Are you planning to start a travel agency? It’s an excellent decision. The travel industry is growing which makes it a lucrative business.
Digital travel sales in the US have increased to $180 billion. Online travel agencies such as Priceline Group and Expedia have proven that running a travel agency is a profitable business.
However, opening and running a successful travel agency isn’t easy. From setting up your agency to getting clients, there’s a lot you need to learn.
Our handy guide will help you gain valuable insights and run your travel agency smoothly.
What Do You Do As a Travel Agent?
As a travel agent, you help your clients plan their travels. This includes booking reservations, helping your clients decide their destination, lodging, transportation, etc. In addition, it also means helping them with visa and passport requirements, import duties, and rates of currency exchange.
A travel agent caters to a wide variety of clients ranging from individuals to corporations. In fact, some of them also specialize in a specific field. For instance, a travel agent might specialize in leisure travel while another travel agent might specialize in location-specific journeys to Asia or Europe.
If you decide to become a travel agent, you might be directly working with clients to ensure they have the best experience. You may give suggestions related to accommodations, transportation arrangements, travel destinations, etc. to suit the needs of your client. In addition, you can also offer them a unique or customized itinerary or travel package.
How to Start a Travel Agency
Here’s how to get your travel agency off the ground.
1. Select Your Niche
The first step to start a travel agency is to decide the sector of the travel agency you wish to deal in. Think of your niche as your friend. It will help you choose a name, establish yourself and set yourself apart from your competitors. Starting an agency without deciding your niche is like traveling without a compass—you’re bound to get lost!
You can pick a destination (Europe and USA) or focus on a particular type of travel (cruising) or even decide to get into destination weddings and honeymoons. If these don’t interest you, you can also target the corporate world.
2. Choose a Name
Every business needs a name. Select a name that’s easy to recall and remember, is short, relatable, and unique. Selecting a name isn’t difficult if you’ve decided on your niche. To help you narrow down your search, here are some travel agency name ideas:
- Dream Escape
- Terrific Travels
- Global Getaways
- Traveler’s Choice
- Luxury Escape
- Eastern Travels
- Travel Nest
- Elite Explorers
- Tremendous Trips
- Magical Tours
- Unforgettable Trips
- World Travelers
3. Understand Your Target Audience
Now that you have selected your travel agency’s niche and name, it’s time to understand your target audience. Spend time getting to know the demographics you will be catering to. This will help you determine how to attract clients and retain them. In addition, explore the travel statistics on the area of your operation.
4. Cover All The Financial and Legal Aspects
It’s essential that you follow the legal and financial requirements to open a travel agency. While you’re not supposed to undergo any testing, training, or qualification process, it’s important to hire a lawyer and a financial advisor to help you through the process. A lawyer will help you do the paperwork and also help you understand how to obtain a trademark for your travel agency. On the other hand, a financial advisor will help you pay taxes and generate a good cash flow.
5. Hire The Right Staff
You might not need a lot of people to help you get started but you will have to hire staff eventually. It’s wise to run an agency from a physical office with a small team of trustable employees. They should have excellent communication skills, research skills, and a good work ethic. In addition, ensure that they have the required experience for the job.
6. Create an Effective Business Plan
A well-defined business plan will ensure you stay on the right track and in alignment with your goals. It serves as a guide to successfully running your travel agency. The key to creating an efficient business plan is to set practical and realistic goals. In addition, it should address critical areas such as sales strategies and market analysis.
How to Attract Customers To a Travel Agency
Here’s how to attract customers to a travel agency and establish yourself in the market:
- Position Yourself Correctly. A quick search on the internet reveals thousands of travel agents. To beat the competition, you need to position yourself as a Specialist. Offer distinct services to stand out among the masses.
- Invest in Branding Exercises. Branding plays a significant role when you start your travel agency. Ensure that your branding stays the same across all mediums such as your website, letterheads, business cards, brochures, etc.
- Set Competitive Prices. Don’t follow the pricing structure of your competitors or established agencies. Instead, offer discounts or competitive pricing to build a base of clients. Don’t worry about the profit margin when you’re starting out. Instead, focus on converting one-time clients into loyal customers.
- Curate Complicated Trips. Don’t shy away from designing complicated trips. It’s an excellent opportunity to showcase your skills. Therefore, curate elaborate trips for your clients.
- Reward Referrals. Drum up new leads by rewarding referrals. People love sharing their holiday experience and if they had a wonderful experience, they’re bound to share your details with fellow travelers or family and friends. Reward referrals and loyal clients to gain new clients.
