If you live in Argentina and want to start a travel agency from your own home, you have come to the right place. In this article, you will find a brief tutorial that will provide you with the necessary information to start this project. Here you will be able to obtain information concerning legal, technical and tax aspects, the choice of the type of travel agency, the elaboration of a business plan and the implementation of your business, the creation of a place to receive clients and the promotion from the agency. Read the steps below to get started with this new project of your own.
Part 1 of 5: Find out the legal, technical and tax requirements for the travel agency
Step 1. Find out the legal and technical requirements
In Argentina, the National Directorate of Agencies (dependent on the Ministry of Tourism of the Nation) is the enforcement authority of the National Law of Travel Agents (Law No. 18,829). Its function is to regulate the activity of travel agencies throughout the country. Likewise, it is in charge of granting the respective operating permits to travel agencies and keeping a record of those that operate throughout the Argentine territory.
- Travel agencies must obtain an enabling license in order to provide their services. In addition, the legislation contemplates the involvement of a suitable technical representative in tourism and a tourism graduate as legal representative. Therefore, you probably need to hire the services of these representatives.
- The National Directorate of Agencies keeps a record of travel agencies throughout the country and is the only area where new agencies can carry out their authorization and data update procedures.
- You can consult the official site of the National Directorate of Agencies (www.sectur.gov.ar/agencias) to obtain more information about registrations, records, procedures and current regulations.
Step 2. Find out the tax requirements
In Argentina, the Federal Administration of Public Revenues (AFIP) is the tax authority that establishes the conditions and formalities for obtaining the unique tax identification key (CUIT), which is necessary to make your business enter into functioning. If you want to know the requirements, the necessary documentation and the current regulations, you can consult the AFIP Procedures Guide at the following address:
Part 2 of 5: Choosing the type of travel agency
Step 1. Find out how the business works
Travel agencies make available to their clients a series of products destined for the tourism field, which are provided by providers of different services, such as transport (airlines, cruise ships, trains, buses, taxis, etc.) or those of accommodation (hotels). Likewise, they can also provide guided tours, access to exclusive tourist places (such as monuments, archaeological centers, nature reserves, etc.) in addition to a wide variety of other facilities. # * A travel agency has many ways to add value to the services that end customers acquire. It can function as an intermediary between the latter and the service providers regarding the reservation, organization, planning, preparation and sale of plans, itineraries and even service packages. You can also provide personalized advice.
- You can search online and find out what the different agencies offer, and see that the world of travel has many facets and creative options that can be successful.
- You can investigate what the trends are in tourism (as consumption patterns change) and what is the variety of options that customers are looking for today. You can then link that information to the coverage areas you want your agency to cover and the services you plan to offer.
- You can also contact a variety of provider companies (transportation and accommodation) and find out how they interact with different travel agencies.
- Finally, you can consult this recommended list of links related to tourism, provided by the Argentine Association of Travel and Tourism Operators.
Step 2. Decide what type of travel agency you want to create
The information in the previous point about agencies, suppliers and associations will allow you to think about where you would like to place your agency within the broad spectrum of the travel and tourism industry. To do this, you can find information in your city or region about the courses (distance or face-to-face) aimed at expanding the knowledge of this commercial activity.
- Keep in mind that agencies can be classified into retailers (they are those that have direct contact with the end customer) and wholesalers (they are those that develop tourist packages and sell them to retail agencies). However, there are agencies that can be both retailers and wholesalers simultaneously.
- Agencies can also be classified into broadcasting, receiving or specialized.
- Some agencies especially take advantage of the modality of referring clients and suppliers to other agencies and companies, and thus capitalize on the so-called referral fees.
Part 3 of 5: Make a business plan and implementation
Step 1. Research how to make a business plan
The business plan is a report that includes certain rules so that the business can be made explicit and evaluated (by possible partners, potential investors and even by whoever prepares it). It contains information on the activity that you want to carry out and what is needed to achieve it. In other words, it is a strategic plan.
- The business plan is a useful tool, because during its preparation the entrepreneur (businessman) expands the information that he himself has (for example, risks, opportunities, financial needs, etc.) and thus can rethink his business strategy.
