The job of a travel agent is to interact with people and sell trips and holiday packages to them. If this sounds interesting and exciting to you, then you are fit for this role. You may be already working in such a company, but the thought of starting your own business may have crossed your mind several times. One can either rent a place to set it up or begin from his home itself. However, an important point to remember is that like any other business, starting a travel agency is not an easy task. It requires a lot of hard work and planning to run it successfully.
Before starting it, the most important thing to do is to research about the current market status, the options available to you, etc. The initial steps must be taken with great care and planning, as there have been many such agencies that had to be closed down because of wrong decisions from the beginning.
First and foremost, inquire about the laws that the government of your country has set for the travel industry in general. You will have to gain a suitable license to begin. It is also necessary to join a trade association, because only then you will be considered as a serious travel agent. As an independent service provider, you will have to work with a tour operator or host agency. Before selecting a tour operator, you have to research well about the various options you have, and choose the one that you think would be the best for you. One has to make his own decisions and policies for his agency, rather than relying on other agents because what may have worked for them may not work for everyone. If you have rented a place for this business, you will need some people to work for you. It would be beneficial to recruit people who have some experience in this field.
Advertising is very important for people to know about a new business. Initially, you may sell packages to your close friends and relatives. They would spread the word to others, and consequently over time, you will have good business coming in. You may not be able to give high discount rates to customers initially, but excellence in your service skills will help you to gain some loyal customers. To advertise this initiative, you can also give ads in newspapers, Internet, etc.
The income you earn from your agency comes from the commission you get from the holiday packages that you sell. You have to negotiate well with your tour operator for a good commission and also good discount rates on holiday packages for you and your staff. In the beginning, the income you receive may not be much, but as your business grows, so will your income.
If you are planning to start a home-based agency, you can also opt to become a referral agent. This job is much easier than that of the booking and selling agent because he only has to guide the customers to other travel agencies or tour operators. For this, he gets a commission from the tour operator, though it is not as much as that of the latter.
Before you begin your independent business, you must remember that you are responsible for every decision that you make. The success as well as failure of your agency solely depends on you.