All About Travel Agencies

Congratulations if you have recently started a travel agency. But wait, your work has just begun. You require unleashing important tactics, to enable sustained and relentless business growth. Following are few easiest, fastest and quickest strategies to increase the sales of your newly started travel agency. Follow every enquiry with five steps of professional communication. One of the biggest mistakes that most of the new travel businesses commit is not constantly following every enquiry. The best way to begin with this is to have a sales team where every consultant without fear professionally communicates with the enquirer. Following are few simple steps of communication:

A courtesy call to find what the inquirer feels about the information supplied to him
E-mail extra information or tip rapidly about the prospect’s trip.
Further send them a letter thanking them for enquiring.
Follow up call to find out their future plans and offer them further assistance. By this time, you successfully establish rapport with them; it is a right time to ask them about the booking details and a final commitment.

All these steps are interchangeable and the key is that they happen over the different mediums like phone calls, direct mail and e-mail.

Types of Travel Agencies

One of the main functions of these agencies is to act as an agent. This includes reservations, selling travel products and tickets and so on, on behalf of one or many suppliers. Usually, travel agents charge a small commission from the overall cost. Check out some different type of agencies:

Commercial and Business Travel Agencies

Most of these agencies have a department of business and leisure travel. The need and requirements of one traveler and the other tends to vary in few ways, and therefore, dividing the duties in different departments helps either department to specialize, finding deals for the leisure travelers on one hand and better deals for business travelers on the other hand. However, there are few agencies specializing in business and commercial travel only. Incidentally, there are not a lot of agencies restricting themselves exclusively to leisure travel.

Cargo Travel Agencies

There are few travel agencies specializing in shipping cargo. Certainly, and that is not completely relevant if you are planning to fly for personal or business reasons. Still, this shows in how many different areas an agency can specialize.

Niche and Multi- Destination Agencies

If you want to divide it in just two types of agencies, you have niche and multi – destination agencies. Multi-Destination are out- bound travel agencies that are large offering flights to any place in the world. Niche agencies are independent focusing on a specific part of the world. Most of the niche agencies cater to the individuals who have families in that country or who go for business regularly. Consider individual preferences, trip objectives and needs while selecting a travel agent. Different types of agencies offer different type and level of services. If you are a regular traveler then you may want to use the services of large corporate travel agency having branches all over the world.

Why Sound Business Travel Reporting Matters

For any company that has their employees engage in regular travel, it is important to have a good corporate travel strategy. Part of developing and improving on a corporate travel strategy is solid business travel reporting. Business travel reporting provides the company with details about the cost of travel and how the money is being used. This data not only helps to keep track of expenses but it also can be used to identify areas of waste and inefficiency. When this information is tracked and analyzed it can be used to improve upon your company’s business travel strategy. Using the service of a corporate travel agency is an effective means toward achieving all of these goals.

Due to their experience and their connections in the travel and finance industry, a corporate travel firm will be especially suited to provide these services with the highest degree of detail. A corporate travel agency uses a variety of methods to analyze and track a clients business travel expenses. They can use data from banking and credit card records along with the travel records to identify the most and least efficient travelers in your company. They can help to manage airline data to find which carrier is providing the most business friendly service for the most affordable price and they can help to identify waste and abuse of funds.

A corporate booking agency can also help employers to analyze information in a way that can determine how effectively the employees travel and how well they stick to the itinerary and how closely the individual employees stick to the travel strategy. This can be achieved by referencing the data accumulated from credit cards, expense accounts, airline data, hotel bills and rental information. Once all of the data is collected and analyzed, the corporate travel firm can prepare a complete report. The reports will cover a variety of different areas and will often be accompanied by a written summary of the overall information. Clients can also request specialized reporting from a corporate travel agency. These may be to address an area of concern or to see how a new aspect of the travel strategy is working.

Most business travel agencies recommend that their clients schedule regular meetings with their travel manger to go over the business travel reporting and to find ways to improve the corporate travel strategy. The management of a business should meet with their corporate travel manager at least once a year. In these meetings the travel manager can help the client go over the business travel reporting and understand what all of the data means. The manager will help to identify areas of waste and point out parts of the travel plan that are working well. At this time the client can address their concerns about the travel strategy and work to adjust the business travel strategy. A corporate travel agency can also help their client with a plan for implementing the new strategy and addressing the changes with their staff.

Having the services of a business travel agency is a necessity for any company that engages in regular travel. Having a well thought out strategy will not only save the company money, but it will also make sure that the staff is getting the most out of their trip.

Entrepreneurs – Want to Start a Travel Agency?

ou have decided that you want to be a travel agent; you know it is a very competitive area so you are not quite sure what you should do in order to start a successful travel agency. Here are a few ideas.

First of all you cannot be competitive in every area so the key is to specialise:

* In one type of holiday or vacation.
* In one area of a country or one country or a small group of countries.
* In one type of holiday -e.g. skiing or adventure.
* In a particular group of people – e.g. the retired or under 25’s.

Once you have decided how you want to specialise then you need to set up a set of great holidays that will appeal to your chosen customers.

You now have your key products and an idea of who you want to sell them to. Now you need to set up your marketing strategy. In this you will decide how you are going to sell your vacations.

