These days, you can start your own travel agency from home with minimal cost. You don’t have to lease office space, hire a staff or buy expensive equipment. You can operate your travel agency exclusively online and even grow a local customer base.
A common question people have about getting started is, “Do I need a travel agent license?”
No. You are not required to obtain a specialized license to operate as a travel agent. You also do not need to be certified. However, a general business license is typically required to operate a business, and certification and association memberships will certainly look good to clients.
The first thing you will need as a home-based travel agent is some sort of platform for booking your trips and managing your travel information. There are a variety of providers, and you can generally test out their programs before you buy.
This is a great way to comparison shop to find out which solution is right for you. Some popular travel agent software programs include Dolphin Dynamics, Travel Booster and Orbitz for Agents.
TRAVEL AGENT QUICK-START GUIDE
- How to acquire key skills, what training you need and where to get it
- Steps to making a booking for your client, how to work with suppliers and how to establish relationships that get you higher commissions
- Secrets to getting clients, including low-cost options, high-volume business travel & special interest groups
- Includes: Free Sample Travel Itinerary, Free Sample Questions for planning clients’ vacations, Free Sample Booking Confirmation Sheet, Free Sample Lease Agreement
Get Your Travel Business Website
Let’s say you are starting an online travel business website where you won’t be using travel agency software. You will still need a travel business website to inform customers about your products and services. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to do this because you can build your own website for cheap with OnlineAgency.com.
You can also accept credit cards from customers worldwide through your website without paying any money up front. Use a merchant account service like PayPal that deducts a small percentage from each customer purchase, so you never have to pay any money out of pocket.
Travel Agent Training
Although training is not required to become a travel agent, it can help you build your business faster and generate more income. Here’s why:
- To plan and organize trips for clients, travel and tourism specialists need to understand how to use computerized reservation systems. Travel agent training programs can teach you how to operate a computer reservation system for airlines, plus popular tourist destinations and vacation packages that you’ll need to know about to better serve your clients.
- Travel agents also need to know about the top vacation destinations where people want to visit. They also need to be knowledgeable on tours and travel packages available in these areas. Courses can teach you this.
- Working for yourself is entirely different than being employed for another company. If you want to launch your own travel agency, enroll in a course that also provides help in starting a business.
Travel Business Marketing
Advertise Your Travel Services Online
If you have a vacation property, a tour business or travel service, you can get access to millions of interested customers online with a travel directory like RealAdventures. Find customers who have money to spend and want help planning a vacation. It can’t get much easier than this. Get Your Listing
Local Online Search Directories
Online search directories can be a cheap, easy and effective way to reach local customers looking to travel. You can list your business location, contact information, special offers and more. Plus, many sites allow customers to rate the businesses, give feedback of write testimonials.
Customer comments can be a great selling tool – and they’re free! Local search sources that are affordable and receive substantial traffic include: Google Local, Yelp, Super Pages and more specialized site Trip Advisor. Find out more on our marketing page.
Internet Marketing Tips for Your Tourism Business
If you plan to work from home, most likely you’ll want to take advantage of the internet for its low-cost advertising benefits. The reason I like this guide is that is narrows down advertising techniques specifically to the tourism business: you’ll spend less time and money on the “trial and error” method of marketing.
- Attract customers through free search engine listings, online directories and special linking techniques
- Use tourism newsgroups to reach your target market
- Tips on winning awards and then using them to promote your site
- 10 ways to find great mailing lists & use email to effectively find new clients
How to Start a Senior Travel Business
There are many areas of senior travel that you can focus on. For example, some retirees may be interested in taking a vacation where they can learn more, whether it be a class or visiting a historical site.
Others may be interested in a volunteering trip, where they can take the opportunity to give back in a unique and memorable way. There’s also the out-of-doors or adventure travel type who want to go hiking, camping or river rafting.
Seniors may want an organized vacation with a group of other seniors, or a planned activity with close family. In either case, you want to take the work out of the planning and customize a trip specifically for their needs.
What you want to do is decide on a “niche” of senior travel that interests you and specialize in that rather than trying to provide an all-in-one solution. You will have less competition and have an easier time trying to gain clientele. You will also have a better chance of building a repeat customer base with customers who enjoy a specific type of vacation.
The first step: What do you want to do?
- To plan vacations for seniors as a travel agent click here.
- To organize, manage and lead tours and trips for seniors click here.
This start-up guide provides instruction on setting up a variety of different senior service businesses in addition to a senior travel service. This can actually be helpful if you are considering a couple of different niches.
Find out how to create a business that meets the needs and therefore attracts your target market. Learn how to establish the best pricing for both you and your clients. Get insight on developing a support team that helps grow your business and the secrets to effective marketing and getting ongoing referrals.
The Senior Journal Website has a section dedicated to travel ideas, news and solutions specifically for senior citizens. When starting your own senior travel business, this is a good site to look for ideas about your target market and what it wants. AARP.org also offers good insight into the senior citizen market.
Travel Spot will let you become a partner with them for free and start your own online travel business using their online travel booking system. Get a private branded site (already set up) that offers flights, hotel, cars, activities, featured deals and insurance to your website visitors.
A big part of running a successful senior-focused business is marketing to your mature target market the right way. This article has some advice from the field.
Another way to reach the senior citizen market online is to advertise your senior travel service on websites where seniors go to get information, like SeniorJournal.com, SuddenlySenior.com or SeniorMag.com.
High-traffic areas in your community, like libraries or your church can also be good spots to get the word out. You can create brochures or flyers with high-quality images and design layouts without spending a lot of money. Go to our marketing page for resources.