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Starting a travel agency business is one big lucrative business that you can do here in Nigeria with low capital even from home. I received mail a week ago from a curious and interested reader who is clearly interested in running this kind of business. According to her, she wants to start a travel agency from home or anywhere else but doesn’t know how.
And so I assured her that I was going to talk about it today… I went online and did hours of research into this line of business and my findings were amazingly mind blowing. I didn’t stop there, I decided to push it further by making a few calls with some top travel agents here in Nigeria and judging by their tone, they wanted to discourage me( I do not blame them; they just want more money and a lesser competition, lolz).
Many times, when a business man discourages you from joining his type of business, then there’s an incredibly high probability that the business is very profitable and because of that, doesn’t want unnecessary competition or it could just mean that the business is not worth the risk. But in this case I understood that it was the first reason. Boy was I glad for my new found knowledge.
You might ask:
What is travel agency business? What does truly mean? Like you, I possessed little knowledge about it at first but when I got a hang of it, it all made sense. By the time you are done reading this article on “how to start a travel agency in Nigeria, You would have mastered everything it takes to be really successful in this business.
Wikipedia defined a travel agency as a public service or private retailer 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.
Got it? Good!
Imagine what the travel industry will look like without a travel agency. It will be a re-occurring hell. The service of a travel agency ranges from flight booking, travel consultation, hotel booking, provision of flight ticket, car rentals etc… They play an important role in the TRAVEL WORLD especially when you’re traveling to a country you’ve never been to before. To reduce stress and increase a smoother experience, they help you out with virtually everything that has to do with your travel, whether local or international.
Because people are always traveling (on the move), either for businesses, to study, for tourism in other countries made this venture a goldmine. When I said that anyone can do this business, I wasn’t joking or exaggerating about it at all. You can begin a travel agency with either N100,000 or N12,000,000. Simple, right? Well let me go ahead and show you what I mean.
TWO LUCRATIVE PATHS IN TRAVEL AGENCY BUSINESS
- FREELANCE TRAVEL AGENT
Starting this business right from the comfort of your home is what I recommend to newbies. It often costs about an estimate of N100,000,. The basic tools you will require are your computer systems or Laptops with a reliable Internet connection (Ethernet cable, Modem or mobile hotspot) and a printer (a good quality one). To really become 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. It opens to you doors of opportunities and experience.
- IATA REGISTERED OPERATOR OR AGENT
I recommend to experienced people who are willing to invest greatly into this business. Investing over N12,000,000 or more into a business is no child’s play and one must put in a lot of efforts if one truly wants to be successful in being a IATA REGISTERED AGENT. However, there are lots of requirements needed before you can become an IATA licensed agent.
The primary purpose of this article is to guide you on how to become a licensed IATA licensed travel agent. Read on!
HOW TO START A TRAVEL AGENCY BUSINESS IN NIGERIA: FOR EXPERTS AND NEWBIES
- GATHER EXPERIENCE
Before you venture into this business, get the necessary experience and knowledge first (practical/first hand or through the reading of books). I recommend you work independently with another travel agency for 6 months; this is not only good but commendable too. By working under a travel agency, you get to know all the nitty-gritty of the business. Your experience and knowledge in this business will give you the momentum and confidence boost to start yours.
With your new 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 has lots of training programs and courses that will prepare you ahead.
- WRITE A BUSINESS PLAN
Your business plan is a map, a blueprint that forges your way to success. Through your business plan, you get to know the major challenges (pros and cons) in the business and how to tackle them. Not having a detailed business plan is an error that should never be made because travel agency business isn’t a small business like many people paint it to be… You need to be really prepared.
When writing your business plan, you have to be objective and eliminate every form of unrealistic expectations. It’s the job of the business plan to analyze how much finance that will go in and out, so don’t underestimate any figure to avoid being shocked later on.
The importance of a business plan can’t be overemphasized; it’s like a foundation to a house. It’s so important that you begin to fail if business takes operation without it.
- GET A BUSINESS NAME AND REGISTER IT
Your business name goes a long way because 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.
