Travel Agency: The Work Areas

Travel and tourism is one of the world’s largest industries which is fascinating with its aura of international glamour, excitement, and romance. Like any business the travel and tourism industry must match its offering to prospective buyers. Constantly changing air fares and schedules, and a proliferation of vacation packages make travel planning difficult and time consuming. Consequently, travelers often turn to TRAVEL AGENTS for assistance in making the best travel arrangements who assess their needs and help them make the best possible travel arrangements. Travel agents encourage people to travel and help them plan and prepare for the trip. They help clients define their travel interests and needs, including time and budget requirements. They work out tentative plans and suitable alternatives and then make all the arrangements. MAJOR WORK AREAS OF TRAVEL AGENTS The gamut of travel agent’s services include a vast array of arrangements that a traveler would require on a trip. Since the tour can be domestic or international, the agents have to provide multifold services. Travel agents may book clients on cruises and tours; organize group tours and design trips for individuals. Travel agents consult a variety of published and computer-based sources for information on departure and arrival times, economical fares, car rentals, and hotel ratings and accommodations. Sources include maps, official guides, tariff books, computer terminals, and other reference materials to obtain schedules, fares, and related information. Agents make airline, hotel, and car reservations. They make the reservations and issue itineraries using computerized reservation and ticketing systems similar to those used by airlines. They also compute costs and take deposits. Ticket Agents can customize a vacation or travel plan by arranging special accommodations, adapting a schedule to fit

car rentals. prices. reading travel publications. hotel arrangements. hotel accommodations. what to bring or buy. required papers (passports. For international travel. financial considerations. Broadly. tourist attractions. he may be into the provision of all the outbound travel services that would be required by the passenger like air ticket. and recreation. and attending industry seminars and trade shows. we can understand that the specific tasks of a travel agent in general may include: • • • Talking with customers to determine destination. and certificates of vaccination). and hotel ratings and accommodations Selling travel package tours . They also may advise on weather conditions. not these services are expected to be provided by an Inbound and a domestic tour operator. visas. currency exchange etc. The range of these services vary from agent to agent. and designing group packages and tours. visa. one travel agent may specialize in tour packages for outbound clients and thus. travel agents give advice on destinations and make arrangements for transportation. In general. and other preferences Consulting a variety of published and computer-based sources for information on departure and arrival times. immunization requirements. and currency exchange rates. They offer tips on climate. Putting it in other words. agents also provide information on customs regulations. Depending upon the size and areas of operation. Travel agents may specialize in one region or in one form of transportation. They keep up-to-date by traveling. and attractions worth seeing. At the same time. restaurants. fares. Similary. it is not mandatory for every agent to provide all the above services. tours. visas. and recreation. and currency exchange rates. passports. the services may vary.client needs. travel dates. Agents inform clients about customs regulations.

such as leisure or business. and the quality of food and service Proving ancillary travel services like passport. resorts. and specialty travel groups use travel agents to promote travel packages to millions of people every year. Travel agents also promote their services. and quality of food and service so that they can base recommendations on their own travel experiences or those of colleagues or clients. It can be stated as follows:i. He sells on behalf of the actual producers of the tourist service and gets the commission. and the scope of activities that the agency takes up. such as: The retail travel agent provides a direct link between the customer and the suppliers of the tourist services. an agent may specialize by type of travel. plane. and restaurants to evaluate their comfort. Using telemarketing. The functions of a travel agent depend on the size of. many major cruise lines. and suggest companysponsored trips to business managers. resorts. and the scope of activities that the agency takes up. and hotel reservations Visiting hotels. arrange advertising displays. recreation. Provision of travel information – A travel agent provides . FUNCTIONS OF A TRAVEL AGENCY/AGENT The functions of a travel agency/agent depend on the size of. They may visit hotels. and the Internet. They make presentations to social and specialinterest groups. using telemarketing. visa. direct mail. and the Internet to promote their services Nature of the Work Also. restaurants. ship. or destination. and tourist attractions Making train. direct mail. cleanliness. cleanliness.• • • • • Providing travel information such as weather conditions. Depending on the size of the travel agency. and restaurants to evaluate comfort. Travel insurance policies etc. resorts. such as Europe or Africa. currency exchange.

