Deutsch: Abrechnung / Español: Liquidación / Português: Liquidação / Français: Règlement / Italiano: Regolamento

Settlement is a term used in the travel industry to refer to the process of reconciling and finalizing financial transactions between travel agencies, airlines, hotels, and other travel service providers. It involves the calculation and payment of commissions, fees, and other charges associated with travel bookings and services.


Image demonstrating Settlement in the Travel context

In the travel industry, settlement is a crucial financial process that ensures all parties involved in travel transactions are compensated correctly and promptly. This process typically involves travel agencies, airlines, hotels, car rental companies, and other service providers who need to reconcile and settle their accounts.

The settlement process usually starts when a booking is made. Travel agents or online booking platforms collect payments from customers, which may include commissions and service fees. These funds need to be distributed appropriately among the various service providers. For example, when a customer books a flight through a travel agency, the agency collects the payment, which includes the airline fare and an agency commission. The settlement process ensures that the airline receives the fare and the travel agency retains its commission.

One of the primary systems used for settlement in the travel industry is the Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) managed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). BSP streamlines the reporting and remittance of sales made by travel agents, providing a single, standardized process for handling payments and reducing administrative overhead.

Similarly, the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) performs a similar role for travel agencies and airlines in the United States, facilitating the efficient settlement of ticket sales.

Application Areas

Settlement in the travel context applies to several key areas:

  1. Airline Tickets: Ensuring that airlines receive the correct payment for tickets sold through travel agencies and online booking platforms.
  2. Hotel Bookings: Reconciling payments between travel agencies and hotels for room reservations.
  3. Car Rentals: Managing financial transactions related to vehicle hire services booked through travel agencies.
  4. Tour Packages: Distributing payments among multiple service providers involved in tour packages, including transportation, accommodation, and guided tours.
  5. Cruise Bookings: Handling the settlement of payments for cruise reservations made through travel agencies.
  6. Travel Insurance: Ensuring insurance providers receive their premiums collected by travel agents.

Well-Known Examples

  1. IATA's Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP): A global system facilitating the financial transactions between airlines and travel agents, used in over 180 countries.
  2. Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC): Provides a similar service in the United States, ensuring efficient and accurate financial settlement for airline ticket sales.
  3. Global Distribution Systems (GDS): Companies like Amadeus, Sabre, and Travelport provide platforms that help manage and settle bookings for various travel services.

Treatment and Risks

The settlement process in the travel industry, while essential, can present several risks and challenges:

  1. Fraud and Security: Handling large sums of money across various platforms and international borders can expose businesses to fraud and cyber threats. Robust security measures and fraud detection systems are essential.
  2. Currency Fluctuations: As travel services often involve international transactions, currency exchange rate fluctuations can impact the final settlement amounts.
  3. Disputes: Discrepancies in bookings, cancellations, and refunds can lead to disputes between travel agents, service providers, and customers, complicating the settlement process.
  4. Compliance: Adhering to international financial regulations and standards is crucial to avoid legal and financial penalties.

Similar Terms

  • Reconciliation: The process of ensuring that two sets of records (typically the balances of two accounts) are in agreement.
  • Remittance: The act of sending money in payment or as a gift.
  • Disbursement: The payment of money from a fund or account.
  • Clearing: The process of settling transactions between banks or financial institutions.



Settlement in the travel industry is the process of reconciling financial transactions between travel agencies, airlines, hotels, and other service providers. It ensures accurate and timely payment distribution, facilitated by systems like IATA's BSP and ARC in the United States. While vital, the process comes with risks such as fraud, currency fluctuations, and compliance issues, necessitating robust security and accurate reconciliation practices.


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