Travel Agency – Going places

In recent years, travelling for work and for pleasure has become an integral part of our lifestyle. Unlike till a couple of decades ago, when travel would be mainly for religious purposes, today, people travel within and outside the country for business and to simply take  a break from routine.

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Image Courtesy- Google Images

A lot of nitty-gritty is involved in travelling including booking tickets for travel, arranging for stay, food and for local transport. There is a sizeable expense involved as well as uncertainty. If travel is not planned well, it could result in waste of money and inconvenience. The point is, there needs to be somebody with thorough knowledge and access to information to help the traveler in planning the travel.  This is where the business of travel agency emerges as a very useful resource.

You could think of starting a small set up with minimum capital, staff and space. Look for a space of about 200 sq. ft in an area convenient for customers. The approximate deposit may be Rs. 50000/- and a monthly rent of Rs. 10000/-.  A computer, printer and a laptop may be estimated at Rs. 80000/- and furniture at Rs. 30000/-. You will need to spend about Rs. 2000/- on registrations and licenses, plus Rs. 10000/- to print marketing material like brochures and leaflets. Taking into account salary to one employee, repairs and maintenance, phone and electricity, depreciation, EMI etc, broadly you can make a net income of about Rs. 35000/- per month.

It is necessary to be a member of the Enterprising Travel Agents Association. You may also register as an approved travel agent with the India Government through the Ministry of Tourism. Refer to this link to do so – http://blog.indiafidings.com/wpcontent/uploads/2014/04/guidelines. It is also beneficial to be a member of the International Air Travel Association. Look up http://blog.indiafidings.com/wpcontent/uploads/2014/04/guidelines for the same.

Travel agency is a highly customer centric service. Customer satisfaction is critical. You need to be very thorough while planning the itinerary for your client as the smallest mistake can cause very big inconvenience. For instance, you need to know the check in and check out time of hotels so that you client does not end up paying more unnecessarily. Consider the lay over time between two flights and make sure it is enough to go from one terminal to the other to change planes. Several such details and information must be at your finger tip to be able to give excellent service.

Competition is tough in this sector. Try offering your own specialized services like package

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Image Courtesy – Google Images

tours and customized tours. Design special packages for senior citizens, newly married couples etc. Offer group discounts and early bird discounts. You will have to invest some amount for advertising and publicity. Print brochures and leaflets and also use social media.

Always keep in touch with your old clients since they not only patronize you regularly but if they are happy with your service they become your human advertisement.

All in all travel agency business is highly dynamic, exciting and has limitless scope to grow. With DeAsra’s support you can go places with this enterprise. You can get in touch with deAsra team and your Udyogmitra on 020-65365300/11 or access our free of cost business guide on the website. Board the flight to prosperity!

Franchise – Freeway to fortune

A successful business finds growth prospects in expanding the capacity so as to cater to a larger number of consumers. So a restaurant with ten tables may add ten more tables and increase the staff. An office may move from a smaller place to a bigger one where it can accommodate more staff, computers and serve more customers. What next? A couple of branches in other cities? Probably an office overseas? In line with this thinking, comes the next business model – that of franchise. Franchise means the authorization given by a business organization to another individual or organization to carry on a specific business activity. Franchise is necessarily geographical expansion with multi-location representation of a brand. These are not offices/ outlets owned by the principal organization, but a network of independent businessmen/ owners representing an established brand at multiple locations. In short, a hierarchical partnership of sorts!

blog-2-%e0%a4%ab%e0%a5%8d%e0%a4%b0%e0%a5%85%e0%a4%82%e0%a4%9a%e0%a4%be%e0%a4%88%e0%a4%b8%e0%a4%a8%e0%a5%87-%e0%a4%b6%e0%a4%bf%e0%a4%95%e0%a4%a3%e0%a5%8d%e0%a4%af%e0%a4%be%e0%a4%b8%e0%a4%be%e0%a4%b0Franchise or business chains have become an increasingly popular model of business especially in the service industry like restaurants, couriers, retail shops, service centres, laundries, pathology labs etc.

