Travel is a booming industry.
Airports, train stations, and bus stops are filled with people every day embarking on new adventures.
As such, those that help travelers get from place to place are expanding their businesses. Many new travel agencies are entering the market and you can start one of them!
If you love traveling and have a passion for entrepreneurship, starting your own travel agency may be easier than you think.
How to Start a Travel Agency
1. Know the Rules
Before starting any business, it is a good idea to get familiar with the industry regulations and procedures. This helps set the tone for your business plan.
As a travel business owner, you can opt to be an International Air Transport Association (IATA) Agent or non-IATA Agent.
The first is a valuable asset for those with no experience in the travel industry. Having an IATA number shows you are a legitimate source for consumers’ booking needs. It allows you to rebook, reissue, or revalidate tickets throughout your travelers’ journeys.
The latter type of agents are not allowed to issue tickets. They can only buy directly from an airline or IATA source. This route has less profit margin but is a good option for entrepreneurs with little funding.
2. Complete the Paperwork
Once you have established what kind of travel agency you want to be, you have to consider the way you want to set up business.
Will you identify as a Sole Proprietor or LLC? Do you plan to expand the business to have multiple employees under your company?
Consult your tax advisor while making these decisions. It is better to plan for the long term than to start as one thing and then change your business structure later on.
No matter what you decide from the choices above, be sure to register your business in your state.
3. Define Your Workspace
Once you have the paperwork out of the way, it’s time to set up your space.
Many small businesses operate from home.
If this is the vision you have for your travel agency, choose an area with little or no distractions and enough room to work. Set up a phone line, desktop, and filing materials.
A nice bonus for those running a business from home is having the ability to set up a meeting room for clients. Do you have a room for greeting clients and doing business from?
If you’d prefer to greet clients in person frequently, consider a brick and mortar location or at least a membership at a local coworking space.
4. Claim Your Online Space
Your online presence is just as important as your physical presence.
Before you can say you are open for business, have a website to back you up.
This is where many clients will get their first impression of your travel agency. Having an online space also makes it easier for potential consumers to notice and interact with you.
5. Marketing Mobilizes Consumers
This is a continuous step.
Marketing is just as important as you prepare to receive your first customers as it is years down the road.
Get familiar with Google AdWords and SEO. Use your website as a place to drive traffic to social media like Facebook and Instagram. Reach out to travel bloggers and see if they are willing to feature your agency.
The more you market your business, the more it will grow.
Prepare for Take-Off
Starting a new business is a big step. It can be scary and stressful, but it’s also the opportunity to grow your passion and learn new things.
Have you ventured into a new industry or started a business from scratch?
Let us know in the comments below!