Travel agency business is one hell of a lucrative business that anyone can do here in Nigeria. What prompted me into writing about this business is because of a mail I received a week ago by a reader. According to the reader, he wants to start a travel agency but doesn’t know how. I said okay.. I went online to research about this business and my findings were incredibly intriguing. I didn’t stop there, I tried making some contacts with some top travel agents here in Nigeria and judging by their tone, they wanted to discourage me.
When a business man discourage you from joining his line of business, then there’s a high probability that the business is very profitable and cause of that, doesn’t want unnecessary competition. As a hardcore entrepreneur that I am, I got the gist immediately.
When we talk about travel agency business, what do we really mean? Trust me, I was confused the first time I heard about this business. But when I got a hang of it, it all made sense.
According to Wikipedia, a travel agency is a private retailer or public service that provides travel and tourism related services to the public on behalf of suppliers such as activities, airlines, car rentals, cruise lines, hotels, railways, travel insurance, and package tours.
Imagine what travel will look like without a travel agency. It will be hell. The services of a travel agency ranges from travel consultation, provision of flight ticket, flight booking, hotel booking, car rentals etc.. They are very important especially when you’re traveling to a country you’ve never been to before. To reduce stress, they help you out with virtually everything that has to do with your travel, whether local or international.
For the fact that people are always traveling, either to study, for tourism or for business in other countries made this venture a goldmine. When I said that anyone can do this business, I wasn’t exaggerating at all. You can start a travel agency with either N100,000 or N12,000,000. Let me go ahead and show you what I mean.
TWO LUCRATIVE PATH IN TRAVEL AGENCY BUSINESS
1. FREELANCE TRAVEL AGENT
With N100,000, you can start this business right from your bedroom. The basic tools you need is just your computer system with a reliable Internet connection and a printer. To be a freelance travel agent, you need to get yourself attached to an accredited IATA registered operator. In other words, you’re serving as a sales outlet.
2. IATA REGISTERED OPERATOR OR AGENT
This is for the big fishes who has over N12,000,000 to put into this business. However, there are lots of requirements needed before you can become an IATA licensed agent.
The major aim of this article is to guide you on how to become a licensed IATA licensed travel agent. Read on!
HOW TO START A LUCRATIVE TRAVEL AGENCY BUSINESS
1. GATHER EXPERIENCE
Before you venture into this business, get the necessary experience and knowledge first. Working independently with another travel agency for 6 months is good and commendable. By working under a travel agency, you get to know all the nitty-gritty of the business. Your experience in this business will give you the momentum and confidence to start yours.
With this experience, you’ll be able to determine the scope of your business. Whether you want to offer a combination of flight reservation services for travelers, flight booking and air-ticketing, tour packages, hotel reservation and booking services, car rentals etc..
IATA also have lots of training programs and courses that will prepare you ahead.
2. WRITE A BUSINESS PLAN
Your business plan is a map, a blueprint that forges you to success. Through your business plan, you get to know the major challenges in the business and how to tackle them. Not writing a detailed business plan is an error that should never be made cause travel agency business isn’t a small business like many people paint it to be.. You need to be thoroughly ready.
When writing your business plan, you’ve to be very objective as possible and try to eliminate every form of unrealistic expectations. It’s the job of the business plan to analyze how much finance that will go in, don’t underestimate any figure to avoid being shocked later on.
The importance of a business plan can’t be overemphasize. It’s so paramount that you begin to fail if business takes operation without it.
3. GET A BUSINESS NAME AND REGISTER IT
Your business name goes a long way cause it determines how potential clients perceive your business. Your business name has to be catchy, professional and unique. For example, if you’re looking for a travel agency and you came across two agencies below.
Dravo travels and tours
Ukanna and Alhaji ventures
Be honest with me, which one will you go for? For me, I will go for Dravo travel and tours cause it sounds professional and cool.. Despite that the meaning of Dravo is unknown to me, it sounds credible, classic and unique.
