Traveling is fun. But planning for it?! Now, that is a bit of a headache. The booking, arrangements, and organizing can be quite demanding. Fortunately, there are people whose job it is to take all of that pressure away. They are called travel agents, and now, you can also be one from the comfort of your home.
If you’re wondering if it is really possible to make booking travel into a career, the answer is YES! Though some people can always book their flights themselves, there’d always be people (like me) seeking as much help as possible to plan an entire trip with friends or with the family.
Now, here’s a fact: Over 1.1 trillion dollars is spent on travel in a year and with that much spending, there’s surely a need for more travel agents.
Some people might risk booking a trip without a travel agent, but an experienced and informed travel agent still has to aid customers to plan the trip that is perfect for them.
So, this article will capture the benefits as well as a step-by-step guide on how to become a travel agent from home. Stay with me as we explore it all together.
- Who is a Travel Agent?
- Benefits of Working as A Travel Agent?
- How Much Can You Earn As A Travel Agent?
- What Is The Cost Of Opening A Travel Agency?
- How Do I Become A Travel Agent From Home?
- #1. Select Your Niche
- #2. Make A Business Plan for Your Business
- #3. Develop and Build Your Brand as A Travel Agent
- #4. Consider and Attend to The Legal Aspects
- #5. Source for Funds
- #6. Choose A Perfect Location
- #7. Advertise Your Travel Agency
- #8. Ensure You Build Customer Relationship
- #9. Make Partners
- #10. Optimize Your Business Online
- #11. Let Your Goals Be Practical
- #12. Optimize Sales Opportunities
- Writer’s Recommendations
Who is a Travel Agent?
The job of a travel agent is still very much appreciated. People who cannot stand the stress of organizing a journey seek to employ the services of travel agents. Primarily, they help to ease the pressure of travel planning for their clients, helping them save time and money to travel, and ensuring they experience the best trip.
As a travel agent, you simplify the travel process by conversing with clients to determine the transportation arrangements, most preferred travel destinations, and accommodations for the client’s particular needs.
They also give reviews of cruise lines, discover new destinations, and best trips for either personal leisure or business.
Benefits of Working as A Travel Agent?
There are a bunch of benefits to working as a travel agent. Prepare to get awed into wanting to become a travel agent from home.
Being a travel agent from home lets you work remotely or from any part of the world.
Travel agents usually get to meet and greet representatives from related sectors – the travel sector, cruise lines, airlines, resorts, and hotels.
This will allow you to make good business connections as that is a powerful tool in the travel industry.
Being a travel agent offers the chance to get great discounts on flights and hotels. Since you’d be traveling a lot, it won’t hurt to get it done a little cheaper.
#4. All expenses paid trips
Depending on how well known you are, hotels, airlines, and government tourism sectors could offer you all-expenses-paid trips to sell their services and destinations to potential customers. This would help them increase their income.
#5. Paid to travel
They could also offer to not just pay for your trips, but also, pay you as a travel agent. It’s your job to know the best places, hotels, and activities in the country. How would you know them well enough to refer a customer if you haven’t been there yourself?
So, you should go on these ‘fam trips’ (familiarization trips) to explore the best accommodations, restaurants, activity providers, and get paid to travel.
#6. Tax benefits
The travel expenses you have can be deducted from your taxes as part of your business. Also, advertising and costs involving your clients can be deducted. Taxpayers with digital nomadic tendencies can save some money here.
Tell me you aren’t already eager to know just how to become a travel agent from home?!
How Much Can You Earn As A Travel Agent?
We would get there I promise. However, permit me to continue building up the excitement.
Of course, this question must have hit you by now.
“If I become a travel agent from home, how much would I earn?”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for a travel agent is roughly $40,660 annually. However, you can make more or less depending on how much work you put in.
A substantial part of your salary comes from commission. So, the more sales you make, the more money you get. There’s really no limit to how much money you can make as a travel agent.
Usually, if you work as an in-house travel agent with a travel agency, you get a basic salary as well as a commission on the sales you make. But, as an independent travel agent working from home, you get the commission. However, you don’t get any basic salary.
