Top 6 Best Travel Agencies in the U.S. | 2017 Ranking (2023)


What Do Travel Agencies Do?

A few decades ago, a travel agency or a company of travel operators was an essential part of planning any trip. Now, with the Internet and the travel resources and booking sites available online, people often wonder if travel companies still have any relevance when they’re planning a trip.

The answer is yes: in many cases, top travel agencies can still offer a lot of benefits to travelers.

Top 6 Best Travel Agencies in the U.S. | 2017 Ranking (1)

Award Emblem: Top 6 Best Travel Agencies in the U.S.

A travel agency is beneficial first and foremost because it can save you time. Booking a trip and planning the details can be time-consuming. That’s not something a lot of people want to do on their own, which is where travel companies can come in.

Working with top travel agencies can also help you save money. Travel agencies still have exclusive relationships with hotels and suppliers, and they also utilize advanced reservations technology, so you can be sure you’re going to get the best possible deal and access to otherwise unavailable options and deals.

Also, when you’re planning a trip, particularly if it’s international, you might not be aware of certain components of going to a particular location. It might be difficult to plan details because of international differences in language, tipping, and other things. Travel agents usually specialize in one area or region, which means you get the advantage of their expert knowledge not only in planning your trip but also in the days leading up to your travels as you prepare.

The following is an in-depth ranking of the top travel agencies and travel companies in the U.S.

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AdvisoryHQ’s List of the Top 6 Best Travel Agencies

List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the travel agencies below to go directly to the detailed review section for that best travel agency):

  • Azurine Travel
  • Cire Travel
  • Lighthouse Travel
  • McCabe World Travel
  • Small World Vacations
  • Zicasso Handcrafted Travel

Top 6 Best Travel Agencies | Brief Comparison

Best Travel Agency


Key Benefit

Azurine TravelLuxury global travelCan arrange discounted Business and First Class airfare
CireCorporate travel including to the UAEThey have access to resources all around the world but in particular Abu Dhabi and Dubai
Lighthouse TravelHawaiiOwner Marilyn Clark was named one of the best U.S. travel agents by Travel + Leisure
McCabe World TravelDisney, partnerships with brands like Viking River Cruises, The Ritz-Carlton and Four SeasonsMember of Virtuoso network
Small World VacationsDisney brand vacationsAuthorized Disney Vacation Planner, great for families
Zicasso Handcrafted TravelMatching travelers to top travel specialistsSaves time and money while delivering excellent service

Table: Top 6 Best Travel Companies| Above list is sorted alphabetically

How Should You Choose the Best Travel Agency?

There are some primary considerations you should keep in mind as you compare travel agencies and choose the best travel companies. These factors include:

  • If you’re selecting a travel agency, you should make sure the company is part of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA).

    This is a large organization with tens of thousands of members in 140 countries. It’s by far the most important travel trade industry organization in the world.

    This organization helps members maintain their credentials and remain the best at what they do through continuing education and a strict code of ethics.

  • What specialty services are you looking for?

    One of the advantages many top travel agencies have is that they specialize in one area over another.

    For example, business travel, international travel, travel to particular locations, cruises, or family travel.

    These are just a few of the many specializations top travel companies might offer.

Top 6 Best Travel Agencies in the U.S. | 2017 Ranking (2)

Image Source: Pexels

  • Do you need group travel planning?

    Another common reason people might opt to work with travel agencies is because they’re going to be coordinating group travel.

    Many travel agencies and travel companies can secure things like discounts for groups, as well as special transportation.

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These are just a few important considerations to keep in mind as you compare top travel agencies and the best travel companies.

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Detailed Review – Top Ranking Best Travel Agencies

Below, please find the detailed review of each of the top travel agencies. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these best travel companies to score so well in our selection ranking.

Azurine Travel Review

Azurine is a luxury travel company that can provide private access and tailored experience for travelers.

Key Benefits of This U.S. Travel Agency

Important things to know about this best travel agency are highlighted below.

The Creators

Michelle and Roderick Murre created Azurine. Michelle has more than 15 years in the luxury travel market, and she was most recently the VP of Sales for a leading boutique travel firm that specialized in customized global trips. She has experience traveling the world to find the best properties and local guides for clients.

Roderick has lived throughout the world, primarily in Europe, the Middle East, and America, and he has a degree in Hospitality and Business Management from the Napier Business School in Scotland. He has worked for companies like the Walt Disney Management Program and The Dorchester Hotel in London.


