A travel agency's main function is to act as an agent, selling travel products and services on behalf of a supplier. Consequently, unlike other retail businesses, they do not keep a stock in hand, unless they have pre-booked hotel rooms and/or cabins on a cruise ship for a group travel event such as a wedding, honeymoon, or a group event. A package holiday or a ticket is not purchased from a supplier unless a customer requests that purchase. The holiday or ticket is supplied to the agency at a discount. The profit is therefore the difference between the advertised price which the customer pays and the discounted price at which it is supplied to the agent. This is known as the commission. In many countries, all individuals or companies that sell tickets are required to be licensed as a travel agent.[citation needed][6]
In some countries, airlines have stopped giving commissions to travel agencies. Therefore, travel agencies are now forced to charge a percentage premium or a standard flat fee, per sale. However, some companies pay travel agencies a set percentage for selling their product. Major tour companies can afford to do this, because if they were to sell a thousand trips at a cheaper rate, they would still come out better than if they sold a hundred trips at a higher rate. This process benefits both parties.[7] It is also cheaper to offer commissions to travel agents rather than engage in advertising and distribution campaigns without using agents.[8]
Other commercial operations are undertaken, especially by the larger chains. These can include the sale of in-house insurancetravel guide books, and public transport timetablescar rentals, and the services of an on-site bureau de change, dealing in the most popular holiday currencies.
Travel agents in Rio de JaneiroBrazil
A travel agent is supposed to offer impartial travel advice to the customer, as well as coordinating travel details and assisting the customer in booking travel. However, this function almost disappeared with the mass market package holiday, and some agency chains seemed to develop a "holiday supermarket" concept, in which customers choose their holiday from brochures on racks and then book it from a counter. Again, a variety of social and economic changes[which?] have now contrived to bring this aspect to the fore once more, particularly with the advent of multiple, no-frillslow-cost airlines.[which?][when?][citation needed]

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