How to Become a Travel Agent in India

how to become a travel agent in india

India, a land of diverse cultures, rich heritage, and unparalleled landscapes, has always been a magnet for travelers from around the world.

From the serene backwaters of Kerala to the majestic Himalayas, the historic forts of Rajasthan to the sacred ghats of Varanasi, the country offers a plethora of experiences for every kind of traveler.

This vast and varied spectrum of destinations makes the travel and tourism industry in India one of the most vibrant sectors of the economy.

Enter the role of a travel agent – a bridge between tourists and these unforgettable experiences.

In an age where information is readily available at our fingertips, the role of travel agents has evolved.

They are no longer just ticket-booking entities but have transformed into consultants who curate personalized travel experiences, ensuring that tourists get the most out of their journeys.

For those passionate about travel and keen on helping others craft memorable trips, becoming a travel agent in India can be a rewarding career choice.

As we delve deeper into the steps and requirements to become a travel agent in India, it’s essential to understand the ever-changing dynamics of the industry, the challenges it faces, and the vast opportunities it presents.

With the right blend of knowledge, skills, and passion, one can chart a successful path in this industry, making dreams come true for countless travelers.

Educational Requirements

In the dynamic world of travel and tourism, a solid educational foundation is paramount.

While passion and on-the-ground experience are invaluable, formal education imparts the necessary technical skills and industry insights that are crucial for success.

Below is a comprehensive look at the educational requirements for aspiring travel agents in India:

Basic Qualifications

  • Minimum Educational Background: Generally, a 10+2 pass from a recognized board is the minimum requirement to pursue courses in travel and tourism. This ensures a fundamental understanding of basic subjects, which serves as a springboard for specialized learning.

Relevant Courses and Certifications

  • Diploma in Travel and Tourism: These courses, typically of one to two years’ duration, cover essential subjects like travel agency management, tour operations, and airline ticketing. Students gain both theoretical and practical knowledge, which is crucial in the initial stages of their career.
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Travel and Tourism Management: Spanning three to four years, a bachelor’s degree offers in-depth knowledge on various facets of the industry. Modules may include tourism marketing, event management, hospitality, and airline operations, among others. Opting for a bachelor’s degree can open up avenues for higher positions within the industry and a broader understanding of the global travel landscape.
  • Certificate Courses in Ticketing and Reservations: With the airline industry playing a pivotal role in travel, understanding ticketing and reservations becomes crucial. Several institutions offer certificate courses in this domain, equipping students with knowledge on ticketing software, international ticketing regulations, and fare calculations.
  • Advanced Degrees and Specializations: For those aiming for leadership roles or wanting to specialize in niche areas like eco-tourism, adventure tourism, or luxury travel, pursuing a master’s degree or post-graduate diploma can be beneficial.

Online Courses and Workshops

  • The digital age has made learning more accessible. Numerous online platforms offer courses on travel planning, digital marketing for tourism, sustainable tourism, etc. These can be an excellent way for budding travel agents to augment their skills without investing in full-fledged degrees.

Skill Sets Required

The travel and tourism industry thrives on personal interactions, intricate planning, and a deep understanding of clients’ desires.

As such, travel agents need a specific set of skills to excel in this domain.

While some of these skills can be honed through formal education, others are developed over time with experience and exposure. Here’s a detailed exploration of the vital skill sets required:

Communication Skills

  • Importance: At the core of a travel agent’s role is interaction – with clients, vendors, and partners. Effective communication ensures clear understanding and minimizes potential discrepancies.
  • Development: This skill can be refined through public speaking courses, attending workshops, and engaging in regular client interactions.

Customer Service Orientation

  • Importance: The essence of the travel business lies in ensuring customer satisfaction. A keen focus on clients’ needs, preferences, and feedback is crucial.
  • Development: Customer service training sessions and firsthand experience in dealing with clients can be invaluable.

Attention to Detail

  • Importance: The difference between a good trip and a great one often lies in the details. Whether it’s booking the right flight, recommending a local experience, or foreseeing potential issues, meticulous planning is key.
  • Development: Organizational skills training and consistent practice in trip planning can sharpen this skill.
  • Importance: Clients rely on travel agents for expert advice. A comprehensive understanding of popular destinations, cultural nuances, and current travel trends is essential.
  • Development: Regularly reading travel magazines, blogs, attending tourism expos, and personal travel experiences can enhance this knowledge.

IT Skills

  • Importance: The world of travel is increasingly digital. From using booking software to understanding the latest travel apps, a proficiency in IT is vital.
  • Development: Taking IT courses, especially those tailored for the travel industry, and regular hands-on practice will help in mastering these tools.

