By Emily Peters and Guest Author from Rollinglobe
Earlier this year, we performed a little exercise to show you could start your own travel business for under $600. That article took a look at basics like supplies, hosting fees and the like. Today we’re breaking down the ugly business of licensing, insurance and accreditation. Read on.
Pick the right hosting level for you.
We have to start at square one: Partnering with a host agency is the ultimate financial shortcut to start your travel agency. When interviewing your host options, consider all points of entry. For example, MTravel’s beginner package starts at $299 for the year with a 50% commission split. Our executive agent level requires $599 per year, but deposits 90% commission into your account.
Choose your hosting level based on where you’re at, not where you plan to be. That way you can take advantage of the additional support and hand-holding available to those coming in at lower experience levels. You’ll be able to work up from there
Select the business structure for your agency.
As a hosted travel agency, licensing will be a bit simpler than having to go through incorporating and the like. You’ll likely operate under your host’s Seller of Travel license, but there are other state, federal and even city regulations you need to consider.
If you’re flying solo as a travel agent, you can start off as sole proprietor and pay nothing more than what it takes to operate a business out of your home (costs vary for local licenses). Want to keep your personal banking separate from your business? You can form an LLC with LegalZoom or BizFilings.
Costs will vary from state to state, but you can safely assume it will cost you $250 to form your LLC and register with your local and federal authorities. In Delaware, you’ll need to fork out $25 for a occupational license. If you form an LLC, live in a state or sell to travelers in a state that requires you to be a registered Seller of Travel, you’ll need to apply for your own Seller of Travel license. Confused? Check out this awesome breakdown by Host Agency Reviews.
COSTS: LLC – $250; Seller of Travel license – varies, but approximately $300 + state/local-based fees
We have good news: some hosts, like MTravel, include Errors & Omissions insurance in their packages! You could also opt to carry general liability insurance, which can range into the thousands, but E&O ought to do the trick. If you’re starting your travel business without any other form of covered employment, health insurance will be your main insurance expense.
COST: Varies according to health plan
Check Your Accreditation & Affiliation Options
Once your travel agency is hosted, insured and licensed, you can explore getting your own IATAN or CLIA card through your host agency. You won’t need your own ARC or IATA number (which entitles you to commission when you sell travel)—your host will take care of that. Once you’ve gotten a few solid commission checks under your belt, explore qualifying for a CLIA/IATAN card which can open up doors for FAM trips, educational opportunities and the occasional discount.
Are you ready to start your independent travel business with MTravel? We are here to help! Contact us here or call us at 800-870-5799. Be sure to check out our website at www.MTravel.com and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.