History of Travel Agency

  1. In 1841, Thomas Cook began running a special excursion train from Leicester to Loughborough in England, a trip of 12 miles. On July 5th Cook’s train carried 570 passengers at a round trip price of 1 shilling per passenger. This is believed to be the first publicly advertised excursion train. Thus Cook can rightfully be recognized as the first rail excursion agent.
  2. He started a full time excursion agency in 1845. The railway company gave 5% commission. He became the first tour operator in the world. In 1845, he arranged the first all-inclusive tour from Leicester to Liverpool. Now he invented hotel coupons for the first time. In 1846, he took 350 people by train and steamship on a tour of Scotland. Cook also published the first guidebook on this tour. In 1851, over 1, 50,000 people used Cook’s Lodging and Transportation services to go to London for the world’s first Exposition at Crystal Palace.
  3. In 1882, Cook started his first Around-the-World tour. The tour took 220 days. It inspired Jules Verne to write his famous book Around the World in Eighty Days. Cook’s tours went everywhere- to Egypt, to see the Pyramids, to the Holy Land for a Pilgrimage.
  4. Cook arranged a deluxe tour to India with P&O Steamship line; the tourists saw Bombay and Kashmir. In 1847, he introduced the traveler’s cheques. These coupons were called “circular notes” and were valid at Banks, Hotels, Restaurants and Shops. Later these circular notes came to be known as “traveler’s cheques” and were adopted by the American Express Company. It is insured against loss.
  5. Cook’s son John Cook inherited his father business and continued to provide the service. They realized that bulk use of transport and accommodations could reduce the cost of travel and thus increase the demand. The Cooks tour in the Second half of the nineteenth century was escorted by a tour leader.
  6. In 1898, the management of the firm passed on to John’s three sons. At the time of his death, the Cook’s business included three major aspects of travel – selling tours, banking and shipping.
  7. The British Government in 1977, sold Thomas Cook & Sons to Midland Bank Consortium for £ 858.8 million. The company today has over 1,000 offices around the world in 145 countries. The largest of its kind, Thomas Cook & Sons have now business interest in several fields.
  8. Travel Business In America: The American Express Company may be said to have its origin in the same year – 1841 in America. While Thomas Cook hired his first train that year, Henry Wells started his freight business in USA at the same time. Thomas Cook started as, what we now call as a tour operator, and Henry Wells as a shipper who later began the well-known company of America – Wells Fargo. The American Express Company (AMEXO) is the world’s second largest travel agency.
  9. The company has also introduced American Express Credit Cards, which are perhaps the most popular credit cards in the world. A holder of such credit cards can go to any part of the world and pay his/her hotel bills, eat food in restaurants, buy an international air ticket or anything else at place where American Express Cards are recognized. The American Express today is the world’s largest travel outfit – 2,227 offices in 120 countries. 
  10. Today, Travel Agencies have been recognised as a vital component of travel and tourism and have become an integral part of travel and tourism industry at global. They Account for more than 90% of international and 70% of domestic tourist traffic. Further, more than 60% of all travel agency revenues are derived from the business travel. Most travel agencies sell both commercial and leisure travel but there is many travel agencies which only specialize in one sector or the other.