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Want to launch your own home-based travel agency? Why a travel franchise will cost you less money than going solo and give you a better chance of success

So you think you can go it alone and set up your own independent travel agency working from home?

You love organising travel for yourself and your friends; you think you’ve got a great eye for business; you’re a successful, charismatic sales person; a whizz with technology and a quick learner.

Why then should you join The Travel Franchise – or any other travel franchise for that matter? Why should you give us a substantial joining fee and a slice of your commission? Why can’t you do it all yourself?

First off: well done! You’re right to ask these questions. We like the fact that you’ve got drive and ambition and we want you to join when you’ve done all the necessary due diligence. So, let’s take a closer look at what’s really involved in setting up your travel business.

What are you going to sell?

The very first (obvious) thing to consider is what are you going to sell? You haven’t got a business unless you’ve got a product. As a travel agent, you’ll be selling packages, hotel stays, flights, tours, transfers, car hire, travel insurance…

Where are you going to source these for your clients? Do it yourself or for friends and you’ll most likely spend hours trawling the internet.

Did you know, the average consumer visits 38 websites and spends over eight hours researching their holiday. Imagine having to do this for every one of your customers – it would be unfeasible. There aren’t enough hours in the week to allow you to make enough sales.

The only sensible way to do this is to have a system where you can see numerous options on one screen.

Join The Travel Franchise and you’ll have access to our comprehensive and cutting-edge agent software. Take the brief from your client and then tap into no end of possibilities in minutes. You’ll have thousands of options at your fingertips and have the tools to be able to tailormake complex, multi-centre itineraries. 

In fact, you’ll have access to well over 450 different suppliers – that’s more choice than virtually any other travel company with over 60% of the holidays we offer not available through other websites.  

Go it alone and not only will you have far less choice to be able to offer your clients, but you’ll be responsible for building relationships with each one of  these different suppliers yourself – that’s a lifetime of work. Join The Travel Franchise and those relationships are all in place for you.

We work on your behalf and with you to nurture and grow those partnerships through our fantastic training and incentive programmes – but more about that later.

Money, money, money

OK, so now you’ve thought about what you’re going to sell, let’s get to the chase: how are you going to make your money?

As a Not Just Travel agent, for every booking you make, you’ll earn a commission. This is a percentage of the overall cost of everything you sell, whether that’s a flight, a hotel or a cruise. This is normally paid to you once the trip has taken place. On average, commission rates are around 10% to 15% of the overall booking value – but these differ as suppliers pay various levels.

So, to put it simply, you sell a holiday to the value of £2,000, the commission earned is around £200 (that’s 10%). This commission is then split between you and the franchiser.

Now before you start shaking your head at the thought of giving away a slice of your commission, it’s worth noting that every travel franchise operates on a commission-sharing basis. In fact, this is the way many franchises operate.

What sets The Travel Franchise apart from all the rest is that we offer the highest levels of commission in the whole travel industry – up to 85 per cent. 

We know you want to give away as little commission as possible – what good business person wouldn’t? But let’s be savvy. The commission you give to us is used to pay for the support and training you get from us every single day whether that’s from our business development managers or ops team – both at the end of the phone if you get stuck.

Go it alone and you really are alone. Who is going to support you? Who is going to have your back and help you drive your business forward?

Commission is split because we’re in this together. The harder we work for you, the better your results – allowing us both to be successful! It’s a win-win.

With our help, our travel consultants have proved that it is possible to generate £35,000 a year – while others earn hundreds of thousands every year.

And while commission is key, many travel providers offer other incentives, for example, one-off financial bonuses for booking a cruise, or vouchers for lifestyle products or high street brands. Some may have a rewards programme. Many of these incentives are exclusive to Not Just Travel agents and are born out of the close relationships we have with the suppliers.

Merchant services

While still on the subject of money – how are you going to actually take it? As a successful travel agent, you’ll be dealing with transactions worth thousands of pounds – often tens of thousands.

For this you’ll need ‘Merchant Services’ in place. This allows you to process credit and debit card payments.  A merchant account is a necessary intermediary, drawing funds between your customers’ bank accounts and depositing those funds into your business’s bank account.

When researching credit card processor services, there’s yet another rabbit hole of research to explore: fees, hardware support, customer support and contract length, eligibility…to name but a few.

As you’ll know, holidaymakers are used to paying deposits for their holidays, rather than paying in full up front. They’ll pay in instalments – yet the holiday is held for them.

How are you going to actually manage this alone? How are you going to secure holidays for your customers if they’re not fully paid for?

You’ll need a highly sophisticated system in place to manage the transactions – and of course you’ll be charged processing fees for every transaction.

When you join The Travel Franchise, all this is dealt with. In fact, you don’t have to even think about it. You won’t even be handling your clients’ money. You simply take the booking and credit/debit card details and tap them all into our system. Simple.

The red tape

To become a bonafide, respected travel agent there is a minefield of rules and regulations you and your suppliers must adhere to.

