Did you know the US travel agencies industry is worth almost $48 billion? That’s an over 38 percent increase this year alone.
With travel beginning to reach pre-pandemic levels, people are curious about how to start a travel agency now more than ever. Starting a business is never an easy venture, though, and it takes dedication. Luckily, we’re here to help make the entire process easier.
Read on to learn everything you need to know.
Starting a Travel Agency
1. Find Your Niche
When you find an agency niche, it’s a lot easier to hone in on the type of travel you’re most knowledgeable and passionate about. It’s also going to make marketing and growing your agency a lot easier, as you’re going to know exactly where to market, and who you should be marketing to.
You’ll also likely find the entire process simpler, as you’re going to be focusing on your strengths, personal networks, and personal interests.
2. Create Your Name
This step can be a tough one, but it’s the most important. Your agency name is the one you’ll be doing business under, and it’s what’s going to allow you to begin selling travel plans.
Once you’ve come up with a name, make sure it’s available in the state you’re registering your business in. From there, you’ll be set to choose your business structure!
3. Choose a Business Structure
As someone new to the industry, you’re most likely going to be choosing between a sole proprietorship or an LLC (Limited liability corporation). This is important, as it’s what’s going to keep you from being held personally liable if any lawsuits are filed against your travel agency. It separates your personal assets from your business assets, and it ensures you don’t land in any hot water if problems begin to arise.
In addition to choosing your business structure, you’ll also need to register for both state and federal taxes, depending on where you live. Usually, this looks like simply applying for an EIN, which is free and easy to do through the IRS website, or by mail.
The business structure you choose determines how you pay your taxes, so it’s important to research diligently before making your final decision.
4. Create Your Business Plan
Most agencies are home-based, so writing an entire business plan can seem like overkill, but you’d be wrong. Having these documents on hand is going to help you remain practical, and it’s going to help you remember why you started in the first place.
We know that starting a business isn’t the easiest thing, which is why having those documents on hand whenever you need them can be so helpful. You’ll have a constant source of inspiration to look at when you need it.
5. Set Up Your Accounts
Your business bank account is the other thing that’s going to help you avoid business lawsuits becoming personal ones. It’s also required if you’re setting up an LLC.
It’s important to set these accounts up before you start earning income, as you’ll want to keep your personal assets very separate from the business ones. Doing this is also going to help you better understand how much money your business has to spend each month.
You’ll also need to set up ways for your customers to pay for the services they receive. Payment gateways are a great option for your business to take advantage of. You can go here to learn more.
6. Get the Right Permits
Failing to gather the right permits and licenses can mean hefty fines or even a shutdown of business if you’re not careful.
Some states require a travel seller’s registration license in order to sell travel, which can be obtained through an application that requires a fee and certain supporting documents. Usually, those supporting documents will look like a membership with a professional association.
For information specific to your county or state, you can check with your town, city, or county clerk’s office. You can use this tool to find your local assistance agencies.
7. Don’t Forget the Insurance
Like permits, failure to have the right insurance can come with hefty penalties. It’s also what protects your business’s financial well-being in the event of a covered loss.
There are a few different types of insurance policies you can choose from, but if you’re unsure, then general liability insurance is a great place to start. It’s the most common coverage for small businesses, making it great for yours.
8. Create Your Website and Branding
Your website is what introduces people to your business, and your branding is the voice it’s all communicated in. It’s important to build a strong brand from the very beginning, as it’s going to help people learn to recognize your company. Having a decent website is the thing that’s going to make them feel safe doing business with you.
If you do both of these things right, you’re starting off on a very strong foot. Also, be sure to include any necessary contact information on your website so people know how to get in touch with you.
Ready to Learn How to Start a Travel Agency?
The best way to learn how to start a travel agency is to put these tips into action. Most growth comes from experience, and you’re a lot more likely to find what makes you happiest when you take the tangible steps necessary to get there. No matter where you’re wanting to settle your travel agency, following this guide can help you get started on the right foot.
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