This is a guide on how to start a travel agency in Nigeria. The travel industry in Nigeria has been on a consistent growth path. According to the Nigerian Tourism Development Commission, the travel industry in Nigeria has become one of the fastest growing in the world and is currently worth about $4 billion. Want to tap into this? Then take some time to learn how to start a travel agency in Nigeria.
A travel agency is a business that assists travellers to provide services to meet their travel needs. These needs include but are not limited to visa counselling, purchasing and booking airline, train and bus travel tickets, accommodation, and tours.
Travel agents can serve both business travellers and tourists alike. Nigerians are known to travel a lot to different countries of the world both for business and pleasure. Hence there is always the business opportunity for travel agents because busy travellers will always need people that will take care of their travel arrangements in a timely and cost effective manner.
The responsibility of a travel agent does not just end with the aforementioned. As a travel agent you will be required to also search for cheap airline tickets, hotels and other freebies for your clients.
Starting a travel agency business is best suited for those who have experience of working in a registered travel agency or those who have very wide travelling experience. If you fall into any of these categories then read on as I show you how to start a travel agency in Nigeria.
There are two major ways of getting involved in the travel agency business in Nigeria. You can either start as a freelance travel agent or as an International Air Transport Association (IATA) licensed agent.
As a freelance travel agent, you will need much less capital and infrastructure to start off. All you might need is a laptop, internet service and a printer. The beauty of the freelance agent is that you can start even from the comfort of your bedroom. You do not necessarily need an office space to begin business.
You will however need to have developed a fair number of clients who will be willing to entrust you with the responsibility of making their travel plans come through.
As a freelance travel agent, you will need to get yourself attached to an IATA registered operator. You will merely serve as sales outlets for the IATA accredited operator. The advantage of working with an accredited operator is that they are usually first to get notifications of reductions in travel fares and other discounts. It is imperative that you are attached to an IATA registered operator. This is because you cannot pay for an air ticket for someone directly to an international airline. The IATA acts as a clearing house for all airlines registered with it.
The capital required to start as a freelance agent can be as little as ₦100,000, to purchase a laptop, printer and internet service.
You might decide to enter this business as an IATA licensed agent. This involves you registering your company with the IATA as an accredited travel agent. Before you decide to do this, please ensure that you are very aware of what you are doing because the requirements for IATA accreditation could cost you quite a lot. More care should be taken here because it involves a lot more capital than being a freelance agent.
The major advantage here is that you get access to a lot more customers and also have access to the IATA airline database where you can easily get the best ticket prices for your customers. This further translates into higher profit margin. You are even allowed to make bookings for chartered flights.
IATA regulation stipulates that before you can register your travel agency in Nigeria with them, you must meet the following minimum requirements;
Your start off capital requirement will be in the region of ₦1.5 m to ₦5m. This will depend on your location and the scale you intend to start off with.
Once you have all these requirements, they can then begin to process your registration. Issuance of the license is still subject to other considerations. For a detailed guide on how to obtain the license, please visit their website at www.iata.org .
After obtaining your IATA license, you will then proceed to subscribe with a Global Distribution System (GDS). The GDS is a centralized computerized system used by registered travel agents for the reservation of airline seats, hotel rooms and other items. You can register with famous GDS companies like Sabre, Amadues or Galileo. Their registration procedures and requirements can be found on their websites.
Please be aware that the IATA and GDS registration also comes with training programmes that will expose you on ways to fully explore the possibilities that come with using these systems. Close attention should be paid to these training courses if you intend to make the best use of these systems.
I am quite sure the question on your mind now is “how can I make money from this business”?
The travel agency business in Nigeria is a lucrative one where you can have multiple streams of income if you are creative enough. I will conclude this article by telling you some income streams that can be explored in this business.
Travel consultancy involves you giving advice to your customers on making travel choices. It could be advice on cheap airlines, faster travel routes, baggage allowance or any other advice that will make their travel experience a better one.
We all know that processing a visa can be a cumbersome process. You can also charge a fee for assisting your customers with their visa procurement procedure.
Another income stream for a travel agent is to sell tickets for events that are taking place outside the country. For example, a lot of Nigerians desire to watch live English Premier League matches. You can get these tickets and then resell to those you know will be travelling to the United Kingdom.
You can also arrange for trips and vacations for your customers who are travelling to a given destination for a fee. It can be visits to notable places or tours around the city they intend to visit.
Some useful tips that will help your business……
Advertise your Business; Use flyers, posters and business cards.
Treat Your Customers Well; This business is a service delivery one and it thrives on repeat patronage. Hence it is very important that your customers feel good about your service delivery.
If you have any questions or thoughts on how to start a travel agency in Nigeria, please use our comments section.