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Encyclopedia > Travel agency

A travel agency is a business that sells travel related products and services, particularly package tours, to end-user customers on behalf of third party travel suppliers, such as airlines, hotels, tour companies, and cruise lines. In addition to dealing with ordinary tourists, most travel agents have a special department devoted to travel arrangements for business travelers, while some agencies specialize in commercial and business travelers. Some agencies also serve as general service agents for foreign travel companies in different countries. A package holiday or package tour consists of transport and accommodation advertised and sold together by a vendor known as a tour operator. ... An Airbus A380 of Emirates Airline An airline provides air transport services for passengers or freight. ... For other uses, see Hotel (disambiguation). ... // Tour companies are generally companies owned and operated by transportation entities which can easily transport travelers. ... A cruise line is a company that operates cruise ships. ... A tourist boat travels the River Seine in Paris, France Tourism can be defined as the act of travel for the purpose of recreation, and the provision of services for this act. ...



The British company, Cox & Kings is sometimes said to be the oldest travel agent in the world, but this rests upon services that the original bank (established in 1758) supplied to its wealthy clients. However, the modern travel agent first appeared in the second half of the nineteenth century. Thomas Cook, in addition to developing the package tour, established a chain of agencies in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, in association with the Midland Railway. These not only sold their own tours to the public, but represented other tour companies. Other British pioneer agencies were Dean and Dawson, the Polytechnic Touring Association, and the Co-operative Wholesale Society. Cox & Kings is the longest established travel company in the world, its history stretching back to 1758 when Richard Cox was appointed as regimental agent to the Foot Guards. ... For other uses, see Thomas Cook (disambiguation). ... This article is about the historical British railway company. ... Lunn Poly was the largest chain of travel agents in the United Kingdom. ... Co-operative Group - Wikipedia /**/ @import /w/skins-1. ...

Travel agencies became more commonplace with the development of commercial aviation starting in the 1920s. Originally, the agencies largely catered to middle-class customers, but the post-war boom in mass-market package holidays resulted in travel agencies on the main streets of most British towns, catering to a working class clientèle looking for a cheap overseas beach holiday.


As the name implies, their main function is to act as an agent, that is to say selling travel products and services on behalf of a supplier. Consequently, unlike other retail businesses, they do not keep a stock in hand. A package holiday or a ticket is not purchased from a supplier unless a customer requests that purchase. The holiday or ticket is supplied to them at a discount. The profit is therefore the difference between the advertised price which the customer pays and the discounted price at which it is supplied to the agent. This is known as the commission. A British travel agent would consider a 10-12% commission as a good arrangement. Agency is an area of law dealing with a contractual or quasi-contractual relationship between at least two parties in which one, the principal, authorizes the other, the agent, to represent her or his legal interests and to perform legal acts that bind the principal. ... In finance, discounting is the process of finding the current value of an amount of cash at some future date, and along with compounding cash from the basis of time value of money calculations. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Look up commission in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

Since September 11, 2001 airlines have stopped giving commission to travel agencies in order to make up for growing cost in security. Therefore, travel agencies are now forced to charge a standard flat fee, per sale. However, companies still give them a set percentage for selling their product. Major tour companies can afford to do this because if they were to sell a thousand trips at a cheaper rate they still come out better than if they sell a hundred trips at a higher rate. This process benefits everyone.

Other commercial operations are undertaken, especially by the larger chains. These can include the sale of in-house insurance, travel guides and timetables, car rental, and the services of an on-site bureau de change dealing in the most popular holiday currencies. Insurance, in law and economics, is a form of risk management primarily used to hedge against the risk of a contingent loss. ... The times of public transport services can be presented as follows: For every public transport line there are two tables (one for each direction), consisting of columns, one for each daily public transport service. ... Europcar Sixt A car rental, rent-a-car or car hire agency is a company that rents automobiles for short periods of time (ranging from a few hours to a few weeks) for a fee. ... A bureau de change is an organisation or facility which allows customers to exchange one currency for another. ...

