Types of Travel Agencies Businesses
Multiples: These often belong to a larger organisation, usually a tour operator engaged in the packaging and selling of inclusive tours. A multiple travel agency will be one of several, even of several hundred agencies that operate under the same name in the same country. A good example of this is the UK based tour operator Thomson Holidays who have a chain of ‘Thomson’ travel agencies.
Miniples: These are small chains of travel agents, usually covering a region of a country.
Independent travel agencies usually cater to the needs of a local area with a regular loyal clientele and often specialize in specific types of travel such as cruises or sports tours, or they may specialize in destinations such as Australia or South Africa, and become known for their knowledge in the particular market. They are often run by their owner and a small team.
Travel agents often operate within a consortium. This is made up of a group of independent travel agencies that work together in the marketing of travel products, sharing ideas and expenditure in marketing and promotion. They can benefit from cost savings and can often gain higher commission levels because of their ‘buying power’ as a group.
Increasingly popular is the idea of being a sole travel agent/consultant, working from home and linked into an established travel agency. This is generally referred to as being a ‘travel broker’ and is a good option for experienced travel consultants who want the flexibility of hours and location that being home-based can offer. Prestige Travel Systems in the USA, for example, offer a setup and training programme for those wishing to join them as travel brokers.
Americas Host Agency is an organisation that is made up of home based travel consultants:
In the United States, there are four different types of agencies: mega, regional, consortium and independent agencies. Regional travel agents are popular because of the size of the country and the benefit of dealing with a travel agent in your own area/time zone. Regional travel agents will often be a small chain operating only in one state or area.
American Express and the American Automobile Association (AAA) are examples of mega travel agencies – large organisations who offer travel consulting in addition to other business services.
Because of the size of the USA travel agencies operate in two distinct sectors: 1) either traditional, multi-destination, outbound travel agencies, based in the originating location of the traveller,
b) or destination focused, inbound travel agents based in the destination and delivering expertise on that location.
The traditional outbound travel agencies tend to be large multiples such as Thomas Cook, whilst the inbound destination based agents tend to be smaller independents operating only in that one destination.
Most travel agents now have an online presence and can offer their customers a personal experience through their ‘brick-and-mortar’ shops or an ease-of-access experience through their website.
New Zealand Travel Agents
The largest group of travel agents in New Zealand is Flight Centre with around 130 branches around New Zealand. Flight Centre is owned by an Australian owned retail travel group with more than 1500 shops and businesses throughout Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA, South Africa, India and the UK.
Flight centre has a range of travel products in its travel portfolio, including the business travel agency Corporate Traveller, a luxury travel company called Travel Associates, retail cruise specialist Cruiseabout and Campus Travel aimed at the academic and university markets. Read more here: http://www.flightcentre.co.nz/about-us/about/about-us
New Zealand’s travel agency networks include a large proportion of franchised travel agents, such as House of Travel or Harvey World Travel.
Under a franchise system each agency is privately owned and the owner pays a fee to the organisation for central support services and marketing.
Harvey World Travel is one of the longest established retail travel agencies in Australasia, with the first Harvey World Travel agency having been opened in May 1951. It has now grown to having over 500 travel agencies throughout Australia, South Africa, United Kingdom and New Zealand. Harvey World Travel is backed by Stella Travel Services, the largest travel group in New Zealand, a company that spans the globe.
The House of Travel is another large New Zealand Travel Agency franchise group. For more information, check: http://www.houseoftravel.co.nz/about-us.htm
In addition to Flightcentre and franchised travel agencies, there is a network of independent travel agents such as well established Pukekohe Travel who provide services for the leisure, corporate and group travellers. Read more about this agency here: http://www.pukekohetravel.co.nz/
The Future for Travel Agents
In additional to conventional booking methods, such as travel agents, customers are increasingly turning to the internet to browse through travel products to compare prices, check availability, and make bookings. Easy-to-use and reliable online booking systems have led to tourism products now being one of the most traded items on the internet.
The role of travel agents has changed significantly over the past decade, and will continue to provide new and exciting challenges. New technology is making online bookings easier and more reliable, and many travel agents are embracing this technology and offering online booking systems to secure bookings that might otherwise be lost to airlines or other suppliers.
Expanding the product range and becoming specialists in destinations or niche travel will help travel agents to diversify and lessen their reliance of traditional products and income sources. Investing in technology will be key to travel agents success in the future: iPhone and iPad apps will help put the travel agent into the client’s hand.