Notwithstanding the fact that there is no dearth for both online/offline travel agencies, entrepreneurs trying to carve a niche for themselves in this overly competitive field should always play safe. Be it for a newbie or an established player, stiff competition is the order of the day. Such a market condition calls upon businessmen to come up with certain strategic moves that will make their travel business stand out from the rest. Sparing you the ‘also ran’ title, below are certain actionable pointers that will help your travel business gain an edge over your competitors.

1. A Concrete Plan of Action

Any business proposition calls for a well-thought-after plan and a travel business is no exception to this primary requirement. While keeping a close watch on every small detail, you as an entrepreneur should look into the market specifications that govern your tour-planning business. If your plan is to establish a home-based travel agency, you need to tie up with a host travel agency which will provide you with the status of an independent contractor. Alternatively, if you want to set up an online travel business, you should have a well-designed website that compels visitors to sign up with you.

2. Show Security and Get Customer Trust

Given the primary motive of your travel business is to stand apart from your competitors, you can support your travel website with an SSL certificate. An SSL certificate provides a higher level of security to your web and e-commerce applications by employing the encryption technology. The SSL certificate encrypts the online information, securing it from the malicious intentions of hackers..

An array of affordable and trusted SSL brands like GeoTrust, Thawte, Comodo, Symantec, GlobalSign and RapidSSL are listed on this site. All these products coming with a reasonable price tag secure your travel website with a 2048-bit CSR encryption protection. The moment an SSL certificate is in place, your travel portal can display the free and secure site seal. This can boost your travel business by garnering the trust and confidence of your tourists.

3. Implement Safety Measures Concerning Sensitive Customer Data

In addition to signing up for an SSL certificate, you need to go a step further to secure the confidential information of your customers. It is the need of the hour for your travel agency to comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) guidelines. Adhering to these rules will ensure that the corporate card details of all your tourists are encrypted and made unreadable to unwarranted users.

Another safety measure that your travel agency should look implement is to request an Attestation of Compliance (AOC). This is proof that your travel business meets all the PCI standards. This certificate goes on to imply that your agency gives utmost importance to data security. It is also an indication that your travel business has passed the prescribed security audits and checks by the PCI Quality Security Assessor.

4. Meet The Legal Requirements

It is indeed a simple task to set up a travel agency. However, entrepreneurs should meet certain requirements as per the law of the land. Certifications and licenses are some of the legal requirements that your business should meet. Additionally, you should also come up with a formal name for your business along with applying for a Federal Tax ID number.

5. Money Matters

Planning a travel agency involves a lot of thought revolving around your funding requirements. In the event you plan to set up a brick and motor travel agency, you need to manage your funds through bank loans. On the other hand, if you are planning to launch an online travel agency, you would need a smaller investment to just cover some low overhead costs.

Both these types of travel business structures should set aside some funds for advertising tools like business cards and flyers. All in an attempt to enjoy a steady cash flow at all times, your travel business can avail other funding options like venture capital funding, angel investment or personal loans from lenders.

6. Delve Into Location and Human Capital Requirements

After having a strong funding strategy in place, your next move should be to address the business location of your travel agency. You need to do some groundwork so that you can come up with a feasible location for your travel business. You may choose a place that resonates with your brand image and meets your accommodation needs. You also need to meet the human resource requirements. While hiring remote employees can be an option, you should also make provisions for additional manpower as part of your travel business expansion plan.

7. A Strong Brand Image Goes A Long Way

The next tip to differentiate your tour business from others is to create a strong brand image. You should strive hard to establish and display a well-designed brand that is supported by an aesthetic and functional travel website. Alternatively, you may aim at customer loyalty by providing the much-needed personal touch from the first interaction you have with your tourist base. Striving to provide them with an unmatched customer service even after their last visit or trip can go a long way in establishing your brand.

8. Uncover the Power of Social Media

For any business, acquiring a new customer is a huge challenge in itself. Entrepreneurs in the travel space should also aim at building a strong customer base by employing the principles linked to community building and social media. Research indicates that the travel business enjoys a 50% of the total business coming from repeat business and referrals.

It is for this reason that travel agencies should invest in building strong customer relationships through social media interactions. Allowing your tourists to share all their travel experiences on social networking sites can add new customers to your travel database. Personal recommendations can help you build a strong tourist community, when you maintain a constant touch with your customers.

9. Participate in Trade Shows and Business Events

Another actionable tip that will work wonders for your travel business is to attend trade events that are organized in your locality. Such meetings provide you with invaluable information about your travel niche alongside helping you meet some important people connected to your industry. You will get a chance to interact with the participants and spread the word about your upcoming travel agency. Handing out stickers to the crowds at various events is another way to attract the attention of prospective customers.

10. Sharpen Your Business Communication Skills

It is very important for travel agencies to demonstrate superior quality writing skills as most of the clients are comfortable with email communications. With good writing skills, your travel agency can strike the right chord with customers and build trust in them.

11. Make The First Impression The Best One

The first impression should indeed be the best impression for your prospective client. You should keep in mind that your first interaction with a potential client can make or mar your business. It is for this reason that travel agencies should be responsive to every email or phone call clarification that comes their way. A trick here is to use the smartphone to stay in constant touch with your target audience and resolve their queries instantly.

12. Come Up With Your Unique Selling Proposition

What makes your travel agency different/superior from the rest? This is the question that should be answered by you so that you can come up with a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) for your travel business. In the event, a potential client poses the question “How do you describe yourself and your company?” you should have concrete responses that will help him sign up with your travel agency.

13. A Good Website Improves Your Online Presence

It is very important that you hire the professional services of a web developer and SEO to come up with a well-designed travel business interface. You should ensure that your website shows up compelling content. An easy-to-update website is a boon to travel agencies. Entrepreneurs should strive to optimize their online travel interfaces so that their website gets the top search engine rankings.

14. Invest in Building Strong Customer Relationships

While aiming to carve a niche for yourself in the already competitive travel business space, entrepreneurs should aim at specializing their business. For this, you need to select a couple of potential itineraries and aim at resolving all the queries of your target audience. Given the fact the internet provides volumes of travel-based information, your deliberate and consistent attempts to offer help to your target audience can differentiate you from others. So the trick here is to identify the specific travel needs of tourists and address them by providing personalized solutions. This way, you will be able to build long-term business relationships with your clientele.

15. Remember – Change is the Only Permanent Thing

Like any industry, the travel business is also susceptible to constant changes that take place at a rapid pace. So for you to sustain and thrive in this overly competitive business, you should employ the best practices that guarantee good returns. Along with adapting to changes, entrepreneurs in the tourism space should constantly adopt novel business ideas. Only then will your travel business perform better than your competitors, standing the test of time.

Closing Thoughts

Entrepreneurs in the tourism space need not re-invent the wheel. All they have to do is to give a serious thought to all the above-described functional, marketing, financial, operational and security tips and they are all covered. These top 15 tips can help tourism marketers to not only offer unmatched experiences to their clientele but also to become role models for the coming generations of travel agencies.