Multitasking and Time Management

  • Importance: Travel agents often juggle multiple clients, bookings, and queries. Efficiently managing time and tasks ensures smooth operations and satisfied clients.
  • Development: Time management workshops and the use of digital tools like task managers can be beneficial.

Negotiation Skills

  • Importance: Agents often need to liaise with hotels, airlines, and other service providers to get the best deals for their clients. Negotiation prowess can lead to better prices and services.
  • Development: Business negotiation courses and real-world practice with vendors can refine this skill.

Problem-Solving and Crisis Management

  • Importance: Travel plans don’t always go smoothly. From delayed flights to booking mishaps, an agent’s ability to quickly resolve issues determines their reliability.
  • Development: Crisis management training and firsthand experience in tackling travel-related problems are key.

In essence, while some skills can be acquired through formal learning, the travel industry heavily emphasizes real-world experiences and interpersonal skills.

As aspiring travel agents navigate their career paths, continuous learning, adaptation, and genuine passion for travel will set them apart in this competitive industry.

Gaining Experience

The travel industry is one where theoretical knowledge, while vital, is best complemented by hands-on experience.

In the vibrant and ever-evolving landscape of travel, firsthand encounters, and practical insights can be invaluable for a travel agent. Here’s an in-depth look at how to gain experience in this industry:

Internships with Established Travel Agencies

  • Importance: Interning provides a platform for budding agents to immerse themselves in the daily operations of a travel agency. It’s a gateway to understanding client interactions, trip planning, vendor relationships, and more.
  • How to Pursue: Reach out to renowned travel agencies, both offline and online, expressing interest in internship opportunities. Attending industry events and leveraging academic networks can also open doors.

Entry-Level Jobs

  • Importance: Starting at the ground level allows one to understand the foundational aspects of the industry. Roles such as reservation agents, tour operators, or customer service reps offer insights into the mechanics of the travel world.
  • How to Pursue: Job portals, company websites, and industry-specific job fairs are excellent platforms for discovering entry-level positions.

Travel Extensively

  • Importance: Personal travel experiences provide an unmatched understanding of destinations, local cultures, and traveler needs. An agent who has traveled widely can offer insights that resonate with clients, making recommendations more authentic.
  • How to Pursue: While personal vacations are beneficial, consider exploring various travel segments – backpacking, luxury travel, adventure tourism, etc. Document your journeys, as sharing personal stories can enhance client interactions.

Engage in Workshops and Seminars

  • Importance: Industry-specific workshops and seminars provide knowledge, trends, and tools that might not be covered in traditional academic settings. They also offer networking opportunities.
  • How to Pursue: Stay updated on travel industry events through associations like the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) or the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO). Participate actively in these sessions.

Collaborate with Experienced Professionals

  • Importance: Mentorship and collaboration can provide insights that only years in the industry can offer. Learning from seasoned professionals can prevent common mistakes and fast-track growth.
  • How to Pursue: Attend industry events, join travel forums, and engage actively in community groups to meet potential mentors or collaborators.

Engage with the Digital Landscape

  • Importance: With the rise of online travel agencies and digital platforms, understanding the digital side of travel is crucial. Engaging with online tools, social media, and digital marketing offers a competitive edge.
  • How to Pursue: Enroll in digital marketing courses tailored for the travel industry, actively participate in online travel communities, and familiarize yourself with travel software and tools.

Starting a career or business as a travel agent in India isn’t merely about having the right skills or experience.

There are certain legal formalities and regulatory standards that must be met to operate legitimately.

These ensure that the business runs smoothly, clients are protected, and the industry maintains a certain level of professionalism and trustworthiness.

Here’s a breakdown of the key legal requirements:

Registering the Business

  • Importance: Any venture in India requires a legal identity. This helps in taxation, legal compliances, and brand establishment.
  • How to Pursue: Depending on the nature and scale of the business, one can opt for sole proprietorship, partnership, LLP (Limited Liability Partnership), or a private limited company. Each has its own set of registration procedures, usually undertaken through the Registrar of Companies or local municipal authorities.

