For those looking for the magical sweet spot between “I wanna be my own boss” and “I want to travel more,” owning a travel agency franchise can be a perfect arrangement. It offers freedom in your employment, and freedom in your leisure. And, as an added bonus, the two will frequently overlap.
That doesn’t mean that it’s all care free cruises and beach-going. There’s a fair amount of work involved in running your own business. So to help you better understand what to expect from the experience, we’ve put together this handy guide about what it’s like owning a travel franchise. And once you know what owning a travel agency is like, you’ll be better prepared to decide if it’s the life for you.
Owning a travel agency franchise is like owning any other business. You’re in charge of the whole process, so if no one else is in charge of a particular task, you’re in charge of it. And odds are, at least at the start, you’re going to be doing most of it by yourself. That doesn’t mean you’re alone, though. Depending on the franchise, you may be getting a wealth of support from corporate, and from fellow franchisees.
If you do find a franchise that offers support packages to their franchisees, you may find the burden of many business functions being lessened. Don’t know how to do accounts payable? Or maybe you’re not too savvy with marketing or sales? Pick the right franchise, and you won’t have to be an expert in every area. They’ll be there to guide you through it and help get the work done.
Your relationship with income taxes will likely change, possibly with you now taking the full brunt of income taxes, so check with your tax professional to see what’s changed and what options you have. On the flipside, you can likely write off anything you buy or pay for that’s used in your business as a tax expense. That means everything from your new computer, to the trip you took to “get more familiar” with a cruise line, location, or hotel chain.
Perhaps most notably, the only people you’ll have to take orders from anymore will be your customers. Speaking of which…
The travel industry, top to bottom, is a customer service industry, and owning a travel agency franchise is no exception. You’ll be working with customers from beginning to end, and you’re in charge of making sure they’re cared for.
It all starts with trying to find customers. You’ll start with some marketing (print ads, online ads, content and social media, word-of-mouth, local events, etc.) to get people’s attention and build up some leads. Once you have leads, it’s up to you to make the sale—to reinforce their desire to travel, and to give them reasons to want to work with you, specifically.
Once you have them onboard (no pun intended), it’s a matter of meeting their needs. Some customers will know exactly what they want, while others will not have thought that far ahead. For the easy ones, it will just be a matter of making a few clicks (and sometimes calls) to set up the reservations they want. For the more complex reservations, you’ll have to consult with your clients to help them decide where to go, where to stay, and what to do while they’re there.
If you do a good job, they’ll be recurring customers, and they’ll help spread your word-of-mouth. In this industry, as with many service-oriented businesses, repeat and referrals are very common and help grow your business, so the most effective marketing tactic is to deliver exceptional service.
Of course, there are the perks. In most cases, travel franchises come with cheaper travel opportunities. And most importantly, you’ll have to travel in order to be more familiar with your offerings. What a burden that will be.
All in all, for those who are self-motivated enough to run a business, it’s a rewarding experience. If that sounds like you, it might be worth a try.