Take your time to craft out a good business name then go ahead and register it with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). It’s very easy to do that.
4. REGISTER WITH INTERNATIONAL AIR TRANSPORT (IATA)
If you’re going into the business to become an accredited IATA registered operator, then you require huge finance. It’s unlike a freelance travel agent that requires little capital. I advice you visit www.iata.org to know more about how to become a licensed or registered IATA agent.
The benefits of becoming an IATA certified agent is enormous. You want to see the benefits? Take a look below.
- As a certified agent, you have access to approximately 250 IATA airline members using a single standard Sales Agency Agreement.
You can sell tickets to clients on behalf of the airlines.
By being a certified agent, you now work with IATA logo and brands which no doubt improves your credibility and the confidence of potential clients, both local and international…and a whole lot of other benefits.
After obtaining your license, proceed to subscribe with a Global Distribution System (GDS) which is used by travel agents for the reservation of airline seats, hotels etc.
5. GET A GOOD SPACE AND BUSINESS LOCATION
Suitable locations for this kind of business are airports and its environs, hotels, close to embassies etc.. Make sure that the location can easily be seen or found. When you’ve gotten a place, furnish it and transform it into a professional taste. It’s said; never judge a book by its cover. However, first impression matters a lot. That’s why the business location has to be strategically placed with an astounding classic interior.
Most of the things your office will need are;
- An Air conditioner
- A Computer systems
- A Landline phones
- An Office desk etc..
6. YOU NEED A WEBSITE
Over 80% of your clients might come from search engine referrers like Google, Bing, ask, etc. That’s why you need to hire a professional web designer and developer to help set it up.
The domain name of your website has to go with the name of the business. Including the business logo and brand colour. You might also need a SEO guru who will help make the website visible to search engine and well targeted to the right audience.
When building your website, make sure that SSL certificate is active cause it gives your website credibility that it’s secured. And also, google has made site security as among the criteria for ranking a site. A https has a better chance to rank higher than a http unsecured connection.
You might also add a blog section on your website, where you update latest happenings. Some travel agents usually end up opening travel blogs, making extra income from Google Adsense and advert placement from corporate businesses.
Watch the video below, as Ms. Sharon Perez, an experienced travel agency owner speaks about Why Travel Agency Business Is A Good Business Nowadays.
IATA REQUIREMENTS FOR TRAVELING AGENTS IN NIGERIA
Registering with IATA is somehow cumbersome, but if you meet the requirements, you won’t have to sweat for it. Below are the requirements that must be set in place before application.
- Four or five workers of which at least two must have significant experience with working with an airline or recognized travel agency
- You must have an office apartment
- At least four computer systems with full Internet connection and constant power supply
- You have to be registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
If you meet the requirements, go ahead and apply to be a certified IATA agent.
ADVERTISING AND MARKETING OF YOUR TRAVEL AGENCY BUSINESS
After you’ve successfully gotten a license to operate, the next line of action is getting the word out there.. You should utilize offline mediums like newspaper advertisements, magazine, radio and television advert.
Online mediums include placing targeted ads in top travel blogs in the country. Google Adwords is one of the top ad network in the Internet. You might need to consider using it to promote your agency.
Adopt as many mediums are possible as long as it’s all geared toward making your travel agency known and attracting potential clients.
JOIN NECESSARY ASSOCIATIONS
There are some bodies and association that exist solely for travel agents. By being a member, you can get lots of customers from there. You also get to know first hand information about what’s going on in the travel industry. In my opinion, three of the best association for travel agents are;
- Nigeria Society of Travel Agents (NSTA)
- International Air Transport Association (IATA)
- National Association Of Commission Travel Agents (NACTA).
By being part of such bodies, you become highly connected and success in business becomes evident.
Travel agency business is a lucrative business that makes their starters millionaires. This article however shouldn’t serve as a substitute to a business plan or feasibility study. Get a business plan and make this dream happen.
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