Getting your name known is as important as in any new business. Local newspapers, yellow pages and Teletext are all good ways - although decent regular adverts aren't cheap.
Word of mouth is effective but be aware this isn't an industry where repeat business necessarily follows. An established client base will pass on word of your excellent service to its friends but intense competition for price means people will always shop around - even if they end up coming back to you. You will have to constantly address and re-address service, quality and value for money and let people know about it.
The buying public has grown used to shopping around online even though it doesn't always want to buy online. Use the internet as an additional advertising or information tool to bring people in and answer basic questions. Then offer personal service and advice for their queries.
That way both you and your potential clients save time and effort by having all information to hand when sorting out the details of the holiday.
The travel industry is commission-based so every time you sell a holiday for a tour operator they give you a percentage of the fee. This is where getting your name known will be important, though, as international tour operators aren't going to offer an unknown business favourable rates. Commission varies a lot.
Striking an agreeable commission agreement will become easier once you are a member of a trade association - in fact they're unlikely to look at you without. Travel agents don't give out individual commission rates for obvious reasons but there is a general idea within the industry.
Minimum commissions start at around 10% but the high street names will be getting around 18%. So you'll find it very difficult to compete if you are at the lower end of the scale.
Cash management is another issue of which you need to be aware. The customer will pay you a deposit on the holiday when they book it but the remaining amount won't be paid until about eight weeks before date of departure. Only then will you receive your commission from the tour operator. However good cash management in the booking season of January and February will see you better off in the summer months.
Overall you need to be aware that being independent will not yield big money initially unless you can find a niche market that pays well. If you can find a consistent market for specialist holidays to far-flung destinations this may happen sooner.
The amount you earn really does depend on a simultaneous ability to sell to customers and to strike deals with the suppliers. So at the forefront is the need for excellent service to both of your customers: the holidaymakers and the tour operators.
Get the balance right and you might just have the ticket for success.