What Is The Cost Of Opening A Travel Agency?
To open your travel agency, you may have to spend between $1,000 and $10,000. However, this depends on your targeted markets and clients.
Also, you’d need the services of a host agency to take care of all the regulatory and back-office requirements, while you split the commission with them. Now, you may be told you’d have to pay the host agency about $400 to $1,200 to start your business from home.
Fortunately, there are host agencies that will not charge you at all to use them as your host.
How Do I Become A Travel Agent From Home?
The following steps would guide you on how to start your business as a travel agent.
#1. Select Your Niche
This is an important aspect to consider first for a startup business. It’s necessary to find your niche first. Now, this is a very common mistake most owners of new travel agency businesses make. They want to offer all the services at the same time. The aim most times is to increase the number of clients.
While this may be true, it’s also very risky because you’re also attracting the competition that comes with all these niches. You’d be in a competition with other more established, more grounded companies.
Find a good niche to launch your business. A good niche should be one with minimal competition as this will allow for growth. Discovering a good niche will take comprehensive research.
Find out what services the other travel agency businesses do not offer and try to offer it to your customers.
This would improve your growth potential.
#2. Make A Business Plan for Your Business
A business plan is very important for any start-up because it will keep you focused on the important things. It doesn’t just have to do with setting goals with a rough sketch of what the business should look like. It should be a lot more detailed than that.
Your vision and mission, the source of the funds for starting up the business as well as the resources available to you to start a travel agency, should be clearly stated. Estimate the cost of starting your business and try to gather the funds. Also, ensure you determine the aims, goals, and constraints of starting the business.
Ultimately, these strategies you painstakingly mapped out will guide you to achieve the goals you set out.
#3. Develop and Build Your Brand as A Travel Agent
The relevance of building a brand if you want to become a travel agent from home cannot be overemphasized. It’s important for all types of business as it helps create an idea of your company and the products or services you intend to provide.
Considering how competitive the travel agency is, having a clear, well-defined brand is a principal strategy to employ if you intend to stand out. How do you want your clients to perceive your brand when they visit your website or see your adverts?
What difference do you offer? Why should they patronize you and not the other agencies out there? What is the “topping” or “sugar-coating” you offer that should make them come to you rather than do it themselves?
You can decide to go the extra mile to encourage more patronage. You can offer the ease of helping them plan their trips down to the very last details (that’s the hardest part of traveling, I can’t overstress this point!).
Your familiarization trips would come into play here to aid you to offer the best service there is.
#4. Consider and Attend to The Legal Aspects
Any new business has to fulfill all legal requirements before they start operating. Fortunately, the licensing process for travel agents in the US is not so demanding, requiring no training, testing, or qualification process.
Licensing requirements differ by state and country. In California, Washington, Hawaii, Iowa, and Florida, you’ll need a Seller of Travel license while in the U.K., you’ll need an Air Travel Organiser’s License.
You’d also have to choose your business structure. The business structure will depend mostly on your intentions for your business. For instance, if you want a simple organization structure for easy compliance and governance, and have no intention of going public or having to get formal investment, then the Limited Liability Company is the most advisable structure.
To fulfill the legal requirements before you proceed to become a travel agent from home, you will also need to name your business formally. This will entail filing a DBA (doing business as).
You’ll also have to apply for a Federal Tax ID number, also known as a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN or FEIN).
Furthermore, you’d have to get a trademark for your travel agency. That trademark is your logo – peculiar to just you. However, after creating the logo, ensure it is properly registered with the concerned authorities.
#5. Source for Funds
The strategy for seeking funds to start and run a travel agency should be carefully considered. Even if you decide to become a travel agent from home, you’d still need a constant flow of cash to pay for the running of the website. In this case, your immediate family can help with the funding.
However, if you decide to run the business offline, you would need office space, employees, and marketing materials. This may require you to get a loan from a bank or from a person you can trust.
