Globalization of travel business and cheaper cost due to technology is responsible for the increased trend in travel in this era. Day-to-day life can become very repetitive and travelling is a chance to discover new places, languages, accents, foods, and ways of life. It opens your eyes to what is beyond your neighbourhood. It's a chance to see with your own eyes, landmarks that you've only seen in photos or heard of. A travel agency business can help to fulfil this desire of travelling among the masses.
Here are the steps to start a travel agency business:
Choose a niche for your Travel Agency Business
People of various age groups tend to travel and each group prefer a different travel experience from one another. So for a travel agency it is important to select a travel niche to serve its customers. Some examples of travel niche are as follows:
- Adventure Travel: Adventure tourism is the fastest growing and biggest travel niche today, usually a trend among the young generation. It includes physical activities such as paragliding, scuba diving, river rafting, safaris, trekking, cycling, rock climbing and much more.
- Nature and Wildlife travel or Ecotourism: Another travel trend which will continue to grow. Tourists want to travel and experience unspoiled environments. Discover nature without destroying it and exploring the local communities through cultural exchange activities.
- Cultural Travel: People also travel for the purpose of exploring various culture, and cultural & world heritage sites. Culture travel has a special place in India because of its past civilization as India has been considered the land of ancient history, heritage, and culture. Historical and archaeological monuments continue to be the biggest draw in attracting international tourists.
- Religious Travel or Pilgrimages: Walking, biking, or traveling to religious and spiritual sites. Spirituality is entrenched into the very core of Indian culture and both young and old travel to such sites very often.
A travel agency can also combine several niches to attract various types of people who want to travel. A diverse travel option is beneficial for a travel agency.
Take Business Registration and Licenses
Now we look at the rules, regulations and taxation issues for starting a travel agency business in India.
- Choice of Business Entity: Travel agency today has many options of business entity to choose from and HBF Direct can help you in simplifying the process. The entities are:
- Private Limited Company (PLC): It is one of the most widely used and recognized forms of business in India offering a host of benefits.
- Limited Liability Partnership (LLP): Works best for startups and small businesses that are run by partners and want to have the nominal regulatory compliance.
- One Person Company (OPC): Ideal for anyone who runs a business by themselves and wants limited liability.
- Service Tax Registration: The services provided by a travel agency are taxable under service tax and so travel agency is required to obtain a service tax registration. However, small scale travel agency has the option of availing service tax exemption in case the aggregate turnover of taxable services does not exceed Rs. 10 lakhs in a financial year.
- Recognition from the government: To be a valid agent in India, the person must be recognised by the Ministry of Tourism, through their Additional Director-General, and this recognition is valid for five years initially.
- Becoming an IATA agent: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is the trade association for the world’s airlines. IATA offers comprehensive training and professional development services for travel agents.
Build Good Website for your Travel Agency
Having a responsive and well managed website is a must for a travel agency. Most visitors are likely to view your travel agency site from their mobile device and if your customers have to pinch and zoom their way around your site, they’ll leave. Some important features of your travel agency website and software are:
- Navigation: The website design and app should be easy to navigate and the menu items should be easily accessible from any page or part of the phone screen. The viewer should always know exactly where they are on the website or app and have easy access to where they would like to be.
- Visual Design: People are visually oriented creatures, and utilizing great graphics is a good way to make your travel agency website or software more appealing. However, it's important not to go overboard with too much of design. Scrolling text, animation and ﬂash intros should be used in your travel agency website design and only to emphasise a point for maximum effect.
- Content: Your travel agency’s website’s text should be informative, easy to read, and concise. Your content on your travel agency’s services play a major. Content should be optimized for search engines and be of a suitable length, incorporating relevant keywords.
- Compatibility: Design your travel agency webpage, to perform equally well on different browsers and operating systems, to increase its viewing. Same goes for you travel app, which should work on various mobile platforms.
