How to Start an Online Travel Agency Working From Home

Have you noticed that there are not many store front travel agencies these days? I guess it may have had a lot to do with the fact that many people are using their computer to book their own flights online. Also, after the disaster in New York on September 11th, people were scared to   travel  and a few years ago, a couple airlines lay off their workers and caused a slow period in the  travel   industry .

However, I think the main reason is the comfort of booking a flight from your own personal computer that fascinates the consumer to a do-it-yourself attitude. In lieu of this fact, it is apparent that an online travel agency is a good idea for a business opportunity to assist these consumers with trip planning and other customer service issues that they may still need.

There are two types of home travel businesses:

· Referral travel agencies

· Booking and selling agencies

A Referral travel agent is the easier of the two because all it requires is a word of mouth advertising to guide the customer to the online portal where they can book their flight. It is also a relationship business because the referrals in most cases come from family, friends and associates first.

The referring travel agent is compensated with a paid commission, which is decided in advance by the agency to which the referral will go. It is easy to be an online travel agent because it only requires handing out business cards, flyers and maybe placing online ads. There is no immediate contact with the customer unless it is someone who needs additional questions answered. This can be done on a part time basis until the full time income is replaced, then anyone make the transition to a full time business.

The booking and selling agencies fall into a category of only one travel agency. Since we have already confirmed that these agencies are not so popular anymore, we will only concentrate on the referring travel agent.

A referring travel agent does not need to know too much in-depth information about the specific travel details. All they do is to direct people to the website where they book their own flights and get help directly from the airline. In the case of the booking and selling agencies, they have to do the hard work of finding out all the information for the customer, which can be quite time consuming.

If you are considering the opportunity that is open to being a referral travel agent, be sure to find out if the company is stable, if they provide adequate customer service, what the compensation is, can you work full time or part time, do you need any special training, and is it something I can recommend to others with confidence.

One of the perks of being a referring travel agent is that you can work from home, you work on your own time, you get free trips called FAM trips, you get to travel first class, you get discounted air fares and priority baggage claim.

Once you have decided to pursue a travel business opportunity, make sure you treat this as a real business. Get a business name, if possible and a tax identification number. Keep good records of income and expenses because this business is tax deductible. Your vacation trips can be tax write offs if you use it also to refer travel to others.

I would also suggest that you choose a travel category and learn as much as you can about it and specialize in that category. An example is cruises or honeymoon packages. With cruises, you can target the baby boomers who love to take cruises and for the honeymoon packages, you target anyone you know who is thinking or planning to get married.

Let your enthusiasm about this travel business be infectious to everyone you meet. Make sure you take some vacations that you can talk about or suggest to your clients. Educate yourself and take this business seriously.

Discount Travel and Internet Booking

Discount   Travel  is the word of the  Travel   Industry  and it has made many Persons who cannot  travel  otherwise also to travel to distant places. All of us want to travel the whole World and it is impossible for many People who are not that much affluent to spend huge amounts on their Travel.

How can everybody do that is the most asked question? The introduction of discount Travel has made travel easy for many travelers. This allows all the travel lovers to travel without hurting their Bank balance because the Discount Travel has made them travel at a fraction of their original cost, and it has become cheap.

The most important development in discount Travel has probably been the widespread availability of cheap Flights. Many Companies use the yield management system that allows Prices to vary wildly depending on when you book your Flight. If you book far advance your fair will be less. And you can enjoy your Travel at a lower Fare. Booking Online makes it possible to look through all the dates available for Months in advance and choose the one that will be cheapest for you.

Third-party price comparison Websites allow you to then compare the Fares from different Airlines that fly on the route you’re looking for, meaning that you can fly with the cheapest Airline on the cheapest day with very little effort. Regardless of whether you are planning a business trip or a much anticipated family Vacation, the cost of Travel can be significant.

