Virtual Kollage: The meaning and functions of a travel agency

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The meaning and functions of a travel agency


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THE FUNCTIONS OF A TRAVEL AGENCY
Meaning of a travel agency
A travel agency can be defined as a private retailer or an entity that provides services to the public in the tourism sector on behalf of airlines, hotels, travel insurance companies, tour companies and may make travel arrangements for travellers.

THE FUNCTIONS OF A TRAVEL AGENCY
Reservations
One of the major functions of a travel agent or agency is to make reservations on behalf of clients. It is the primary responsibility of the travel agent to make the process of travelling very easy for the prospective traveller and one of the keys to making that possible is to make reservations for them. It could be a reservation in the destination hotel, on a cruise liner etc.

Ticketing
Another function of the travel agent is to buy tickets from service providers who provide travel related services to the public on behalf of their clients. It could be an airline, a train or cruise liner ticket. It could also be a ticket for a tour package, to a cinema hall to watch a movie or any event that the client is interested in attending. Normally, these tickets are provided to the travel agencies at a discount so the price is lower than advertised. When they do make sales, their profit is the difference between the discounted price and the advertised price.

Visa arrangement
Another function which travel agents perform for their clients is to procure visas for them. Especially for clients who want to travel to Europe and the United States or Canada, where there are rigorous procedures and requirements, travel agents over the years have mastered the best way to successfully secure visas for people. Even in countries where it is easy to personally acquire visa, some clients do not have the time so they require the services of travel agents.
  
Foreign exchange procurement
Included in the plethora of services travel agents provide is the procurement of foreign exchange. These agents have working relationships with forex exchange companies who are able to offer very good exchange rates and the required amount even at short notices. Travel agents are therefore able to help their client procure different national currencies for their travelling needs.

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Offer travel advice
Travel agents play advisory roles too, for their clients. For example, if a client desires to travel to a particular country, they are able to give advice on the kinds of documents required for their particular purpose. They advise on whether the traveler requires vaccination or not, if yes, which kinds of vaccines.

Research
It is also a function of the travel agent to research into destinations and any travel packages being offered by service providers. They research to find out the best airline tickets on offer and when to travel to get still cheaper rates. They listen to the latest news to appraise themselves with the latest information, based upon which they advise travelers on what to do and at what time.

SAMPLE QUESTIONS
1. a. What is a travel agency?
    b. What are the functions of a travel agency?
2. Highlight six functions of a travel agent.


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