How to create your online tailor-made travel agency ?


What role do online travel agencies (OTAs) play today ? 💻✈️

By 2023, the global online tourism market is expected to grow by 13.16% and generate up to 1134.55 billion euros. Quite a drastic increase, compared to the 570.25 billion euros generated in 2017 if you ask us…

These figures suggest a promising future for the sector and, with the new post-Covid trends (more details in this article), an increase in the use of digital solutions, such as marketplaces dedicated to tourism and other online travel agencies.

Some of the best known are, AirBnb, Viator or Expedia... which connect suppliers directly to their customers offering all services related to tourism and hospitality, such as booking transport, accommodation or guided tours and other activities... When facing these giants of the tourism industry, one may wonder whether it is worthwhile to start out on this already crowded road. But tourism has proven time and time again that there is room for everything and everyone.

The advantages of an online travel agency ☝🏽

Even today, many people still prefer going to a travel agency and meet the agents in person (read our articles on how to create your travel agency if you prefer human contact, and how to become a travel agent HERE), but online travel agencies facilitate and speed up exchanges between local or international travel agencies and experts, and their potential clients who want to travel as soon as possible. During the sanitary lockdowns, having access to these websites made it somehow possible to "travel" without breaking the rules.

Travel agents and agencies have the opportunity of showcasing their offers online, while potential clients can consult a vast catalog of proposals at their leisure, and why not give in to temptation and treat themselves to holidays. This facilitated access, this convenience, will make it easier and faster to make a choice. This can only be a good sign for your tourism business.

This digital presence, if well put together, offers opportunities for exposure and distribution that would otherwise be more difficult or costly. This is why many suppliers in the sector are adament on said digital presence: the losses would be significant if this was not the case. According to this analysis by Médiamétrie, French internet users  numbers looking for an escape have increased by 66% on sites dedicated to tourism.

E-tourism is in constant evolution

The companies in the sector that benefit the most from this are inbound tour operators (inbound agencies), providers of local tours and activities, independent hotels, Bed & Breakfast, or companies offering transport solutions, etc. Not convinced yet? Keep on reading 😉

Is e-tourism a bottleneck sector? No! Go for it! 💻

Some may think there is not enough room left, and that setting up an online travel agency can seem like a waste of time in the face of industry giants dominating the industry and exhausting all possible options.

But the globetrotters’ new habits suggest that, not only will this trend last, but it will also evolve into something bigger as demand increases in this ever-changing industry. Everyone has a chance...

That's why today, we decided to convince you: getting a foothold in e-tourism is the next step you absolutely must take.

Get into e-tourism

4 simple tips for selling tailor-made holidays online 🏃🏻

✔️ Find a niche market in the tourism and hospitality industries

You can take inspiration from Equitours, a specialist in equestrian holidays, or Mode Travel, which focuses on tailor-made travel. But nothing prevents you from choosing several niches, although offering specific products or services makes targeting easier. Geographical areas, types of tours, types of activities, hotel + flight packages, etc. These are just a few examples among many others that are worth exploring.

Focusing on a niche market also makes it easier to identify and contact potential partners who might be interested in selling their product on your platform. This will also allow you to create tailor-made marketing campaigns.

✔️ Arm yourself with a solid business plan and a strong team: the two pillars on which the success of your online travel agency will rest

Include as much detail as possible (about your target customers, roadmaps, revenue forecasts, etc) in your business plan. On this website you will find a comprehensive travel agency business plan template in line with banks’ expectations. Investors will pay more attention to the viability and profitability of your project.

Those who embark on this adventure usually choose between two income models:

  • Charge sellers a monthly subscription fee, OR
  • Receive a commission on the bookings they get through your platform.

A close-knit, committed and collaborative team will allow you to achieve all your objectives quickly and efficiently. Vary the skills of each person; keep good developers, UX/UI designers, communication and marketing experts, specialists and connoisseurs of the sector (former athletes, influencers, enthusiasts, experts in the field, etc) by your side.

✔️Build your travel agency's digital platform around the user experience

The first thing you notice about a website is how smooth the navigation is and how easy it is to use. If you like it yourself, be sure your potential customers will too. Then make sure that your website has all the elements that will attract visitors and convince them to stay longer and give in to temptation.

  • A detailed description for each product;
  • Alluring quality images and videos;
  • Launch or sponsorship offers;
  • Convincing testimonials;
  • Fluid navigation.

These are crucial elements in ensuring an optimal user experience.

However, the booking process and the payment gateway need special attention. Find out more about how to create your travel agency website in this article. Because these are the most decisive features, ensuring their smooth operation is critical.

Once you think you have found the perfect version of your dream online travel agency, launch a beta version to test it. Ask your partners and acquaintances to test it. 

Only after you are sure that everything is working properly can you put your website online and make it public.

Although it is somewhat easy to create a public interface, maintaining the backend can be more complicated. Hence the importance of choosing the right team members…

Ensure your backend maintenance

✔️ Prepare catchy, relevant marketing campaigns

The aim is to attract good quality traffic to your website. It is best to launch campaigns well before your online agency goes live to create buzz, and why not, to gather a large number of relevant contacts for your business very quickly. All you need at this stage is a captivating and engaging landing page. 

Once your website is online, digital marketing, and more specifically inbound marketing, is the most effective way to increase traffic. Strengthen your SEO skills to publish quality blog posts with relevant keywords, and be present on social networks (Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, ...). Take a look at our article on how to manage your social networks ;)  Interact with your customers, your customers' customers, the main players in your sector, etc.

The right time to create an online tailor-made travel agency was yesterday… ⏩

... The second best time is NOW. Covid-19 has accelerated the birth of digital solutions in all sectors. The tourism industry has of course not been left behind and is taking full advantage of this; even more so than during those times of sanitary restrictions. 

No matter how successful your competition is, the 2.0 tourism market is big enough for you to get noticed by a potential customer living on the other side of the world. Find out HOW EZUS CAN HELP YOU with this 😉

More information about the fast-moving tourism industry on the internet HERE.

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