If you learn how to find the best travel deals, then you can put some extra bucks back into your wallet where they belong. Companies understand that while traveling the traveler just need a bed to take rest and nothing else. So they search for cheap Hotels. This is economical and comfortable.

This made the hotel owners to build rooms with a bed or a dormitory. This will be cheaper during long travel. This type of Hotels is called budget Hotels. Budget Hotels are exploding in popularity all around the World, making it cheaper to stay abroad today than it has ever been before in History.

If you like to travel and if you have less money you need not worry because there are lot of agencies which can arrange you for a part time job in the place where you want to Travel. Even students who like to visit a Country go to the Agents and ask for studies and part time job.

So Discount  travel  along with advancements in the Communication and  Travel   Industry  have changed the  Travel   Industry  completely and has become more Customer friendly.

Three Italy Travel Site Ideas

The   travel   industry  is the best place to make money online. Don’t think so? It’s the largest industry in the world, generating over one billion per day in revenue-yes, that’s per day.

Unfortunately, many of the  travel  site owners I see make a huge mistake when getting into this profitable  industry . What is that mistake you ask? Simply put, they tackle subjects that are far too broad.

Let’s cut to the chase. The  travel   industry  is very competitive on a broad scale. If you start a new travel Web site that focuses on a general topic, you’re going to have a tough time. Yes, you’ll make money, but it will be slow going.

The secret to making money in the  travel   industry  is to specialize in a narrow field-or at least something a little narrower than a board generalized field. For instance, let’s say you want to start a travel site about Italy. Many webmasters would simply focus on “Italy travel” and being to write articles. That’s the slow boat.

Instead of creating a new travel site on the broad topic of traveling in Italy (wow, that’s a huge topic), it would be better to focus on a specific area, themed travel, activities or something else.

Here are three ideas for your next Italy travel Web site:

1. Focus your Web site on Italy honeymooning. It’s one of the top honeymoon destinations in the world.

2. You could target your new Italy travel site toward one city, Rome for instance. Your information would be very concentrated and more valuable to visitors.

3. Devote the site to Italy tours.

Before spending time and money on your next travel site, take a moment to see if it’s too broad. By focusing on a narrower topic, you may just strike gold.

Online Travel in India

Expected to reach $2 billion by 2008, the online travel industry in India is attracting a number of national and international players – at less than 5% of the total industry, the potential seems enormous. According to a report by PhoCusWright, the online travel industry grew at 126 per cent from a base of $295 million in 2005 to $796 in 2006. In 2007, it is expected to record a 66 per cent growth to be a $1,325 million industry and by 2008, it will grow at 51 per cent to be a $2,004 million (around $2 billion) industry.

Moreover, the air passengers in the country increasing from 22.788 million in 2005 to 32.172 million in 2006 is both a result of the launch of a number of Low cost airlines, and testimony of a fertile economy making air travel within grasp of the average Indian. However, take a look at the bigger picture – In 2006, India attracted 4.43 million foreign tourists; the same year, around 350-400 million domestic tourists are estimated to have travelled around the country, and the still to be tapped potential in the industry jumps out.

The way forward?

  • An increasing emphasis on train and road bookings – According to Applied Travel Intelligence, online car rentals and bus reservations will be an $80 million business by 2008. A couple of players in this field are Redbus and Ghumo. Indian railways, estimates 40,000 tickets sold daily over the Internet, and estimates it to touch Rs. 1,400 crore in 2007-08.
  • An increased emphasis on services at the destination of travel.
  • More social elements – MakeMyTrip has Oktatabyebye, Travelocity has IgoUgo, Yatra has Raahi. Think social networking?
  • Offline arms to help with visa processing, etc. and online kiosks – Ezeego1, Yatra and MakeMyTrip have already started.
  • Bookings via the mobile.
  • I wonder if there is a possibility for segmentation here as well – say specialised travel portals for women travellers, or for religious trips, etc.
  • Fare prediction engines such as Farecast or Flyspy.

