Today’s travel services professionals offer a wide range of valuable and time-saving services to clients. Most people do not have the time to spend researching the best deals on every airline, cruise line, hotel, restaurant and entertaining attraction along the way. As a result, many of these travelers find value in engaging the services of a travel agent who can take on the responsibility of arranging every detail to make their trip go smoothly.
The types of services typically offered by a travel professional include:
- Provide a one-stop shop for all travel arrangements
- Creating itineraries and travel schedules that will be of interest to clients
- Being current with the best prices, schedules promotions, etc.
- Efficient transportation support services – airline bookings, cruises, taxes, etc
- Efficient accommodation support services – reserving hotels and other accommodations
- Creating specialty tour packages and possibly serving as the tour leader
- Arranging customized events, like conventions or destination weddings
- Offering travel insurance
- Very informative and current travel advisory services covering passport/visa requirements, domestic and international travel requirements, etc
- Coordinating the thousands of fine details necessary to ensure clients’ satisfaction
To start a successful travel service business, you will need a lot of details sorted. It will be best you make time to gain valuable working experience in the industry – as an employee of a good travel agency, an intern, you buy a franchise or you collaborate with someone with tangible experience. From your experience inquiry, you will be able to decide on which type of travel agency you will like to start out with. Here’s a brief look at some types of travel services business models you could consider:
Homebased Business: This will rely heavily on your expertise on virtual service delivery. With the good internet, knowledge of your way around ICT and valuable software, home-based agents have at their command all the same tools that used to be available only at a traditional brick-and-mortar travel agency. Customers today are very comfortable buying all kinds of services via the internet. Once you organize your business, put up your website and all other social engagement channels you are good to go.
Independent Contractor: Independent are in a kind of partnership with already established travel agencies. They make their own hours, build their own client list, and are solely responsible for paying their own way at tax time. They benefit from having a physical office where they can meet with clients, pick up walk-in business, and drop the name of an established agency when they make cold calls or follow up on leads. That may give you some valuable credibility than when you are starting out on your own.
Specialty/Niche Services: There are many of opportunities for entrepreneurs who want to offer specialty travel services. This area is open to a lot of creative thinking – you can get into the field in many ways: you could offer tours and packages tailored to the interests and needs of particular groups, for specific demographics, specific destinations, luxury travel, etc.
Corporate travel services: This is a niche travel service singled out because of the various opportunities it offers. It could be difficult breaking into this field but there are best practices to adopt in your strategy – target relationship building with individuals in your client companies, brand and structure your business for corporate engagement, you might be able to land a spot as an independent contractor or home based agent on a travel agency team that already has an established clientele, etc. This niche could be a portfolio of your overall travel services business or you could specialize in it alone.
Franchise Business: With a franchise, you acquire the rights to use a tried and true concept, as well as the name recognition and business processes that come along with it. You have to conform to the franchisor’s established methods of doing business and promote their brand ideals. Note that successfully running a franchise requires basic knowledge of established business practices.
Setup your Structures
- Once you have made up your mind on the type of travel service you want to start out. The location and network of clients within your reach is crucial. They should be able to afford your services and get you to where you want to be in terms of revenue. Make detailed inquiry into documentations and permits relevant to your niche service and business location.
- You may need seed capital enough to get you started and able to service your running costs until your expected revenue sets in.
- Launch a coordinated marketing plan. This will involve your implementation of a detailed marketing plan including online and offline marketing tactics.
With good numbers and many potential clients clamoring for your services, you may think it would be a roller coaster ride in revenues. That is often not the case. It should be noted that it takes some time to build clientele. Most travel services earn income from two sources – 1) commissions paid by travel-related bookings and service fees charged to the client. This means a push for getting higher volumes of business to drive up what you make in commissions will be key. 2) Sales of big-ticket, high-end products and packages is also a very crucial source of revenue.
Be diligent and thorough in your understanding of the business details – Get started and keep an open mind. Be quick to learn trends and new imaginations in your line of business. Persistence and the determination to succeed are the most important skills you bring to the table.