How to Start a Specialty Travel Tour Business

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Starting a specialty travel tour business is an adventure in itself. You will focus on specialty travel tour packages that offer travelers a unique experience and target toward a specific market. Focusing on specialty tour travel is one of the surest ways to make a profit in the marketplace, as you will set yourself apart from the competitors.


Contact your state's Department of Licensing, and ask whether or not you need a special license to start a travel business in your area. Most states requires you to obtain a business license.

Enroll for the certification course, to become a Certified Travel Agent, through the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). This training will give potential clients the confidence that you are professional and meet all industry travel industry standards. Keep in mind, an official license to work as a travel agent is not mandatory.

Open two separate bank accounts for your business, one for holding your business finances and the second one for money sent in by clients. Then apply for a company credit card for all business expenses. Consult wiith a tax adviser to make sure you meet all adequate insurance coverage.

Develop a professional website, specifically tailored to your target market. A website will need to be updated on a regular basis with new travel and tour destination articles and promotions. If you do not have website development skills, you might consider hiring a freelance website administrator to update your website.

Create a brochure of your specialty tour packages. Contact suppliers of your specialized market for their brochures, or have your own brochures made.

Advertise your special travel tours in national and special-interest publications and on the Internet.Become a member of a networking group specifically for travel professionals, or sign-up with Linkedin and search for a group that shares your interests in the field. Also join the Specialty Travel Agents Association (STAA). The STAA will assist you in building awareness of your tours to consumers.

Focus on a specific area. When you develop your target market, consider where your experience and interest lies. If you have contacts who travel for business, you might start a specialty tour business geared toward business and corporate travelers. Other possible options are honeymooners, students or retirees.

Apply for registration with the Airline Reporting Corporation (ARC) to obtain an ARC number. This number will allow you to issue all airline and transportation tickets. The initial step is to submit the application along with a bond or Irrevocable Letter of Credit in the amount of $20,000. After a period of two years, the bond could be reduced. Arc will accept an Irrevocable Letter of Credit or Bond issued by any federally insured lending institution. To be an ARC-accredited agency, the manager of the agency must have two years of experience in the travel business.

Contact the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) for a listing of travel schools in your city and state. Enroll in several courses in your area of interest.


  • When negotiating commissions with airlines, hotels and other suppliers, also have a stipulation to review your agreement after a set period of time for a higher commission depending on sales.


  • The licensing and the required permits vary from state to state. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce.



About the Author

Maria Habets has been a freelance writer and editor since 2004. With a passion for business, psychology, cooking and travel, she has written for websites as well as "Trade and Export Magazine." She holds a master's degree in international business, a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Science in psychology from New York University.

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