I can remember the time when I used to scour through all the airlines websites, to book a ticket – then came the travel portals, and now the metasearch engines. Here’s a list of each:

Airlines

Air Deccan, IndiGo, Go Air, Spicejet, Jet, Kingfisher, Indian, JetLite, Paramount Airways, Indus Air

Travel portals

Arzoo, Yatra, Travelocity India, Ezeego1, Makemytrip, Travelguru, Cleartrip, Ghumo, Via (formely FlightRaja), Indiatimes Travel

Metasearch portals

Zoomtra, Yahoo Farechase, Rediff Faresearch, iXiGo, Mobissimo

Coming up

Expedia India

Self Catering Cottages – The Recent Big Thing In Travel Industry

One of the up and coming services in the world is self catering cottages. It has fast made a name for itself in the market. Its popularity can be gauged from the fact that it has put hotels and rest houses in shade as far as lodging for vacations is concerned. It must be added here that the changing times have brought about an alteration in the demands of the people. They nowadays want to live freely with no interruption whatsoever; so much so that the presence of waiters and stewards also pose great annoyance to people.

Self catering cottages are tailor-made for such people as they are allowed complete freedom there. With lots of space, they are ideal for couples as well as families. Particularly for families with young kids, they are heaven for they also allow them the facility to cook their own food and that too at any point of time. Nestled in the calm environs of the countryside, they exude calmness and purity which has a very soothing effect on the mind and body of people. This fills them up with enthusiasm and energy to take on the rig ours of life.

It would be extremely important to mention here that self catering cottages are also in great demand by business units who use it mainly as a centre for arranging their official get-togethers. Set away from the commotion of towns and cities, these self catering cottages are the perfect setting for such functions. They are also utilised by companies as a way of rewarding employees in return for the efforts put in by them.

The message, therefore, is clear; the coming days are very good for self catering cottages as more and more people are showing a sharp desire in availing them. Available at very competitive rates, they indeed are a real threat to hotels and rest houses.

Dynamic Packaging for Travel and Hospitality Industry

The concept of Dynamic Packaging is to bundle all the components chosen by the aspiring traveler and create one reservation. Regardless of where the inventory originates, the package that is created is handled seamlessly as one transaction, and requires only one payment from the consumer.

To a traveler, there is nothing better than a one stop shop for his traveling needs. The Dynamic Packaging Engine uses a travel component inventory and prices. Regardless of where the inventory originates, the package that is created is handled seamlessly as one transaction, and requires only one payment from the consumer. It automatically applies rules defined by the suppliers and the travel marketer to build and price travel packages. This package configuration process determines which components are used, what combinations of components are allowed or required, and handles inclusions such as taxes, fees or additional package features. Rules also determine how the final retail price is computed.

CAPABILITIES

A typical dynamic packaging application will need the following capabilities:

1. Search and Availability

2. Memberships

3. Shopping Cart

4. Booking and Reservations

5. Payments

6. Cancellations

SEARCH AND AVAILABILITY

A traveler always seeks a destination. Even though he may well be aware of where he needs to go to, he will search for the most appropriate place to stay and enjoy his visit. The search starts with a Transportation and Travel components, Hotel Property, Leisure Components. The search therefore has to be divided geographically to include destinations and neighboring destinations that meet the search criteria. An example search could be travel to New York City, stay at Stamford, Connecticut, Golf at upstate New York. Clearly the Dynamic Packaging engine needs to know the dates of travel, from and to destinations, closest airport to hotel, rental car or other desired ground transportation from selected airport to hotel and access to tee times at the neighboring golf courses. Like the traveler, businesses also seek travel related information.

Travel Agents, Call Centers, and Meeting Planners need packaged information on behalf of their clients. Such a search is riddled with rules and complexity. Besides, the customer needs to have choices that can vary from comfort to price and everything else in between.

1. Proximity: The search uses parameters that can narrow down possibilities yet offer extended possibilities. In our search example, Westchester Airport would have been the best choice. La Guardia airport would be an ideal choice. JFK and Newark and Teterboro are the next choices from a distance to Hotel point of view.

