5 Things to Consider When Learning How to Start a Travel Agency

Written by: Amanda Bailey on April 11, 2016

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1. Getting Started

If you’re looking into how to start a travel agency, there is a lot to consider. To get started you’ll want to make sure that you know what it takes to start a business in your area.

Know the Laws: No matter which type of business you choose to start, you will want to make sure that you check state and local procedures. If you decide to work from home, you may have to file paperwork to legally work out of your home.

Protect Yourself: All businesses need to be aware of the possible legal implications that their business may have. You can protect yourself and your travel agency with general liability or home-based business insurance which will guard you in the event of a lawsuit or settlement. In addition, if you are starting a travel agency where you will hire employees, you will want to have worker’s compensation insurance to assist with paying the costs of an accident or injury at the workplace.

Leasing Space or Working from Home? When starting a travel agent business you may choose to either work from home or to open a brick-and-mortar location for your agency.

Working From Home: If you choose to work from home, you will need to pay attention to regulations, especially zoning ordinances. You will also want to ensure that you have an office space that will allow you to work easily at your computer, provides storage for computer equipment and software, marketing materials and files, and that is quiet enough for you to make phone calls.

You may even consider using a space within your home where you can have clients come for meetings, possibly with a separate entrance from the rest of your home.

Opening a Brick-and-Mortar Location: If you decide to open a brick-and-mortar agency, make sure to familiarize yourself with the legal and regulatory issues you’ll encounter when selecting a business location, including zoning laws and commercial leases. Local commercial real estate agents can help you find available space.

Keep in mind that you will want your office space to be big enough to meet with clients, house computer equipment, furniture and marketing materials. You will also want to consider the other businesses in the area, how busy the area is and if there is easily accessible parking available for your clients and employees.

2. Choosing the Best Option

Some travel agents decide to start their own businesses because it can be done with little to no experience. In some states you may need special licensing or certifications, but that is not common in most states. There are several options that you can choose from when starting your travel agent business.

You can decide whether to start your travel agency on your own (without a host agency), or become an independent travel agent with a host agency like KHM Travel Group.

Independent travel consultants earn commissions on trips they book for clients. When working with a host agency the computer software and IATA number are typically provided by the travel agency. Many agents find it beneficial to partner with a host agency because they are provided with the foundation to start their business, ongoing educational opportunities, and have the flexibility to work from home.

3. Travel Agent Education & Licensing

In order to book travel and gain new clients you have to be knowledgeable and confident about what you are selling.

While licensing and certification requirements differ in each state, you may want to consider taking business courses so you can learn more about how to start and maintain a travel agency business more effectively. Look for business courses at a local community colleges or online university and keep in mind that fees paid to enroll or participate in the courses are most likely tax deductible as a business expense.

One of the biggest benefits of working with a host agency is that they often provide travel agent training and educational opportunities.

4. Be Present Online

In today’s world, it’s simply not enough to exist and hope customers will find you. You will want to make sure that your travel agency business has a presence online, such as a website and pages on social media platforms like Facebook. Other great items to include on your website are testimonials of satisfied clients, destination inspiration and travel tips that clients will find useful when preparing for their trip.

5. Marketing

Get the word out about your travel agency with marketing materials like brochures, business cards and flyers. Keep in mind that networking is a great and personalized form of marketing, and consider joining a business organization, like your local Chamber of Commerce, to meet business owners and others in need of your services. When you meet potential clients, work on putting together a client list with email addresses, travel preferences, past travel destinations, etc. Use that list to send email updates of travel specials, events or other information of interest to clients.


There is a lot to take into consideration when you start a travel agency, and this list only covers five things that you should take into consideration. Are you interested in becoming a travel agent? See what KHM Travel Group can do for you!

You can also fill out the form on the right side of the screen or call 1-888-611-1220 to receive our free Travel Agent Information Guide.