Starting a travel business seems like the best idea and the worst idea at the same time.
It’s the best idea because the travel industry is booming right now.
A travel business can be the worst idea ever because you’re in one of the most competitive industries as technology advances and more players and opportunities come into the game.
Not only that, starting an international travel business can be very risky because Americans don’t leave the U.S. That’s right, 64% of Americans have never left the country and only 39% hold a passport.
If you want to start a travel business, you have to be willing to take on some risk. You also have to be prepared for just about anything.
Would you like to know how you can start a travel business and be successful?
Read on to find out.
Types of Travel Businesses
There are some fundamentals of business that you need to know. You’ll need to understand writing a business plan, marketing, and sales projections in later on.
There are a couple of other things that you need to do first, starting with the type of travel business you want to start.
The opportunities are endless. You can be a tour operator in a unique location like Italy or Belize.
You can start an online travel agency, be a travel blogger, do language translation for tourists, lead retreats, start a B & B where students can learn a language.
Your business could be a like a traditional travel agency, too.
Deciding what your business you plan to run is going to be the first step in getting it started.
Can You Make Money Doing It?
Once you have your business idea, you have to be sure that you can make money at it.
Your business idea might be to book tours for Americans going to Gibraltar. If Americans don’t have an interest in traveling to Gibraltar, is that a viable business? Probably not.
You must do your research to determine if there’s a sizable market for your business. You also need to research who your competitors are and how you can build something different that’s truly unique.
An easy place to begin to do market research is to look online.
Think about your target market. If they were to look for your services, what would they search for?
Enter those search terms into Google. That will be your first glimpse at who your competition is. Take a look at these sites and see what they’re offering and how your business will be different.
If you know everything about your target market, then you can go visit Google’s market research page for consumer insights.
Census data is also a good resource to use to get an idea of demographic information such as age, location, and occupation.
Another tool you can use is a keyword research tool. This will show you how many searches are done for a particular search term. You’ll also get alternatives to that search term.
This will help you determine if there is enough interest in the type of service you plan to offer.
Know Your Market
At this point in the process, you have a general idea as to who your target market is. You probably know how old they are, where they live, how much money they make, marital status and so on.
Now you need to get under the surface and discover what really makes them tick.
Buying anything is an emotional decision, whether it’s a vacation to fulfill a lifelong dream or planning a honeymoon.
You need to understand the emotions that drive their decision to book their travel plans and how you can use those emotions to get them to book with your business.
This is understanding psychographics, and it’s more important to business owners and marketers to understand what makes their customers tick.
You can survey potential clients to assess their values and attitudes around travel. Social media is a good tool to use since so many people turn to social media when they travel and while they research travel ideas.
That type of research will help you identify attitudes towards travel and trends like popular places to visit and explore.
What Makes Your Company Unique?
Once you think that there’s enough interest in your service, you can proceed to the next step, which will help separate yourself from your competition.
This is probably the most important step because it will impact everything in your business, especially sales and marketing.
Keeping your target market in mind and their motivation to travel, you should develop five to six ways you’re different from your competition.
Your customer service might be better, your itinerary might be personalized, your business specializes in giving people an experience as if they’re living locals.
These are all potential ways you can set yourself apart from the competition.
How to Start a Travel Business
You’ve done your due diligence and completed a lot of research. It’s time to get down to business.
Name Your Business & Make It Official
The fun part is selecting a business name.
When you select a business name, it’s tempting to make it about yourself and include your name.
That’s an easy way to name your business, but it doesn’t say anything about what you do or what you can do for clients.
Think about the promise you make your customers. What is the one thing you want them to think about when they think of your business?
Those are elements you want to incorporate in your business name.
The next part is a proud moment because you get to make it official. You can do two things. Register your business at your state’s Office of the Secretary of State and register a domain name.
Write the Business Plan
You’ll still need to do a little bit of research to complete your business plan. You already did the most important steps in researching your target market and competition.
The business plan serves as a way to anticipate any potential issues, like how you’ll keep the business going should the economy dip.
Your business plan will also map you’re your total expenses, price your services, and develop an operations plan.
All of these are crucial pieces of starting a travel business.
Marketing Your Travel Business
A big part of your business plan includes how you plan to market your travel business. This piece is important and it deserves to have its own section.
There are a number of ways you can market your travel business. SEO, social media, trade shows, and networking are ways to market your business.
Develop a Website
The world has moved online. Anyone searching for travel ideas and inspiration usually starts online.
When someone is looking for a specific location, they’ll go online to search for it.
That’s where you want to be, and it all starts with a website.
There are a couple of ways to develop your website, and part of it depends on the type of service you want to offer.
For example, if your business is a travel agent, you’ll want to make sure that the backend you choose can integrate with your booking engine.
WordPress is a good option to build your website. There are many themes and plugins you can use to build and customize your site.
If WordPress seems beyond your technical capabilities, you can invest in a website builder like Wix or Squarespace. They have templates and they’re simple enough for you to customize with ease.
For inspiration, take a look at other websites related to travel. This website that gives photography tours is a good example of a clean website. You can check it out to see for yourself.
Driving Traffic to Your Site
The website is built, and it’s time to drive traffic to it.
There are several ways to drive traffic to your site such as SEO, social media, and paid ads. A combination of the three can be powerful in getting your business off the ground right away.
You’ll need to revisit the keyword research you did at the very beginning of the process to start your travel business.
You’ll need to optimize your website to include these keywords.
Social media can be overwhelming because there are so many options for travel businesses.
Start with one or two social media channels and do them very well. For travel, Instagram and Pinterest are two places to start.
Pinterest is great to drive traffic to your blog posts and Instagram can show off your locations and get people to dream about travel.
It takes a while for SEO and social media to gain enough momentum to generate enough business for you to make a living.
Paid ads let you build your audience and generate sales immediately. You can buy ads on Google, but they’re going to be expensive, especially if you’re in a competitive niche.
Paid ads on social media offer a less expensive alternative and you can experiment with different messaging, too.
Starting a Travel Business
Starting a travel business is exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. It presents an ideal opportunity if you want to live in an exotic location or if you just love to travel around the world.
When you’re beginning your new venture, it’s critical that you take the time to do your research first to make sure you can have a profitable business before you buy the domain name.
If you want more great tips to market your business and get more leads and sales, check out our blog today.