2. Fare and Rates: The traveler will look for the best fare. In our example though Westchester is close to the hotel, offers limited Airlines and perhaps not the best fares. Some fares maybe very attractive, however when it comes to flexibility and cancellation they are not the best. Flexibility of change, penalties associated with change and cancellation are important factors to include in the search results.

3. Travel Times: That’s another important factor for the business traveler. How many flights are there to the airport and at what intervals. Check in times and total time to travel also helps in determining his choice. Therefore non-connecting and connecting flights with layover times need to figure in the search.

4. Accessibility: Another key factor often not paid attention to is accessibility. Physically impaired travelers, people who need meals on a flight, wheelchair access, and quick access to rental cars or trains or ground transportation play a very important role in travel. Do the hotel(s) have wheelchair access? Is it possible to get ground transportation to destined hotel that has wheelchair access?

5. Amenities: Does the hotel offer standard amenities like restaurants, swimming pool, health parlors, spa, fax and printing, broadband Internet access etc? Similarly does the rental car come with GPS, insurance, inter state travel? Does the Golf Course allow only cart access? Are ski rentals available near the resort? The inclusion of amenities in a search result ensures the traveler is not in for surprises at the first lap of travel.

6. Prepackaged: You want to travel, stay in a semi luxury hotel, play golf, why search for each individually. A prepackaged deal would also be more attractive than customizing the travel. Perhaps cheaper.

Travel should be far from being hostile. It is after all a home away from home. A home is a pivotal source for living and entertainment. One uses the home and its peripheral surroundings to make the best of living. The travel destinations and the mode of travel should be as non hostile and as hospitable as is possible. A dynamic packaging should offer a wealth of choices to the traveler yet not inundate the traveler with so much information that he/she is nervous wreck at the end of an itinerary creation.

ACTORS

From the above description one can determine who the obvious actors are in this case.

1. The Traveler

2. GDS (Airlines and Hotels Rate Distribution)

3. Airlines

4. Car Rental Companies

5. Hotel Central Reservation

6. Tour Operators (Buses, Ground Transportation)

7. Proprietary Aggregators (like Golf, Ski etc.)

MORE ACTORS

The Dynamic Packaging should be capable of extending the services for business-to business operations. Which would imply that our actors now are?

8. Travel Agents and Meeting Planners

9. Call Center Agents.

SHOPPING CART

The key item in dynamic packaging is the Shopping Cart. The results of search can be selected and added as line items in the shopping cart. It bundles all the components chosen by the traveler to create one reservation. This shopping cart based vacation builder allows comparison shopping of packages that can include plane tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, insurance, attraction tickets and other features. Regardless of where the inventory originates, the package that is created is handled seamlessly as one transaction, and requires only one payment from the consumer. It automatically applies rules defined by the suppliers and the travel marketer to build and price travel packages. This package configuration process determines which components are used, what combinations of components are allowed or required, and handles inclusions such as taxes, fees or additional package features.

How Does The Travel Industry Go Ahead With Development of Information Technology?

The Travel industry is growing with the adoption of new technologies. Adaptation with the new generation of computers and use of various new technologies has strengthened its growth trajectory.

Information technology has enabled the travel industry to develop applications and store a large amount of data in a more organized way. Use of internet, GDS, XML and API integration are helping in a great way to connect a large number of customers providing them an easy access.

The Internet has emerged as a potential to communicate information in the form of texts, messages and graphics. Customers can easily book air tickets, rental cars and train tickets through online booking facility offered by the travel tech solution companies is a big contribution for it.

Online booking is leading the growth of the industry up to a new high. It has enabled the visitors to book rental cars, air tickets, hotel rooms, bus tickets and holidays from the safest corner of their home or anywhere else. Prior to online booking, people used to stand in a queue in front of the ticket counter for hours for booking. But, with the introduction of the online booking the time-consuming and tiring process of offline booking has come to an end. Visitors are paying online and generating receipts also.

