Congratulations! You’ve decided to become a travel agent. But what’s next? There are so many paths to follow and acronyms to learn that it may seem overwhelming. Where do you begin? What steps can you take to get your feet on the ground?
It’s natural if you’re feeling the itch to establish yourself right away. There are things you’ll do long term to make this happen, but right now, there are specific steps you can follow to get your business up and running. One of the most important of these steps is activating your personal network—leveraging your contacts and getting the word out there about your exciting new career.
Here’s what you need to know when it comes to launching your business once you’ve made the decision to take the leap and become a travel agent.
Build Out Your Online Presence
As a travel agent, you are your own brand. In today's digital age, having an online presence is crucial for any business. Start by creating a website that showcases your travel business' services and expertise. If you don’t have them already, you should create social media accounts for your business as well.
What’s more, focus on being as specific and clear as possible when marketing yourself. Your website is usually the first point of contact someone will have with you and your business, so you’ll want to make it count.
For instance, if you’re going to specialize in planning trips at Disney parks and properties, create a website that showcases that fact. If the front page of your website had, for example, a banner image of palm trees, people would probably be confused when they encounter your business. It’s important that the information people see when they learn about your business is accurate and easy to digest so that you can attract the clients best suited for you and your services.
Make Your Big Announcement
You’re at the beginning of your journey as a travel agent, so it’s likely that that the only people who really know about your new adventure are the ones you’ve told personally. That’s why it’s important to nail your big announcement to signal that you’re open for business.
On your social media pages, tell the story of what led you on the path to become a travel agent. Talk about what you’re passionate about within the world of travel, and provide as much information as you can about what your business will be. That way, you can start going about generating leads and add a personal touch to your story.
Make Yourself Known
Now that you’re a travel agent, promotion is the name of the game. People won’t come to you for your services if they don’t know who you are and what you do. You should create a plan for your social media strategy—you could start out posting about your journey and what you provide your clients as a travel agent.
You should also think about the type of marketing materials you need to advertise your business. You could design a graphic to post on Facebook and Instagram that encourages people to book a consultation for your services. You could also start creating newsletters to promote on your social channels encouraging people to sign up and learn more about you. When it comes to starting out as a travel agent, the more you make yourself known, the better chance people will come to you for their travel needs.
Utilize Your Personal Contacts
You’ve probably been at a party and made a connection with a friend of a friend. Were it not for your personal connection, the two of you would not have met. Think of generating leads and leveraging your personal network the same way. The more you reach out to friends and family to help book their travel, the more you can start to grow your network and create connections beyond the people you know firsthand.
What’s more, each time you book a trip, be sure to ask your clients if they might know someone else looking to travel in the future. Even if someone you reach out to isn’t interested in your services, it’s possible that they might know someone who is. These connections are all pieces of the puzzle for robust lead generation and how you can work to expand your personal network into a professional network.
Signal What You Sell
You can have a well-designed website and a well-developed strategy for generating leads. But it won’t mean much if your marketing is confusing or doesn’t specify the who, what, and why of your business. Activating your personal network is as much about being thoughtful in the way you present yourself as it is your business acumen. People won't come to know you as the go-to person for a specific type of travel unless you take the proper steps to market yourself that way.
Consider what you would want to know if you were someone looking for a travel agent—what information would you need to make a decision? What are some of the search terms you might seek out?
The easier it is for people to find you and understand your business, the better you can communicate why you’re the best person to help them plan their next vacation. It might sound simple, but these steps can be the difference between never hearing from a lead again and booking their next trip. As you begin your travel agent journey, putting everything in its place and being thoughtful in both how you present yourself is the key to a successful business launch, and, if all goes well, long-term prosperity.