All hotel rooms are fully booked from the 21st of December 2017 to the 4th of January 2018! This is according to the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation news today. No doubt a vote of confidence for the tourism sectors of Zimbabwe and Zambia. The numbers of tourists visiting the area has been on an upward trajectory with a more than 9% increase when compared to the previous period last year. So what is contributing to this increase in arrivals? Its a combination of factors but the biggest one has to be the opening of a bigger airport and the increase in the number of foreign flights to the airport. Remember tourists from Kenya are now able to fly directly to Victoria Falls….so its all good for Zimbabwe and Zambia business and the question is what will happen next year when more tourists are expected to flood in? We have covered before tourist growth projections on this site and the numbers are expected to continue rising..so the question is what will happen to more tourists when accommodation is running out?
The answer of what will happen is solved by increased investment at Victoria Falls especially in terms of hotel and accommodation. One of the best areas to visit used to be Detema Safari Lodge which is located in Dete which is located 172 kilometres from Victoria Falls. Visited the place in year 2000 and was charmed-it used to have a lot of game and lovely thatched tree lodges. The place used to rival Mana Pools in terms of leisure activities and beautiful scenery. An airport in Dete helped to connect it with Victoria Falls, Bulawayo and Harare. Sadly standards deteriorated over the years and now little is known about this little paradise. For serious investors in the tourism sector we urge them to look at not only Victoria Falls but surrounding areas such as Hwange and Dete.
Young Entrepreneurs Advice:
You too can benefit from the tourism sector and you may not need a lot of capital to start benefiting from the sector. You can look at starting your own Travel Agent Business. We recently assisted one of our members to improve operations of her business in the sector and she has been doing well. We helped her with Digital Marketing which is a key requisite in the area as you have to deal with tourists from many countries whose mode of communication is mostly digital.
Below we feature basic advice to help you in starting your own business and tap into the increased business expected in the next few years.
Specific Advice: How to Start a Travel Agent Business
From getting an IATA number and business license to a website and a place to work from, there is a lot to do when starting your own travel agent business.
Decide whether to become an independent travel consultant for a travel agency, franchise owner of an established travel agency or start your own agency. Independent travel consultants earn commissions for the work they do for a travel agency. Consultants may work from home or in an agency’s office. Start-up costs are usually minimal because computer software; IATA number, which is needed to book flights with airlines; and office space are typically provided by the travel agency. A client list may also be provided. As a consultant, you may be limited in the types of travel services you can provide clients. Purchasing a franchise allows you to build a business on an already successful brand, but you may still be limited in the types of services you can provide. Starting your own agency allows you to sell a wider variety of travel services while allowing you keep all the proceeds from each sale. Startup costs tend to be higher if purchasing a franchise or starting a business because you will have to finance equipment, such as a phone, computer and software, Internet service and marketing materials needed to run the business. You will also be responsible for building a client list.
Determine the types of travel services to offer clients. Travel services include transportation arrangements, hotel and resort reservations, cruise packages and specialized tour packages such as eco-tours or city-based tours. You may also want to specialize exclusively in family travel, senior travel, corporate travel or academic travel to set your business apart from other travel agencies.
Lease a space for your travel agency or work from home. Contact local commercial real estate agents to find available retail space. Choose a space in a busy retail area with ample parking. The space should be large enough to meet with clients while housing computer equipment, furniture and marketing materials. If working from home, create a space that allows you to work comfortably at your computer while providing adequate storage for computer equipment and software, marketing materials and files.
Create a website that includes a description of travel services, contact information and on-line booking options. Invest in computer software programs that process client bookings and payment from your website, track online marketing campaigns and captures email addresses. Visit websites, such as Capterra or GetApp, to read reviews about various travel agency software. Include testimonials of satisfied clients on your website. Update your website often by providing interesting content that clients will find useful when planning a vacation or traveling for business.
Purchase general liability or home-based business insurance to protect your business in the event of a lawsuit or settlement. Worker’s compensation insurance may be necessary if hiring employees. This insurance helps pay the costs incurred through an accident or injury at the workplace.
Create marketing materials, such as brochures, business cards and flyers to promote your travel agency. Join the Greater Houston Partnership to meet business owners and others in need of your services. Build a client list that includes email addresses, travel preferences, past travel destinations. Send email updates of travel specials, events or other information of interest to clients each business quarter to encourage sales.
Items you will need
- IATA number
- Travel agent software
- Register your business with the Texas Secretary of State to form a limited liability company, corporations or partnership. Register your business as a sole proprietorship with the Harris County Clerk’s Office if opening your business in Houston.
- You must apply for an IATA number to book flights with airlines. Visit International Air Transport Association website for information about applying for an IATA number, fees and accreditation requirements. If becoming an independent consultant for a travel agency, you may be able to rent the agency’s IATA number for a monthly fee.
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