Sunday, 9 June 2013

How to Start a Home or Office-based Travel Agency

It was in February of 2012 when I took my very first whole-day seminar and paid a thousand peso on how to set up a travel agency. That time everything was new to me so I never really digested the information at all but it was not a waste because it challenged me to keep learning along the way. I had no one to turn to even up to now when it comes to help and advices so I learn from my mistakes and experiences alone. It is never easy I tell you.   

Before I finally closed my first ever major sale of a tour package, I remembered a few dozen that I lost previously because I literally don’t know the ropes of this business. I work with 2 freelance tour guides, 1 tour operator and I deal with 6 accredited travel agencies so far: 5 of them I have active engagement until now and 3 seasonal. I am still looking and hoping to collaborate to a lot more also.  Out of these 8 travel agencies, only 2 of them I have met in person. I  talk to them over the phone, send emails, exchange text messages and close thousand bucks thru online transactions. 


However a partner legitimate travel agency that has been in the business for 15+ years is conducting a seminar about putting up a travel agency.

Send me email at so I can connect you to her.


When a friend told me there is another one coming for a much lesser price I said yeah I will grab the opportunity now that I am thinking to put up a travel agency and / or a startup about an online travel shop. The deal was from a group-buying site so it was a quarter of the original price and we bought it right away. With that, I want to share  you what I learned in setting up a travel agency in the Philippines:

A travel agency is a business that sells tour packages (local and international) or promote other travela agencies tour packages  in exchange of payment of commission.

A tour operator is an entity that sells tour package only available within its place.

Thomas Cook from England is the one who founded the first ever travel agency in 19th century when he used to arrange trips via rail excursions for persons who are joining a rally then when summer came he decided to conduct outings for leisure purposes.

- Airline arrangements
- Land arrangements (hotel and tour packages)
- Package tours (airline and land arrangements)
- Car rentals
- Cruises / ferry
- Passport / visa assistance
- Eload, remittance and bill payments

What is an IATA accredited travel agency vs non – IATA one?

International Air Transport Association (IATA) -  Is an international industry trade group of airlines. Its mission is to represent, lead, and serve the airline industry. If a travel agency wants to be a member of IATA, there is a minimum bond of P3.5 million. They can issue tickets and tickets of bookings to non IATA travel agencies.

Non IATA travel agency – Do not need to put up bond but definitely needs all the licenses. It can make airline bookings but cannot issue ticket and needs to be in partner with an IATA travel agency to get all their bookings 

What makes setting up a travel agency a good business?
It does not require a big investment to put up a travel agency and it can be maintained at low operational costs. You may start by doing this yourself part time at home then you may setup an office and hire more once becomes fully established already.

What are the legal qualifications? 

Conforming to the legal standards is always a win-win situation to the business owner. First, secure a DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) permit to register the name of your travel agency. The rest of the documents to follow are barangay permit, mayor’s permit etc. You may check the business registration process in Manila i wrote previously here.

How can you thrive as a small business in the industry?

By giving competitive prices ONLY if you have the right suppliers meaning you should have the proper knowledge of the operational procedures and the right resources before starting.

How do you earn?

By mark ups and commissions in each of every closed sale of tour packages.


Your travel agency is certainly not the only one that exists so always make your rates affordable without sacrificing the quality of service you are going to offer. Mismanagement is one of the worst reasons why some travel agency closes down so it is very important to know how to run this kind of business.  Always be mindful of the new procedures or new technologies like the current trends so that your business is never left behind. Patience of answering client’s inquiries, expect the worse here it eats a lot of time and measures your sanity sometimes to 

What did I realized
Setting up a travel agency is not all about getting the proper permits then you can start selling tour packages pronto but it is all about CONNECTIONS who are your contacts to arrange tours and accommodation. This composes van drivers, hotel staff etc.

NO travel agency seminar or travel agency operator will give you his or contacts / suppliers for free.  The owner must be tonto if you are given this kind of information! Like the travel agencies I have tied up with, nobody directed me to approach them. It’s my initiative that I risked working with them in good faith that everything would be good. 

Establishing a work relationship is the hardest part. I have to get their trust for them to find time to reply to my emails and text messages, even answer my calls. I have to close deals for them in order to reciprocate the time they have given to me. 


Hi there :) My name is Maria Rona Beltran, the Founder of this travel blog and shop - Travel Maria you are reading right now. I want to stay connected to you to a lot of other ways so I am sharing you other social media accounts.  See y'all online soon:)

Like my  blog's Facebook Fan Page here

Subscribe to me on Facebook here
Follow me on Twitter hereInstagram here or Foursquare here


  1. Hi. thank you so much for the very informative blog about how to put up travel agency. That's one of my ulitimate dreams to put up my own travel agency. :) More power to you. God bless.

