A travel agency is a business that assists customers in the booking of travel arrangements, such as flights, hotels, car rentals, and vacation packages. Travel agencies also offer services such as advice on destinations, planning of itineraries, and even obtaining visas and passports for overseas travel. They are often licensed to book airline tickets and other forms of transportation.
Travel agencies can either be brick-and-mortar businesses or online-only operations. Brick-and-mortar travel agencies have physical locations that customers can visit to discuss their plans with an agent face-to-face. Online-only travel agencies do not have physical locations but rather operate solely over the internet, allowing customers to book their travels online at any time.
Travel agencies are typically organized into two main categories: tour operators and wholesalers. Tour operators specialize in providing customized trips or packages for individuals or groups while wholesalers purchase blocks of tickets from airlines or hotels at discounted rates and resell them to other travel agents or directly to consumers.
The majority of travel agencies in the U.S., however, are independent franchises that are affiliated with a larger organization such as American Express Travel Services or Carlson Wagonlit Travel. These franchises usually operate under their own name but benefit from being part of a larger organization by having access to their global buying power and resources.
In addition to traditional brick-and-mortar stores, there is an increasing trend towards mobile apps which allow customers to book their own flights, hotels, and activities via their smartphones. These apps provide a more convenient way for travelers to access the same services they would get from a traditional agency while avoiding any additional fees associated with booking through an agency.
In conclusion, a travel agency is a business that helps customers plan trips by booking flights, hotels, car rentals, vacation packages and more. They may be organized into tour operators who specialize in customized trips or wholesalers who purchase blocks of tickets from airlines & hotels at discounted rates for resale purposes. Many independent franchises are affiliated with larger organizations like American Express & Carlson Wagonlit Travel to benefit from global buying power & resources while mobile apps also provide an increasingly popular way for travelers to plan their own trips without any extra fees.