How to Start Up a Travel Agency in This Down Economy
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How to Start Up a Travel Agency in This Down Economy

The Travel Agencies of the past are virtually non-existent.  The commission based agencies are gone due to the fact that basically every industry related to travel either reduced the commissions given to agents or removed them all together.  Therefore all travel agencies whether small or large in this economy are now charging fees based on the service required.

This alone is not enough to sustain an agency.  Corporate Travel requires feed back and a service oriented agency that will offer them status reports, free tickets, discounted tickets and trouble shooting.  If you are shooting for a corporate agency the best way to start is to line up several large corporate accounts and work for basically free in order to establish yourself in the market.

If you are considering starting up a Leisure based Travel Agency I suggest you choose a niche market, one you know well, one you have contact within and target those who are interested in that market.  Fees must be charged, IF you get a commission it is usually 10% or less of the travel package after taxes which will not sustain your agency unless you have a high volume.

Beyond choosing your direction you need accreditation.  If you are choosing the Leisure market, which I suggest you should contact CLIA or Cruise Lines International Association at for information on acquiring a CLIA number which many Tour companies will accept as your ID number and Agency validity as well as nearly all cruise lines.   The total cost for establishing a CLIA number is approximately $399.00.  This organization offers training and valuable resources for agents.

Forget airline tickets the competition is too harsh and larger agencies AND Internet sites will offer the consumer better deals than a novice Travel Agency can for lower fees.  Leisure packages are a good way to earn money in the travel market.  Create your own packages, build in your commission and offer it to your clients.  Again, if you have a niche market like scuba diving, yacht cruises, singles tours, castle tours or perhaps historical tours or ancient cities tours stick with what you know and what contacts you have.

Lastly, get yourself a website, a good one, an interactive one and offer everything you have on it.  Internet sales are increasing and if you aren't using that market you will fail.   And if you're looking for a way to simply get travel discount by claiming to be a Travel Agent, those days are long gone.   Discounts are few and far between and they WILL make sure you have volume in their market with their vendors before any company will offer you a discount while using their services.

The travel industry has taken quite a beating even before 9-11, but more so afterward.  Now with the economy as it is, fewer and fewer people are traveling and even less are vacationing.   This will be a very tough market to enter.  Perhaps a nice little corner grocery store would be a better investment?

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Comments (3)

We planned tp ave a travel agency but didn't push through with it.

It is really hard to make a business successful if the country's economy is down. That is why it is very important to learn the business you are about to put up to avoid failure in the future. Thanks for the information you have written on this article. Keep it up! Voted and shared.

The custom writing that a travel agency is a private retailer or public service that provides tourism related services to the public on behalf of suppliers such as airlines, car rentals, cruise lines, hotels, railways, and package tours is a very nice idea!