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Travel Agencies 10 Nov 2019

Riff, Resolve, Repeat0

We’ve all been there. It’s February, folks are starting to talk around the office about plans for the summer, trying to forget how cold it is outside and the daily routine of ice-scraping and plowing through pouring rain on the way to work. Images of beaches and margaritas, señoritas (only for the single ones out there) and long naps. For others it’s hitting the Machu Pichu trail or treating the kids to a Kenyan safari. Whatever your fancy, vacations are a blast and to do them right, a travel agency is a must.

Some of you are likely thinking – with the Internet I can do this all myself! Granted, you can, but travel agencies exist for a reason, and that main reason is the know what they’re doing. Good travel agents have been in the game for decades, understand all the ins and outs of a trip, what to watch out for, the hidden tips and tricks you won’t get from a Google or Travelocity commentary, and are valued resources for just this reason. The modern travel agency that we know, and trust today came about in the second half of the 19th century. Once commercial aviation started up however was when the entire industry exploded. Post-war more and more folks could take vacations which resulted in mass-market package holidays catering to a middle-class clientele who was looking for convenient ways to book those beach vacations.

The principal function of a travel agency is to act as an agent. Unlike retail businesses, travel agencies do not have stocks of travel packages ready and waiting. The package is not purchased from the supplier until they have a buyer, so the profit for the agency is the difference between the advertised price that the client is quoted and the discounted price the agent is supplied. Now, an agency is supposed to offer impartial advice to the client, but this is not always the case. Some agents specialize in regions where of course the advice is region-specific. One would not go to an African travel agent looking for a Hawaiian holiday. Regarding the relationship with airlines, prior to 1995 airlines would pay commissions to agents per booking. However, that stopped in 1995 and there are now caps on all trips.

In the U.S. there are five main types of travel agencies – host, independent, consortium, franchise and mega. Examples of mega agencies are the American Automobile Association (AAA) or American Express. Independent agencies are smaller outfits and the folks in the middle range in size. Today, the most popular travel agencies can be found online. Bookit.com receives a ton of positive reviews day in and day out, the platform is very easy to use, and the trips are extremely varied. If you’re looking for trip options to every continent on the planet, Bookit is a great choice.

Another solid bet is CheapOair. This site is fabulous for comparing package prices across providers. It counts on an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and satisfaction ratings are through the roof. Next time you find yourself talking summer vacations in February make sure you’ve already done your travel agency due diligence. Summer is just around the corner …    


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