First of all you need to advertise where your people will be. So if you are selling skiing holidays then you need to advertise in skiing and out door pursuit magazines and newspapers. If you are advertising to the retired then advertise on magazines during the day when they are likely to be listening.

Yes you will most definitely need a web site in this day and age. Many people now look for their vacations on the internet. They may not buy but they are definitely researching. If you are unable to design a site you can find programmers on sites such as Guru and elance who can help you.. On your site you will need:

* Contact details.
* Booking facilities.
* The ability to take deposits.
* Of course, details of your holiday packages.

You can particularly promote your key packages as these will attract your surfers.

You should take each of your key packages and write a press release on them. You should release the press releases over a period of time.

Lastly try and get some local radio time to promote your key packages.

Top Tips for Finding a Reliable Host Travel Agency

any people consider that the best way to boost their new self-managed travel agent business is by working with a well-established host agency. Taking into consideration that host agencies usually provide advanced services, automation, overrides, enhanced quality control and support, signing up with a reliable and proven high quality host agency can help your business flourish, while resting assured that your clients will be provided with quality and professional services. This aspect is especially relevant if you are taking your first steps in the travel business and want to become a successful home based travel agent.

For a new home based travel agent striving for success, finding the most suitable quality host agency becomes a crucial aspect. Agencies that make use of pushing advertising campaigns might not always be the most desirable options. Here are a few tips on how to start a travel agency business from home under the protection of a quality host agency and what exactly to look for in one:

1. Check their independent agents and see if they are successful or not.

2. Check their complaints section and make sure they don’t have any pending formal complaints

3. Make sure they are seriously interested in perfecting their collaboration with independent agents

4. Make sure they don’t have a program for recruiting new agents

5. Make sure they don’t promote travel agents ID cards for travel discounts

6. Make sure they offer good overrides and commissions

7. They clearly state what you will be receiving if you invest

8. Make sure they offer constant support and offer information on how to be a home based travel agent.

9. Check them using the services of The Better Business Bureau or any similar organization

10. Don’t doubt to contact any of their independent agents and see how they truly feel about the their host agency

The location of the agency should not become an issue, given the fact that there is a wide range of possibilities to ensure access, fruitful communication and delivery. The only thing you should worry about is feeling secure and at ease with their ability to meet your needs and expectations.

Travel Agency Worth

I agree with the experts that a shakeout is taking place due to the current economic downturn. If you have not positioned your agency at this time either to be a part of the larger travel organizations or to become a “boutique,” then you might want to start thinking about your strategies for the future. Your key starting point is determining your agency’s net worth.

There are four critical areas that comprise an adequate and accurate agency valuation plan –

– operations/resource management,
– market position/agency image,
– financial management, and
– business history

Future articles will include financial management, market position/agency image, and business history. Today let’s consider –

Operations and Resource Management

Automation – Computers and Telephones

As a general rule, the more automated you are, the higher your productivity per employee and consequently the higher your profitability. Additionally, more time for agents to have face-to-face or voice-to-voice contact with customers means better service. Bear in mind that if you’ve been computerized for at least three full years, you are over the start up pains and the equipment is part of your routine.

What computerization was to a travel agency five years ago, telephone systems will be for the next five years. Your phone system will make or break you. Chances are if you have an old-fashioned key button system, your productivity is low and your ultimate valuation will reflect that. You should at least have PBX and ACD systems.

Personnel

Regardless of whether a buyer will be managing your business himself or hiring you to stay on as a contract manager, your personnel are the absolute key to success under new ownership. I have seen agencies sold and then watched half the staff leave the next day with their “following” because they were offered a better deal by another agency. The result is usually a bonanza for lawyers and the disintegration of your former business. You can generally avoid such a crisis if your turnover is low, staff experience levels are high, and you have a strong incentive program supplemented by a solid portfolio.

Other Resources

The travel agency business requires an incredible amount of detailed data and consistent, logical operating systems. The question is: Have you been able to maintain an organization that cuts smoothly through all these ancillary materials and procedures? For example:

– the latest work flow changes in your agency;
– staff telephone manners and the way you present your agency to the public;
– your quality control processes before documents go out to the public;
– updating the mailing list; and
– your system to follow up on hotel commissions

And what about your space? Naturally, a buyer will want to see his new business grow. If your space restricts that, or if your lease is about to be renewed at double the cost, any future projections will be impacted and your agency is worth less. Therefore, prior to sale you might want to check with your landlord as to a potential new arrangement with the new owner.

Good management

The common thread in the criteria above is organization. If historically and financially you have done well, but if the key to your success has been your absolute and autocratic management – i.e., all of the company’s records are in your head – obviously, a new owner will not succeed. Therefore, good management not only shows in the results but in the ability to turn the reins over to new management.

Obviously a potential buyer is far more impressed by an organized, well-planned operation in which you can show your original business objectives, the current variances or changes in plan and your rationale behind it.
In all of the criteria above let me stress the most important common element – consistency – as crucial.

Do you really present a credible picture to the buyer? Do you have a dashboard that measures your activities and allows you to make mid-course corrections in the event one of your “instruments” indicates a problem?