Obtaining Necessary Licenses

  • Shop and Establishment Act License:
    • Importance: This license is essential for every commercial establishment, ensuring that the business adheres to prescribed working hours, conditions of work, and other regulations.
    • How to Pursue: Apply through the local municipal office, furnishing necessary details of your establishment and paying the requisite fee.
  • Service Tax Registration:
    • Importance: Service providers in India need to be registered for the collection and payment of service tax.
    • How to Pursue: Apply through the Central Board of Excise and Customs, which has been integrated into the GST (Goods and Services Tax) network.
  • IATA Certification (if dealing with international ticketing):
    • Importance: Recognized internationally, this certification allows agents to book international flights and ensures they’re recognized by airlines globally.
    • How to Pursue: Enroll in IATA training programs and pass the requisite exams. Regular renewals might be required.
  • Importance: Being aware of the rights of travelers and the responsibilities of travel agents ensures ethical business practices and reduces the risk of legal issues.
  • How to Pursue: Regularly consult the guidelines set by the Ministry of Tourism, India. Additionally, attending seminars and legal workshops specifically tailored for the travel industry can be beneficial.


  • Importance: Given the uncertainties in travel – from trip cancellations to emergencies – having a business insurance policy can protect travel agents from potential liabilities.
  • How to Pursue: Consult with insurance companies that offer specialized packages for travel businesses, and choose one that aligns with the scale and nature of your operations.
  1. Contracts and Agreements:
  • Importance: Whether it’s with clients, vendors, or partners, having well-drafted contracts ensures clarity of terms and safeguards against potential disputes.
  • How to Pursue: It’s advisable to consult with legal professionals who have experience in the travel industry to draft standard contracts and review specific agreements.

In essence, while the legal landscape might seem intricate, it’s integral to the sustainability and credibility of the business.

Ensuring that all legal formalities are addressed not only protects the travel agent but also instills confidence in clients and partners.

It lays a solid foundation upon which a successful and reputable travel business can be built.

Building a Network

In the travel industry, networking isn’t just about growing one’s client base; it’s also about forging meaningful connections with vendors, industry peers, and other stakeholders.

A robust network can significantly elevate the services a travel agent provides, ensuring better deals, unique experiences, and prompt support.

Let’s delve into the significance and process of building a strong network for an aspiring travel agent in India:

Joining Industry Associations

  • Importance: Associations like the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) or the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) serve as platforms for industry updates, networking events, and advocacy on industry issues.
  • How to Pursue: Apply for membership in these organizations, attend their regular meetings, participate in workshops, and engage actively in discussions and forums.

Participation in Trade Shows and Conferences

  • Importance: Trade shows bring together industry professionals from across the globe, offering opportunities to discover new vendors, tourism boards, and trends.
  • How to Pursue: Keep an eye on major industry events, both national and international. Ensure active participation, not just as an attendee but, if possible, as a speaker or panelist.

Engaging with Local Suppliers and Vendors

  • Importance: Building strong relationships with hotels, transport providers, and local tour operators ensures that clients receive top-notch service and special deals.
  • How to Pursue: Regularly meet with existing suppliers and constantly seek out potential new partners. Personal visits, appreciation gestures, and feedback can strengthen these bonds.

Collaborating with Peers

  • Importance: Peer collaborations can lead to knowledge exchange, shared resources, and even joint ventures for larger projects or clientele.
  • How to Pursue: Attend industry meetups, join online forums, and actively reach out to peers with complementary strengths or offerings.

Utilizing Online Platforms

  • Importance: The digital age has transformed networking. Platforms like LinkedIn, industry-specific forums, and social media can be potent tools for connecting with a global audience.
  • How to Pursue: Maintain active and professional profiles on these platforms, share insights, engage with content from industry leaders, and initiate conversations.

Building Client Relationships

  • Importance: A satisfied client can be the most potent advocate for a travel agent, leading to referrals and repeat business.
  • How to Pursue: Provide exceptional service, seek feedback, and maintain post-trip communications. Consider implementing referral programs or loyalty benefits.

Engaging with Tourism Boards

  • Importance: Tourism boards often provide exclusive information, promotional packages, and training on their destinations. They can be invaluable allies in curating unique experiences for clients.
  • How to Pursue: Attend events or training sessions organized by tourism boards. Regularly update oneself with their publications and promotional materials.

Continuous Learning and Upgradation

  • Importance: The travel industry is dynamic. Regularly updating oneself ensures that the agent remains relevant and can offer the latest trends and experiences to clients.
  • How to Pursue: Enroll in courses, attend workshops, and subscribe to leading travel magazines and journals.

Setting up the Business

Transitioning from aspiring to practicing as a travel agent involves several foundational steps.

Setting up a travel agency business is not merely about finding an office space; it’s a holistic process that encompasses various facets, from branding to infrastructure to client management.

Here’s a closer look at how to set up a travel agency business in India:

Creating a Business Plan

  • Importance: A well-structured business plan acts as a roadmap, detailing your business goals, operational strategies, financial projections, and potential challenges.
  • How to Pursue: Research market trends, identify your target audience, and outline your services. Consider factors like startup costs, pricing strategies, and expected revenues.

