Could the tide be changing?
Travel agencies play an important role within the UK travel and tourism industry. They are the retail arm of the industry, selling a wide range of holiday products and travel services to the public. Yet travel industry analysts have been predicting the death of the high street travel agent due to the ever-changing nature of distribution channels. Travel agents are the key intermediaries in the distribution chain whose main role is selling air, rail, sea and land based services. They do this on behalf of their suppliers or principals. They also may offer additional travel-related services such as insurance and foreign exchange . Throughout the history of the travel agent is has shown an innovative and a forward thinking industry. In the 1960’s greater commission and licensing were introduced. There were also increased levels of information services and specialised products, so agents became more involved in tour operations, organising tours and selling cruises. In the 1970’s the package holidays were the big boom, and in the 1980’s and 1990’s the development of technology gave agencies greater commission rates as well as better technology goods. This was also when many travel agents became tour operators with growing numbers of mergers, acquisitions and consolidations. The high street chains started to emerge and were divided into leisure and business travel agents . Leisure travel agents sell packages and other travel-related products and services to the public. Where an agent does not have a wholesale function, their main concern should be the choice of location to ensure ready availability of the principals’ products in the market place . The agent has access to a principal’s stock through the reservation system where instant availability on a computer screen enables the staff to share the booking process with the customer to strengthen the buying decision. It is also suggested: “that the acquisition of...
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