Tuesday, February 16, 2010
by Madhup Srivastava
In spite of all the hype that is created by internet in travel arena, it is a fact that even today around 90 per cent of all travel bookings is still handled by travel agents around the world.
Internet is great tool to sell travel and quite successful as an alternative distribution channel available to suppliers like airlines, hotels, car rental companies etc.
Research has found that while people book point to point travel on the internet without much of a problem, they like to deal with a travel agent when it comes to a bit complicated; multi stop-over travel itineraries are concerned.
A common perception is that booking through travel agent has to be expensive and people think that travel agents hide something from them and that it will be cheaper to book online.
However, what people do not realise that even online travel booking sites are travel agencies. Running an online travel agency has its own cost and that is met by commission earned and service fees charged quite similar to traditional shop front travel agencies.
Smart travellers know the importance of dealing with a travel agent. The growing trend now is that people do their research online and return to a travel agent for real booking. Point is that it is a still a billion dollar industry worldwide and offers a brilliant work opportunity for working from home as a travel agent.
There are several ways you can start your own travel business
Start your own IATA accredited travel agency. It is simple, find out a shop, hire two full time IATA qualified travel consultants, apply to the Travel Agent Association of New Zealand to become their full member and then apply to IATA for accreditation. This is a matter of investing approx $200,000 and then developing your client base. Alternatively, look for a travel agency that is being sold.
Another way is to join an IATA accredited travel agency as their sub agent or travel broker to work from home. There are many such travel agencies in New Zealand that take such people on board. This is a comparatively risk free way to step in the travel industry. At least you are not worried about paying rent and wages.
You are your own boss and free to do it part time or full time at your time and convenience. Good news is that this is a fast growing trend and in future there will be more home based travel agents than a shop front based ones.
In USA this is already very popular and there are travel agencies having more than 400 home based travel agents on their record. Such travel agencies are also known as host travel agencies.
Finding a quality host agency is critical to your success as an independent travel agent. Some agencies aggressively advertise and recruit travel agents; some will only want experienced travel agents with existing client base, while some have no problems taking fresher onboard. While choosing a travel agency to work with look for following things:
They already work with successful home based travel agents.
They do not have any unresolved formal complaints against their agency.
They are committed to developing a professional independent home based travel agent network.
You can understand what you are getting for your investments, if any.
They do offer ongoing support where they make money as you do.
It really doesn't matter where the host agency is located, so don't get locked into the idea that they have to be down the street from your home-based operation. In present days where email, toll free phones, fax, cheaper call rates are so much common, the location of your host travel agency does not matter. It can be anywhere in New Zealand. Most of all you should feel comfortable with your new host agency and their ability to fulfil your needs as your business grows.
Feel free to check a host agency out with Travel Agent Association of New Zealand, IATA or any other organization you feel comfortable with. You should also check them out with some of their existing agents to see if they are happy.
Once you decide to start, you need to contact a travel agency to become their agent. They will come up with a contract that you will need to sign and then you will be given access to agent’s booking tools that will enable you to book the travel for your clients.
You will have to create your own clients and do your own marketing. You are basically an extended sales arm of the travel agency you will join. All commission from your sales goes to the host travel agency, which in turn will pay you mutually agreed remuneration fortnightly or monthly after receiving your invoice.
Becoming a home based travel agent is easy and inexpensive. You are not carrying any stock; you only need a computer or laptop connected with the internet and a phone to start with.
Your clients can ring you, email or meet with you or you visit them. Everyone travels or knows someone who is planning to travel, so, if you are good at networking, more and more business comes your way.
Needless to say that you must have a customer service oriented attitude to succeed in growing your business and a responsive and helping approach will see your business soaring in very short time.