Selecting a Suitable Location

  • Importance: The location, whether physical or online, influences client accessibility, brand visibility, and operational convenience.
  • How to Pursue: Depending on your target audience, choose a location. For a physical office, areas with high footfall or in commercial hubs might be ideal. If you’re looking to operate predominantly online, invest in a user-friendly, visually appealing website.

Branding and Identity

  • Importance: A distinctive brand identity helps differentiate you from competitors, creating recall value among clients.
  • How to Pursue: Invest in professional logo design, choose a memorable business name, and ensure consistent branding across all promotional materials and online platforms.

Acquiring Essential Technology

  • Importance: In the digital age, having the right technology is crucial for tasks like booking, customer management, and marketing.
  • How to Pursue: Familiarize yourself with popular travel agency software solutions and CRM tools. Ensure you have reliable communication tools, both for internal coordination and client interactions.

Financial Planning and Management

  • Importance: Efficient financial management ensures business sustainability and profitability.
  • How to Pursue: Open a dedicated business bank account, implement accounting software, and periodically review your finances. Hiring a professional accountant or financial advisor can also be beneficial.

Marketing and Promotion

  • Importance: Effective marketing draws attention to your services, attracting potential clients and retaining existing ones.
  • How to Pursue: Develop a multi-faceted marketing strategy encompassing digital advertising, social media, content marketing, and traditional outreach methods. Engage in regular promotions or special offers.

Hiring and Training Staff

  • Importance: As your business grows, having a trained team ensures smooth operations and improved service quality.
  • How to Pursue: Identify the roles you need, from customer service reps to travel planners. Once hired, invest in their training, acquainting them with industry best practices, software tools, and your business values.

Ensuring Quality Control and Feedback Mechanisms

  • Importance: Continuously improving service quality can set your agency apart. Feedback helps identify areas of improvement.
  • How to Pursue: Implement feedback collection mechanisms, like post-trip surveys. Periodically review these inputs and make necessary adjustments to your services.
  • Importance: Regularly updating legal documents and licenses ensures uninterrupted operations and shields against potential legal issues.
  • How to Pursue: Regularly consult with legal professionals to ensure all licenses are up-to-date, and you’re compliant with industry regulations.

In essence, setting up a travel agency in India requires meticulous planning, continuous adaptation to market trends, and a client-centric approach.

With the right foundation and an unyielding commitment to excellence, an aspiring travel agent can carve a successful niche in the bustling travel industry.

Marketing and Building a Client Base

For travel agents, a robust client base is the lifeblood of their business.

However, building and maintaining this client base in a competitive market requires strategic marketing and consistent efforts to deliver exceptional experiences.

Here’s a deep dive into how travel agents can effectively market their services and cultivate a loyal clientele:

Digital Presence

  • Importance: In today’s world, the majority of travel bookings and research happens online. A strong digital footprint can vastly increase visibility and credibility.
  • How to Pursue: Build a user-friendly, responsive website with clear information about your services, client testimonials, and an easy-to-use booking system. Optimize it for search engines (SEO) to attract organic traffic.

Social Media Engagement

  • Importance: Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest are instrumental for the travel industry, providing visual showcases of destinations and services.
  • How to Pursue: Regularly post engaging content – from travel tips to client stories. Use targeted advertising on these platforms to reach specific demographics.

Content Marketing

  • Importance: High-quality, relevant content can position you as an industry expert and draw in clients looking for reliable travel advice.
  • How to Pursue: Start a blog or video series discussing travel trends, tips, destination guides, and more. Use content to answer common client queries and showcase unique packages.

Email Marketing

  • Importance: Emails are an excellent way to keep past and potential clients informed about special deals, updates, and news.
  • How to Pursue: Build an email list and segment it based on client preferences. Send regular newsletters, offers, and updates, ensuring content is valuable and not too salesy.

Loyalty Programs and Referrals

  • Importance: Encouraging repeat business and word-of-mouth marketing can lead to a steady stream of clients without significant advertising costs.
  • How to Pursue: Offer discounts, upgrades, or special packages for repeat customers. Implement a referral program where clients can benefit from bringing in new business.


  • Importance: Building relationships with industry stakeholders can lead to collaborations, package deals, and client referrals.
  • How to Pursue: Regularly attend travel industry events, join associations, and engage in partnerships with complementary businesses.

Customer Reviews and Testimonials

  • Importance: Positive reviews enhance credibility and can significantly influence potential clients’ decisions.
  • How to Pursue: Encourage satisfied clients to leave reviews on platforms like Google My Business, TripAdvisor, and your website. Address any negative feedback promptly and professionally.