currency etc. Ticketing – The scope of the job of a travel agent also involves booking and reserving an air seat on the Computerised reservation system and an IATA approved travel agency is authorized for the issuance of air ticket as well. Excursion tours include lunches. The travel agent is a personal counsellor or psychologist.g. local entertainment.g. Tours and excursions – Travel agencies offer readymade tours and tailor made packages for GIT or an individual. Malaysia etc. Preparing package tours – A travel agent may sell preprepared package tours prepared by a tour operator for a commission or may prepare his own package as per the requirements of the customer. The trips are costed per seat depending on the type of vehicle. When he sells a package on behalf of the wholesale tour operator he gets a certain commission. v. iv. visa. holiday. Travel agencies or ground operators have their own tourist coaches and cars and offer regular sightseeing tours at fixed prices. It requires perfect organization of both technical and practical facts. ITDC – Indian Tourism Development Corporation. to the people who wish to travel. Goa. modes of travel available. climate. overnight accommodation where required. Preparation of itineraries – A travel agent not only sells a package tour but may also prepares different itineraries for varying demands of travellers suiting their motivations e. give up to-date and accurate information regarding various services and information about travel. prices. timetable. Some times the promoters provide a FAM tour to the travel agents so that they may see the new destinations.g. To prepare a practical itinerary.information relating to the destination. Some government and state bodies also offer coaches or transport for excursions e. business. ii. . He should try to understand the needs and the interests of the customer e. He should have an excellent knowledge of various travel alternate plans. social class. Shimla. travel agents need to travel to these places. Travel agents commonly prepare packages and promote places that sell easily and the profit margin is high. e. iii. Hawaii. in case of the age group of the travellers.g.

Insurance – Agencies offer insurance policies for accident risks and of baggage loss or damage. cruises. viii. sightseeing tours. Travel agents may also charge clients a service fee for the time and expense involved in planning a trip. This saves a lot of time and energy for the client by avoiding visits to the bank. and car rentals are about 10-20% percent of the total sale. ECONOMIC BENEFITS TO A TRAVEL AGENT Earnings of travel agents depend mainly on commissions from airlines and other carriers. cruise lines. This software provides all the information required by the agent in terms of fares. The travel agent offers these policies to the [passenger to make him feel secure and safe and offer a protection against any losses while travelling. CRS has made reservations much easier now. schedules. vii. hotels. foreign currency. tour operators. transfers and guides at the destination on behalf of some other travel agent. and lodging places. Air transportation automatically includes insurance for the passengers but most hotels do not provide these covers. The handling agency manages inbound tourists and makes all their arrangements of sightseeing accommodation. Intangible gains to travel agents include benefits in travel for personal .Selling tickets and getting reservations for the different modes of travel or in the accommodation sector requires a lot of awareness and a thorough knowledge of the schedules and an addition of new schedules making the job of the agent a constant challenge. Provision of foreign currencies – Travel agents either help the traveller or provide complete services for the provision of traveller’s cheque. about 7 percent. status of the traveller etc so that he may be able to give a definite answer to a client without a waste of them. Computerisation has also made possible the payment of these services with more ease through the use of credit cards. vi. Commissions for domestic travel arrangements. new inclusions. Works as a handling Agency They provide services at the destination only but do not make arrangements for transportation to and from the destination. and for international travel.

enabling them to research and plan their own trips. at no cost to themselves. Sources of Income Travel Agents Provide Services on behalf of Suppliers e. suppliers of travel services now are able to make their services available through other means. The Internet increasingly allows people to access travel information from their personal computers. educational. or recreational travel or activities.g. New developments will continue to limit the need for travel agents. in some cases.The Agent makes commission from the transactions on behalf of customers though customer pays the same price as advertise by the Principals/Suppliers. However. These benefits attract many people to this occupation. rental car agents. airline companies have put a limit on the amount of commissions they will pay to travel agencies. Employment of travel agents is expected to grow more slowly than the average for all occupations through 2010. and. money. agents sometimes take "familiarization" trips. to save time. and an increasing number of older people who are more likely to travel. and purchase their own tickets. to learn about various vacation sites. Other employment opportunities with similar responsibilities include tour guides. Railways. meeting planners. Further. Airlines. Many job openings will arise as new agencies open and existing agencies expand. With rising household incomes.reasons since agents usually get reduced rates for transportation and accommodation. Surface Transporters. Also. such as electronic ticketing machines and remote ticket printers. smaller families. Projected employment growth stems from increased spending on tourism and business travel over the next decade. airline reservation agents. Shipping Lines etc. Hotels. . more people are expected to travel on vacation—and to do so more frequently—than in the past. and travel counselors. make their own reservations and travel arrangements. reducing revenues. many consumers still will prefer to use a professional travel agent to ensure reliability. The travel Agent/Tour operator is not allowed to charge Service charges for which commission is paid by the suppliers/Principals JOB OUTLOOK Travel agents organize and schedule business. In addition.