#6. Choose A Perfect Location
One of the most important factors that affect the growth and success of a business is the location. The travel agency business is not an exception. Pick a location where people are usually gathered or along the road. Place a legible signboard there so that passers-by can see it and easily locate your office.
Also, having a good parking lot will encourage more customers to stop by to request your services.
Unfortunately, locations with these criteria are usually high priced. If you can’t afford to get them just yet, go for the next best thing.
Most importantly, build your office with your vision for your company in mind. If you have plans to expand and get more staff, then make provisions for them.
#7. Advertise Your Travel Agency
Promote your business. Even the top dogs in every niche still run ads and do promotions. People will not know you exist until you introduce yourself. Same thing with travel agencies.
If you do not tell them you exist and offer the services they seek, they will not know, and they will take their business elsewhere.
You can publish ads in newspapers, print and distribute leaflets, make brochures in your office, or employ the services of a professional graphic designer.
Ultimately, do not underestimate the power of social media in this respect. There is a constantly increasing influx of businesses on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter, all seeking more visibility.
You would surely get a couple of clients there. Make sure your page is active and unique. Respond to questions and comments quickly and watch your business flourish.
#8. Ensure You Build Customer Relationship
You’re in business because of the customers. Never forget that. You must take intentional steps toward building and maintaining a good rapport with your customers.
You should train yourself and your staff on how to treat your customers and how to respond to their queries politely. Your tour guides, drivers, and cooks should learn to be courteous with the vacationers.
If there are any complaints, try to resolve them as soon as possible.
DO NOT LET THEM LINGER!!
Nothing offends customers more than poor customer service. Always remember that customers talk amongst themselves, and if you want to become a successful travel agent from home, you do not want a bad review.
Make videos or good graphics to answer frequently asked questions, and conduct online surveys often to find ways to modify your services for the better.
#9. Make Partners
The travel agency is not one that can necessarily be run individually. You’ll need to offer services like selling tickets, packages, and more to your customers, right?! Now, you know you can’t get these things yourself.
You’ll have to liaise with some already established companies to get their permission to sell their services through your travel agency. Asking may not prove to be a challenge, however, getting them to agree? Now, that’s the real battle.
They know that you need them more than they need you. So, when they ask you what percentage of commission you’ll charge (and they will), remember you’re a startup, and you can’t afford to make outrageous demands just yet.
So, for starters, keep your demands reasonable and work towards building their trust in your brand. Eventually, they may increase your commission.
#10. Optimize Your Business Online
To be a successful travel agent even from home, you need to ensure that your travel agency is visible to customers on the web. When they type keywords that should find similar agencies in your niche, your page should also appear.
That is known as search engine optimization of a website, and that’s what will give you a fighting chance in the very competitive market. Like I said, if you do not introduce yourself, people won’t know you exist.
If your page doesn’t come up amongst the top-ranking pages, they won’t see your page. Instead, they’ll visit the pages that come up first, making you lose clients.
Ensure your website design is perfect and create a good content marketing strategy that will optimize your website, insert your keywords strategically, and ultimately, build your audience.
#11. Let Your Goals Be Practical
Most startup companies make the mistake of setting outrageous goals for themselves. Expecting high returns immediately could be seen as being optimistic, however, what happens if you don’t meet those targets?
It could very well lead to frustration.
To become a successful travel agent from home (and still keep all of your sanity), set practical goals for your business. After deducting your entire expenses, any extra money becomes your profit.
#12. Optimize Sales Opportunities
Don’t expect the sales opportunities to always come to you. There are times when you’d have to go the extra mile to get these opportunities yourself. The travel agents that always wait for customers to come to them may not meet their set goals.
Go for conferences and familiarization trips. Meet people in the same field and market your brand. Make valuable connections, put yourself out there, and when you get opportunities, seize them!
With all the perks of being a travel agent, the digital nomads, social butterflies, and people with a special love for traveling will definitely find this job alluring.
The good thing is, it’s achievable.
Choose a niche, make a business plan, promote your business, consider the legal aspects, get the money, and you are on a closer path to becoming a travel agent from home.
If there are any other steps you know of, do well to share it with us in the comments section.