Online booking renders a facility to book a car from an array of luxury cars. Customers choose the vehicle of the perfect color, size, make and model. They are left with the options to modify the bookings, cancelation of booked cars or airline tickets also.

Use of email service has closed the gap between the customers and the industry. Email and SMS gateways have facilitated to instant delivery of the messages within a few seconds, reducing the booking process time and confirmation.

Also, travel agents and tour companies are getting financial benefits using the internet through email and SMS services. Delivering a message through email and SMS is not only a time-saving process but also much cheaper than telephones and conventional marketing.

Integration of GDS, XML, API and Web services have paved the way to grow more potential. Integrating the Global Distribution System has enabled the travel companies and tour operators to connect and reach numerous customers through online. It serves quick information regarding inventories, availability of the rooms in the world-class hotels and availability of the luxury rental cars.

Integration of XML and API integration services would help to store and arrange data coming from car rental companies, hotels and airlines in a more structured and organized way so that customers can get access to the required information easily.

Growth of Travel Industry due to Information Technology

Its growth has reached a record high due to information technology. As per the World Travel and Tourism Council report, it has emerged to be the largest and fastest economy sector of the world. In addition to that, it has created large-scale employment opportunities for nearly 277 million people all over the world adding 9.8% to world’s Gross Domestic Product. Information technology has turned out to be a boon for the travel industry.

The Year That Was – Hotel and Travel Industry in 2009

The year 2009 was a year of ups and downs for hotels in particular and the global  travel   industry  in general. There were many events and developments that helped shape the outlook of the hotel industry over the past 12 months. Let us take a look back at 2009 and identify these developments.

Who can forget the global H1N1 virus scare that rocked the world? Some surveys suggest that many travelers will be more concerned about germs and health-related issues in general, thanks to the outbreak of the H1N1 virus. This has thankfully led to more stringent measures and health awareness on the part of the establishments.

The global recession was clearly still in effect the whole year round, and there will even be some repercussions heading into 2010. There are still some significant properties and establishments being shopped and sold. However, it should be noted that, while some companies have been selling their hotels, there are those that are utilizing the sale to expand their core properties. That is a positive sign, showing growth and a willingness to expand despite the continued pinch given by the recession.

In 2009, eco-tourism and eco-friendly destinations started taking the spotlight, as both the travelers and the various establishments have become more and more environmentally conscious. Destinations such as Sweden, Norway, and Switzerland are the top dogs when it comes to eco-friendly places to visit. The hotels in such countries also benefit tremendously because of the influx of travelers, and a lot of them have already adopted an eco-friendly mentality to go with the times.

Of course, there are also many hotel groups-from smaller-scale local establishments to big chains of luxury hotels-who have re-evaluated their business approach and have made changes to their various investment strategies. This is a wise move, still in line with managing the costs and income in an economic landscape that still is not as stable as desired.

Another trend in 2009 was an increased patronage for online travel services, such as booking sites and aggregators that really are a big help to travelers. Still, traditional booking occupies a significant chunk of the pie, even with online services gaining some headway over the past year.

Some establishments, from hotels to apartments to luxury spas, have shown a diminishing level of performance in the middle of the year. The good thing is that some of them have been able to recover quite nicely and gain back some lost ground-and some lost ratings-to get back on track.

There are indications that leisure spending on the side of the travelers will go up in 2010, and that is a definite plus for the hotel industry. More people willing to spend more money translate to more business opportunities for hotels and other members of the hospitality industry.

All in all, it was another year and another step to recovery in 2009. Things are shaping up quite nicely for 2010, and hopefully, hotels and their respective managements learned a lot in the past year and start to apply them in order to flip the script this coming year.

Google’s Impact on the Travel Industry

When a pair of students created and initially ran Google from their dorm room while studying at Stanford University, California little do they know the vast impact the search engine would have on the development of the Internet, and in particular in the fundamental change it would cause in the  travel   industry  over the last 10 years.