Cheche travels and tours
Mustapha and Alhaji Baduru ventures
Be honest with me, which one will you go for? For me, I will prefer Cheche travels and tours cause it sounds professional and cool… Despite the fact that the meaning of Cheche travels is unknown to me, it sounds credible, classic and unique.
Take your time to craft out a really good business name then go ahead and register it with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). It’s very easy and stress free to do that.
- REGISTER WITH INTERNATIONAL AIR TRANSPORT (IATA)
If you plan to become an accredited IATA registered operator, then you will require a huge amount of money to start (capital). It’s unlike a freelance travel agent that requires little to no capital. You can 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 endless.
You want to see the benefits? Take a look below.
- As a certified agent, you have unrestricted access to over 250 IATA airline members using a single standard Sales Agency Agreement.
- You can start your sale of tickets to clients on behalf of the airlines.
- By being a certified agent, you now work with IATA logo and brands which no doubt improve your credibility and the confidence of local and international potential clients …and many other benefits.
After you have obtained your license, you can then proceed to subscribe with a Global Distribution System (GDS) which is used by travel agents for the reservation of airline seats, hotels etc.
- GET A GOOD SPACE AND BUSINESS LOCATION
Suitable locations for this business are hotels close to embassies and airports and its environments. Make sure that the location is visible to the public eye (can easily be seen or found). When you’ve gotten a place, furnish it and transform it into a professional one.
Professional? You might protest that a person should “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 design.
Below are list of things your office will need;
- An Air conditioner
- An Office desk
- A Computer systems
- A Landline phones
- YOU NEED A WEBSITE
Over 80% of your clients might come from search engine referrers like Bing, Duckago, Google, Bing, ask, etc. That’s why you need to hire a professional web designer and SEO expert to help set it up.
The domain name of your website has to be a brand able one (go with the name of the business). Including the business logo and brand colour. You may also need the service of an experienced SEO experts who will help make the website visible to search engine and well-targeted to the right audience.
Speak to the web designer concerning your website needs and specs while adding that a strong SSL certificate is used because it gives your website credibility that it’s secured. Additionally, Google has made site security part of the criteria for ranking a site. An https blog or website has a better chance to rank higher than a blog or website with http unsecured connection.
You might also add a blog section on your website, where you post recent happenings. Some travel agents usually end up opening travel blogs, making extra income from Sponsored postings, Interviews, Google AdSense, sale of mails and advert placement from other corporate businesses.
IATA REQUIREMENTS FOR TRAVELING AGENTS IN NIGERIA
Registering with IATA can be a cumbersome process, but if you meet the requirements, the process is a whole lot easier. Below are some of the requirements that must be set in place before application.
- You should have 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
- You must have acquired at least four computer systems with full Internet connection and constant power supply
- Your business needs 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 bulk SMS, newspaper advertisements, radio, magazine and television advert.
The use of online mediums includes placing targeted ads in top travel blogs in the country. Google Adwords and Facebook Ads are amongst the top ad networks in the Internet. You might need to consider using it to promote your agency.
You should adopt as many mediums as possible as long as it’s all geared toward making your travel agency known and attracting potential clients.
JOIN NECESSARY ASSOCIATIONS to START A TRAVEL AGENCY BUSINESS IN NIGERIA
There are regulatory bodies and association that exist solely for travel agents in Nigeria. By being a member, you can attract lots of customers from there. You also get firsthand information about what’s going on in the travel industry. In my opinion, three of the best association for travel agents are;
- International Air Transport Association (IATA)
- Nigeria Society of Travel Agents (NSTA)
- National Association of Commission Travel Agents (NACTA).
By joining such bodies, you become highly connected (networking) and success in your business becomes evident.
Travel agency business is a lucrative business that turns their starters into millionaires.
Please note: This article however shouldn’t serve as a substitute to a feasibility study or business plan. My two cent? Get a business plan and make this dream happen!. Keep dreaming, working and never stop believing in yourself!
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Post by Martins
MakeMoney2000 is a top personal finance blog based in Nigeria. At “Make Money 2000”, our goal is to help you create wealth.