How to start a travel agency in South Africa

How to start a travel agency in South Africa

This is a guide on how to start a travel agency in South Africa.

Travel agents are responsive for helping people select and organise their ideal holiday on a limited budget. They help people, choose, plan and arrange their holiday. They usually build connections with travel suppliers globally; this allows them to negotiate the best deals for their clients.

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These are some of the services provided by travel agencies.

1. Flight reservations

Most travel agents have deals with airlines which allows them cost effective flight reservations. Clients also have the option to choose the flight of their choice.

2. Accommodation

Agents are responsible for booking hotel rooms and handling all the accommodation needs of the client.

3. Car hire

Travel agents have to organise local transportation for their clients. They usually have deals with car rental companies that make it possible for them to get discounts, which they then pass to clients.

4. Delivery service

Trip Travel delivers airline tickets and itinerary travel documents, free of charge, to its customers, should they so wish.

5. Travel insurance

Travel insurance will cover all the losses and costs that may be incurred during your travel trip. Most travel insurance plans cover medical emergencies, trip cancellation, trip interruption, delays, medical evacuation, and lost, damaged, or stolen luggage.  

6. Accounting services

Trip Travel; a travel agency based in Namibia issues an invoice to the customer on receipt of a customer’s instruction and post the following day. Car hire, tours, hotel, etc., are billed on receipt of the supplier’s invoice.

Here are the target customers for travel agencies, the needs of each of these travel groups will differ.

1. Business travellers

Business travellers account for more than 12% of airlines’ passengers. Most business travellers are willing to pay extra money in order to get the best experience.

2. Families

A lot of families like to take family vacations each and every year. Around 40% of families plan to take family vacations at any given time.

3. Newly weds

People that are newly married usually travel to exotic destinations for their honeymoons.

4. Students

Students go on trips a lot of the time and don’t have a problem with making payments. They are usually prepared to pay extra for an improved experience.

Here are some of the requirements for starting a travel agency.

1. Training

It’s best to get training from the International Air Travel Association (IATA). IATA will give you all the foundation you need to become a travel agent, especially if you don’t have experience. You will also need to register with IATA if you plan to sell flight tickets.

Completing this course will gain you a lot of credibility with your clients. The best part is that you only need to have grade 12 (Standard 10) to register for this course. You can also take the course through a virtual classroom.

2. Operating premises

You need to have operating premises for your travel agency business. It’s very hard to operate a professional travel agency without professional operating premises. This because you might need to meet some clients and doing so at your house is just not ideal.

3. Licenses and permits

You will need to register your business as a legal entity. This costs R175 from the CIPC. You can get a free business account if you register your business through FNB.

Tips for success

The travel business is mostly seasonal, you are going to get a lot of clients on one season and less of them on another. It’s important to lure clients with discounts during the quiet seasons.

Team up with all stakeholders to get the best deals, link up with insurance companies, hotels, car rental companies etc. This will allow you to offer cheaper packages to your clients and be able to compete.

This business has a lot of return customers, this means that a lot of people prefer to use the services of one travel agent. You can make sure that clients remain loyal to you by providing them with the best experience. The experience that you provide should be high quality.


This was a guide on how to start a travel agency in South Africa. Do you have any thoughts or questions? Comment below.

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