SIC 4729 Arrangement of Passenger Transportation, Not Elsewhere Classified


SIC 4729

This category covers establishments primarily engaged in arranging passenger transportation, not elsewhere classified, such as ticket offices, not operated by transportation companies, for railroads, buses, ships, and airlines.



All Other Support Activities for Transportation


All Other Travel Arrangement and Reservation Services

More than 110,000 people were employed in travel arrangement and reservation services in 2005, managing $120 billion of the U.S. travel industry. According to the American Society of Travel Agents, 87 percent of cruises, 81 percent of all tours and packages, 51 percent of all airline tickets, 47 percent of all hotels, and 45 percent of all car rentals were arranged by travel agents during the mid-2000s.

The number of agencies accredited by the Airlines Reporting Corp. (ARC) increased from 6,911 in 1970 to 33,593 (excluding satellite ticket printers) in 1995. Total agency sales grew remarkably during that period, from $5 billion to $101 billion. In 2005 there were 21,486 agency outlets listed by the ARC, selling $62.5 billion in airline tickets alone. Thirty-one percent of all agency sales came from air travel in 2005, continuing a decline of nearly 50 percent since 1993. In 1993 some 60 percent of agency sales came from air, dropping to 56 percent in 1997, below 50 percent in 2001, and down to 33 percent in 2004.

Consolidation in the agency business was a major trend beginning in the 1990s. In 1992 the ten largest agencies reported a cumulative $18.3 billion in sales at their U.S. locations, according to Travel Weekly. In 2005 the top 10 recorded sales of $99 billion, based on combined results in the United States and overseas. Less than one percent of ARC agency businesses accounted for more than 57 percent of all sales in early 2006, while nearly 89 percent of ARC agencies sold just over 10 percent of the total.

Another trend, beginning with the explosion of Internet use in the 1990s, is the online agency. In 2005 four of the top 10 largest travel agencies did their business online: Expedia, third overall with $15.6 billion in sales; Travelocity, sixth overall with $7.4 billion in sales; Travelport (which owns Orbitz), ninth overall with $2.4 billion in sales; and, tenth overall with $2.2 billion in sales. Interestingly, staffing costs, the largest expenditure of conventional travel agencies, is just as large an expense for online agencies, which typically employ high-priced technology...

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