- In detail, the business plan contains a brief report of the company, a mention about who or who will carry out the project, a description of the project concept, a list of objectives and the resources to be used, an implementation plan, projections and, in the case of applying for financial loans, the time and manner of repaying them.
- You can ask a business advisor to help you come up with your plan.
- You can also consult this excellent Guide for SME entrepreneurs to prepare a Business Plan created by the Banco de la Nación Argentina.
Step 2. Execute the implementation plan
Included in the previous step (preparation of the business plan), the implementation plan will consist of a list of specific tasks that you must carry out in order to start the activity of the travel agency. For example, the banking, electronic, communication, management and reservation means.
- It organizes the banking means (bank accounts) to be able to receive the payments of the clients. Consider the payment options that exist (bank transfer, credit card payment, Paypal, etc.).
- Organize electronic media (website, email addresses, social media, etc.) to encourage communication with customers.
- Organize the management means that you will use to process the data.
- On the website of the Argentine Federation of Associations of Travel and Tourism Companies, you can consult the agreements available between that federation and several companies that provide technological infrastructure, with benefits concerning internet services and specialized management systems for travel agencies.
- Investigate the characteristics of the globalizing and flight booking programs used by travel and tourism agencies (the main programs are Saber Holdings, Amadeus, Galileo, Worldspan, TravelSky, Patheo, Abacus, Virtuoso, KIU Systems and Shares). You must hire the system that best suits your agency, within the range of services offered by the companies that provide these systems. Many of them offer exclusive services for online travel agencies.
Part 4 of 5: Create a workspace
Step 1. Check the regulations where you live
To start having clients in your home agency, you must comply with the health, safety and construction regulations imposed by the local municipality. You may not even be able to set up a home office without first having a separate entrance specifically for it.
- Designate a room specifically for the agency you will create. This will give your business a professional appearance.
- Regardless of whether it is necessary or not, having a separate entrance specifically for the office is a great advantage, as this will keep your home separate from the agency while preserving the privacy of your family.
- Lock the door that leads to the agency office. This will prevent your children, guests or family from entering this place.
Step 2. Get the necessary materials to set up the office
You will need a desk where you can be while you talk to clients, as well as a chair and probably a filing cabinet or shelf where you can put the different brochures or tourist plans. This will give your business a more professional appearance, and your clients will have a greater facility to carry out the respective procedures and comfortably view the different brochures that you will give them.
Step 3. Decorate the environment
It is necessary that the office you have at home has some ideal decorations for the type of service you will provide. This will give your business a more professional and sophisticated appearance. However, avoid going overboard with these decorations.
- In a travel agency, it would be a good idea to have photos or paintings of picturesque landscapes of places where you offer tourist services.
- Designate a place on the wall to place the certificates that you have received from the respective authorities. This will reassure clients that you are professional in your work.
- You can also place some plants to give a more comfortable and cozy touch to the office.
Part 5 of 5: Promotion
Step 1. Promote your travel agency
You must take care of doing your own marketing. You have at your disposal a series of measures that you can adopt to promote your business. Among them is the use of the Internet (social networks, websites, etc.), affiliation with other travel agencies, advertisements, among others.
- Today, the use of social networks is increasing, so you can take advantage of them as a means to publicize your business. Spread the information about your travel agency and the services it offers through the main social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In this way, you can expand your client in a more effective way.
- Consider joining local organizations and associations of travel and tourism agencies. You can consult this recommended list of tourism-related links provided by the Argentine Association of Travel and Tourism Operators and where you can find links to various associations and federations.
- Consider purchasing marketing options, such as banner ads. This is an excellent method of reaching customers through advertisements on television, radio, and the Internet. All you have to do is request the services of an advertising company.
- Include electronic media in your marketing strategy.
- Establish strong relationships with suppliers.
- You can consult the legislative database of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights of the Nation if you want to know the details of each of the laws, decrees, administrative decisions, resolutions and provisions that concern travel agencies and the tourism business in Argentina.