How to Set Up an Online Travel Portal on a Shoestring
Setting up an online travel portal can be a great start to your entrepreneurial journey. A successful travel portal can ultimately make you a thriving self-employed individual. However, setting up a travel portal amid so much competition and getting traction is a tall order. The task becomes even more difficult when you are treading the tight rope of a low budget. Nonetheless, there are tips and tricks to set up an online travel portal on a shoestring.
If you are determined to have your online travel portal up and running, keep reading this post. This article will walk you through the measures that will help you create an online travel portal without falling into the giant sinkhole of expenditure.
Invest in a Good Travel Management System and Software
An online travel portal has to be good with its technological features. Since you are operating from a virtual setting, you need to ensure you can boast a good UI (user interface), providing great UX (user experience). To build that backbone of your travel portal, you have two options to consider:
- Hire a team of developers and software engineers that can code, create your travel front and back office, search engine, and other elements, and take care of API integrations.
- Get robust travel management and software that provides all these features.
From the cost-value standpoint, the second option is exceedingly better. When you hire a team of experts to build a customized travel management system and other digital elements for you, be prepared for hefty outlays. Also, a custom-built travel management system and the software will entail a lot of back and forth (read: trial and error), which also means delayed turnaround.
On the other hand, you can go for a comprehensive readymade travel management system and API solutions that come with a one-time cost. Also, they are fully developed. Once deployed, you can use them to run your portal without bug testing and trial runs.
Therefore, we would recommend you allocate a big chunk of your limited budget to procure a top-quality travel management system and software product.
Make the Most of WordPress
Most of the travel portals are run from web platforms. You will also have to devise a website for your travel gig. However, what type of web platform you pick will also determine the budget you need to set aside. If you want to set up your website on an independent domain, you need CSS, HTML, and PHP experts and can work at the backend of the website to create its front and user interface.
Again, working with web developing experts will cost you a fortune that you may not want to incur when the budget is already tight. WordPress can help you with its free and open-source robust content management system and seamless web hosting services. You can create your travel portal's web platform on WordPress without needing any working knowledge of programming languages. From themes to menus and sliders to content silos, you can drag, drop, and modify everything on your travel portal's webpages without getting into the backend of things.
Focus on SEO, Social Media, and Email Marketing
Marketing is crucial to the success of a new online travel portal in a cutthroat travel landscape. You need to boost your travel portal from Day One through promotions to make it a success. However, you also need to exercise caution while doing the promotions because marketing can prove to be a black hole for expenses.
Instead of running paid campaigns online and offline, you should shift your focus on search engine optimization, social media engagement, and email marketing. You can take care of these marketing and promotional elements without spending a single buck. We will give you a quick overview of the things you need to do in these promotion areas.
- SEO: Curate content for your travel portal with keyword optimization and backlinking. This will eventually help your travel portal to appear in Google search results for relevant queries.
- Social Media Engagement: The Instagram and Facebook profiles of your travel portal can turn out to be the game-changers for your business plan. If you are social media savvy, you can have healthy user engagement and subsequent customer acquisition through your social media pages. If your budget allows, funnel some money in promoting your SM profiles in the beginning.
- Email Marketing: Email marketing is still an effective way to reach out to customers. You can get subscribers list at very nominal prices. First, rework those mailing lists for the travelling niche you have picked (business travel, adventure travel, couple travel, pilgrimages, etc.) and then devise your email accordingly to make your marketing message more personalized and persuasive.
Get Liability Insurance
If your travel portal is not just a referral site but also directly sells travel plans, you need to secure your business model through liability insurance. It will be your second most significant expense after spending on a robust travel management system and software.
Ending up with client claims and subsequent penalties at the start of the business without any insurance cover while having budgetary constraints can thwart many of your expansion and scaling plans. Therefore, sign up for error and omission insurance, which is a type of liability insurance. In case a client sues you for a penalty/refund due to a mistake on your part, you can minimize the brunt because your insurer will pay a big chunk of the fine.
Keep Your Commission Undercut
When you don't have a budget for networking and running PR campaigns to woo airlines and other hospitality ventures, you can lower your commissions. In other words, reach out to your travel business partners (airlines, hotels, resorts, restaurants, etc.) with undercut commission quotes. An established business is more likely to get your nascent travel portal on board when you ask them for a significantly lower commission than existing market rates.
By implementing these five strategies, you have better chances of giving a successful takeoff to your online travel portal on a shoestring. TravnetTech can help you with the most crucial step of setting up a travel portal on a shoestring by providing a robust travel management system.
We can deliver you a front and back-office for your travel portal to meet the modern travel technological requirements. Our experts can also equip your new travel portal with a travel search engine and marketing automation.