The majority of travel agents have felt the need to protect themselves and their clients against the possibilities of commercial failure, either their own or a supplier. They will advertise the fact that they are bonded (posting a financial bond with an organisation). In the case of a failure, the customers are guaranteed either an equivalent holiday to that which they have lost, or (if they prefer) a refund. Many British agencies (and tour companies too) are bonded with IATA for those who issue their own tickets, ATOL for those who order tickets in, or ABTA for those who sell package holidays on behalf of a tour company. A surety bond is a contract among at least three parties: The principal - the primary party who will be performing a contractual obligation The obligee - the party who is the recipient of the obligation, and The surety - who ensures that the principals obligations will be performed. ... “IATA” redirects here. ... Please wikify (format) this article or section as suggested in the Guide to layout and the Manual of Style. ...

Of course, a travel agent is supposed to offer impartial travel advice to the customer. This function almost disappeared with the mass-market package holiday, and some agency chains seemed to develop a 'holiday supermarket' concept, in which customers chose their holiday from brochures on racks and then booked it from a counter. However, a variety of social and economic changes have now contrived to bring this aspect to the fore once more, particularly the advent of multiple no-frills airlines.

Types of agencies

There are three different types of agencies: these are Multiples, Miniples and Independent Agencies. The former comprise a number of national chains, often owned by international conglomerates (Thomson Holidays is now a subsidiary of TUI, the German multinational)[1]. It is now quite common for the large mass-market tour companies to purchase a controlling interest in a chain of travel agencies, in order to control the distribution of their product. (This is an example of vertical integration.) Thomson Holidays is a UK based travel operator and part of TUI AG. The company was founded as part of the Thomson Travel Group in 1965 following the acquisiton of various package holiday companies and the airline Britannia Airways by Roy Thomson. ... Tui can refer to: the Tui bird, endemic to New Zealand. ... It has been suggested that Vertical expansion be merged into this article or section. ...

The smaller chains are often based in particular regions or districts.

Independent Agencies usually cater for a special or niche market. Some cater to the needs of residents in an upmarket commuter town or suburb, or concentrate upon a particular area or group (catering to the travel needs of Polish expatriates, perhaps), or an activity such as sports(servicing the needs of football supporters). A niche market also known as a target market is a focused, targetable portion (subset) of a market sector. ...

There are 2 approaches of travel agents. One is the traditional multi-destination travel agent based in the originating location of the traveller and the other is the destination focussed travel agent that is based in the destination and delivers an expertise on that location. At present, the former is usually a larger operator like Thomas Cook while the latter is a smaller, often independent, operator like myguideTravel For other uses, see Thomas Cook (disambiguation). ...


Travel consolidators or wholesalers are high volume sales companies that are sometimes specialized in a niche. They may or may not offer various types of services at one single point of access. These can be for example hotel reservations, flights, or car-rental. Sometimes the services are combined into vacation packages that include transfer to the location and lodging. These companies do not usually sell directly to the public but act as fulfillment for retail companies. As the travel industry has changed we see more and more consolidators selling directly to the public. The sole purpose of wholesalers is to sell ethnic niches in the travel industry. There is no consolidator that offers everything. All travel companies can sell you whatever you may be looking for but they only have contracted rates to specific destinations. Today there are no domestic consolidators with some exceptions for business class contracts.


Travel agencies have been accused of employing a number of restrictive practices, the chief of which is known as 'racking'. This is the practice of only displaying the brochures of those travel companies whose holidays they wish to sell, the ones that pay them the most commission. Of course, the average customer tends to think that these are the only holidays on offer, and are unaware of possible alternatives. A term used in antitrust law that includes such conduct as price fixing, market sharing, monopolizing, or attempting to monopolize markets. ...

Generally speaking, small or specialist tour companies do not sell their product through travel agents, since they could not afford to pay the rates of commission that would be demanded. There are a few exceptions to this rule. Independent agents might sell or take bookings for local tour companies (such as coach companies) or tour companies offering specialist holidays that fit into their target market.

Consequently, even before the advent of the internet, small niche tour companies ignored travel agents and sold direct to their customers.

The internet threat

With the advent of general public access to the internet, many airlines and other travel companies began to sell directly to passengers. As a consequence, airlines no longer needed to pay the commissions to travel agents on each ticket sold. Since 1997, travel agencies gradually became victims of disintermediation, the reduction in costs caused by removing layers from the package holiday distribution network.[2][3] In economics, disintermediation is the removal of intermediaries in a supply chain: cutting out the middleman. Instead of going through traditional distribution channels, which had some type of intermediate (such as a distributor, wholesaler, broker, or agent), companies may now deal with every customer directly, for example via the Internet. ...