The foundation of franchise business is that the original brand enjoys a high degree of popularity, visibility and demand. The franchisee representatives must ensure that they deliver quality in consonance with the brand promise of the original brand. At the same time, the franchisee gets a ready brand equity as his business rides on the principal brand’s image and it saves him the effort and investment to start brand building from scratch.

Normally a franchisee is expected to make a certain minimum investment. Often the principal business lays down certain conditions to be fulfilled by the prospective franchisee, like – a certain capital investment, commercial space, basic infrastructure etc. He may specify the minimum area, frontage etc. The franchisee outlet must bear the same appearance, work style and quality of service so as to maintain brand perception.

Naturally when you visit a certain fast food franchisee outlet of an established brand in any city, you would find the same colour scheme, décor, furniture, staff uniforms and menus. The marketing communication and Point of Sale material is normally designed centrally and distributed to all franchisee outlets.

Franchise conceptOften part of the production process may be carried out at franchisee level, especially in cafes and restaurants. In such cases the exact preparations and processes, even storage method etc must be laid down clearly to franchisee staff. The principal must keep a keen follow up to ensure that the quality standards and brand style is maintained.

Sometimes franchisee outlets fail in delivering the promise of the brand. This harms the image of the original brand which has been cultivated painfully over long years.

Most franchises therefore involve a centrally controlled customer relation management system which draws customer feedback from all locations. This helps in maintaining critical parameters.

While several franchises have been greatly successful not only across nations but even abroad, some have failed. Reasons have been varied, from excessively heavy franchisee network to lack of central management. It is however worthwhile to explore the possibilities of this modern day business model to get on the fast track of growth.The franchising business model is widely and increasingly used by entrepreneurs seeking growth through geographic expansion.

Notices and Signages – More than meets the eye

A beautiful name board with logo on the façade of a store, a restaurant or even an office is the first to catch an eye and make an impression. The décor, the smiling staff comes next. They all go on to imprint a certain image about the business in one’s mind. But another rather undermined communication that does its bit not just in imparting information but in building the image of a quality conscious and customer-centric business is – Notices and Signages.

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Image Courtesy- Google Images

These are simple boards with directions, instructions and useful information. More often than not, we don’t take much note of these unassuming boards. However, if one were to give it a second thought one would realize that their presence actually makes a lot of things easier and convenient.

 

Think about the time when we want to find an address in the city. We end up asking the paanwala, rickshawwala, sometimes even the traffic police. Now albeit with the use of internet applications it is much easier to find places, our streets and chowks do not have sufficient direction boards to guide a tourist. But in developed countries every road, highway, airports and public places have prominently placed direction boards with clear symbols and words that makes it delightfully easy for a stranger to find the way!

Similarly, instructions in the business place makes life easy for a consumer/ visitor.

Such communication also takes the form of product manuals, Specials’ Board in restaurants or even the menu card! While designing any of these communications, one must keep in mind that it must be simple, polite and clear to understand by a lay person. A very common but effective example is that of “No Smoking”. We often find such notice – “Thank You For Not Smoking”, which makes it sound much more polite and compelling at the same time. Humour is often an effective way to convey short instructions as humour prevents it from sounding stern.

blog-1-pic-decThe handbook or Manual that comes with products, especially electronic or gadgets, is an important communication that helps the customer use and maintain the product effectively. Unfortunately, we usually ignore it and end up without using majority of the features.

Instructional and informational communication answers questions before they even arise in the customer’s mind and thus creates a positive impression in their mind.

It helps the consumer to use the product to its fullest and also take care of it. It also brings in complete transparency which goes on to reflect the integrity of business. All in all, notices, signages, manuals, menu cards and such communication serves a much wider purpose than just passing on information. It speaks a lot about your business and a wise, creative use of it augurs well for its sustained growth.