The pile of documentation that needs to be completed can be overwhelming, alongside a vast process of legislation and code of conduct that needs to be followed before you can even start operating. That’s IF you go it alone.

Join The Travel Franchise and we do all that for you.

For those of you wanting to investigate going it alone, let’s take a closer look at just a handful of obligations you must consider:

First up is ATOL protection – this stands for Air Travel Organisers Licensing. ATOL protection is a mandatory license for anyone who wants to sell airline tickets. Without it you can only sell accommodation and ground transport – which is not ideal if you truly want to be a travel agent. Any package holiday sold in the UK must be ATOL protected as it prevents holidaymakers losing out financially if the company stops trading before or during their trip. 

A standard ATOL licensing costs £2,266.

And then there are the Package Travel Regulations to consider. What happens if your business goes bust? The Package Travel Regulations state that all agents must, by law, reimburse consumers’ money against failure of their businesses by either taking out financial failure insurance, buying a bond or operating a trust account managed by an independent trustee.

Since the pandemic, agents have seen their insurance premiums skyrocket, putting further pressure on their business.

Operate as a Not Just Travel agent and we’ve got this all covered for you.

Having all these regulations in place is a good thing should things go wrong. Dealing with disputes can be time consuming and costly. If your client gets caught overseas because an airline or hotel group has collapsed or due to a natural disaster, this is when you’ll be turning to ABTA for help. This is the Association of British Travel Agents and this is the most trusted travel industry body in the UK. 

Customers look for the trusted ABTA logo when they book their holiday and travel arrangements, giving them confidence in the knowledge they will receive high standards of service, fair terms of trading, accurate information and a simple and straightforward complaint handling service if something goes wrong.

Meanwhile, ABTA members – such as travel agents – benefit from free business support and security. ABTA lobbies the government on the industry’s behalf and offers all its members and holidaymakers legal advice and crisis management.

In fact, without ABTA membership, an independent travel agent is unlikely to be taken seriously by customers or the industry as a whole. But…

…it comes at a price.

The criteria for joining ABTA vary depending on your income and customers. The financial criteria, as stated by ABTA on its website, indicates that your latest set of accounts will need to demonstrate as a minimum:

  • Net current asset surplus of £15K (working capital)
  • Net asset surplus of £30k
  • Issued share capital of £30k

The application fee costs £750 plus VAT, with a joining fee of £1,250.

Work behind the scenes

Working in travel has to be one of the most exciting jobs out there. When you’re not organising dream holidays, you’re travelling yourself (and getting paid for it).

But, let’s get real: there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to make a successful business and to keep it running smoothly.

There’s the business marketing, the social media, the networking, the accounts, the ticketing, the research and the quotes that you send to clients for their consideration (which may not lead to you clinching the deal). And then there’s the rescheduling when a client needs to make changes. There’s the need to act swiftly when things might go wrong. There’s the chasing of payments… it’s certainly not all glamour.

It’s a lot of work. Do it all alone and you’re likely to need a holiday, not sell one. In fact, 20% of small businesses in the UK fail in their first year, with around 60% going under within the first three years. The statistics for franchises is vastly different.

According to NatWest, less than 4% of franchises fail each year. Furthermore, over 90% of franchises are profitable within the first two years of business and 50% turn over more than £250,000 annually.

In these turbulent times of economic uncertainty, it’s also reassuring to hear that most franchises remain resilient due to investment by the parent company.

One of the key reasons for this phenomenal success rate is because of the behind-the-scenes support franchisees get from the franchisor. 

Not only are you buying into a proven business model, you’re also buying into a business that has the tools in place for you to succeed. This is certainly the case at The Travel Franchise.

Our team at head office is dedicated to helping your business thrive – after all, it’s in our interest. If you succeed, we do too.

All our agents are provided with a stream of exciting and enticing social media posts to upload on their own platforms – meaning you don’t have to spend time becoming a social media marketing expert. You’ll be given your own professional website that you can customise. Our business management software allows you to keep track of all your customer details and accounts in one place. And you’ll have access to The Hub, ensuring you’re kept up to date with all the latest industry news, marketing campaigns and special offers – you’ll look like a consummate professional! 

And it doesn’t stop there: our holiday deals app will allow you to keep in contact with your customers every day. It’s fully customisable, and you’ll get commission from any bookings.

Or take advantage of our ShoutOut tool – a snazzy easy-to-use video creation tool that provides ready-made, fully branded video templates for our franchisees to record short videos on their phones to send to their customers.

Some of our agents opt for our “Concierge” service whereby our customer service team at head office do a lot of the leg work for you once you’ve clinched the deal. They’ll handle the ticketing and finalising of the accounts – freeing you up to go out there and make more sales.  

If you set up a business on your own, who’s got your back?

The price is right

The great thing about being linked to us is that you’ll benefit from phenomenal buying power – more than £2bn worth of buying power to be precise.

In other words, because collectively Not Just Travel agents book so many holidays, our key trade suppliers often give us preferential rates.

