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!

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The best service at the right price!

Consistent success relies on consistency in the quality of service. It’s not desirous but rather essential for a long haul in business. As mentioned earlier, it is to do with integrity and common sense which applies in personal life and extends to professional life. Just as one would expect another person to keep their word and be sincere in their actions, so would the customer expect a business to give good quality service and be courteous and thoughtful about the customer’s needs. Once this is understood perfectly, it becomes the ethos of business and stands in good stead forever through its future journey.

Quality is important not in one or some of the business practices but in every product, service and interaction with the customer. A shortfall or lacuna in even one could prove detrimental to the image of the business. Just as a school student’s exam score comes down because of bad performance in even one subject, so can a company’s business get affected because of negligence on any front.

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Image Courtesy: Google Images

Remember, past glory never helps in erasing the flaw that shows at any given point in time. Even if a student scores well in 5th, 6th and 7th grade, if she fails in the 8th, her past years’ performance does not help her. Another example is that of a driver. Even if you are a very cautious and skilled driver, one single mistake can cause an accident and cost you heavily. Your previous record cannot negate the damage done.

Very often consumers do not mind spending a little more just because they are getting superior service. Nowadays people don’t just look at the product they buy but also the demeanor of the salesman, the welcome they get at the door, how quickly their billing gets done, how the item is packed and many other things. It is the overall experience that lingers long in the mind of the customer.

In today’s cut throat competition, the customer has several options to choose from which is why businesses vie to give them the best service. Companies who procure products from suppliers base their decisions on timely delivery, quality of the product, after sales maintenance, turnaround time if changes are asked for and many other factors.

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Image Courtesy: Google Images

Customers don’t just look at the product they buy at the mall but even the delay in billing as they stand in a long queue can make them stop patronizing the mall and go to another shop instead!

Quality in service builds with time as customers experience the service. A new business must therefore enter the market with ‘lower than competitor’s’ prices. This will first attract customers. Later as they also experience the interaction, courtesy and quality of service, the brand gets a well-deserved lift. Reasonable prices and the best service therefore become a sure shot gateway to successful business.

Author: S.R. Joshi

The author is the Director at deAsra Foundation. deAsra Foundation is a Section 25 company, a not for profit association formed to contribute to social welfare by enabling entrepreneurship, which will create employment opportunities.

This article was originally written in the Marathi Magazine- Yashaswi Udyojak (January 2016). This post is the translated abridged version of the same article

 

The Checklist

We have been talking about planning as a prerequisite for sustained efficiency and quality. The systematic planning makes us more agile and we can deliver quality work in minimum time frame.  Here is an example of how failure to plan has lead to a  big chaos. You may have read a few days ago that Maharashtra Chief Minister’s flight could not take off from the airport because one of the officials accompanying him on the international tour had forgotten to take along  his Visa papers! The Chief Minister along with the rest of the passengers had to wait till it was  retrieved from his home.

The common sense answer to avoid these lapses is – the checklist. Mere planning is not useful unless it is executed flawlessly.  The checklist serves as an effective tool – Plan. Do. Check whether the things are happening as per the plan. If not, Act i.e. make the necessary correction. This is called the PDCA Cycle. This is the foundation of ISO 9000.

We often tell school children that they must keep ten minutes at the end of the exam to go through the answer sheet and to make sure they have   attempted all the questions. Another very common example in our daily lives is  we check the taste of a recipe before serving it to people to ensure that it is upto the expectation.  What we are doing here is simply checking if all the ingredients have been added, and in the right proportion to give the right taste. Once we are sure of it, we are ready to enjoy all the compliments that come our way as guests relish the dish!

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If we use this ‘checklist’ in so many activities in our daily lives, why not in our professional lives.  A company manufacturing auto spare parts had to dispatch parts in lots of 8, 24 and 72. The client would randomly check the number of parts in the boxes and if any one box had a,shortage, it was presumed that all  boxes contained the same quantity and he used to deduct the  payment on the entire consignment causing substantial loss to the supplier   The company, then, started a system wherein they sent parts in multiples of the lot number to the packing department. So for the lot of 8, they sent 800 parts for packing, no more, no less. This way, as the parts got packed in boxes, in case one or two remained, it meant that some box had been filled with a wrong number of parts and it  used to be checked immediately.  The loss to the company was  averted as with systematic packing of job  there was no chance of delivering the wrong quantity. The point is, to accomplish excellence in quality and to  maintain the consistency  the job/product needs to be checked at various stages. Dr. Atul Gawande’s book ‘ The Checklist Manifesto’ underlines the importance of regular checks on processes to prevent damage or loss. He has related his observations of the American hospitals where lapses in following protocol in examinations led to spread of infections. The book lucidly explains the cause and effect of the problem and how it was overcome by  observing a strict protocol and following it.

We often avoid  following PDCA Cycle referred above.  You will be amazed  to know  how much difference this little checklist can make while presenting the final, flawless product. It not only gives you the opportunity to rectify errors but also enhance the final effect of the product, service or process and to enhance Customer Satisfaction.

Author: S.R. Joshi

The author is a director at deAsra Foundation. deAsra Foundation is a Section 25 company, a not for profit association formed to contribute to social welfare by enabling entrepreneurship, which will create employment opportunities.