Services offered by this leader among top travel agencies and travel operators in the world include:

  • Consulting on every aspect of a trip, including before, during, and after travel
  • Constant access while traveling
  • Flight research, booking, and discounted rates for First and Business Class tickets
  • Assistance with airline mileage
  • Special rates, amenities, and benefits with certain partners
  • This leading travel agency is a member of Virtuoso, Ritz STAS, Four Seasons Preferred, Dorchester Diamond Club, and other exclusive travel organizations


Azurine specializes in travel destinations throughout the world, and they can book everything from leisure and family trips to business travel. This pick for one of the best travel agencies features destination planning for locations like the ones below:

  • Botswana
  • Egypt
  • South Africa
  • China
  • Thailand
  • Borneo
  • Malta
  • Greece
  • U.K.
  • Spain
  • Montenegro
  • Croatia
  • Maldives
  • Seychelles
  • UAE
  • Carribean
  • Pacific Islands
  • Belize

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Cire Travel Review

Cire Travel is a New York-based travel agency that specializes in corporate travel, meetings, and groups, as well as personal and leisure travel.

Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of This as One of the Top Travel Companies

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Among travel companies and the best travel agencies, the following are Cire specifics that led to its inclusion on this ranking of top travel companies.

UAE Corporate Travel Specialist

A key area of focus that sets this best travel agency apart from many others is the fact that they specialize in arranging UAE corporate travel. They approach Abu Dhabi and Dubai travel planning in a way that’s appealing both regarding business and personal travel.

This U.S. travel agency has unique UAE business travel expertise, and their concierge-style service is paired with considerations like the management of corporate costs and the logistics of working in this area of the world.

They can help with everything from arranging travel to logistics for meetings, as well as passport and visa assistance.

Top 6 Best Travel Agencies in the U.S. | 2017 Ranking (5)

Image Source: Cire Travel

Corporate Travel

Along with specializing in UAE business travel, Cire is also an expert best travel agency regarding corporate travel anywhere in the world. This leader among corporate travel companies can help not just in planning, but also when unforeseen circumstances arise, such as lost reservations or overbooked flights.

This pick for one of the top travel agencies can book business air travel at the lowest possible prices, arrange corporate hotel accommodations, and reserve ground transportation, all at discounted rates.

Leisure Travel

Cire, one of the country’s top travel agencies, doesn’t just serve as a company of travel operators for corporate and business travel. They also do personal and leisure planning. The Cire travel operators work as personal concierge service for their clients.

Their packages include cruises, tours, resorts, spas, specialty adventures, and more. They have extensive relationships and buying power that makes them one of the best travel agent companies and a top resource for discerning clients.


Lighthouse Travel Review

Lighthouse Travel is an exclusive best travel agency and one of the leaders among travel agency names in the industry.

Key Features of This Selection as One of the Top Travel Agencies

Some of the reasons Lighthouse Travel is included as a best travel agency on this list of travel agent companies are below.

Marilyn Clark

Marilyn Clark is the owner of this pick for a best travel agency, and she is also one of the travel operators for the company. Marilyn was named by Travel + Leisure as the leader among travel agency names in terms of specializing in Hawaii.

She was cited as being one of the best for foodies, culture buffs, history lovers, honeymooners, and destination weddings by T+L.

Travel Agency Background

This best travel agency was established in 2001 to help people interested in planning ideal leisure travel.

This travel agency is affiliated with many preferred travel suppliers, and they have insider connections as well as expertise. The company focuses on providing value to clients through education, certification, and personal travel experience.

This travel agency has been recognized not only by Travel + Leisure, but is also a Hawaii Master Specialist, a Certified Tahiti Specialist, and is certified by CLIA, ASTA, and IATAN.

Travel Specialist

Marilyn Clark is a Travel Specialist, and she works to provide planning that’s tailored to the needs and interests of the traveler and their life. She is an expert in her fields, which include Italy, Hawaii, and Tahiti, and she can find not only the best accommodations but also the best prices for clients.

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She is ahead of the most current promotions, and she works on behalf of her clients to clarify fine print of various travel offers, such as cancellation penalties and restrictions.

Marilyn Clark and Lighthouse are also beneficial in terms being one of the top travel companies because they offer unique benefits and amenities through exclusive relationships and partnerships they have.