How to Promote Your Travel Agency
These tips will help you promote your travel agency and help you attract new clients:
- Run Promotional Campaigns. Hire a digital marketing agency to run promotional campaigns. They’ll help you target the right audience online and make good use of your marketing budget.
- Attract More Visitors to Your Website. Spread awareness about your agency by attracting more visitors to your website. Hiring a content writer to manage your website’s blog is a great place to start. Focus on educating the visitor instead of blatantly promoting your services. It’ll definitely lead to a few conversions.
- Stay Active on Social Media. Choose a few social media platforms and stay active on them. For instance, Facebook and Instagram are probably the best platforms for you to build your community. Encourage your clients to share their travel photos and tag you. This helps establish trust in potential clients.
- Create a Thorough Advertising Plan. Since ads are everywhere, it’s important to create an advertising plan that helps you target the right set of audiences at the right time. Use local advertising platforms to your advantage, circulate your brochure with your friends and family, and if your budget allows then advertise in the newspaper.
- Have a Robust Online Presence. Make it easy for people to find out about your agency online. Join forums, engage in collaborations with influencers and write guest posts for others to have a strong online presence.
Digital Marketing Strategy For Travel Agency
These tried and tested strategies will help you build your presence online.
- Optimize Your Website. It’s best to have a clean and responsive website. Add beautiful photos of travel destinations, activities, and happy clients to establish trust. In addition, ensure that your site speed is good. You can go one step further and add reviews and testimonials to your homepage. Additionally, add the links to your social media handles so that your visitors can quickly check out your posts. Add a contact form or a chatbot so that your potential customers can get in touch with your customer support team.
- Content Marketing. Seven out of 10 people today research before finalizing their holiday destination. Therefore, it’s crucial for you to share tips, how-to guides, informative articles, and media to help visitors make better choices. This also helps you build authority in your niche. In addition, it attracts more people to your website and helps build your brand. Develop a blog where you can share valuable advice and tips with your potential customers. In addition, you can encourage them to share their experience on your blog.
- Email Marketing. Once you have established a good reader base, implement an email marketing strategy to turn your visitors into leads. Offer exclusive deals to your subscribers and make your emails interesting. Use a captivating subject line, personalize your emails and add stunning imagery along with a CTA button to make the most of your email marketing efforts.
- Social Media Marketing. Communicate with your existing and potential customers with the help of social media platforms. Promote events, offers and organize regular contests to keep your clients interested.
How to Become a Successful Travel Agent
Wondering how to become a successful travel agent? Here are tips from other travel agents that will help you become better.
- Be Dependable. A great travel agent is quick to respond to calls and emails. This makes the client feel they can depend on you.
- Attention to Detail and Be Organized. Clients love agents who go the extra mile to take care of their needs. It’s often the little things that leave a lasting impression. Therefore, be organized so that you can curate better holiday experiences for your clients.
- Be Inquisitive. Ask questions to understand your clients’ needs and wants better. This will allow you to serve them in the best possible manner.
- Learn The Art of Damage Control. You will have a loyal customer if you can act gracefully under pressure or when you’re dealing with an emergency. Therefore, keep your cool and remain calm in difficult situations.
- Stay Updated. Enroll in courses, attend workshops, and read about your industry trends to stay updated. This will help you serve your clients better.
- Be Kind and Resourceful. Be understanding even when you have difficult clients. Share stories with customers to build a long-lasting relationship with them. In addition, be a go-getter (without being pushy) to secure an extra amenity for your client.
How Do Travel Agents Make Money in New Zealand?
Travel agents earn money in the form of commissions they receive from tour operators, cruise lines, hotels, etc. They may even charge the client a small convenience fee.
A travel agent in New Zealand earns about 62,300 NZD. The salary ranges between 31,800 NZD to 95,900 NZD depending on your brand, experience, and niche.
Opening and running a successful travel agency requires careful planning, time and effort. Start by selecting a niche and create an effective plan to get ahead of your competitors.
Then, start building your client base by offering competitive prices and rewarding loyal customers. By now, you should have a good cash flow to meet your expenses.
Stay active on social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube. Keep your website updated and focus on educating your readers by publishing informative articles. Build an email list to turn visitors into long-term clients.
Hire the right kind of employees to help you run your agency smoothly. Don’t hesitate to take the help of financial and legal experts.
Remember to hone your skills and stay up-to-date with industry trends to be able to serve your customers better.
Are you planning to open a travel agency in New Zealand? What’s your action plan and which tips did you find useful from our article?
Featured Image Credits: Pexels
About the Author
Shristi is a content writer and owner of F and B Recipes and Snazzy Women. When not writing, she can be found reading or trying new recipes.