Do you have a deep passion for traveling? Are you a master of planning trips and building itineraries? Do you want to help others enjoy the experience of traveling?
If so, you may have thought about starting a travel business. For the most part, there is little upfront cost and there’s no need to hire dozens of employees. At the same time, starting a travel business requires a lot of market research.
In the U.S. alone there are almost 9,500 full-time travel agencies. This means you’re up against a lot of competition, and you’ll need to find a niche that makes your business unique.
Are you ready to take on the challenge? If so, these 5 tips will make the process of starting a travel business much less daunting.
1. Start Early
Creating a business takes time. Rushing into the launch of a company without proper research and vision can end your business before it even begins.
Before launching your company, take time to conduct market analysis, and attend travel conferences to build your understanding of the market. Research your competitors as well as your target audience. Determine what market needs are unmet.
What travel services are consumers in your local community seeking?
After researching, you can find a niche within the industry that sets your company apart from the rest. Starting early gives you ample time to plan. You can develop a clear sense of the direction that your new company needs to take.
2. Create a Business Plan
No matter your industry, a business plan is a must. It’s how you solidify your approach to starting a travel business.
Do you want to become a home-based travel agent?
If so, you’ll want to research a host travel agency. With this route, you’ll work as an independent contractor. Working as a home-based travel agent requires a much less involved business plan, and more networking within the agency community.
But, if you’re looking to build a travel business from the ground-up, having a solid business plan is a must. A business plan is your company’s roadmap. It outlines goals and methods of achieving them. The plan should include:
- Strategy summary
- Business responsibilities
- Target market
- Metrics and key performance indicators
- Sales projections
- Cost and expense projections
- Cash flow
A well-written plan will get your business off to a solid start. This plan will also be crucial when pitching your startup to investors.
3. Build Your Brand
Once you’ve found your niche and written a business plan, the next step is to start branding your travel company. In fiercely competitive industries, such as the travel industry, having a strongly branded company is a must. Branding is what makes a business unique and recognizable by consumers.
Building a brand is more than just choosing a name, logo, and colors. Instead, you’ll also need to focus on creating a voice.
What do you want people to think and feel when they visit your website? What are your business values and goals? What travel experience can you provide that other companies can’t?
Determining who you are is crucial when building a strong brand.
4. Tackle Legal Stuff
Note: We do not provide legal advice. If you need legal advice, you should always consult an attorney.
One of the first legal decisions you’ll need to make in your business structure; Will you start as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or a corporation? Typically LLCs are simpler in regards to organization structure and governance. Operating as a corporation is best if you’re seeking outside investments to fund your company.
To ensure business compliance, you’ll also want to meet any local license requirements. Generally there aren’t specific licenses that are needed to run a travel business, but requirements do vary by state, as well as country. In the U.S., certain states have licensure requirements. California, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, and Washington all require a Seller of Travel license.
Operating out of the United Kingdom? You’ll need an Air Travel Organiser’s License. Canadian residents may require a license, depending on your location.
5. Launch & Market Your Travel Business
Once you’ve determined your funding strategy and hired any needed employees, you’re ready to start your launch!
Before making an official launch, ensure you have a marketing plan. You want to get as much buzz about your new company as possible. Your marketing strategy should involve creating a search engine optimized website. You’ll also want to implement social media marketing, email marketing, and other strategies that make sense for your business needs.
To boost customer engagement and interest, find unique and trending ways to market your company. Videos and graphics are widely praised for their effectiveness.
Studies have shown that people remember more of what they see versus what they read. Companies such as Square Ship can create explainer videos and motion graphics to showcase your travel services.
Creating high-quality content is a must. In the busy digital world, the more eye-catching and informative content you can provide, the better.
Starting any company is a daunting task. But, creating a successful travel business takes even more effort and planning. The key is to find your niche and provide a new service to your community.
When you’re ready to take the leap, be sure to keep these 5 tips in mind!
Do you have any business startup tips to share?
What’s your key to entrepreneurship success?
Share your tips and tricks with us in the comments!