McCabe World Travel Review

A best travel agency, McCabe World Travel is based in McLean, Virginia, and offers the ability to plan world-class travel experiences throughout the world.

Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of This as One of the Top Travel Agencies

Below are some of the ways McCabe is distinctive as one of the top travel companies in the U.S.


Partnerships are important when people are reviewing the top travel agency names and the best travel companies, demonstrating special deals and access to these partners.

Some of the luxury brand partners of McCabe include The Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, Viking River Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.


McCabe is one of the top travel agency names in the industry and is part of the invite-only Virtuoso organization. This exclusive network is one of the top travel groups in the world, and Member travel advisors with Virtuoso receive access to exclusive amenities as well as travel offers and rare experiences.

Participation in this network includes personal contacts at thousands of airlines, cruise lines, hotels, resorts and worldwide destinations. The Virtuosos affiliated travel operators are some of the best experts in the world as well.


One of the areas of specialty where McCabe focuses is on Disney vacations. This include packages and trips to not just Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, but also Disney Land in California and Disney Cruises.

The McCabe travel agency team can also help clients to book an Adventures by Disney package to international locations or a trip to the Hawaiian Disney Resort Au’Lani.

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Small World Vacations Review

Small World Vacations is a travel agency that’s an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, which means the people who work for this U.S. travel agency are specifically knowledgeable and experienced in all things Disney.

Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of This as One of the Best Travel Companies

Among top travel companies and the best travel agencies, the following are specific ways Small World Vacations ranks at the top.

Authorized Disney Vacation Planner

Small World Vacations is not just a best travel agency but is specifically a Platinum-Level Authorized Disney Vacation Planner best travel agency. This best travel agency has a team of more than 60 agents around the country, and they are graduates of the College of Disney Knowledge for travel agents. They have also participated in onsite learning at Walt Disney World and Disneyland, so they have first-hand experience.

Agents are experienced using My Magic+ and making Advanced Dining and FastPass+ selections as well.

They have also been named as one of Inc. Magazine’s top 5,000 fastest growing companies in the U.S. for many years in a row.

Free Service

Small World Vacations is one of the best travel companies and best travel agencies for many reasons, including the fact that there is never a charge for their services. They offer an onboard credit of up to $1,000 for booking a Disney Cruise with them as well, and a savings of up to $1,000 on an Adventure by Disney Vacations.

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Small World Vacations, a top U.S. travel agency, has a history in the travel agency industry spanning 20 years. During that time, they have helped clients save millions of dollars on a variety of Disney vacations.

The team of this U.S. travel agency is always on the lookout for current and upcoming discounts and savings, and they figure out the best discount options for clients based on their resort, travel party, and dates.

They also compare discounts to make sure they’re getting the best one. If a lower price does become available, the team of this leader among travel agencies will do everything possible to get that lower price for their client.

Zicasso Handcrafted Travel Review

Zicasso Handcrafted Travel is a leader among travel agent companies for many reasons, and it makes hassle-free trip planning a reality for clients.

Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of This as One of the Top Travel Agent Companies

The following details some of the top reasons Zicasso is included on this list of travel agent companies and top travel agencies in the U.S.


Zicasso has been recognized as one of the world’s best travel agencies and best travel companies by outlets including Travel + Leisure, which named it one of the best travel websites.

The New York Times recognized it for the fact that it acts as a free matchmaking service for vacationers who need travel agents. Other outlets that have highlighted the benefits of Zicasso include The Wall Street Journal and NBC News.

Travel Specialists

Zicasso is unique from many of the other top travel agencies and best travel companies included on this list. As compared to other best travel agencies, Zicasso actually acts as a link between travelers and travel operators. They vet their travel operators extensively and make sure they hire only the best for their luxury travel planning services.

Every specialist has to undergo rigorous screening before joining the network, and they receive additional coaching as well.

Specialists must undergo detailed assessments and must have a certain standard regarding traveler’s reviews as well.

Other Advantages

Other advantages of using this travel agency to plan a trip include:

  • The website is convenient and award-winning
  • Personalized matching includes up to three top travel specialists who are the best fit for you
  • You’ll only work with the top 10% of travel specialists
  • Specialists have expertise in their destinations
  • 24/7 support from partners
  • Default and fraud protection

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Conclusion—Top 6 Best Travel Companies

The role of travel agencies and travel companies has changed and evolved somewhat in recent years, but the best travel agencies and top travel agencies still offer extensive benefits to clients.

