By Ansgar Walk — photo taken by Ansgar Walk, CC BY-SA 2.5,

Travel Agencies are just the Tip of the Tourism Iceberg

“Oh. So, you’re a travel agent.” That is the response I usually get when I tell people that I work in tourism. Well, nope, I’m not a travel agent. I don’t give travel advice to holidaymakers. At least not professionally.

Most people associate tourism with travel agencies, airlines, and hotels. Nothing new. But if you work in tourism, then you know that these types of businesses are just the tip of the iceberg. You know that lots of different companies must work together to create the wonderful holidays that we all can just book with a few clicks and a credit card.

For example, have you ever thought of how many companies it takes to create a package for beach holidays in — let’s say — exotic Oman? Let’s take a look.

To start off with, more holidaymakers than you think book their holidays with a travel agency — online or brick and mortar, doesn’t matter. Then there’s the airline, the hotel, and the bus that will get you from the airport to the hotel and then back again.

Maybe the holiday package also includes a full-day sightseeing tour out into the desert, which usually requires a bus, a driver, a professional tour guide, entry to the various points of interest, and a restaurant to have lunch.

And finally, you might want to get travel insurance. Just in case you or your loved ones get sick and have to cancel. Very often you can get that insurance right along with your holiday booking.

Add it all up, and you’ll notice that almost a dozen different tourism companies are needed to create a very basic holiday package. And by the way, a travel agent only works for one of these.

Some holiday packages are a bit simpler, others more complex. And often, travellers organise everything themselves — or at least they think they are. But at the end of the day, most holiday packages are created through the close collaboration of a dozen or so tourism companies and many more tourism professionals.

So, the next time you go on a holiday, give it a try: Count the different types of services that go into making your holiday the well-deserved break from the daily grind. You’ll be surprised at how many companies are involved.

One last thing… I haven’t told you yet what I do in tourism. I help build the tools that make it easier for tourism companies and professionals to work together.

What kind of tools? More on those in future posts.