How to start a travel agency

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If you love to travel, are highly organized, and enjoy working directly with people, becoming a travel agent is a great career choice.

You would think that with the ease of use of Internet search engines, the travel industry would not flourish. But he is.

According to statistics, a person can spend (lose) 20 hours researching the Internet before booking a flight. The internet is cluttered with information, which is why the benefits of using a travel agent will always come in handy for the majority of travelers.

What is a travel agency business?

A travel agency is a business that provides travel and tourism booking and planning services to people. This may include arranging for things such as air travel, vehicle rental, hotels/lodgings, and travel insurance. Before you start, find out how travel agents make money and see if you can find new ways to generate income.

How much does the creation of a travel agency cost?

Good news! You don’t need any special training and/or certifications to get started, although you do need some training and certification early in your career. Many travel agents have only completed their high school diploma before starting to work in a travel agency.

Why wait to get training and certifications? Once you officially register your business and start operating, training and certification costs can become tax deductions.

You can gain knowledge by working part-time for successful travel agencies, or you can start by starting a travel agency. The cost will obviously vary depending on whether you are starting a home-based travel agency or renting office space.

At a minimum, you will need a dedicated high-speed Internet business line and basic office equipment such as computers, software, and printers.

How much can you earn by owning a travel agency?

The average salary for someone working for an established agency is $19 per hour. The average annual salary for independent travel agents is $36,000. This varies depending on your geographic location and the type of travel company you have chosen as your specialty.

18 Important Steps to Starting Your Own Travel Business

Here are the key steps to get started in the travel industry. You should decide early whether you want to work for a travel agency or work towards starting a travel agency.

1. Take relevant training

Colleges and trade schools offer associate and four-year degrees in tourism. There are independent educators such as The travel institute that offer certifications.

All of these studies will include courses in business management, marketing, accounting, and customer service. As part of continuing education, you should also keep an eye on international affairs and weather events.

2. Look at the competition

Travel industry agencies generally offer all types of services but specialize in a certain niche. For example, some travel agencies focus on luxury travel, others on the adventure travel industry.

Savvy travel agents know their competition well, especially before starting their own business.

3. Choose between a host agency, an independent travel agent and a franchise

Under the umbrella of a host agency, you can work as an hourly or salaried employee. In addition to your regular salary, you may be eligible for commissions.

If you start a travel agency, you will work independently. Your source of compensation will be the fees you charge customers as well as the commissions you earn from travel suppliers, such as airlines, hotels, and car rental companies. Some companies operate solely as online travel agencies – these often focus on organizing business travel.

You can also opt to purchase a franchise, such as Dream vacation. A franchise will offer training programs. Both a host agency and a franchise have the advantage of existing vendor partnerships.

4. Find a specific niche and target market

Maybe your dream vacation idea is to rent bikes and travel from hostel to hostel in New England. Or you might prefer wild rivers by canoe, staying in tents.

Perhaps you would like to book an all-inclusive trip, where the price includes airfare, accommodation, food and beverages.

Your preferences are not what matters most. You have to think about your customers and potential customers. Learn the demographics of your local community and the average income of potential customers.

5. Choose a business name and register your travel agency

Before locking the name, go to your secretary of state’s website. This is where companies are registered. You can check that the name you want to use is not similar or identical to an existing travel agency, before spending money on business cards or a website.

6. Write a business plan for a travel agency

Here are some useful tips for making your business plan. A business plan should include the key elements of a travel agency business plan:

New business name and website

Physical business location

Company structure

Niche in the industry

Forge partnerships (cruises, hotels, rental companies, etc.), especially after having been a travel professional for more than a year.

Commercialization/expansion plans in the industry.

7.Open a business bank account

Open a business bank account and get a business account credit card.

8. Make sure you have the required licenses and permits in your state

General business license required by your business location.

Travel Agent License – If required by your state.

Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) – needed to pay business taxes and payroll taxes, if you have employees. You will need the EIN when you file taxes.

Zoning – If you work from a home office, you must ensure that your residence meets the zoning requirements for home travel agents.

9. Create a travel agency website and choose a location

You can start your own travel agency with the most brilliant, informative and beautiful website imaginable.

But its use will fail if it has not been properly linked, which is called search engine optimization. Unless you’re very savvy about it, you’ll benefit from hiring a professional to make sure customers find your new business and social media accounts. It is a key part of your marketing strategy.

10. Sort out your accounting software

You will need to manage travel contracts, travel reservations, invoices and receipts, suppliers and more financially. Here are some of our recommendations:


fresh books


11. Choose a business structure

You will need to choose a structure to start your travel agency. Many travel agencies choose the Limited Liability Company, or LLC. The LLC allows you to protect your personal assets, especially if you work from your own home.

Other common structures chosen by many businesses in most states include partnerships and corporations.

12. Get your taxes in order

Basic needs: An EIN, accounting software to track deductions/expenses and payments.

13. Purchase commercial insurance

There are common insurances needed, such as BOP (business operator), professional liability, commercial liability, errors and omissions and general liability insurance.

If you plan to sell travel, you need to offer travel insurance. What if travel restrictions suddenly affect a location? What if a natural disaster destroys plans for a destination beach wedding?

14. Join travel associations

Here are a few that will serve as additional resources (help you find clients):

Travel to the United States

American Society of Travel Counselors

Association of Independent Tour Operators

15. Set up your office and invest in hardware

You will need typical office equipment such as computers, software, internet, telephone system and fax machine. If you offer face-to-face travel services, you will need comfortable furniture and a conference room, as well as ample parking.

16. Marketing

What are the other agents doing to make more money? Read and attend seminars.

Learn all you can about the best ways to market your business and earn money comparable to top salaries.

17. Find Partners

Partners can include elements of a destination – a motel, B&B, restaurants or spas, for example.

A partner can also be a media company, such as a newspaper, radio or television station. You buy advertising with them and negotiate a discounted trip for an owner or manager.

18. Build trust with your customers

You will establish a relationship of trust by being easily reachable and reacting quickly to any problems that arise. For example, a customer picked up his luggage at the airport, but was told by the car rental company that there was no reservation. What are you going to do about it?

Your response to such issues will build your reputation. Word of mouth is the best publicity your new travel agency can get.

How to compete with the big brands in the travel industry

To run a successful travel company, you’ll have to accept that you can’t compete with the big guys. Instead, create your niche – a type of trip or destination that isn’t common in your area.

Image: Depositphotos

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Willie R. Golden