We spoke to Praveen on various aspects of starting and running a Travel Agency. There were some very important points discussed. Read the post to know.
Why did you join the Tourism Industry?
This is the best time to become part of the Tourism Industry. The two major reasons are:
- Massive push by the GOI to revolutionise tourism all across the country.
- Many untapped and unexploited regions.
I believe if we understand the mission of the government and utilise in the right way then we can do really good.
What were the early challenges in starting a Travel Agency?
There are many kinds of challenges. Let us divide them as below:-
- Different ground reality – things do not generally turn out the way you think and plan. When I started then only I realised the real issues. so the planning and plotting I had done before starting the agency were not of much use.
- Monetary Issue – the biggest issue I feel is arranging the funds until the business gets profitable. Renting office space, hiring staff, setting up the workstations and other basic operational costs,
- Understanding the process – I faced a lot of challenges while understanding the process. It took me a little while to understand the type of affiliation is required and how to get it done. I researched and discussed with others how to reach out to hotels, transport companies for business.
What are the important official processes which you did when you started your Travel Agency?
If you are operating at the domestic level then you don’t really need any affiliation or registration. However, if you are planning to operate at international level then you must get affiliated to one of the associations. There are associations such as TAAI, IATA and IATO.
Why do you need to get affiliations to one of these Associations?
When you affiliate your agency to one of these associations they generate an identification number for you. Using this number you can approach hotels and transport companies and ask them for B2B deals.
How do you approach hotels for Business deals?
We send our pitch through mails on their official mail ids. There are many templates available on the internet you can use the one you like.
What are the three major investments you did when you started?
- Website Creation and Digital Presence – I focussed a lot on creating a website and digital footprint of my agency. I also spent on running online advertisements for initial some time as a part of marketing.
- Office Space and Infrastructure – I spent on renting the office space, creating the infrastructure such as workstations and other basic facilities.
- Staff and their upskilling – third major investment on which I focussed was the hiring of the correct resources and their upskilling.
How do you get the customers for your Agency?
In my agency, we follow three processes:-
- Field Agents – we send our agents on the field who meet with people or call them and generate the leads
- Desk Agents – we buy leads from online websites. There are many websites that get queries directly from users on the internet. We buy these queries and get the contact detail of the person who queried. Then we call the customer and offer him a package. If he likes the package then we finalise the deal by taking a token amount.
- Fixed Packages – we tie-up with Hotels, Transport agencies and create a fixed package for a particular time period. Once the tour is created it is marketed through different channels to get the customers.
How much time does it take to start a Travel Agency?
Depends on the various factors. However, I would still say that it takes at least three months.
Any suggestion for those who are planning to start a Travel Agency?
Do not search for short cuts. Take all the steps required and do all the processes diligently. Long term success comes only when you are truthful to your Business.