Many travel agencies have developed an internet presence by posting a website, with detailed travel information. Full travel booking sites are often complex, and require the assistance of outside travel technology solutions providers such as Travelocity. These companies use travel service distribution companies who operate Global Distribution Systems (GDS), such as Sabre Holdings, Amadeus, Galileo and Worldspan, to provide up to the minute, detailed information on tens of thousands of flight, hotel, and car rental vacancies. Travel Technology is a term used to describe applications of Information Technology (IT), or Information and Communications Technology (ICT), in travel, tourism and hospitality industry. ... Travelocity is an online travel agency operated by Travelocity. ... A computer reservations system (CRS) is a computerized system used to store and retrieve information and conduct transactions related to travel. ... Sabre Holdings (or Sabre Inc) (NYSE: TSG) is an S&P 500 company, encompassing several brands in three global travel distribution channels: travel agency, airline, and direct to consumer. ... Amadeus Logo Amadeus is the world leader in provision of solutions to the travel industry to manage the distribution and selling of travel services. ... The Galileo Central Reservations System is one of the main computer reservation systems designed for the travel industry by a consortium of airlines. ... Worldspan is a technology company that specializes in travel related software and systems. ...

Some online travel sites allow visitors to compare hotel and flight rates with multiple companies for free. They often allow visitors to sort the travel packages by amenities, price, and or proximity to a city or landmark.

Travel agents have applied dynamic packaging tools to provide fully bonded (full financial protection) travel at prices equal to or lower than a member of the public can book online. As such, the agencies' financial assets are protected in addition to professional travel agency advice. Dynamic Packaging is a method that is becoming increasingly used in package holiday bookings that enables consumers to build their own package of flights, accommodation, and a hire car instead of a pre-defined package. ...

All travel sites that sell hotels online work together with numerous outside travel agents. Once the travel site sells a hotel, one of the supplying travel agents is contacted and will try to get a confirmation for this hotel. Once confirmed or not, the customer is contacted with the result. This means, that booking a hotel on a travel website will not get you an instant answer. Only some of the hotels on a travel website can be confirmed instantly (which is normally marked as such on each site). As different travel websites work with different suppliers together, each site has different hotels that it can confirm instantly. Some examples of such online travel websites that sell hotel rooms are Expedia, Orbitz and Tripadvisor. Expedia. ... This article is about the online travel agency. ... TripAdvisor screenshot. ...


With the many people switching to self-service internet websites, the number of available jobs as travel agents is decreasing. Most jobs that become available are from older travel agents retiring. Counteracting the decrease in jobs due to internet services is the increase in the number of people travelling. Since 1995, many travel agents have exited the industry, and relatively few young people have entered the field due to less competitive salaries.[4] However, others have abandoned the "brick and mortar" agency for a home-based business to reduce overheads, and those who remain have managed to survive by promoting other travel products such as cruise lines and train excursions, or by promoting their ability to aggressively research and assemble complex travel packages on a moment's notice (essentially acting as a very advanced concierge). Concierge desk at the Mount Washington Hotel. ...


A small number of companies work with cargo airlines and ships which are connected to cargo business. FedEx DC-10 Cargo airlines (or airfreight carriers, and derivatives of these names) are airlines dedicated to the transport of cargo. ...


  1. ^ BBC Article, Consolidation in Travel Industry
  2. ^ Angela Andal-Ancion, Phillip A. Cartwright and George S. Yip (2003). The digital transformation of traditional businesses (HTML). MIT Sloan Management Review: Vol 44, no. 4 p. 34-41. Retrieved on July 14, 2003.
  3. ^ Marian Edmunds. "A wake-up call for the industry: As competition intensifies, online and mobile technologies offer huge opportunities across all sectors of the travel business", Financial Times, March 13, 2002, p. 10. 
  4. ^ Rebecca Tobi. "Wanted: young agents! Are young people shying away from careers in travel? Agents and travel school operators say yes. Look around your agency—see any young faces?", Travel Weekly Vol 61, no. 43, 28 October, 2002, p. 148-149. 


Renshaw, M B (1997), The Travel Agent, 2nd edition, Business Education Publishers Ltd, Sunderland

See also



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