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In Finding Travel / Business Partners, Don't Come Cheap

Esplanade, Singapore
To find travel / business partners whom I can collaborate with was the biggest challenge when I started years ago. I went through all the crap of "belittling" myself like " I am nobody. Who would be interested to do business with me?" and "What If I am not able to meet their expectations yadda, yaddah!" 

The worst part is I have no one to ask where to find one. I have no background, credentials and degrees to back me up in any way.  My very first mentor, she was the one who conducted the first whole day paid seminar I took to set up an online travel shop, gave up just when I started reaping sales.  She grew tired entertaining my inquiries  and maybe because I have not even closed a single sale for her. I was literally wasting her time.  When she no longer replied to my emails, texts and calls It was almost the end for my dream to start an online shop.

Business is all about connections and collaboration. I can't operate one without the assistance of anyone else. So I take chances. I know I have a very promising blog which will serve as the an online shop. My passion to become an entrepreneur is burning like hell. Google has started ranking my posts in the first page for the tours I want to sell. I was getting serious inquiries of people READY TO PAY. I have to do something!  So one day I am in front of my laptop screen staring at the Google homepage for a long time.  I did not know what to type at first, all I know is I need to find people whom I can work with remotely.  After hours of browsing in between coffee breaks, I finally able to find my first prospect. I quickly checked the website's contact page then saved the email address and contact number of the owner.  

I first sent an impromptu email requesting for a tie - up proposal. My hands are shaking when I typed the message since I don't know how to start it.  This is what I said, "My name is Maria Rona Beltran, Founder of Travel Maria - an online travel shop... Are you open about accepting clients in exchange of commission?" Then I hit the Send button and took a deep breathe. I checked my Sent Folder to make sure that it was successfully sent.  

"What if it got sent to the Spam / Bulk folder instead?" or  "What if they find it not worth replying for?" I worried.  I figured out if I do a follow up email, that person will think I am serious about doing business with. So I called the contact number I saved. Half of me is very nervous hoping no one would pick up the call. Half of me saying If I don't do this, nothing will happen. Then a voice said "Hello". I could not remember what was the exact words I said. All I ever care was at the end of our  five - minute conversation, he was willing to be a travel / business partner. I could not believe it! 

It's been two years.  I am proud to say that I have helped his travel company double if not triple his sales. I have records to vouch for I have said. He has given me free trips in return. I just only met him in person last October of 2013, when he gave my first free trip to Ilocos for two. 

Speaking of finding travel partners, last week Friday noontime someone called me who introduced himself as a fellow startup enthusiast and an entrepreneur. He was inviting me out for coffee late afternoon that day to discuss possibilities of doing business together. I was shocked that he wanted to meet me right away when I don't know anything about him. He was a stranger to me completely! I declined and said I need to do some online background check of him (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blog / website) and his business which he replied he understood. I added probably Monday we can meet in a coffee shop.  

Ever since I took the path of entrepreneurship, I have been meeting a lot of strangers all in the name of good faith for whatever possibility that can happen after for the benefit of both of us. I have no qualms about meeting a person I hardly don't know but this one is sending me negative vibes.

Sunday evening, he texted me asking if our coffee meetup for Monday will happen.  I feel like he is rushing me on something that I don't understand.  I began having doubts whether his business intention is good or bad. I have been to a number of meetups, it is usual for me that the other person would follow up but it is in the right timing. I decided not to reply because of some instinct that says to ignore the message.  When he noticed that I was not replying, he used another number to call me. That pissed me off completely but I managed to talk to him politely. He even mentioned offering an office space for me! 

After the conversation, he sent a follow up text asking if we can chat over Facebook. He actually sent a friend request, but I did not accepted it.  This was the signal I was waiting for that I need to stop everything from here so I texted him back saying "I am sorry but I am not looking for travel partners at this time as I have a lot already". He insisted he is  not interested to be a travel partner but a different one. I never replied to him ever.  My two cents over this, if you want seek business partnership whatever that is please don't come cheap. Find that right time and right place to talk it over.  Remember as much as you'd like that partnership to happen it is two - fold. That other person should feel that it is a mutual benefit so there must be some efforts to both of you even from the very start. Again, don't come cheap.

Of course, I did reached to a bunch of more travel companies who never replied back in return.  I now have a number of travel partners located around the country. I have not met all of them yet but we have been doing serious business remote transactions every single day of the week.  I am still and will be finding the right people whom I can do business with and especially someone who can manage this online shop with me, in sort a co - founder in the future.

Finding a travel partner really needs chemistry.  You need to find that person who is willing to give you a chance and for you to prove your worth at the least of anyone's expense. All should be done professionally.


  1. What a nice story. Hope you can be my mentor as I too am starting a travel blog for my Mom.

  2. thank you :) yeah if both of our time permits

  3. Your blog is very helpful. I was thinking of putting up a travel agency for my retirement and to remain useful and productive as an individual. Hope you can be my coach/advisor.
    All the best!

    Ms. Edna

  4. Appreciate it Ms Edna :) Just keep on checking this blog. I will be posting a lot of helpful tips about putting up one.

  5. Ive been reading ur blog and i've learned a lot. I hope you can share with us more of your experience in putting up travel business. Im inspired by your stories. Keep it up!

  6. Thanks will do soon :) Just fixing my time.

  7. Hi Ms. Rona. Just read your articles now as I gain interest in putting up a travel agency and/or online travel bureau. You have shared a lot of helpful tips that actually motivates me all the more.
    I need to attend my first seminar on how to put up a travel agency and likewise blogging. May I ask If you can recommend any?


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  9. Hi Ms. Rona. I am on the process of opening my office based travel agency with only a few ideas on how to run it. I wish I could start operations because I know I love to travel but the fact that there's still no reply or confirmation of any partnerships... I know, I started wrong but I'm cramming and biting my nails. Help! This is my email add: