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Retail / Travel agency

Travel agency

A travel agency is a store where individuals or families go to buy travel packages.



On April 20 of 1931, the ASTA was formed, to defend the rights of travel agents over the power of the growing commercial airline systems of the day. ASTA, as of 2004, still represents travel agencies.

The word travel agency has changed meaning since the emergence of companies like Thomson or Thomas Cook, who are now considered to be tour operators rather than travel agents. The difference is that tour operators manufacture and sell their own holidays whereas independent travel agents like Barrhead Travel sell holidays from all the tour operators without limiting the range they offer to just their own product.

Worldwide services

Travel agencies have expanded to cover the world. Many are located in Europe or the Middle East, for example. Some serve as general service agents for foreign travel companies in different countries.

The Internet threat

Many agencies feared their services would no longer be needed when many airlines and other travel companies began to sell directly to passengers over the Internet. They were afraid they would be victims of what management science experts call disintermediation.

Another worry was over the fact that airlines have been cutting back the commissions paid to travel agents on each tickets sold; the airlines feel that they are perfectly capable of dealing directly with their own passengers and do not need travel agents as much as in the past to fill seats.

Although many travel agents have since exited the industry, many have abandoned the "brick and mortar" agency for a home-based business to reduce overhead. Those who remain have managed to survive by promoting other travel products like 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).


Although not as involved in the cargo business, some travel agencies also work with cargo airlines and ships. Those travel agencies that do cargo business, however, are not a significant number of agencies.

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