Airline companies have lately put a cap on the amount of commissions they are willing to pay to travel agencies. may reduce job opportunities for travel agents in the future. Under this . such as electronic ticketing machines and remote ticket printers. Operations Section – This section runs the tours. suppliers of travel services now make their services available through other means. travel agents are often able to offer various travel packages at a substantial discount. Further. ii. Although most travel agencies now have automated reservation systems. more efficient planes have brought air transportation within the budgets of more people. The full effect of these practices. planning and survey for practicalities. managerial. Some developments. in some cases. charter flights and larger. have yet to be determined. A variety of other factors will also lead to greater business for travel agents. and the easing of regulations on air fares and routes has fostered greater competition among airlines. resulting in more affordable service. this has not weakened demand for travel agents. The travel industry is sensitive to economic downturns and international political crises. Also. and sales occupations are projected to be among the fastest growing. since a number of consumers will still prefer to use a professional travel agent to ensure reliability and to save time and. Planning Section – Looks after the organizational planning of fares and costing. ORGANISATION/DEPARTMENTS OF A TRAVEL AGENCY A travel agency may have all or some of the following departments depending on the diversity of its functions and the importance of their requirement. The Internet also has increasingly allowed people to access travel information from their personal computers and make their own travel arrangements. and people in these occupations do the most business travel.Business travel also offers vast opportunity for growth as business activity expands. professional. however. For example. Further. though. i. Feasible itinerary. money. affecting the decisions to travel.

iii. contracts with hotels. They research and survey new markets and incorporate these into their itineraries. Operations SALES The front office of a travel agency works as a sales team to handle the queries of walk-in customers as well as those who contact the travel professional over the phone. carriers. Outbound Sales – For the outbound travellers. . exchange control regulations. All information required should be acquired and presented to the client as well as all the bookings/reservation/arrangements for the client should be made through the ground operator for a confirmed status. The facilities available at a destination and how they can be best adapted to the itinerary. on the basis of the multifarious functions of a travel agency. coaches. They are then presented to the target market with the right means of advertising/frequency. arrangements have to be made with ground operators at the place of destination. we can classify the different departments into the two major facets i. Research – Collects and analyses the data and literature available for various destinations. v. Sales 2. rates of exchange of different currencies. Broadly.e 1.comes the arrangement to be made for the availability of buses. collection of payments and receipts. etc. as well as the “meet and greet department” which is deputed for receiving and dropping off tourists and guides etc. Looks into the possibilities of including a destination into an itinerary as an excursion/ stopover/ destination. Accounts – Deals with foreign currencies. payments. iv. vi. Promotion & Public Relations – Looks after the marketing for the agency.

handle their queries and finally convert the query into a booking. the field sales force has to do the same with prior appointments with the clients and meeting them at a place as per the convenience of the latter. Thus. Such information can be provided over the telephone as well as to the walk-in customers.It is the front office/desk which serves as a first point of contact for all the prospective travelers coming to a travel agency for certain travel needs. the sales department can be divided into two parts:1. this department acts as a Client handling unit of the agency. On the other hand. this department is the mirror of the organisation which is entrusted with the task of providing travel Information to the clients. this particular department is responsible for generating the chunk of business to the travel agency. guide and direct them about various destinations. The thin line of difference between these two departments of one single organisation is the fact that Counter sales have to contribute to the kitty of the agency while sitting in the office premises itself. 2. They provide the information regarding various travel services required by the customers. OPERATIONS/BACK OFFICE As it is evident from the name itself. the operations department of any organization is responsible for processing the bookings and handle . Putting it other way round. Thus. Counter Sales As the name suggests. Field sales Unlike the Counter Sales. the front desk executives work as the counter sales executives of the travel agencies as they sell the travel packages and other services relate to travel without going out of the office.

Generally. This separate ticketing counter caters to the needs of ticketing clients. the operations team is accountable for making travel arrangements for the booked passengers of the organization. Ticketing counter (International/Domestic) It is not mandatory for every travel agency to indulge itself into the ticketing operations. and he becomes a booked passenger by filling up a booking form and paying some booking amount as an advance. Reservations (Booking of hotels/other services) The job of the reservations department entails the booking of the accommodation and making other travel arrangements required by the traveler at the destination viz the sightseeing. he is the responsibility of the sales people. this may be noted that the ticketing counter works as both the ticket reservations counter and the tickets issuance counter. In other words. in a travel agency. . However. The moment he gets convinced. Till the time the client is not convinced with the tour product being offered to him in response to his query. Similarly. a medium/big size travel agency has following divisions under the operations department:1. a travel agency can have either the domestic ticketing only or both domestic as well as international ticketing. as per the company norms. Depending upon the size and operations. 2. Travel agencies with a large network of ticketing clientele have a separate ticketing division as a part of the operations department.the documentation related to every individual client of the company. the clients first come in contact with the sales team of the travel agency and then the same clients are handed over to the operations team. guide services and transfers from airport to the hotel and back. his overall travel needs are taken care of by the operations team.

