How to start an online travel agency

By EricAdamson

Show passion for traveling and bring some experience to the business.

Although you don’t need to have extensive online travel agency experience, it can help you sell travel. Some agents specialize in cruises, while others are more interested in all-inclusive resorts and Walt Disney properties. Dream Vacations suggests that you start with a specialty in travel to gain experience. It is important to be open to researching itineraries that you don’t know much about. You can also rely on other resources when you’re part of a franchise to quickly increase your knowledge so that you can help more travelers plan their dream vacations.

Learn the skills you need to be a successful remote agent.

You will need to have strong organizational skills and perseverance to be a successful home-based travel agent. You must have the self-motivation and discipline to stick to a schedule. It is also important that you set realistic hours so you don’t work around the clock. It is important to be available for your clients whenever they need you. This could mean moving your schedule from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. so you can meet clients after work or adjust to specific time zones.

Accept technology and look for a peaceful space.

One agent at Dream Vacations swears that he has four computers open at once. This allows him to see multiple screens simultaneously and also gives him the ability to use Cruise Control to book. Mobile apps are available that can be used on smartphones and allow you to work outside of your office walls. He recommends agents to have an office that is separate from their home and family so they can work uninterrupted.

Do not be afraid to follow up.

Attention to detail includes following up with clients at all stages, from initial inquiry to post-vacation feedback. If a online travel agency customer was interested in a trip once, you can get back to them with updated pricing or other suggestions. Follow up with customers who have already booked trips to address any additional needs.

“This could be in the form booking additional components that clients might not be aware or ready for at time of booking–such a airfare, shore excursions or hotels,” Trapper Martin, Dream Vacations franchisee in Orlando, Fla., said.

It is also important to ensure that a client’s trip was as planned.

Martin said that a self-funded promotion has been set up for cruise bookings. It will offer additional onboard credit for sailings taking place within the next 18 month. Martin stated that there is no reason to not book another trip and offer value for them as well.

Create a Business Plan.

Although family and friends make great first customers, it is important to have a strategy for expanding your client base beyond the first few bookings. Consider any existing strong ties to other travel organizations. Consider how you would present yourself to potential clients. This could include direct mail, social media or email marketing.

Martin said, “I always tell potential franchisees and associates to create a list with 100 people that you think you will announce to this once you feel comfortable booking.”

Although you cannot pretend to know everything about travel from the beginning, you can promise that you will do your research and draw on the expertise of other franchisees to provide the best possible options for customers.

BONUS! Enjoy the Perks

You love to travel is one of the main reasons you are interested in starting your own travel agency. Dream Vacations offers franchisees the opportunity to take advantage of special events which allow them to experience new vacation experiences around the globe, including charter river cruises or land summits at all inclusive resorts. They also get discounts on their own travel. As you gain experience, your chances increase. As your sales increase, you may be eligible for perks like paid airfare to national conferences, priority registration for regional training events, and other perks. Additional marketing dollars can help you promote and market your brand.

Read Also: