A Guide to Starting a Travel Club Business
Get Paid To Travel!
Traveling enthusiasts will know that few things compare to flying and sailing across the globe. Many travelers will also know that making an around the world trip is not a cheap trip, no matter what your means of transportation. But imagine if your career was to travel to countries, show people around to your favorite spots, eat at your favorite restaurants, and get paid for doing all of that! Now, take that thought and turn it into reality by starting your own travel club business!
As long as there are people interested in traveling and experiencing different cultures, there will always be an opportunity for a travel club business to flourish and prosper. Travel clubs are a great way for people to experience a different culture with a guide that knows the ins and outs of the area. Turn your experience living in another country into a business!
Step 1: Understand The Waters
You have the experience living abroad and speaking the native language. You also have the passion to travel and the natural charisma to interact with people. Now that the idea of turning your passion into a money-making business is stirring in your mind, take the first step by fully understanding what it would mean to start a travel club business.
The first step is to research existing travel clubs, the prices they charge, the itineraries they plan, and the options they include in their packages. Ask yourself if this sounds like something you can realistically put together, and is it something that you want to. Consider emailing or calling some of these travel clubs to ask them if you can do a short interview about their experience working as a travel club. The more information you know, the more of an informed decision you can make about whether or not starting a travel club business is right for you.
As you read on, you will learn a quick overview of the different steps necessary in order to start your own travel club business. If this is something you are serious about, then understand that with starting any business, there is a significant amount of time, energy, and money that will need to be invested into this business.
Step 2: Writing The Business Plan
Writing a business plan is the equivalent of writing a game plan for your business with play-by-plays for a two-year period. Your business plan will include exactly what your business will do, its mission statement and guiding principles, how it will be making money, what it will be spending money on, how you will be getting customers, and much more. It will force you to sit down and closely examine the different elements of starting your business and whether or not it is right for you.
There are different online resources for learning how to write a business plan, as well as a number of publications available on the subject. Whichever resource you end up using, make sure that you ask yourself any and all questions that might arise about your business. Plan for worst case scenarios by creating contingency plans as part of your business plan. The more you think ahead about your business, the better prepared you will be later on to deal with problems. And the more compelling and comprehensive your business plan is, the more likely you are to receive sponsorship from investors or partnerships with travel agencies.
This is also the portion where you would put together comprehensive travel itineraries. Be sure to include fun activities appropriate to the age group you are creating the package for. Bars and clubs are definitely recommended to be on any travel plans geared for adults. Remember that while you ought to show your clients all of the traditional tourist landmarks, they are paying you so that they can feel not just like a tourist, but a tourist with a backstage pass. See if you can arrange special tours for them, or be sure to include the nooks and crannies of the area that a tourist would not know about but a local would. Most of all, make sure that your itinerary is full of safe fun!
Depending on what kind of traveling club you want to create, you can also create a monthly, quarterly, or yearly membership that will in turn provide members with discounts, guest speakers, goodies, and insider tips on traveling. You can also plan out exclusive members only vacation trips as well.
Step 3: Establishing Your Business
After doing research into the travel club business and completing your business plan, you are now ready to take the leap to start your business. Start by filing all of the appropriate paperwork for your business; this will vary depending on where you are filing your business, but often you will need to register your fictitious business name and register your business locally as well.
After you have submitted the paperwork and while you are waiting to receive approval for it, go ahead and start letting all of your networks–friends, family, co-workers, friends of friends, social medias–know that you are now in the travel club business. A short message that announces that you have just started a business is good; usually you will get lots of congratulatory remarks. This is also the step where you want to get a website custom designed and established for your business. Since you might not necessarily have a need for a physical office as everything can be done online, your website is going to be a key element of your business. You want to make sure that it is modern and shows the highlights of your business well. You might consider hiring a professional web designer for this job if you do not feel comfortable creating it yourself.
Remember, the more information that you have then the better prepared you will be to handle situations and questions that might arise.
