Starting a travel business from home could not be easier, and since the pandemic, more and more of us have discovered the joys of not having to commute to work. What’s more, being confined to our homes for the past two years has created a great demand for holidays and short breaks, which means it’s a great time to launch an online homeworking travel agency. Read on to discover just how simple it is to become a travel agent online.
Plan in advance
You’ve probably heard the saying ‘fail to plan, plan to fail’, and it couldn’t be more true when starting your own travel business. Extensive planning will not only make you feel more prepared and confident in your new business venture but also ensure that you don’t make any costly mistakes. Furthermore, it will ensure you manage your resources in the best way possible. Even if you have never written a business plan before, numerous templates are available online that can guide you through all the different aspects of business planning.
The business plan does not need to include every single detail but should be unique to your business and the type of business you decide to run.
Choose a business model
Choosing a business model for your online travel agency requires serious research. There are several different options which all come with pros and cons. Some of the most popular include:
- A Host Agency – If you wish to create your own travel brand, you could team up with a host agency as an independent contractor to capitalise on their sales volume. This is a good option for beginners as the host agency often offers ongoing support, low start-up costs, and high commission.
- A Partnership – Partnering with other tour operators allows you to share expertise and skillset. However, it’s crucial to ensure your partner has a good business reputation and is trustworthy.
- Own Accreditation – If you already have established relationships with travel providers, you may wish to get your own accreditation but this can be costly.
- Travel Franchise – This is one of the best options for anyone who has never worked in travel or launched their own business. With ongoing support and training, you’ll purchase a ready-to-go business and be able to start making money from day one.
When deciding upon a business model, it is worth considering how much support you think you might need. If you have experience in the travel industry or already have established industry contacts, then going it alone may not be daunting. However, if you lack any travel experience, a host agency, or franchise, will be a better option.
Some franchises are also ideal for people who already have a full- or part-time job and would like to put in extra hours to earn extra cash as a side hustle. The Travel Franchise is an excellent choice because they offer different packages, as well as extensive support and ongoing training for those new to the industry, and you do not have to work full time. This means you won’t have to quit your job and can balance it with any other commitments. The flexibility of owning a franchise involves less risk and you could earn money from the get-go.
There are several reasons to consider a franchise, including:
- An already established business model and plan
- Ongoing training and support
- Financially stable company
- Legal support
- Established brand value
Choose a niche
You may wish to consider a niche in the travel market. For example, you could focus on:
- Luxury travel
- Food & wine tours
- Adventure travel
- Sports holidays eg ski or golf
- Corporate events
- Weddings and honeymoons
- & many more!
You might choose a niche you are passionate about or perhaps even identify a gap in the market which could make your business stand out from the crowd. Additionally, a niche can help to generate more revenue; for example, you will likely take a bigger commission from luxury packages that command higher prices or complex adventure sports trips which require more planning. However, it is essential to do your homework. A little market research will help you determine if the niche you’re passionate about has a demand or if there is any competition.
Get the legal part in order
While a franchise will often support you with identifying the necessary legal issues to consider, if you decide to go it alone, you will need to be aware of the legal requirements of starting a travel business from home. Despite not needing any qualifications to set up as an online travel agent, it’s recommended that you join a trade association. This gives you access to industry-specific training and resources, as well as reassuring customers that you are a reputable and professional business.
The best-known trade association is the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA); however, this can be expensive. For start-up businesses, the Travel Trust Association (TTA) or the Global Travel Group can be more budget-friendly options.
The law on travel agencies in the United Kingdom is governed by the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations (1992). Travel agents must be authorised by an appropriate licensing authority to sell or supply holiday packages. In England, this is the Local Authority in the area where the business is based.
For businesses located outside of England, authorisation must be sought from the Civil Aviation Authority. Travel agents must comply with certain obligations. You will also need to be insured. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) offers package policies for travel businesses, covering public liability, product liability, and professional indemnity.
Once the planning and legal parts are in order, you can start thinking about building relationships with brands and customers. As an online travel agency, it’s essential to maintain good customer relations. This means providing excellent customer service, being responsive to customer needs and inquiries, and offering competitive prices. In order to offer competitive prices, you’ll need relationships with travel partners. Buying into a franchise will give you access to such partners immediately.
By alerting clients to good deals, you’ll keep your customers happy and coming back again and again.
In addition, good customer relations will help you attract new customers and grow your business, as word-of-mouth is incredibly powerful in the travel industry. Think of how many destinations you have considered visiting just because a friend or family member told you about them. If they have a travel agency recommendation, you’re more likely to use that travel agency. Friends and family are likely to be your very first customers, eager to see the great deals you have access to.
This highlights the importance of putting your customers at the heart of your business. Furthermore, good relationships with travel brands and providers will ensure you get the very best deals and prices to pass on to your happy customers.
Work towards your success
Ultimately, however, your decision to begin your journey into the travel industry will depend on the goals you have for the business, your experience, and how much time and commitment you can give to your new home travel agency.
We have discussed how to open a travel agency online, from home, and with no experience. This guide has given you an overview of everything you need to plan for and consider, but remember, persistence is key, and you are more likely to succeed if you’re passionate about travel. Good quality ongoing training and support, which is provided by experts such as The Travel Franchise, will give you all the knowledge you need to make your online homeworking travel agency a success, but only you can implement that knowledge and make it happen.