One of the biggest benefits of working with one of the top travel agency names is access to exclusive offers, deals, and discounts, as well as unique experiences. Working with top travel companies can also help save time in the planning of a perfect trip, whether it’s for business or pleasure.

Each of the above travel agencies and travel companies has a long, established and excellent reputation in the industry as one of the top travel agencies.

AdvisoryHQ (AHQ) Disclaimer:

Reasonable efforts have been made by AdvisoryHQ to present accurate information, however all info is presented without warranty. Review AdvisoryHQ’s Termsfor details. Also review each firm’s site for the most updated data, rates and info.

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Which company is best for travel agency? ›

The top 10 online travel agencies
  • Agoda.
  • Expedia.
  • Hotwire.
  • Bookmundi.
  • Skyscanner.
21 Feb 2022

What are the top rated travel and tour companies? ›

The 7 Best Tour Companies for 2022
  • Best Overall: Classic Journeys.
  • Best for Exclusive Perks: Prior.
  • Best for Eco- and Socially-conscious: G Adventures.
  • Best Budget: Intrepid Travel.
  • Best for Foodies: Salt & Wind Travel.
  • Best for Offbeat Travel: Atlas Obscura Trips.
  • Best Cruise: Linblad Expeditions.
17 Oct 2022

Who are the 3 travel agents? ›

There are four main types of travel agents in the travel and tourism industry: high street, business, callcentre and Internet.

Is it cheaper to book through a travel agent? ›

Seaton says booking through a travel agent typically won't cost you more. She says while some agents will charge you a nominal planning fee, many agencies like hers do not charge anything extra for their services. "We get paid a commission on the back end from the vendor, so that's how we make our income," she said.

What is the best website for travel deals? ›

The Best Travel Deals Websites to Book Your Next Vacation
  • Best Overall: Great Value Vacations.
  • Best for Cruises: Travelzoo.
  • Best for Spontaneity: Skyscanner.
  • Best for Booking: Expedia.
  • Best for Non-Hotel Lodging: Best Comparison Site: Kayak.
25 May 2021

Who is the market leader in the online travel space? ›

The key players in OTA are makemytrip, cleartrip, yatra, travelguru and, ixigo. The high growth rate has also attracted international players like expedia and travelocity.

What is the largest online travel agency? ›

With a market cap of approximately 104.25 billion U.S. dollars, Airbnb ranked first among the leading online travel companies worldwide as of December 2021. Competitors, Expedia, and followed on the list. Second-ranked's market cap amounted to roughly 98.52 billion U.S. dollars.

What are the four kinds of travel agencies? ›

The four main types of travel agencies are: Commercial travel agencies , which cater mainly to business travelers. Online travel agencies that help people plan their trips entirely online. Niche travel agencies , which specialize in arranging trips to specific areas.

How do I know if a travel agent is legit? ›

Look to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for complaints filed in the company's primary area of business. Consider asking for client references, and contact those references to get the opinions of past travelers. You might also ask for comments about the provider on a travel message board.

Is it worth it to use a travel agent? ›

Travel agents are useful if you're doing a very costly or complex trip, planning a honeymoon or something fancy, or traveling with a large group. They have access to a number of deals and bulk buying options we DIY solo consumers don't, especially when it comes to tours, high-end flights, and cruises.

How do I choose a travel company? ›

Here are a few tips:
  1. Look for the right certification. If the agent is a member of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) (, that's a promising sign. ...
  2. If at all possible, stay local. There's no substitute for the personal touch. ...
  3. Interview the agent. ...
  4. Find out how they react under pressure.

How do I choose a tour company? ›

How to choose a responsible tour operator
  1. Find out how they're minimising their global impact and carbon offsetting. ...
  2. Look for less-touristy experiences. ...
  3. Check how they really feel about animal welfare. ...
  4. Get as local as possible. ...
  5. Find out if they're looking out for women and children.
28 Feb 2019

Which tour is best? ›

All of them can be tailor-made to your needs in 24 hours.
  • From the Himalayas to the Taj Mahal. ...
  • Secret Southern India - Kerala. ...
  • Spiritual North India: Rajasthan and the Ganges. ...
  • Photogenic Rajasthan and Ranthambore Safari. ...
  • India's North-West Frontier Tour. ...
  • Unique India with Taj Mahal and Toy Train.