quotes air fares and blocks the air seats as per the availability. Amadeus etc. informs and guides them about the routes. Accounts The accounts department deals with the monetary aspect and the financial transactions of the booked clients. Besides. This is to be understood that there are travel agencies which may specialize only into ticketing and thus. Such travel agencies are called Non-IATA travel agencies. Meaning thereby that it is the accounts department which generates . till the time the full balance amount is collected. Thus. for such organizations. the availability of the seats through a search on the CRS. the accounts department is on its toes holding the booking file in its grip. it is only an IATA approved travel agency which can have a separate ticketing counter for both the reservations and issuance of an air ticket.There can be some travel agencies which do not have the authority to have a stock of the ticket and issue them on behalf of airlines whereas they have the rights to search and block an air seat on the prevailing Computersied reservation systems like Galileo. it is mandatory to be IATA approved if they like to issue the tickets on their own. Right from the time the advance booking payment is collected from the booked passenger by the sales department. IATA also lays down certain rules and regulations which authorize a travel agency to become eligible for maintaining a stock of the domestic and international tickets and issue them. Their job ends with the confirmation and reconfirmation of the blocked seats and getting the tickets issued from an IATA agent. 3. IATA is an organization which regulates the air transport (Passenger as well as cargo) and tourist traffic worldwide and works as a link between the airlines and the travel agents. The ticketing division of a non-IATA travel agency handles the ticketing queries of the customers.

fortnightly. This may be however concluded that not all the travel agencies in the trade have the above mechanism of sales and operations of their tours. . weekly. specific geographical areas. or package tours. leisure or business travel. ebookers. airplane charters. There are some small time agencies which are handling their complete sales and operations as one man show as well. some companies also maintain Delhi express Trade wings Travel services International Mercury travels Paradise Holidays SOME AREAS OF SPECIALIZATION IN TRAVEL WORLD Travel agents may specialize in foreign or domestic service. individual or group travel. TRAVEL TRADE – THE MAJOR INDUSTRY PLAYERS IN INDIA Thomas Cook Cox & Kings SOTC (Kuoni & SITA) TCI (Transport corporation of India) American Express International Travel House makemytrip. In addition. the structure of an organized medium/big size travel agency generally entails the above process where the separate divisions work together for delivering a single product by imparting the total satisfaction of the client.the bills and invoices of the total tour payment made by the client and thus maintains the financial records of every individual client booked and traveled with a travel agency. monthly or yearly sales reports through the coordination between the accounts and sales department in order to evaluate the total net earnings of the organisation based on various aspects.

In such a case. The planner works with the tour leader in planning the itinerary and making all arrangements for the group. including hotel accommodations and airline. what segment of market you target at. In short. agents are middlemen. The rule of the travel trade says that never say no to a customer for any service even if you are not in a business of providing the same. Since. Many corporate agents arrange special meeting fares to a city for a discount. cruise. package and car reservations. Group travel planners work exclusively with groups.Leisure vacation travel counselors help customers with leisure travel plans. he will act as a middleman between the actual producer of that service and the customer and get his commission.Meeting and incentive planners work with businesses in planning company meetings and/or conventions. including group sightseeing and any other arrangements the group wants. and thus your work will be based on what your clientele is. Hence.Corporate travel specialists assist business travelers. it can be concluded that the work areas of a travel agent include almost everything that a traveler requires. yet pleasing the customer by never saying a “ No”. this is what the travel agents strive for in order to raise their incomes substantially through the earning of various commissions gained by the sales of various services. and advise them on all their travel needs. it all depends upon what are you as a travel agent specialize in. travel. PRE-REQUISITES FOR THE EFFECTIVE OPERATIONS OF A TRAVEL AGENCY *Dedicated. tour. In the world of One Stop Travel Shops. the consumer wants everything in one travel agency and thus. personalized support . they can provide any such travel service that may be required by a particular tourist which a travel agent originally does not have in his area of operations.

Thus. The burgeoning travelers are becoming more dependent on the travel agencies for all their travel needs. a travel agent has to make a cutting edge for himself by providing exclusive travel services in order to stand out and survive in this highly competitive travel world. . business or leisure *Quality assurance *Regular staff training *An attentive. Due to the increased disposable income. dedicated and focused owner *Customer satisfaction With the changing scenario the role of the travel agent has also changed tremendously. whether for individual or group.*Latest data management systems *Creative options for cost-effective travel. the traveler of today doesn’t mind paying extra to a travel agent for his individual services but looks for the best of the packet which allows him to relish the trip comfortably without undergoing any sort of hassles.

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