The functions of the travel agent are to provide information, to provide access to the principals stock via the reservation systems and to facilitate travel arrangements by providing various ancillary services. Travel agents are not the only retailers of travel products. Airlines and tour operators possess a number of retail outlets too. Shipping companies have done likewise and the individual hotels of international hotel chains are acting as agents. Only those agents who possess a principal’s appointment or license are eligible for commission on sales of the principal’s tickets. Since 50 per cent of a travel agent’s turnover arises from airlines ticket sales, the possession of an IATA license is important.
A Travel Agent’s Sources of Income are as Follow: 1. Commission on the sales he makes of his principal’s services. 2. Commission earned from ancillary services, such as travel insurance and charges made for such services as traveler’s cheques. 3.
Income earned from short-term investment of money received from his customers as deposits. 4. Profits from the sale of his own tours if he operates as a tour operator.
There are four main types of retail Travel agency:
1. Business House Agency:
Catering mainly for the travel need of commercial and industrial firms. Such agencies incur high staff and office costs since they are located near their clients in city centers.
2. City Centre Agents:
Located in or near to main shopping centers, they need a high turnover to justify city centre costs.
3. Country Town Agencies:
This type is most profitable with a mix of business and holiday traffic.
Selling, principally tours with a markedly seasonal pattern of business. The buying decisions of consumers are founded increasingly on the advertising campaigns and on the elaborate brochures of tour operators and other principals. Many large industrial and commercial companies own retail travel agencies within their group.
The sale of travel through large hotel chains or banks as in Australia seems a distinct possibility. In Germany, the main order selling of tours has proved successful.