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:
1. 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.
He must have great communication skill and he should be thorough in the art of catching the potential customers. The knowledge of foreign language is a desirable qualification for those working in a travel agency.
2. 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.
3. 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.
Planning and Costing Tours:
The contracts and arrangements having been entered into, there comes the task of planning and costing tours, both for inclusive programmes and to meet individual requirements. This job is intensely interesting and at the same time challenging.
This job calls for a great deal of initiative and drive. The job calls for travel to those places which are to be included in the itineraries.
This is essentially a job for a meticulously minded person and calls for considerable training and ability. Many agencies with the cooperation of airlines and other transportation companies take the opportunity of arranging educational tours for such staff to countries with which they deal.
Many agencies have people who are authorities on particular countries and, in addition to a general programme, many will issue separate programmes dealing with territories.
Separate programmes dealing with holiday offers based on specific forms of transportation, e.g., air, rail, road or sea, may also be prepared. Programmes also have to be issued to cover different seasons of the year.
Publicity is an important part of the programme. Having spent considerable time and money on preparing all that goes into the issue of a programme, publicity must feature considerably in the activities of a travel agency and more so if the agency happens to be a large one.
The majority of large travel agencies have their own publicity departments under the management of a publicity expert.
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.
Computerised Reservation System (CRS) has revolutionised the reservation system both for air and train tickets and also a room in a hotel.
5. 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 traveller going abroad 10,000 US $.
The travel agent will arrange for the purchase of foreign exchange on behalf of his intending travellers. This facility will save a lot of time and harassment for the intending tourists.
Insurance for personal accident risks and risk for loss of baggage is an important function of a travel agent.
The idea of buying a package of travel, accommodation and perhaps some ancillary services such as entertainment became established in Western Europe in the 1960s. By 1970, tour operation had become a full-fledged part of tourism. Its growth was spectacular.
It succeeded in reducing the real price of travel abroad, in doing this; it brought holidays abroad to a segment of the market not reached by conventional methods of taking a holiday.
Today in most countries which are generators of tourism, tour operation is the dominating feature of the holiday market.
An inclusive tour is a package of transport and accommodation and perhaps some other services which are sold as a single holiday for a single all-inclusive price. The popular term, ‘package holiday’ describes the nature of a tour more accurately than the term ‘inclusive tour’.
The original demand for inclusive arrangements came from the convenience of buying a single travel product.