Google went a step further than other search engines and company directories back in 2000. They introduced a keyword advertising programme. By the beginning of 2001 Google were processing 100 million search queries a day and this provided a huge new avenue for companies to advertise their goods and services. Therefore, travel companies used this new popular competitive channel to reach the top of the organic listings and dominate the sponsored pay-per-click links. This has lead to some really exciting travel opportunities. In fact, this new online advertising initiative has created companies specifically to help businesses succeed at this new venture.

The huge renaissance in online advertising has been attributed to Google’s advertising model that helped pave the way for the demise of the thick, colour printed travel brochure and provided a platform that helps everyone find anything almost anywhere.

As Google moves forward they have step up their Internet travel presence with the introduction of MyTravelGoogle.com, a new way to search online for travel related articles. The site is promoted to targeted budget travellers and their needs. Also, Google Maps can now help you plan, and enjoy, the best possible travel experience with careful research of holiday locations.

Google’s dominance of the search market means travel company and travel advisors using the web will have to follow Google’s developments extremely closely, and stay competitive if they are going to delivery real choice and real travel opportunities.

SEO For Travel Agencies – Competing With the Travel Industry Titans

The last ten years have not been easy for independent travel agencies. Marketing costs have risen while legislation has regulated the industry. Despite these challenges, millions of consumers use Google and Yahoo! to plan their vacations and business trips. They book cruises; they reserve hotel accommodations; they purchase airline tickets. And many of these travelers want your help.

If you can position your website in front of them, your travel business will flourish. SEO and internet marketing for travel agencies offers a cost-effective solution for reaching these travelers.

Online Marketing For Travel Agencies Increases Your Visibility

Exposure is critical for independent travel agencies. Marketing efforts should be driven by a search engine optimization campaign that positions your agency as a seamless solution for travelers’ needs. This increases your visibility to your market. By placing your website in the top positions in Google and Yahoo!, our team of SEO experts can help you attract consumers who need your expertise.

Online marketing should focus on search engine optimization because more travelers than ever are using Google as their first planning resource. In fact, according to the Travel Industry Association, 70% of travelers go online to plan their trips. That trend will only grow. Our search engine optimization specialists can position your website in front of these travelers at the moment they search for your services.

Key Advantages Of SEO For Travel Agencies

In order to thrive, your travel business needs to generate results that are cost-effective and measurable. You also need timely exposure to a motivated target audience. These are the benefits of launching a search engine optimization campaign for travel agencies. Marketing efforts that are spearheaded by an SEO campaign help consumers find your company when they go online to plan their trips.

Internet Marketing For Travel Agencies Attracts Customers

Millions of travelers realize the industry titans cannot offer the finely-tuned travel plans provided by independent agents. These consumers are using Google and Yahoo! to find alternatives. This is the reason online marketing for travel agencies has become the most effective advertising channel for local agents. By using a search engine optimization campaign, they can compete with the industry leviathans. In fact, SEO for travel agencies blends the most potent elements of online promotion.

Driving Results With Search Engine Optimization

One of the reasons search engine optimization and internet marketing has become so popular is because the industry is so competitive. The titans have all but dominated the market (or, at least, that’s how it seems). Making matters worse, traditional advertising is costly and often fails to generate results.

By contrast, search engine optimization for travel agencies offers a cost-effective strategy for competing – and even trumping – the industry behemoths. And that’s where our team of SEO experts can help.

We have been creating effective SEO campaigns for our clients for over a decade. Due to our longstanding track record of success, noted search authority “Top SEOs” recently presented us with their coveted “Best In Search” award. We can duplicate this same level of success for your travel agency.

When we begin working together with you, we’ll close our doors to your local competitors. That allows us to focus our efforts on your search engine optimization campaign.

If you’re ready to begin competing with the industry leviathans, call us. Our job is to help your travel agency reach a new level of success.