  2. May i ask a list of your suppliers?


      Check this website Tour operators Sales Representative in the Philippines. A one stop shop suppliers. Thanks.

  3. Hi. I put up a travel agency last year and im in a process of getting tour operators until now. when i renew my business permit they told me that next year (2015) they wont allow me to renew my permit if i still dont have a certificate of IATA membership Even i told them that Im non- IATA travel agency. what other membership can you advise me aside IATA, membership that will certify my agency and not that expensive since my agency is just starting? THANK YOU

    1. You can request to have a partnership with an IATA approved agency or apply meembership in IATA although im not sure if your company investment can reached their requirement, you can try to

      Hope this may help you.

  4. How nice of you to share your knowledge. Success to your business!!!

    I am planning to attend a seminar soon. Any recommendations where ASAP? TRC has no schedule for July yet. Thanks :-)

  5. Hi Maria. What if it's a home-based online travel and tours? Do I need to register in BIR?
    I'm planning to put up an online travel and tours.

    Please email me

    thank you

  6. Hi Maria, we are planning to attend a seminar. can you recommend some good ones for starters? thanks

  7. Hi, we are planning to start an online travel agency. Can u help us pls. Email Thanks

  8. hi Maria,thanks for sharing some of your experiences! I would love to hear more of this from you.Since, I want to start my own travel agency bus. pls email me

  9. Hi Maria. What if it's a home-based online travel and tours? Do I need to register in BIR?
    I'm planning to put up an online travel and tours.

    Please email me

    thank you

  10. Hi Maria! I would like to tie up my car in a travel agency or a hotel perhaps..can you give me some advice on what to do? I have a sedan and an SUV. Many thanks in advance.

    my email address is

  11. hi! We are planning to put up a travel and tour agency and I want to consult and have a piece of advice from you. Email me at THANK YOU SO MUCH AND GOD BLESS!:)

  12. hi Maria, Carla here, pinay ofw from singapore. I need your help too i am interested to put up my online travel agency when i go back home, please lets talk more! email me

  13. Hello Ms. MARIA. I'm Angelo. Me and my wife are planning to start a travel and tour soon. Please advise me what to do in this kind of business. Thanks and God Bless. Here my email.

  14. Hi Ms Maria. I want to put up a homebased travel agency can u tell me what are the required documents for this?\\

  15. Hello Maria
    Interested in putting up an online travel and tours pls email me:

  16. Hi maria. I can sense your sincerity and dedication. I just don't know if you're familiar with Isla Higantes here in the northern part of IloIlo. it's beginning to capture the tourism industry right now because of its natural and amazing beauty. it's projected to be a hub for travel business in the coming years.

    Can I ask for some tips on the promotion aspects and how to attract more tie-ups? I'm at the moment a freelance tour guide who's planning to later put up an agency. btw, here's my contact no 09989859861 or if you won't mind I can make a call. Thanks...more power...this is cris.

  17. We are havng a feasibility study and thinking that we will put up a travel agency. Do you think that is a good idea? with PIATA registry of course

  18. Hi Maria! Your blog is informative. I would like to ask your suggestion because I am planning to attend a seminar on How to put up a travel agency. There are few of them online, which one do you think is legit, trusted and affordable. Are they really helpful? Your reply is much appreciated. Thank you

  19. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  20. Hi we have a hiace commuter 2016 and i want to tie it up in a travel agency or hotel can u please help us thanks in advance. Heres my cp number 09978066000 or 09185352557 thanks again

  21. Hi we have a hiace commuter 2016 and i want to tie it up in a travel agency or hotel can u please help us thanks in advance. Heres my cp number 09978066000 or 09185352557 thanks again

  22. Hi maria I have One stop shop ticketing outlet at home but its not really working good because my tickets are expensive than the other I need your help 09289834109

  23. Hi Maria.. I'm really interested in putting up home-base travel agency. How do I start? Please give some advise. Please email me at . Thank you and God Bless.

  24. Hi Rona! Thank you for these useful tips. As an employee working in a travel agency in the Philippines, I found your tips very informative as it comes from first hand experiences. Thank you!

  25. hi Maria .. thank you for the informative tips. I am planning to put up an online home-based travel agency. Any advice please .. email me


  26. Good day Maria!

    I just read your article right now. I find it very informative and helpful to me since I'm interested also in putting up a home-based travel agency.

    If you have time, can you email me , I would like to learn more about this field and give me some advise or any upcoming seminar trainings for those who want to start their own travel agency.

    Appreciate for your time and have a great day!

    Many thanks.

    Jody Bangayan

  27. Hi! I have a travel business starter package. Please email me tips on how to gain sales and attract people to book a flight on me. Thank you!

  28. Hello Maria, I find your article very helpful and stirred up my interest in this line of business. Would you be kind to share more details on how to start home based travel agency? You can reach me on this email

    Many thanks!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...