Do you want to turn your love for travel into a career as a self-employed travel agent? 

Travel agents can help take the stress out of planning exciting trips. They can help families, students, groups, and businesses organise their travel plans. 

This guide will look at how to become a self-employed travel agent, including:

  • What to know about being a self-employed travel agent
  • How to find clients as a self-employed travel agent 
  • How to organise your travel agency 

What to know about being a self-employed travel agent

Travellers often hire travel agents to eliminate the stress of planning their travels. Many travellers who use agents will stick to an agent that they trust. As a self-employed travel agent, you can build and maintain these frequent-traveller relationships. 

Though travellers may first look to larger travel agencies, there are benefits to being a self-employed travel agent. It means you’ll be able to work when you wish and plan trips that interest you. 

If you’re wondering how to become a self-employed travel agent, you’ll want to know a bit about being self-employed. When starting as self-employed, you’ll first need to register yourself as a sole trader

You’ll also want to make sure you understand how your taxes will work as a self-employed person. You can learn more about setting up as a sole trader here.

Set yourself apart as a travel agent

As a self-employed travel agent, you’ll need to consider what you offer clients that bigger travel agencies do not. It’s also important to know the travel market and build relationships with travel vendors like airlines, hotels, and activities. This will help you get your clients the best deals and travel experiences. 

Self-employment means you can give more focused attention to your customer and build loyalty. You can work with your clients on a more personal level. 

Consider whether you have special connections or expertise to offer. Do you have a type of travel that you can focus on? Focusing on your individuality as a self-employed travel agent may help you be more appealing to clients. 

How to find clients as a self-employed travel agent

When considering how to become a self-employed travel agent, you’ll need to think about how to market yourself. Being self-employed means you’ll have to find your clients rather than having them assigned to you by an agency. 

Market yourself

Self-employed travel agents need to make themselves accessible to travellers. So, you’ll want to market yourself on social media to reach potential clients. This means creating appealing profiles on social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter

Facebook is a great way to post about your travel knowledge and engage with travellers you’ve worked with. You can ask them to send pictures of their trips to promote your work. Instagram is also a great way to promote your services. You can post pictures from travels with location tagging to appeal to interested travellers. 

With technology today, some travellers may find it easier to book trips themselves. So, apart from reaching those who are looking for travel agents, also try to prove why travel agents are worth using. Show how your expertise and connections can help the travel planning process.  

Know your audience

Consider what kind of travellers you hope to work with. Maybe you want to work with families or students or businesses. Maybe you want to focus on one area or country that you know very well. 

Once you determine who you’d like to work with, it will help you know which target audience you want to reach as a travel agent. 

For example, if you want to help students or young adults travel around Europe, you may engage with study abroad program pages and social media groups. If you’re focusing on the young adult traveller, you may also want to create a TikTok profile to post travel tips. This platform’s younger audience will help you reach the right potential clients.  

Find your clients 

As a self-employed travel agent, you’ll need to actively seek potential clients. 

Some places to look for clients are freelance sites like Fiverr, Upwork, or Truelancer. You can develop a profile that explains how you can help clients. Try pairing your profile with a pleasant and professional profile picture to appear approachable. Look at other travel agent profiles to see what works best. Then, scan these sites to find people who are looking for travel agents. 

Aside from freelance platforms, you could also design a website for your services. Promote the website on your profiles and social media channels. This site can list your credentials, travel interests, and any services you offer.  

How to organise your travel agency 

Another part of how to become a self-employed travel agent is organising your business to work efficiently and appear professional. Unlike travel agencies, with systems in place for planning, communicating, and invoicing, you will have to do this yourself. 

Consider platforms like Google Workspace or Microsoft Teams to get your business in order. You can use these platforms to communicate with clients and vendors as well as store documents. You can use their video communication tools to virtually meet with clients. You can organise spreadsheets and documents. By using folder organising tools, you can keep track of your clients, vendors, and earnings.

You’ll also want to determine your commission percentage or standard fee you’ll charge as an agent. This may differ depending on the services you offer or grow as you develop stronger relationships with vendors and expertise on travel. 

Manage your finances with Countingup

Once you’ve begun growing your travel agency client base, you’ll need to manage your finances. Financial management can be stressful and time-consuming when you’re self-employed. That’s why thousands of business owners use the Countingup app to make their financial admin easier. 

Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. With features like automatic expense categorisation, invoicing on the go, receipt capture tools, tax estimates, and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances wherever you are. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward! 

Find out more here.