What is a travel agent rate? ›

The commission percentage agencies earn depends on numerous factors, the most important one being which private contracts you have access to. Here's a general rule of thumb on the airline ticket commission range you can expect as a travel advisor: Domestic: 0-5% International: 10-22%

What percentage do travel agents make? ›

Most travel agents who earn commission booking tickets on airlines earn 5% on domestic flights and 10-20% on international flights. The commission rates are similar for booking hotels.

What are the two types of travel agency? ›

There are two types of travel agencies viz., retail travel agency and wholesale travel agency. Both the travel agencies as well as tour operators act as intermediaries. They strengthen the buying and selling process in travel industry.

Is a travel agent worth it 2022? ›

As we enter 2022, it's still just as crucial to use a travel advisor for booking your vacation. Agents get the latest news in all things travel delivered right to their inbox, and they have the most important websites bookmarked and ready access when you call in to start planning.

Can you negotiate with a travel agent? ›

You can negotiate

According to the website loveEXPLORING, you can haggle with travel agents, but they won't let you in on that secret. Travel agents hate when customers go with someone else because they got a lower price, and often, they'll negotiate.

Is it better to book flights online or with a travel agent? ›

Booking with travel agents is often cheaper than booking online as they have access to awesome money-saving deals. Privy to secret airline prices, travel agents book scores of air tickets each day and will be able to easily tell you if the flight price you found online is a reasonable one.

What are the types of travel agencies in the United States? ›

The four main types of travel agencies are: Commercial travel agencies , which cater mainly to business travelers. Online travel agencies that help people plan their trips entirely online. Niche travel agencies , which specialize in arranging trips to specific areas.

How can you tell if a travel agency is real? ›

A great way to check if a travel agency is legitimate is by checking that the company names on the paperwork match with who you have paid. There's no harm in double checking your bank account and credit card statements for names and amounts paid.

Are travel agents free? ›

How much does a travel agent cost? The cost of using a travel agent is generally marginal, and often, they won't charge you at all. Much of their money comes from commissions the hotels and wholesalers pay them. Before you decide to book with a travel agent, inquire whether or not they charge fees.

How many travel companies are in the US? ›

There are 5,596 Tour Operators businesses in the US as of 2022, a decline of -10.8% from 2021.

Which is the oldest travel agency in the world? ›

History. In 1758, Cox & Kings became the first travel agency in modern history. In 1840, the Abreu Agency was established in Porto by Bernardo Abreu, becoming the world's first agency to open its services to the public.

How do travel agencies make money? ›

Generally, leisure travel agencies' main revenue is from commissions vendors pay on vacation packages, cruises, air, and other add-ons. However, consultation fees and service fees are becoming more common as agencies try to diversify income sources to become less dependent on supplier commissions.

What is the difference between a travel agency and a tour operator? ›

A travel agent will help you arrange transportation, find lodgings, and suggest an itinerary. A tour operator will arrange your transportation, lodgings, food, entertainment, and itinerary. A tour operator removes the headaches. A tour operator does the work for you.

Can you pay a travel agent in cash? ›

Use a Travel Agent

If you don't want to use a credit card or pay in person, you can always hire a travel agent to do the booking for you. They accept credit cards, of course, but many travel agents will take payment in cash, check, money order or even online methods like PayPal too.

Do you think booking through a travel agency is a good deal in making trips Why or why not? ›

You pay a little more, but you ensure that your experience will not feel like a cheap one. Another value you get from having an agency take on an even more active role in your tour experience is the guarantee that your vacation will be as smooth, safe, and stress-free as possible.

How do I report a fake travel agent? ›

Report it to us online or call 0300 123 2040.

Is a travel agent worth it 2022? ›

As we enter 2022, it's still just as crucial to use a travel advisor for booking your vacation. Agents get the latest news in all things travel delivered right to their inbox, and they have the most important websites bookmarked and ready access when you call in to start planning.

Do you tip a travel agent? ›

Actually, it is not at all customary to tip money to your agent as tip. But, if you want to give your agent some gift, give him or her positive review. That would be far better than money, which might look bad or hurt someone's dignity. The best gift that you can give your agent is new business.

Is using a travel agent worth it? ›

Travel agents are useful if you're doing a very costly or complex trip, planning a honeymoon or something fancy, or traveling with a large group. They have access to a number of deals and bulk buying options we DIY solo consumers don't, especially when it comes to tours, high-end flights, and cruises.


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