- Branding: Your travel agency website should be a direct reﬂection of your travel business and your brand. Your visitor should immediately make a visual connection between your logo and print material. A website that does this not only contributes to the memorability of your travel branding, but adds a level of credibility and enhanced image of that of your overall travel agency.
- Payment gateway API: Payment APIs can integrate multiple payment sources and provide your travel customers with a means of tracking their payments. It will enable your travel agency to process credit cards, debit cards, track orders and maintain lists of customers.
HBF Direct’s professional website designers and app developers make sure that any time a person visits your travel webpage or app, they will have an amazing user-experience and get more excited to travel.
Do Financial Planning for your Travel Agency
A financial model is the summary of you travel agency’s performance, based on certain variables, that helps your travel agency forecast future financial performance. In other words, it help you travel agency see the likely financial results of a decision in quantitative terms. Some of the key elements of a financial model are:
- Revenue Model: It is a framework for generating financial income. It identifies who will buy your services, how often, how soon, at what cost and how much from each customer.
- Gross Margin Model: It determines how much revenue will be left after you pay the direct costs of what you have sold.
- Operating Model: It shows how much revenue will be left after you paid the direct costs of what you have sold.
- Working Capital Model: It determines how early can you get customers to pay, do you tie up money in inventory waiting to be sold or can you push back paying suppliers or partners till after your customers have paid.
- Investment Model: It determines how much cash you must spend up front before enough customers give you enough travel business to cover your operating costs.
To build a robust financial model of a travel agency one must be knowledgeable on accounting, finance and excel spreadsheets. Here HBF Direct’s services can provide essential assistance for your travel agency business to generate huge revenue.
Partner with Influencers and service providers
As the value of social media influencers continues to grow and evolve, so too are the number and ways in which travel agency or brands partner with influencers to plug their travel products. Partnering with influencers can be beneficial to your travel agency business in some of the following ways:
- They can help you grow your own network of travel followers from all over the world. Perhaps, you might get on other travelers’ to-do lists when they visit your country.
- Travel influencer marketing is also good for increasing sales and in-person interaction. A good collaboration is likely to attract more inquiries from local travel followers. Even if you are a relatively new or small travel agency, it can give you a kick by spreading the word about your travel agency.
- Despite the outbreak of Corona virus which undoubtedly affected the travel and lifestyle sectors, relevant influencers are still finding ways to inspire and talk to their audiences.
The tourism industry as a whole survives because of various tourism products and services. Therefore it is essential to partner with some of these service providers:
- Accommodation: It provides over night stay facilities for traveling visitors on occasional basis. It includes hotels, boarding houses, motels, holiday villages, resorts, camping sites and many more.
- Transport: It includes air, rail, road and water transport system to take traveling tourists from one place to another place.
- Travel guides: Travel guides also called tourist guides help traveling visitors to give required information regarding a place, monument or any other places the tourist is traveling to.
Personalise and Build your network
You can personalise your traveling agency according to your niche and customers in the following ways:
- Blogs: Travel blogs has become powerful vehicles that can tell their stories about travel destinations and build good relationships with potential visitors. It helps to form travel itinerary, what to eat in certain holiday travel destinations, its top attractions and so on.
- Video Content: These days it is possible to produce a high-quality video at a low cost. Your travel agency can set up a YouTube channel for your business. Film snippets of travel destination and tours, and upload on various social media website.
- Customer Testimonials: Reputation is everything in travel business and positive customer testimonials helps to build trust and creditability. Reviews whether positive or negative influence visitor’s travel choices.
India in recent years has gained good exponential growth in the Travel and Tourism Industry. Today India is the preferred destination for both overseas and domestic travelers. India provides the facility to Tourists of international origin to understand and experience the cultural and geographical diversity of the country. Therefore your idea to start a travel agency will not only enrich your customers live but also impact our country’s economy. You can join hands with HBF Direct to help you to start your dream travel agency.