Booking a trip has become both easier and vastly more complicated because of the internet. While most people have no problem navigating websites and flight schedules, they face literally millions of options when they run a simple Google search. This barrage of information can leave a lot of doubt as far as finding the best deal, understanding terms and conditions, and being surprised by hidden fees. This is why the travel agency industry has remained stable despite the growth of the internet. But for those who are just starting out as travel agency franchise owners, what can you expect the first few months of business to look like?
The life of a franchise owner includes hard work and seemingly endless tasks. From managing the finances and paperwork, making marketing and advertising decisions, providing superior customer service, and also networking with other professionals and experts in the industry, your job title basically encompasses every duty needed to run your operation. Delegation doesn’t happen until you’ve built your franchise up, established yourself in the market, and had consistent, measurable success.
Once you’ve learned the ropes, gone from apprentice to master, and built a considerable customer base, then you can consider bringing others on board. But many travel franchise owners have no problem getting into a routine and working by themselves or with a spouse or partner, enjoying all of the rewards for their hard work and dedication.
Working from Home
Keeping costs at a minimum is important, especially in the early stages of operating a franchise. This is why home-based travel franchising is attractive—it can be done from home. Without the overhead that comes with an office, you’ll save a substantial amount of money. As long as you have a fast, reliable internet connection and access to all the technology you’ll need, you’ll have no problem working with clients and travel companies over the phone and through email. Even from home, you may have clients who wish to meet with you in-person, but it doesn’t take much effort to set up a comfortable, professional home office suitable for meeting with clients.
Finding Your Niche
Although you’ve done considerable research before you became a franchise owner, your learning is not over now that you’re officially in the industry. On the contrary, trends are always changing and in order to remain successful, and you need to remain relevant.
You may consider becoming an expert in a particular area of travel that is appealing to the demographic you’d like to attract. Perhaps it’s a particular destination, such as Alaska, or a particular hobby, such as snorkeling. People often travel based on these preferences, your franchise can help you do some research to find what is trending and how you can brand yourself as an expert in a niche that will work for you and your business.
Professional certifications help establish yourself as an expert and show your clients that you’re serious about your profession. You can also gain access to offers, deals, and information only available to certified professionals through various organizations. While it’s not always a requirement to become certified, it will help you stay competitive and relevant. A certification through an organization such as the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) is a good certification to obtain. Plus, as part of your training experience with your travel franchise you’ll have the opportunity to earn certifications.
Skills to Develop
People from all walks of life become successful travel agents. However, many of them share certain characteristics that make them successful. Knowledge of the travel industry is a must, of course – and your travel franchise will train you so you can hit the ground running. Customer service skills are also absolutely essential, as your entire job depends on your ability to connect with and sell to customers. Experience in business is important, but can also be obtained as you go through your initial and ongoing franchise training. And of course, your own business experiences will be the best chances at learning.
Understanding other aspects of the travel industry is also important, as your clients will come to you for advice for other parts of their trip. Travel insurance, ground transportation, currency conversion, and many other small details will become important to know about and knowledge of these subjects will show your customers that you truly are a travel expert.