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The travel agent's role in tourism.


Tourism and the entities that make up this multibillion-dollar industry are somewhat familiar to all of us through firsthand contact. Though we may not have been able to experience all parts of the tourism industry, we do have distinct impressions and recollections of the ones we have.

For example, those who have recently taken a cruise understand that, along with a boat ride, one enjoys fine dining and entertainment, a variety of recreational activities, shopping, socializing, and sightseeing. We quickly come to understand that cruising is not just a boat ride, but also an adventure in the "rest and relaxation" industry. In the past, cruising was only for older people and their parents, but now it is for everyone.

The cruise business is only a small segment of the tourism industry. Other vital components in the tourism industry include airlines, hotels, rental cars, rail lines, motor-coaches, tour operators, travel agents, limousines, charter operators, and convention bureaus.

Each of these entities realizes that it is selling more than what meets the eye. They all hope to have a positive impact on our senses so we will use them again and again.

Having a Positive Experience

For me, having a positive experience each time I travel doesn't always happen. This may be due to the fact that I do most of my traveling while on business trips, and, thus, have business on my mind.

There seems to be distinct differences between those traveling on business and those traveling for pleasure. It is likely that you, as a reader of Utah Business, have experienced both business and leisure travel extensively.

You, like me, may relate to the horrendous experience which Steve Martin portrayed in the recent film "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles." You may experience cancellations due to weather, sitting next to someone who talks too much, worring about your towels being stolen, and so forth.

Business and leisure travelers do share one common goal--getting from point A to point B as quickly and safely as possible. Whether you travel primarily for business or pleasure, developing a good relationship with a reliable travel agent can save you time, money, and hassles.

Find the Right Agent

Travel agencies come in all shapes and sizes. Some specialize in leisure travel, some in group tours, some in business travel, but few do very well with all of it. Most of the services provided by travel agencies are provided at no additional cost to the traveler. They earn a commission from the vendor who provides the actual mode of transportation or accommodation.

The travel agencies' cut of the airline ticket is around 9 percent. The rest goes to the airline, the government, and credit-card companies. The same price is charged by the airline, whether the air tickets are distributed through a travel agency or not. More than 80 percent of all airline tickets are now distributed through travel agents (see figure 1).

In the next issue, I will discuss terminology and "jargon" common in the tourism industry which may help you relate better to those who speak it often.

Here's to safe and savvy traveling.

Randall Hunt is vice-president of Morris Travel, Salt Lake City.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Olympus Publishing Co.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Hunt, Randall
Publication:Utah Business
Date:Jul 1, 1991
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