What is the meaning / definition of Travel Agent in the hospitality industry?
Travel Agent is a person whose job it is to arrange travel for end clients (individuals, groups, corporations) on behalf of suppliers (hotels, airlines, car rentals, cruise lines, railways, travel insurance, package tours). His task is to simplify the travel planning process for their customers in addition to providing consultation services and entire travel packages.
An Agent can be self-employed, work for an independent travel agency, or be part of a Travel Agency Consortia. Travel agents may specialize in leisure, business and/ or other niche travel markets. They may be generalists or specialists (i.e. specialise in cruises, adventure travel, conventions and meetings.). The agents typically receive a 10 to 15% commission from accommodations, transportation companies and attractions for coordinating the booking of travel.
Although booking a hotel/ a trip etc. through a Travel Agent saves time, nowadays the number of Travel Agencies is decreasing due to the strong online presence of the suppliers (hotels, airlines...) themselves. OTAs are the (new) online form of a Travel Agency.
Using a Travel Agent is beneficial for customers who plan multi-destination and/ or international trips. Booking through an agent saves time and ‘headaches’. The experience and consultancy comes from 'one hand' - the agent who combines all the travel components and services for the client/ traveler. Often agents also dispose of unpublished deals and activities which is beneficial for the traveler.