How to Start a Commission Based Online Travel Agency?

Travel Agent

Travel agents work on commission, meaning they get paid a percentage of their sales. This commission varies depending on whether you work for a larger company or you are an independent travel agent. In order to have better control over your commission and your earnings, it is best to become an independent travel agent. How can you become an independent travel agent? By becoming a travel agent online and starting your own commission based online travel agency.

One way to start a travel business is to become a certified travel agent. There are different courses online that will help you reach this goal. These certifications usually focus on business ethics, customer-focused selling, marketing and promoting your business, understanding customer needs, and travel insurance. By mastering and understanding these skills, you may be able to navigate the online travel agency adventure more calmly. However, this process can also be time consuming and expensive. If you choose to work with a digital platform to set up your business, they provide an agency certification that will allow you to be in business right away.

In order to  launch a successful business, you need to understand your brand. This means choosing a name that will represent you and what you do, a logo, and the colors of your brand.

However, establishing your brand means you know the kind of clientele you want to work with. To become the best travel agent, you must have a niche and a target audience. This means you can decide who you want to work with. You can create offers for luxury travel, for companies and their employees, or for families, among others. By  choosing the kind of trips you like to sell and any aggregations such as accommodation or transportation, you will be able to increase your commission.

After you have narrowed it down to the kind of customers you want to sell to, you need to step up a business plan that will help grow your online travel agency. Your business plan should include vendors, meaning airlines, hotels, car rentals, and activities you can network with in order to create the best packages for your clients. Nowadays, there are softwares online that will allow you to work directly with their inventory without having to contact vendors directly and avoiding the hustle of negotiating prices.

Truthfully, the most important step to start a commission based online travel agency is setting up a user-friendly and reliable website. This may sound like the most challenging step but there are digital platforms that will allow you to launch your own travel boosting site instantly. By using such a platform, you can focus on growing your business without having to worry about technology.

Utilizing a digital portal will allow you to lower the challenges faced by new travel agents. One of the major benefits these platforms have for commission based travel agents is that you will be able to increase your earnings by setting your own commissions. Some of these platforms will let you set your own markups so you can decide how much to earn.

While the help of these digital platforms will help put your mind at ease, you will inevitably still worry about commission. That is normal considering online travel agents can make anywhere from 4% to 20% depending how they work. So another important task you must keep in mind when you start a commission based online travel agency is figuring out different tactics that will help increase that commission.

Here are a few ideas you can implement:

  • Choose your vendors or software wisely: There are different ways to access travel inventory so that you can sell it to your clients.  You can develop commercial relationships with hotels, airlines or consolidators directly.  However, they may require deposits and ask you to commit to minimum volume guarantees. And unless you work with many different suppliers at the same time, you may not always get the best prices.  Alternatively, you can choose to work with a platform that provides you with a full suite of inventory to facilitate booking flights, hotels, car rentals, and tours.
  • Narrow down your options: You can become an expert on a certain region or type of trip.  This means your knowledge and expertise will become more valuable and more clients will turn to you for that specific travel need.
  • Offer luxury products: By giving your clients the option to purchase high-end products, you may have the option to earn higher commissions as the bookings dollars will be larger.
  • Create your own packages: When you have the right vendors, you will be able to create your own packages. You can combine the best options in airlines, hotels, and tours or activities depending on your niche and what your clients are looking for. By doing this, you are able to set your own prices, estimating what your commission will be.
  • DIY: Most clients love to have the option to design their trips on their own. Choosing the right digital platform to work with will allow you to create a passive income stream as it allows clients to manage their bookings while you still earn a commission.


Starting a commission based online travel agency isn’t an easy task, but it will allow you to make the best out of your commissions. By becoming an independent travel agent, you are able to set your own markups on prices, make sure your clients have the best booking experience, manage your time and earnings, and regulate who you work with.

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