Far from being discouraged by the impact of the health crisis on tourism, and despite the decrease this year in the number of registered travel operators in France, more and more of you are telling us about your desire to create your own travel agency.
Although it is no longer necessary to be a graduate, at least in France, creating a travel agency is a project that cannot be improvised. From the financial guarantee to the registration in the register of travel and stay operators, Ezus takes stock of the very regulated conditions to open a travel agency, especially in France.
1/ Is it necessary to have a financial guarantee?
Before answering this question, let's look at your checklist and check (together) the following points:
Have you thought about who you want to market your offer to? For example, customers who are passionate about sports events. Or honeymooners? For photography enthusiasts? You prefer to address a MICE clientele? More classical, it can be on a country, a region or a continent. No matter, you know which audience to address. Bravo !
Your choice is also made on how to market your offer (only online, an agency to keep a human contact, or both).
What legal status should you choose? SA (société anonyme), SASU (société par action simplifiée unipersonnelle), SARL (société à responsabilité limitée) EURL (entreprise unipersonnelle à responsabilité limitée), EIRL (entreprise individuelle à responsabilité limitée)? You have weighed the pros and cons of this question, you have registered, or are about to register, your company (or yourself as an individual) with the Trade Register.
The financial guarantee is one of the conditions to open a travel agency. In the event, for example, of your activity ceasing, it is used to reimburse the deposit, the balance of the stay that your customers have paid you, or even for some to repatriate them while they are in the middle of a trip / while they are travelling.
Who can you get this guarantee from? To find a guarantor, you can contact
- Authorized insurance companies based in a member state of the European Union or the European Economic Area;
- Organizations specialized in collective guarantees;
- Credit institutions authorized to provide this service;
- Non-profit associations that have received a specific authorization by a decree of the minister in charge of tourism.
In France, most travel and tourism operators contact the Association Professionnelle de Solidarité du Tourisme (APST), Atradius, Groupama or the Fonds Mutuel de Solidarité (FMS) of UNAT.
What is the amount of this financial guarantee?
The amount is 200 000 € minimum. It is calculated each year taking into account the volume of sales of the previous year. It can vary according to the products sold. Thus, the financial guarantee for a package tour sold directly to the consumer will correspond to 20% of the turnover of the previous year. The guarantors are also attentive to the risk that each company represents.
Note: you must include the contact details of the guarantor organization on all your documents and/or on your travel agency's website.
3/ What is the Atout France registration and how to obtain it?
In order to launch the activity of your travel agency while respecting the legislation in force, you must register your company in the register of travel and stay operators.
Once a month, Atout France's registration commission meets to review registration applications. It has one month to give a positive or negative answer.
Once the registration is obtained, it is valid for 3 years. If during this period of time, changes occur in your statutes, if for example, you change insurer, remember to keep the commission informed.
If your application is refused, if you are not satisfied with the explanations provided, you can submit an appeal to the president of the registration commission. Do not wait as the deadline is 2 months from the notification of the negative opinion.
⚠️ If you practice without being registered, you risk one year of imprisonment, 15,000 euros of fine and a permanent closure of your agency.
Having discussed only a few aspects of the creation of a travel agency, we can see that setting up such a project is far from easy. Before embarking on this great adventure, you should also think about defining your relationships with your suppliers by drafting contracts that will specify the missions and obligations of each.