It is common knowledge that Nigerians travel to different countries a lot. Those who do so by air will always need the services of travel agents to help them book airline tickets and sometimes arrange accommodation at their final destinations.
When these facts are considered, therefore, it becomes apparent that running a travel agency can be one of the most lucrative ventures if certain basics are got right. The travel agency business involves offering comprehensive travel needs such as booking airline tickets, hotel, train and planning visits to important tourist destinations.
However, you will need to decide if you intend to operate a comprehensive travel agency which will include organising tours, or just the mere aspect of booking tickets, hotels and others for various categories of travellers, including organising a chartered flight.
Another thing is to also decide whether you want to be a freelance agent or licensed travel agent. Freelance agents are like third party. They are the middle-men between the travel agency who actually issues the travel tickets or packages the tour and the traveller. They make their income from the additional costs they add on travel deals and air tickets as the case maybe.
- The process of acquiring visas in Nigeria to most countries has been made a lot easier than what it used to be in the past. This means a lot of people will travel more.
- The advent of new domestic airlines e.g.Medview Air. The government is also in the process of licensing seven new domestic airlines. The more the aircraft and airlines available, the more the number of air travellers.
- You can also offer some additional services like assisting travellers with their travel documents (medical & visa). This would give you an edge over your competitors.
- You can package tours for your customers. It could be to lovely places in Nigeria, wonders in Dubai or as far as Hawaii.
- There are hundreds of hotels, spas, recreational centres spread around the world that are willing to partner with travel agencies.
- The capital for starting a travel agency is a bit on the high side contrary to what most people think, especially if you are starting a licensed agency. This is further exacerbated by the epileptic power supply in the country.
- A lot of people still find it difficult to understand why they need a travel agency. The reason for this is that most people think they are being cheated for paying an extra cost on their travel tickets.
- The advent of the internet and the continuous accessibility by air travellers in recent times has reduced the income of travel agencies.
- Getting the required international certification (IATA) maybe a little daunting.
- Internet Service
- Business registration of the agency. It advisable you register your travel agency business with relevant government agencies in Nigeria.
- With a laptop, reliable connection to the internet, coupled with printed business cards and fliers and a two- week training, a freelancer is on his way to becoming a successful travel agent. A freelancer’s room can be his office once necessary contacts have been made.Passengers do not have to see you once they know you. You can be on the road or anywhere without hindering the progress of the business in any way.The only difference is that you cannot pay airlines directly when you book tickets for passengers because you are not an International Air Transport Association licensed operator.You need to attach yourself to a licensed agent to pay.
- A licensed operator on the other hand needs between N1m and N5m depending on how big its operations are. Starting as a licensed agency also requires getting an International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) licence and they also demand an office apartment with a sign post carrying the name of your agency mounted in a conspicuous position, four to five permanent employees of which two must have worked either in an airline or a licensed travel agency for at least two years, and then get about five computer systems connected to internet facilities.
- The operating licence, issued by IATA, the global body representing airlines and travel agents worldwide, is obtained free once the prospective operator has met these conditions.
- With an established office, an agency is expected to subscribe to a GDS company,a computer reservations system through which it can access airline ticket inventories, hotels, trains, road transport etc. Some of the major global distribution systems available in Nigeria are Amadeus, Sabre and Galileo
- It is however important for a prospective operator to go for a minimum of two-weeks training in any of the registered and IATA certified training institutes in Nigeria.
With all these points, it is obvious to any discerning individual that the tools to start a travel agency are available to everybody. You just need to identify that area which could distinguish you from the next agency, equip yourself with the right certifications and understand the regulations guiding the practice. Once you have all these, then you can comfortably begin fulfilling your dream of owning a travel agency.