If you’re a one-man-band, why should a supplier give you a special rate if you only book a handful of holidays with them each year?

Together, Not Just Travel agents could book thousands of packages with one supplier, meaning they can afford to extend to all of us these special deals – a classic demonstration that there’s power in numbers.

These special rates can be filtered down to the holidaymaker. In fact, it’s not unusual for customers to pay less for their holiday when booking through a Not Just Travel agent than if they were to book their holidays themselves. What’s more, considering Not Just Travel agents don’t charge for their service (because they earn great commission and they enjoy great benefits and rewards) this makes us even more attractive to customers – cheaper holidays plus no charge for the service equals more money in their pocket, less stress and more time.

It can be a very different proposition should you go it alone. For one, you’ll be less likely to be offered these special rates, let alone enjoy the additional perks and higher commission. Not surprisingly, you’ll then be tempted to slap a service charge onto your final bill for all your hard work. This is unlikely to go down well with the customer when a search on the internet reveals to them that they could have got it cheaper had they booked it themselves. No one wants to feel cheated. We all like a good deal. 

Training and education

The thing that sets The Travel Franchise apart from the other travel franchise options out there is that we’re geared up best to welcome new joiners who have never worked in travel before. Around 98% of our franchisees have never worked in the travel industry previously, and they join us from a whole host of different backgrounds. 

Because we need to get them up to speed ASAP we invest and prioritise the training and the on-going support we give to every single one of our members.

Go it alone and you’re left to fend for yourself. Of course, it’s possible to take this route – there are a host of travel and tourism courses open to you, but surely it’s easier to have a helping hand, to get up and running as soon as possible and learn – with our help – on the job? 

Our initial, intensive training lasts five days. You’ll learn about the travel industry, how to take bookings and how to use the software so you can start selling holidays right away.  We’ll also advise you on how to build your business.

But, don’t think that’s it. Education is ongoing. It has to be because the one thing that’s a certainty is that in the travel industry it’s forever changing. New hotels are constantly opening; new destinations are emerging; new tour operators come on board; new ships are launched; new flights take off. Keeping you up-to-date and informed of all the changes is our job.

How would you possibly do this on your own?

As a Not Just Travel agent, you’ll be invited to regular training webinars; you’ll have the chance to attend education courses – including our 12-month Cruise Mastery Programme that will see you become an expert in selling lucrative cruise holidays; and all our Elite agents are invited to our Millionnaire’s Retreat and Elite Experience – a four or five-day luxury overseas educational where you’ll network and learn more about running your business, often in an exotic destination.

Day-to-day support

Running your own business can be lonely. Go-it-alone and you really are alone.

On the other hand, if you join The Travel Franchise, you’ll be joining a family. It’s still very much your own business, but you’ll have a support network around you.

Every single Not Just Travel consultant is appointed a Business Development Manager (BDM). Think of them as your guardian angel! They’re on standby for you to ask advice and mentor you. You might have urgent questions, specific booking queries or need advice about which supplier is best for your client. Initially, as you’re learning the ropes, you’re more likely to tap into their expertise, but even years down the line, they are always there for you to help you grow and adapt your business.

In 2022, Not Just Travel expanded its team of BDMs to nine people – the highest ratio of BDMs in the trade and in 2023 that expanded further. Plus there’s now two specialist cruise BDMs in the team.

As well as being there to help you with your individual queries, every week your BDM will offer optional online training sessions when you’ll join up with other consultants. Very often bonds will be formed between consultants and you’ll all end up supporting and helping each other. Welcome to the family.

The chance to travel

Organising travel is exciting. Actually travelling yourself is even more so. Let’s face it, regularly heading overseas has to be the biggest perk of being a travel agent – even more so when you do it at a discounted price, or even for free. 

Once again, thanks to the close ties we have with our 450+ suppliers and key trade partners (KTPs), our agents travel more than most – particularly compared to those who set up alone. 

What better way to learn about a destination, hotel, cruise or service than to experience it for yourself? Hence, every year, Not Just Travel joins forces with our KTPs to lay on what can only be described as VIP trips.

In 2023 our Elite Experience will see agents jetting off to Mauritius to experience the island in style, while also attending an invaluable conference giving them insightful business tools. 

Or why not join us on our annual ski or golf trips – all ridiculously discounted? 

Our KTPs know that the more you know about their product, the more likely you are to sell it.  

Do the maths

Having read this article, are you still convinced that going it alone is the best route?

For as little as £2,995 (+ VAT) you can be up and running as a travel agent.

For this you’ll get:

·   the initial training to set up shop

·   thousands of products at your fingertips to sell

·   the software to take and manage the bookings

·   the ongoing support to develop your business

·   access to regular training and educational programmes

·   incentives from our key trade partners (including overseas travel)

·   all the necessary legislative protection and licences to operate

·   the merchant services in place to handle the transactions

In our opinion, that’s pretty good value for money. 

Join us today at The Travel Franchise – you know it makes business sense. 

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