervises, and monitors the activities of travel and other aviation agents operating in Nigeria.
If you want to operate on a large scale, you can write to the Director-General of NCAA attaching the following documents;
- Certificate of incorporation
- Memorandum and articles of association
- Tax clearance
- Curriculum vitae of the directors
- Details of insurance
- Evidence of agency appointment
- Evidence of IATA accreditation (if any)
- Corporate company profile
- Receipt of payment of N10,000
Step 5: Get A Host
Depending on the startup capital, you can decide to start as an independent agency or pay a host agency. This way, the host agency takes care of all regulatory policies, provides office requirements, and splits the commission with you.
They provide the brochures and every basic thing, while you just serve as a travel agent under them. So, if you are planning to be a home-based travel agent, you can approach a travel agency that will serve as a host while you join as an independent contractor.
However, if you have the resource to start the business ground up, you can create your own brand, be the host, and build your client base. You will need to get the necessary license in your name, secure a location, set up an office, hire employees, and invest in the promotion of the business both online and offline.
Step 6: Secure Location
For more credibility as an agency, it is important to have a physical business location, no matter how small it may be. This is because the location is one of the most important factors for success in the business. It positions a business to attract the right customers and clients.
A travel agency should be located in a strategic area where it can be easily accessed by the target audience. Also, it should be well designed to reflect the brand and large enough to accommodate the team and the incoming clients.
More so, you should have a signpost that signals your service offering to passersby. This will create awareness for the brand and may attract customers.
Step 7: Hire Employees
You can start alone if you want to operate on a small scale. However, if you intend to offer services to a wide array of clients, you might have to hire travel agents or support staff that will support the operations of the business. These people, must share the same value and understand the vision of what you are building.
You can hire full-time or part-time staff depending on your need. Some of the staff that matter in a travel agency business are the Client Service Manager, Travel Consultant, Sales, and Partnership Director, etc.
Step 8: Market The Agency
Selling is the lifeblood of every business, and to sell, you need to create brand awareness and make the world know about your business offering.
It is ideal to come up with a marketing plan. This will serve as a blueprint on how to market, promote, brand, and create a positive perception for the brand. Marketing your travel agency can be done in a number of ways and must be tailored around the target audience’s consumption habits.
In the following paragraphs, I will give you some tips you can use for your marketing.
1. Create A Logo And Website
First, your business needs to have a unique logo, a website, business card, flyers, and brochures. Your logo should be timeless and communicate your brand offering.
The website should explain what your business offers and should be optimised for SEO. This will help your business to be found organically when people search for keywords in your industry on Google.
2. Social Media
Leverage social media platforms to promote your business. So, start by creating a page on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Offer value to your audience and advertise and promote your business on your page.
Also, approach existing customers to give testimonials and positive reviews about your service, then post on your platforms. This way, you can convince the audience that you offer the best services.
3. Ask For Referrals
Once you offer a credible service to a client, do not hesitate to ask for a referral. A client will be happy to refer you to friends and family if you offer a credible service. Do not hesitate to ask. You can have a referral package where people who refer clients to you get a certain commission or a discount on their next patronage.
4. Word Of Mouth Advert
Word of mouth advertising is still the most reliable form of advertising for any business. Let people know about the service you offer, tell your friends to tell their friends and family. Let the word spread. Do not pass on any opportunity to market your service.
In conclusion, the travel industry is very competitive and so, you need to have a well-developed brand to stand out in the business. It requires patience, and a good promotional marketing effort to soar.
Are you thinking of starting a travel agency business in Nigeria? Are you a travel agent? We will like to read your thoughts in the comments. Please do not hesitate to share this content with your audience.