By Ruth Manimtim-Floresca
One billion tourists will be crossing borders this year according to the United Nation’s World Travel Organization and the Philippines has a good chance of getting its share of this market. Thus, this period is a favorable time to put up travel and tourism-related businesses. Angie Blanco, School Director of the Asian School of Hospitality Arts (ASHA) shares information for budding and established entrepreneurs who would like to explore the business potentials of the travel and tourism industry. Blanco has more than 20 years of experience in the hotel industry and the academe and was a former faculty member in both the University of the Philippines and De La Salle University.
What kinds of businesses related to travel and tourism can be established by entrepreneurs?
Depending on your capital and passion, you can:
- Put up a restaurant, canteen, bakeshop, coffee shop, bar, or food stall in a mall; catering services; or be a supplier for restaurants
- Go into event planning
- Establish lodging accommodations such as a resort, bed and breakfast place, or vacation homes
- Have a travel agency which does travel arrangements for guests which include securing of passports and visas to bookings for airlines, hotels, tours, etc.
- Become a tour operator who provides transportation, makes the tour packages, and coordinates with hotels, restaurants, etc.
- Look for opportunities. Study the industry/market first including the location and environment you want to establish your business in. Is there a demand for the products/services you want to offer? Where will your sales come from? Make a feasibility study. You can also consider going into franchising because it is a tested business model. However, a great location should always be included in the equation.
- Learn the nature and peculiarities of your business especially if you only borrowed money for capitalization.
- Make sure you like and know what you will be doing. Have the passion and the technical knowhow so that you won’t be at the mercy of your employees in case they leave you. Business owners who are dedicated and confident about their businesses have higher chances of succeeding.
- Be ready to work really hard and expect to work long hours. An employee usually works for 8 hours; an entrepreneur may have to work up to 24 hours.
What other things should be done to further ensure success?
- Be sure you can overcome the lean seasons. Learn to be flexible by diverting your market and looking for other opportunities. For example, during the rainy season, resorts can tap corporations and offer seminar/conference packages to fill in the rooms. Ensure too that you’ll earn enough during peak seasons to offset the losses in off-peak seasons.
- Enroll in additional courses. For instance, if you’re putting up a travel agency, you have to undergo a travel agency management seminar to be certified and given a license to operate.
- Establish connections with key people in your industry. These will help you greatly because a large part of your market will come from those.
- Listen to your customers. Know their needs and wants. Improve and innovate your products and services.
- Become high tech. Make use of computer technology in your store operations to make your systems be more efficient and accurate. To further market your products/services, put up a website and use social media which is a free marketing resource.
- Mobilize your network of relatives, friends, and other contact to promote what you’re offering.