Discuss the various operating functions of a travel agency. Also establish the linkages between travel agencies and tour operation companies.

The functions of a modern travel agency have widened much after the introduction of air travel. The most important functions of a travel agency are described below:

Travel Information:

A retail travel agency provides necessary travel information to the general public. The intending tourists come to the office of the travel agent and seek information regarding their proposed visit.The travel agent should be a very knowledgeable man and should supply up to date and concrete information relating to travel.

Preparation of Itineraries:

A tourist journey involves preparation of different types of itineraries. There are different means of transport with their respective advantages and disadvantages. A travel agent advises the potential tourist to choose the most convenient course.

Liaison with Providers of Service:

A travel agent should maintain constant contact with the providers of various services like the transport companies, hotel managers and providers of surface transport like motor cars from airport to hotel and for sightseeing etc.

Ticketing:

Selling tickets to tourists for different modes of transport like air, rail and sea is a very important function of a travel agent. Ticketing is not an easy job as the range of international air fares is very complex.

Provision of Foreign Currencies:

Provision of foreign currency to an intending foreign tourist is an important function of a travel agent. The Government of India allows an Indian traveler going abroad 10,000 US S. The travel agent will arrange for the purchase of foreign exchange on behalf of his intending travelers. This facility will save a lot of time and harassment for the intending tourists.

Insurance:

Insurance for personal accident risks and risk for loss of baggage is an important function of a travel agent.

The relationship between travel agents and tour companies is continually evolving. In the past, tour operators relied almost exclusively on travel agents to sell their tours. In recent years, with changing technology and evolving business strategies, tour operators are now diversifying how they sell trips.

Travel agents, must now compete with internet websites and other venues to maintain clients. Many travelers are also looking for a more unique or specialized travel experience. Tour operators are diversifying their options to eater to this type of traveler. Agents must stay educated and informed so that they can sell these ever changing types of trips.

The benefits of booking tours remain high, however. Group travel remains a highly profitable component of the travel agent business, and tours are the most straightforward and obvious way to accommodate these groups. Commission rates are higher for group travel, and the profit margin for the level of work involved remains high.

Focusing your business on tours also allows you to easily specialize in one area. You can focus on specific geographies, such as Italy, Brazil, or China. Alternatively you can specialize in specific types of trips such as African Safaris or Scuba Diving vacations. Working with tour operators will help you easily establish yourself as an expert on one area of travel.

Tour operators also offer a unique relationship opportunity for travel agents. if you cultivate a personal relationship with several companies, you can begin to customize trips for your clients. These clients will be impressed with the flexibility you offer them. This will appeal to a broader audience that is looking for more than a simple, mass produced tour.

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