How to Start a Travel Agency Business

By dickburge5273 | Mentoring

Oct 05

travel agency


There are individuals who are born to travel. They are the wanderers who go either abroad or to local areas to feed their souls with amazing scenery and extreme adventures. They are the people who are consumed by wanderlust.

In the Philippines alone, there are over a thousand of islands which travel bugs can visit. That is why there’s no doubt a number of travel agencies are now operating in the country.  Travel agencies are more than just ticketing offices that prepares the itineraries and do tours – they actually make our trips hassle free. And the significant growth of the market (especially during summer vacations) has prompted more entrepreneurs to go into the same business. Here are some tips on how to start a travel agency business, from Ms. Aurora Soriano of Pinoy Travel:


1. Register your Business

Like any other businesses, you cannot start a travel agency business without applying for the right set of licenses or permits.

A travel agency under sole proprietorship, should register the business to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Otherwise, if the business is run by partners or a corporation, it must be registered to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Refer to these links for the steps on how to register your business:

DTI: link here

SEC: link here

Note that there are only two types of travel agencies that caters to airline trips recognized in the country. This is based on the accreditation of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the regulating body  for airlines, passenger sales agents and cargo agents):

  • IATA agents –  these are agencies that are accredited by IATA, and are authorize by airlines to issue tickets, directly oversee the rebooking, reissuance, or revalidation of tickets issued.
  • non-IATA agents – these are agencies that are not accredited by IATA, and are not authorized to issue tickets.

2. Identify Your Capital for the Business

A travel agency business requires less investment compared to other businesses.

Although a financial plan statement should have already been a part of your overall business plan, it is worth noting your start-up capital which answer on the following questions:

  • What will be the recurring expenses and how much it would cost?
  • What equipments do you need for the business?
  • How long does it takes to get the ROI?

Travel agencies gain profit via commission they get for every booking they get. They also make money from selling travel insurance policies, sale of travel guide books, as well as sale of foreign currencies.

3. Determine the Scope of Your Service and Your Target Market

Competition is nothing new in any business. Even travel agencies are not exempted to this.

With the existence of so many competitors, businesses are bound to be better than the other — while others target a market or an uncontested market. But first, it is important to really know the scope of what your business, what services you will provide, and who will be your target. Determine whether your business will offer travels across the country or across the globe. Or whether your business could offer hotel or resort reservations, car rentals, tour packages, etc.; befitting your target market who are either leisure travelers or business travelers.


4. Get Affiliated

Even for a sole proprietor, the nature of a travel agency business is not done solo.

Joining in associations is more than just meeting other business owners. It opens a lot of opportunities for new entrepreneurs, like partnerships, client leads and mentoring.  You will not only expand your business network, but you also learn from their success. Here are some of the Travel Associations you can join:

a.) Philippine IATA Agents Travel Association, Inc. (PIATA)

PIATA is a organization of all IATA Travel Agent in the Philippines. It promotes good relations and encourage professionalism among IATA appointed travel agents in the Philippines.

b.) National Association of Independent Travel Agencies (NAITAS)

NAITAS is the biggest and the largest travel association in the Philippines recognized in the international tourism community. The association is very active on issues that concern the tourism industry, as well the adaptation od wellness tourism in the country.

c.) Philippine Marine Travel Agents Association (PMTAA)

PMTAA is a Filipino association of  IATA travel agents that specializes in marine traffic. It was formed in  September 2001 and was incorporated a month after.  PMTAA is the prime mover in the development of the Philippines as the leading marine – travel agency center in the world.


5. Create Competitive Promo Packages

Creating competitive packages requires you to understand the costing of the entire promotion. You have to decide whether you really want to forgo profit to gain market traction. And once you pursue the idea of offering promo packages, make sure that you set the limits and mechanics very clearly. Always go back to your budget, so that you wouldn’t end up losing so much in the actual amount you planned.

Also, always think of your market. Don’t duplicate your competitors — be unique instead.  Talk to people — ask what they are looking for and offer it. This is the simplest yet the most effective way of creating competitive promo packages.


About the Mentor:

travel agency


Aurora Soriano is the co-founder and CEO of Pinoy Travel, an aggregated online seat reservation service for long distance buses and ferries in the Philippines.

She has an extensive marketing and business development experience in the mobile telecommunications industry, having worked big telcos in the country.

She was the Assistant Vice President for Landline Marketing of Bayan Telecommunications for two years, where she established initial marketing plan for the landline telephone business in partnership with Telstra Communications of Australia.

In 1995, she served as Assistant Vice President for National Carrier Relations of Globe Telecom. She was responsible for the creation and maintenance of interconnection facilitates between Globe and all other Philippines telecom companies. Later on, she headed the Multimedia Business Group & Innovations Development Department of Globe Telecom for over 10 years. In 2010, she moved to Smart Communications as the Head of Strategic Business Development.

After her long stint in the telecommunications industry, she took the leap of faith and started PinoyTravel, with her husband Ruel, and two others. They pitched their business plan for PinoyTravel for funding to Ideaspace, a non-profit organization dedicated to support innovation, technology development, and entrepreneurship. They launched the e-commerce site for long distance buses and ferries in 2013.