In a time when conventional working setups can be stifling, but self-employment feels worryingly insecure, there’s much to be said for the strong middle ground of running a franchise. You get to take control of your operation while benefiting from the backing of an established brand.
And the travel industry, in particular, is a great fit for franchising. In 2016 alone, travel agencies and operators generated over £33 million for the UK economy, and online travel bookings alone are expected to hit £18 million per year in 2022.
Here’s how you can seize this opportunity to start a travel agency franchise of your own.
1. Identify your goals
You’ll get the most out of your franchising experience if you go into it with a clear idea of what you’re looking to get out of it. Are you looking to work as hard as possible to maximise your profits? Would you prefer to work as little as possible, even if that means having a more modest income?
While you will be operating under the banner of a larger enterprise, your franchise will be your own, and you’ll have sole responsibility for choosing its direction, its identity, and what kind of reputation it gathers outside its parent brand. Figure out before you begin what you want your franchise to be.
2. Research franchise owners
Having decided what you want to achieve through your franchise, you’ll then need to decide which brand you want to partner with. This choice will ultimately have a massive impact on where you end up, so take the time to do a lot of research, ask plenty of questions, and get into detail about what makes agencies different.
To begin with, you should look to answer the following questions for each candidate:
- How long has the agency been around?
- What kind of success have other franchisees had?
- How do other franchisees speak of the agency?
- What level of investment is required?
- What areas do they operate in and/or focus on?
- What kind of support options will you have?
- Where are they based?
Ideally, you’re looking for a franchise owner with a history of success and a proven track record of professionalism in fully supporting its franchisees. For instance, Explorer Travel (the very first UK-based travel franchise) has a 13-year history to draw from, so you can know exactly what kind of operation you’re dealing with. If a franchise owner is based near you, that’s a bonus, but internet communication means it certainly isn’t a great priority.
3. Agree on an arrangement
Once you’ve decided which franchise owner you want to work with, you’ll want to discuss your situation with them at length. This is important for two reasons. Firstly, you’ll want to find out as much as possible about their options, including pricing and support tiers. And secondly, you’ll need to get to know them as people. Since any success you have will benefit both parties, you’re really on the same side, and being able to speak comfortably with them will be massively helpful (particularly when you’re just getting started).
When you get all the details sorted out, and you’re ready to agree to terms, take one last opportunity to think it all through. Are you totally ready to make the most of the opportunity? If so, take the next step.
4. Use the support available to you
The best thing you can do to help your travel franchise succeed is fully utilise the support on offer from your franchise owner. They want you to do well, after all, and they offer support systems for a reason, so take advantage of their expertise. Their advice and guidance can mean the difference between spending your first years in operation overcoming unnecessary setbacks and making real progress towards your goals within a matter of months.
Do you think a travel franchise might be right for you? Start investigating today, and find out if running your own travel business might be your professional future.