By Donald Michael Schwartz
When starting a travel club business you will be first identifying the type of club you will be forming and then recruiting the members. You will need to develop the rules for the club and work with the members to develop a club charter. You need to put together a business plan which outlines how you will go about defining the niche of your club, and how you will find the charter deals. You will then need to set up an office, even if its in your home. When starting a travel club business you will need to research the discount deals and the best tour and charter companies. It is important for you to be very detail orientated – taking good notes through out the process of planning a trip. You need to make sure you carefully read all the contracts involved. You will also need to interact with all the members and providers and keep everybody happy and troubleshoot problems that come up. Good map and chart reading skills is a must.
Where will you work?
The beauty of the travel club business is that you can work anywhere. But, it is a good idea to live in an area where there are members of your target market so that you can get to know their needs and sub-culture. With the Internet, you can be more flexible. For face to face marketing it is good to get involved with groups that relate to the market you are trying to reach, e.g., if you want to market travel to the wine country then it is good for you to get involved with wine tasting clubs. This can also be done on the Internet.
When starting a travel club business you will need to at least set up a home office. You will need a computer, and travel industry software. You should have a cell phone with unlimited minutes. You will need to hire a lawyer to help you write the membership contracts and advise you on liability issues. You should also have an accountant auditing your books to so an outside source to verify how the money is being handled. You may also want to consider incorporating to protect your personal assets from lawsuits. You should also have good liability insurance.
Tips for Starting a Travel Club Business
- Be Reliable– Things can easily go wrong with any aspect of travel. The providers and club members are relying on you to keep all the information straight and keep up on any changes.
- Do your research well – Any place or service can sound great in the brochure. If you have not visited the places that will be a part of the trip or used the charter service before, get on the Internet to find candid reviews. Build up a community of people who have the type of traveling experiences you are going to offer. It is best to start with tours that you have actually been on yourself.
- Identify your knowledge and skills– A travel club organizer needs to wear many hats. You need to assess what you are good at, and what you will need help with.
- Hire Employees Strategically – You need to hire employees that complement your strengths.
- Know the Travel Rules– When starting a travel club business make sure you understand the rules of the airlines or other travel providers, and what the the visa and passport procedures are, if you are planning a foreign trip. You also need to keep up with the State Department travel advisories.
- Licensing and Registration – Make sure you have all the proper licenses and registrations and permits.
Advertising a Travel Club Business
When starting a travel club business you can advertise through the following methods. You can test various forms of advertising to see which are the most effective for your bartending service in your location.
- Flyers– Determine if you can put up flyers in local grocery stores, bakeries, restaurants, community centers, party supply stores and party halls. It is best to ask the owner of these businesses for permission first. Also hand out flyers to passer byes on the street.
- Travel Club Business Cards– Create business cards and hand them whenever an opportunity appears. Network as much as possible. Seek recommendations from friends and family.
- Yahoo Local Searches– If you include your business in the Yahoo Local Searches, when people search for your service in your local area your business will appear in the list. To add your business to Yahoo local search, enter the term “add business to yahoo local search” in Yahoo.com and click on the first link.
- Google Local Searches– Google has a local search as well. To add your business to Google local search, enter the term “add business to google search” in Google.com and click on the first link.
- Website– You can decide to develop a website to provide clients with access to general information about your travel club.
- Join Online Forums– On online travel forums such as TripAdvisor you can talk to people who have similar interests while learning about travel deals and tips.