A travel agency is a private retailer or public service that provides travel and tourism related services to the public on behalf of suppliers such as activities, airlines, car rentals, cruise lines, hotels, railways, travel insurance, and package tours. In addition to dealing with ordinary tourists, most travel agencies have a separate department devoted to making travel arrangements for business travelers; some travel agencies specialize in commercial and business travel only.
There are also travel agencies that serve as general sales agents for foreign travel companies, allowing them to have offices in countries other than where their headquarters are located. ] centered its focus on its business of travel and tourism. Lately Thomas Cook also established a chain of agencies in the last quarter of the 19th century, in association with the Midland Railway. They not only sold their own tours to the public, but in addition, represented other tour companies.
] the Polytechnic Touring Association, and the Co-operative Wholesale Society. A travel agency's main function is to act as an agent, selling travel products and services on behalf of a supplier. Consequently, unlike other retail businesses, they do not keep a stock in hand, unless they have pre-booked hotel rooms and/or cabins on a cruise ship for a group travel event such as a wedding, honeymoon, or a group event.
A package holiday or a ticket is not purchased from a supplier unless a customer requests that purchase. The holiday or ticket is supplied to the agency at a discount. The profit is therefore the difference between the advertised price which the customer pays and the discounted price at which it is supplied to the agent.
This is known as the commission. In some countries, airlines have stopped giving commissions to travel agencies. Therefore, travel agencies are now forced to charge a percentage premium or a standard flat fee, per sale. However, some companies pay travel agencies a set percentage for selling their product. Major tour companies can afford to do this, because if they were to sell a thousand trips at a cheaper rate, they would still come out better than if they sold a hundred trips at a higher rate. Other commercial operations are undertaken, especially by the larger chains.