The idea of a business whose service line was organizing trips began with Thomas Cook a British Baptist preacher founded his firm Thomas Cook & Son back in 1841. It was considered the world's oldest travel firm and began by organizing railway excursions but branched out beyond that to organize tours to Europe and eventually the United States.
Historically, booking travel was largely the purview of travel agents who had specialized systems and the connections to book the travel as well as accommodations. They also made the effort to know destinations so they could make recommendations for their clients. While travel agents are still active and provide value, much of what agents did is now being done by individuals using Internet sites, social media, and smart phones apps. The Internet and social media like Instagram have proved helpful for those investigating destination options. Smart phone apps and websites from hotels, airlines, and other vendors like Expedia, Travelocity, and Priceline have made the process of comparison and booking of transportation and accommodations that much easier.
Online services may have different goals than airlines or even travel agents. For airline tickets and hotel rooms, many services reserve in bulk at a wholesale prices and resell at a higher price, though still cheaper than buying from the company. The companies themselves may look to their online ticket operations purely as a way to save money, but they can also create their own travel/accommodation packages and perks. Added to that in terms of accommodations, services like VRBO, AirBNB, and other similar vendors provide alternatives to hotels and other more traditional accommodations. Some travel agents have successfully made the transition by being very specialized or marketing themselves more as consultants.
The information in this section of the guide is specifically focused on resources that cover this particular part of the overall travel and tourism industry. We have also tried to include resources that provide data and information that will help researchers develop their own market profile.
For those doing research in this industry and needing to look at Census data in particular, this is an industry covered by two specific SIC and North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) codes. For more information on search strategies, you can use our Doing Industry Research guide.
There are a number of associations that represent these industries but only some have been included. Some of the information these groups provide is free; some is available for purchase or for members only. While much of the data and reports may not be fully accessible for free, you may be able to find some of the data in articles published in industry trade literature. Using a report name or association name in a full-text source may also be a way to find some of what you need.