The travel industry is hotter than ever. As travel has become cheaper and more convenient, an increasingly large segment of the population is choosing to be adventurous. Travel spending is at an all-time high and, despite increased access to self-service tools and online research, many people are still looking for expert guidance to help them plan and enjoy their travel experiences.
Could you help meet that need by becoming a travel agent?
Starting Your Own Travel Agency
Whether it’s a weekend trip to the Smoky Mountains or a month-long excursion in the Swiss Alps, people love the idea of traveling. However, most people either lack the time, expertise, patience, or organizational skills to plan a successful and enjoyable trip.
As a travel agent or consultant, you can meet a need and fill a void. Here’s how you can get started:
1. Choose a Niche
The importance of choosing a niche cannot be overstated. With so many travel conglomerates and free online self-service tools, a generic, all-encompassing approach won’t work.
Mark Trim, founder of the ultra-successful RoundAbout Travel company, believes you need at least three tangible points of differentiation for your company to stand out.
“I often get put on the spot travelling around the world when I tell someone I own an online travel company,” Trim explains. “They often ask me something like, ‘I don’t mean to be rude but why would I book with you and not XYZ company’. I can answer that question with conviction, they should be wanting your contact details by the time you’re done selling yourself.”
2. Craft a Story
You need a story – a brand, if you will. This brand should be recognizable, trustworthy, and distinct. It should magnetize people to your services.
If your travel agency is just a one-person venture, you might be synonymous with the brand. However, remember that you may eventually want to grow your business beyond yourself. And it’s for this reason that you should consider developing a brand that’s separate from you.
3. Build Your Online Presence
With a niche and a brand, you’re ready to build and expand your online presence to drum up attention and generate leads. Here are a few suggestions:
– Every travel business needs SEO so they can stand out in the Google rankings and reach more potential clients in the middle of their search experiences. Make sure you have an SEO strategy in place – and preferably one that includes a focus on link building.
– Social media and travel go hand in hand. People love posting pictures of their travel experiences, gathering advice from friends, and engaging with travel companies. Use this to your advantage. Pick one social media platform and make it your primary promotional focus.
– Travel blogs are wildly popular and give you an opportunity to share valuable long-form content about specific experiences and definitions. As a bonus, keyword-rich blog posts also have the benefit of amplifying SEO. Consider starting your own blog and publish original content at least once per week.
4. Wow Your First 5 Clients
Your first five clients are your most important. They can make or break your dreams of building a successful travel company – so make sure you wow them. Why? Because they have the power to accelerate your growth beyond any promotional tactic you can do for yourself.
A satisfied client multiplies quickly. He might bring in two referral clients, who in turn bring in four more clients, who eventually bring in eight…etc. Now multiply this times five and you can see how quickly a handful of satisfied clients on the front end can generate hundreds of high-paying clients down the road.
5. Cultivate Relationships
In addition to making your clients happy, you need to cultivate healthy relationships with business partners, vendors, and other travel industry insiders. The more powerful these relationships are, the more value you can add to your clients.
Start Your Next Adventure
You don’t need to become a full-time travel agent to have success. The beauty of starting a travel company is that you can make it whatever you want it to be. Whether you’re interested in one-on-one consulting with carefully selected clients, or you want to hire a team of full-time employees and start an online travel planning website where you connect people with the right travel planning resources, there’s room for your creativity and ambition in this space. Go for it!