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Starting a Travel Agency is an exciting business move for many and one that can be done from the comfort of your own home.
Starting a business, however, is never easy and the travel industry is very competitive. That said, a unique, expertise-driven travel agency has the potential to flourish. Before you get started, here’s what you need to do.
How To Start a Travel Agency
Develop a Niche or USP
With huge websites like Booking.com, Expedia, and lastminute.com dominating the travel market, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to beat their low prices. That shouldn’t scare you off.
What you need to offer over the big travel websites is a niche or a unique selling point (USP). Niches and USPs can include bespoke holidays to a particular region, on a particular theme, or for a specific audience, such as retirees or families.
Unfortunately, the travel agency industry is competitive and many niches have been filled. You should remember, however, that travel agencies are selling expertise as much as they are selling holidays.
Those who spend more with a travel agency do so for reassurance that they will have everything they need on holiday – from car rentals to vegan food.
Whatever niche or USP you choose, make sure you are offering unique, valuable, expert advice.
Figure Out Your Starting Costs
Once you’ve pinned down your USP, it’s time to think about starting costs. Travel agencies can easily start in your home, at your desk, with a client list made up of family and friends. This offsets expensive costs at the start such as office space and staff, though you may want to think about those down the line.
There are upfront costs that you’ll need to consider. You should take into account the cost of setting up a professional website, advertising costs, whether or not you’ll be using accounting software, and application fees and membership costs for trade associations and licenses.
Do your research and carefully calculate how much money you’ll need just to get started and figure out if you’ll need a loan.
Choose a Travel Agency Trade Association
We’ve mentioned trade associations – this is a must for setting up your own travel agency. Joining a trade association will ensure you are fully licensed as a travel agent, give your customers and anyone you work with confidence in your business, and a host of other benefits.
Global Travel Group has franchise plans aimed at startup businesses starting at £14,995 plus VAT and offers travel agents a range of benefits such as IT support, website setup, training, and industry deals.
Alternatively, ABTA is one of the best-known trade associations for travel agents, though it is aimed at more established companies since potential members must have a minimum paid-up share capital of £30,000. Many startup businesses progress to become ABTA travel agents as they grow.
Create a Business Plan
Once you’ve figured out your niche, startup costs, and which trade association you’ll join, it’s time to ensure you have a detailed business plan. This will be essential if you need a bank loan to get started.
If you’re unsure what a business plan for a travel agency looks like, this free template is a great place to start. You won’t stick to your business plan at all times, but having a detailed plan with achievable goals and milestones will make starting your own travel agency much easier.