International tourism is expanding quickly. In 2016, nearly 9 million foreign tourists visited the country, an increase of 11% over the previous year. And analysts expect this number to keep climbing. Additionally, many domestic travelers are looking for fun adventures across the country. Hence, starting a travel agency can be a great way to tap into this growing market.
And to help you with the same, we have listed top five tips to consider before taking the plunge.
1. Offer Services That Online Travel Portals Don’t
A generation ago, anyone who wanted to travel needed to consult a travel agency. However, with the rise of internet, that has changed. People can easily go online to buy airline tickets, book hotels, and set up activities. Therefore, if you want your travel agency to be successful, you need to compete with the online travel portals. Think about what you can offer that travelers can’t find on such websites. And then focus on that benefit to get customers to consult you.
2. Find a Niche
While trying to find an effective way to compete with the online travel portals, you may want to choose a niche. For instance, you may want to create tour packages designed for international travelers. With this type of offering, you arrange for airline tickets, bus tickets, tours of special places, and activities. Then, your customers pay you a set amount for that experience. The draw for your customers is that everything is planned. They save time on research, and they may save money compared to paying for all these elements separately.
While honing in on a niche, you may want to take a more narrow approach than the above example. To explain, imagine you want to tap into the growing number of educated young urban people interested in getting out to the country. To appeal to them, you create travel opportunities that involve hiking, rock climbing, and whitewater rafting in the mountains.
3. Market Yourself
Regardless of your niche or offerings, marketing is critical. If people don’t know about your business, they won’t be able to buy your services. Depending on the customers you’re trying to reach, you may want to explore traditional advertising options. This may include billboards in places that have a lot of travelers and advertisements in travel magazines. But you should go beyond that and explore low-cost marketing ideas to raise awareness about your company.
Find travel blogs and offer to do guest posts. Such posts involve writing about a compelling travel experience, and then including your name, business name, and a link to your website with the byline. Also use social media to get your message out. Share travel tips on Facebook, beautiful photos of cool destinations on Instagram, and facts about travel on Twitter. As people like and share your posts, that draws attention to your travel agency. Once you have customers, make sure you keep marketing to them by sending e-mails and letters about upcoming travel opportunities.
4. Track Trends
So your offerings stay competitive, consider tracking trends in the travel industry. For instance, you may want to track where international travelers are coming from. Then, if you see growth from a certain area, you may want to create travel packages that appeal to those people. Or you may want to increase advertising in those markets.
5. Remember the Numbers
With any business, you need to stay on top of the numbers if you want to be successful. Consider using cloud-based accounting software such as QuickBooks to track income and expenses. You can also use this software to generate reports to project cash flow or to see how your profitability changes from season to season.
A travel agency business gives you the chance to plan trips and help other travelers have fabulous holidays. If you love travelling, this can be a great way to merge that passion with a potentially lucrative business idea. Best of all, if you focus on tours, you can accompany your customers, which means you get to travel as part of your job.