Millions of people now have the time, money, motivation, and means to travel, whether for pleasure or business. A complex industry has evolved to promote travel and to serve the needs of travelers. To a person who is new to the industry—and even to those who are a little more seasoned—navigating the waters can be tricky. The Travel Institute can help you gain the knowledge you may not even realize you need through programs like the Travel Introductory Program, the TRIPKit®.

Here is a great example: Fully understanding the many players in the vast travel industry and how they help you reach success can be overwhelming, but very important. The Introductory TRIPkit Program arranges all of the segments and divides it into three major categories: suppliers, distributors, and supporting organizations.

Suppliers Suppliers own the goods and services that travelers use, including transportation, food, shelter, entertainment, and attractions. Airline and railroad companies, car rental companies, hotels, and cruise lines—all are major suppliers. Restaurants, nightclubs, museums, theaters, and others also may be considered suppliers, though on a smaller scale.

Travel counselors have a duty to help clients choose the service or supplier best suited to the clients. If a preferred supplier meets that test, the travel counselor can recommend that supplier. Developing preferred supplier relationships benefits suppliers, agencies, and clients. Suppliers gain a motivated, knowledgeable workforce selling their products. Agencies gain the possibility of earning higher commissions. They also gain help with marketing and selling through joint advertising campaigns, shared information, and cooperative endeavors. Clients gain a trip built around trusted, reliable, topnotch suppliers that may offer the clients special services and attention.

Distributors Distributors act as intermediaries between suppliers and travelers, helping travelers obtain the goods and services owned by suppliers and helping suppliers promote their products in the marketplace where travelers can find them. Examples of distributors include tour operators/packagers, consolidators, destination management companies, and travel agencies.

Supporting Businesses and Organizations Supporting businesses and organizations either provide travel-related services, such as maps and travel insurance, or aid, educate, or regulate the travel industry. For example, the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) is a trade association that lobbies governments and speaks to the public on behalf of its members. National tourist offices (NTOs) are government agencies that promote travel to their countries; for example, the German National Tourist Board with offices in New York and Los Angeles promotes travel to Germany from the United States. The Travel Institute—a non-profit, independent organization that is the global leader in industry education and certification—has trained hundreds of thousands of travel professionals through its courses, webinars, and in its online Premium Member Lounge. And insurance providers offer travelers insurance against many of the risks associated with traveling.

These three segments of the travel industry are closely linked, and the divisions among them are not sharp. For example, airlines supply the seats and service for air travel, but they also distribute their products, market them and sell directly to consumers as they have done for many years. More and more suppliers distribute their products directly to consumers on the Internet. Furthermore, a few large corporations may own companies in each segment of the industry; for example, one corporation may own hotels, rental car companies, travel agencies, and companies that make software for the travel industry.

We hope you enjoyed this great tip from our TRIPkit Program. Remember that an educated travel professional saves travelers time and money and provides peace of mind for agents and clients alike. So, if you need to start building a solid foundation on the critical areas all travel professionals must have to be successful, check out  The Travel Institute’s Travel Introductory Program, the TRIPKit®

And for more learning, register immediately for our Preparing for a Travel Career webinar, this Thursday, February 6, at 2:00 pm (EST).