Step 4: Partnering with Travel Agencies & Groups
Connecting with local travel agencies and forming working relationships is critical to the success of your business. Travel agencies often have special pricing for airfare and hotels. Since your job as a travel club is focused on creating the itinerary of the vacation, as well as being a guide during the vacation, partnering up with a local travel agency will help take a lot of the hassles out of your job. Partnering up with businesses like travel agencies will also in turn provide you with reciprocal advertisement and referrals, as they will start referring their customers to your services. You can also take this opportunity to lay out your entire travel packages and guided adventures with the travel agents in order to establish prearranged packages for your clients and featuring that on your website as well.
When you approach travel agencies, bring your business plan with you. Agents will want to know that you are serious and that you have the experience necessary to be a guide to these destinations. Dress professionally and come in ready to charm the agents. Your goal is to persuade them that you are not only experienced enough to guide their customers to and at the destinations you have chosen, but that you are trustworthy enough that they would trust even their children with you. Remember that in the end, it is a business relationship and that means you have to approach the situation in a way that it will be mutually beneficial financially. And always remember that partnering with an agency means that you will each become mutually accountable to your customers for your services. That is, if you provide terrible services as a guide for one of the travel agency’s clients after the agency referred your traveling club, it will look bad on the travel agency’s part. The vice versa is also true. That is, if you refer customers to the travel agency and they have poor customer service or mess up on the airfare, then that will look poorly on your travel club. Keep all of this mind when choosing travel agencies to create partnerships with, as you want to also be selective if you decide on a mutual partnership. You can find travel agencies listed in your local phone books, yellow pages, directories, or online through searches.
Also consider establishing working relationships with other groups and organizations such as church groups and local schools. Offer to create them a customized summer graduation package for their organization members only. Groups are always looking for ways to reward their members, and finding a guide they can trust is always an important step of any travel.
Step 5: Sales, Sales, Sales
As is the case with any business, now that you have established your business and provided a website for your leads and potential customers to come visit, it is now time to market yourself more and start being a salesperson. If you have a salesperson hired, then they can help you with this, but it is important to have everyone available initially to start helping you collect customers. In the end, if you do not have paying customers, you do not have a business then!
Consider buying advertisements targeted at audiences in your area who you believe would be interesting in traveling. Market your plans as a graduation trip or a romantic getaway. Be creative with your marketing, and never give up!
Step 6: Rolling Out Your Trips
This is the last step that will be mentioned in this article, but from here on out you have already established your business and it will be up to you and your energy to determine its success. There are always great reads out there on running your business, even during a recession, such as Good to Great and Built to Last by Jim Collins. Check out your local library, bookstore, or go online and grab copies of the books. Remember that being successful means always improving yourself and pursuing new knowledge and skills.
Now that you have clients signed up for your trips, the next step is to make sure that you send them full plan packages with itinerary information. People like to know what is planned, and they also like to know that you know what you are doing. The more information you can give them to read over to get them excited about the trip, the better. Make sure you also include the times that you will either pick them up to the airport or where you will meet them at the airport. It is recommended that you offer the ability to travel with your clients in a single plane if they book their entire airfare package with you. If not, designate a meeting location at the airport in the foreign country that you are all traveling to, or arrange transportation for them. Make sure to offer to arrange transportation for them! You are being paid to be a full-service guide, and arranging transportation in a foreign country can be frustrating at times.
Always have emergency phone numbers available and people to call. Designate emergency meeting locations, and be sure to show people how to reach the local authorities if they ever have an incident. You cannot be everywhere at once, but it is important that you are as readily available and reachable that you can possibly be under the circumstances.
Good luck with your business!
- Photo #1: By garyr on March 24, 2009. Stock Xchange http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1164253
- Photo #2: By Piotr Bizior on September 22, 2008. Stock Xchange http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1078733
- Source: Personal Experience, Work Experience, eHow http://www.ehow.com/how\_4549149\_start-own-travel-club.html