It’s not hard to see why the nomadic lifestyle appeals to travelers. We live in a fantastic world, full of interesting people with unique cultures. There’s always something new to discover if you have the courage to walk over the next hill. Nomads get that, and it’s why they typically don’t like being tied to one place for very long.
It’s also why the thought of owning their own online travel brand is so appealing for many. What passionate, traveling nomad doesn’t love the idea of being able to work wherever they are in the world, doing something they truly love, making great money all the while? It makes for the perfect sales pitch.
But that’s only one side of the coin. Like anything else in life, maintaining your own online brand has a unique variety of rewards and challenges. In the following, we’ll discuss some of the pros and cons of owning your own online travel brand. Whether or not it’s the path you want to follow is entirely up to you – I’m just here to help give you a better perspective.
Work Anywhere, At Anytime
This is by far the biggest draw that opening your own online store carries for travelers. Since your business is conducted entirely in the digital domain, it doesn’t matter if you’re working in a cafe on a London street or on a beach in Panama City. So long as your internet connection is stable, you can do what you need to. That means the entire world is your workspace. Pretty cool, right?
You’re Not Limited to One Customer Base
If you own a brick and mortar franchise, your customer base is limited to those willing to come to your location. The only way to reach new customers is to open another storefront. With an online store, everyone in the world is a potential convert. This is especially useful for travelers. They often love meeting new people and experiencing new cultures. That experience will come in handy when you’re trying to market to customers in another country.
It’s Fairly Easy to Access
When you open a physical store, you’re going to be paying to rent/buy your workspace, get office supplies, take out property insurance, pay for maintenance, etc. When you start online, the only real costs you have are your computer, your software, and any marketing you want to do. That’s it. Establishing an e-commerce site is very affordable, which is essential for nomads who don’t have a lot of money to waste anyhow.
Getting Consumer Data is Easy
We’ve gotten to a point where nearly every single thing we do online leave a digital footprint. From the passwords you create to the credit card data you enter to the pages you view, if you’re working on a public network, your online activity leaves a trail. For you as a potential future business owner, know that this is one of the most powerful resources you have to learn about your customers.
Marketing is key for any business but marketing is only effective if you understand your audience You can grow to understand a great deal about your customers by studying:
- Click-thru rates
- Traffic sources for visitors to your site
- Average order values
- The abandonment rate of your shopping cart
- Your average net promoter scores
All of this data will help you gain a clearer picture of who’s coming to your site, how long they’re staying, who’s actually buying from you, and what their habits are. It’s then much easier for you to tailor the experience to your ideal buyers.
You Have Far More Competition
With traditional storefronts, your main competitors are anyone in the local area. That usually keeps the number fairly small. However, in the online spectrum, anyone who maintains a similar business to yours is a competitor.
I can’t tell you exactly how crowded the online travel market is. A Google search for “online travel store” netted over 1.8 billion hits. Conversely, if you do a localized search for “travel store,” the results will yield around 56 million hits, depending on the geographic range. That should give you a good idea of just how wide the divide is between digital and physical storefronts.
You Have a Tougher Time Interacting with Customers
How keen are you on the idea of speaking through a chat window when you have a problem? Or going through a series of automated prompts on a service phone line? Most people hate the idea, but for online businesses, they’re about the only way they can offer customer support, at least starting out. You can try and make individual phone calls to every customer who has a concern, but you’ll quickly find that eating up all of your time.
There are also language barriers to contend with. While having access to a global customer base can be a great thing, it also makes presents some very tough challenges. You may have a growing customer base in Japan, but if you don’t speak Japanese, there’s going to be mounting tension.
You Actually Have To, You Know, Work
I promise I’m not trying to insult your intelligence. It’s simply that this issue does arise, so I need to address it here. Some people have started an online business with the idea that they simply need to get a basic site going, upload some product pages and a shopping cart, and let the site run itself. That’s a guaranteed way to find yourself running out of money very quickly.
If you choose to open your own online travel brand, you have to be prepared to put in some very long hours. All Top Startups found that the average business owner worked a minimum of 52 hours per week. It’s true that some were able to work less (as few as 20) while others spent upwards of 70. The best answer I can give you is that you need to be prepared to work until all of your essential tasks are completed.