Local Marketing

  • Importance: While digital marketing has a broad reach, local marketing ensures a strong presence in your immediate community.
  • How to Pursue: Participate in local events, workshops, or fairs. Advertise in local newspapers, magazines, and radio. Offer special packages or discounts for residents.

Specialized Packages

  • Importance: Catering to specific niches, like honeymoon travelers, adventure seekers, or solo travelers, can set you apart from generalist competitors.
  • How to Pursue: Research market trends, understand client needs, and curate specialized packages. Market them effectively through targeted channels.

Continuous Learning and Adaptation

  • Importance: The travel industry is ever-evolving. Adapting to new trends and technologies ensures that your marketing strategies remain effective.
  • How to Pursue: Stay updated with the latest in digital marketing, attend industry seminars, and be open to experimenting with new marketing channels or techniques.

Challenges and Overcoming Them

Every industry comes with its own set of challenges, and the travel sector is no exception.

For travel agents in India, navigating these hurdles is essential to ensure the longevity and success of their enterprise.

Here’s a look into the potential challenges faced by travel agents and strategies to overcome them:

Competition from Online Travel Portals

  • Challenge: Online travel portals like MakeMyTrip, Yatra, and Cleartrip offer instant booking options, often at competitive prices.
  • Overcoming: Differentiate by offering personalized services, curating unique travel experiences, and providing hands-on support that online portals can’t match.

Evolving Travel Preferences

  • Challenge: With changing times, traveler preferences shift, be it towards eco-tourism, solo travel, or immersive experiences.
  • Overcoming: Conduct regular market research, gather feedback from clients, and adapt your offerings to cater to the latest trends.

Economic Fluctuations

  • Challenge: Economic downturns or financial crises can lead to reduced travel spending.
  • Overcoming: Diversify service offerings, introduce budget packages, and focus on domestic tourism during global economic uncertainties.

Operational Costs

  • Challenge: Rising costs of operations, from rents to utilities, can eat into profits.
  • Overcoming: Opt for a hybrid model (part physical office, part online), adopt energy-saving measures, and regularly review and renegotiate contracts with vendors.

Technological Adaptation

  • Challenge: The rapid pace of technological advancement can make it challenging to stay updated.
  • Overcoming: Invest in regular training for staff, stay informed about the latest travel tech, and consider partnerships or collaborations with tech firms.

Regulatory and Compliance Issues

  • Challenge: Navigating the maze of licenses, permits, and regulations can be daunting.
  • Overcoming: Engage legal experts familiar with the travel industry, stay updated on government notifications, and ensure timely renewals and compliance checks.

Client Trust and Safety Concerns

  • Challenge: Incidents affecting traveler safety can harm the reputation of travel agents.
  • Overcoming: Partner with reputable service providers, offer comprehensive travel insurance, and provide clients with safety tips and resources.

Cultural and Linguistic Barriers

  • Challenge: Catering to a global clientele or sending travelers abroad can pose language and cultural challenges.
  • Overcoming: Offer basic language training, cultural sensitivity workshops, and provide clients with cultural dos and don’ts for their destinations.

Seasonal Variations in Demand

  • Challenge: Certain travel destinations might witness seasonal booms and slumps, affecting agency revenues.
  • Overcoming: Diversify destination offerings, promote off-season travel with discounts, and have a financial buffer for lean periods.

Crisis Management

  • Challenge: Unpredictable events, like natural disasters or pandemics, can disrupt travel plans.
  • Overcoming: Have a clear crisis management plan in place, maintain open communication with clients during crises, and offer flexible booking and cancellation policies.

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Embarking on the journey to become a travel agent in India is both exciting and challenging.

The travel landscape is vast, with countless destinations to explore, numerous travelers seeking unique experiences, and endless opportunities to create lasting memories for clients.

However, this venture is not without its complexities.

From the imperative of meeting educational requirements and gaining relevant experience to navigating the intricacies of marketing, networking, and handling the ever-evolving challenges of the industry, the role demands continuous growth, adaptability, and resilience.

Yet, with the right approach, travel agents can not only thrive in this industry but also stand out by offering tailored, exceptional services that online portals can’t replicate.

By understanding the intricacies of the Indian travel market, staying updated with technological advancements, and consistently prioritizing customer needs and safety, travel agents can establish a successful and sustainable business.

In essence, while the road to establishing oneself as a travel agent in India is marked by competition and challenges, it is also paved with opportunities.

With passion, preparation, and perseverance, one can transform these challenges into stepping stones, leading to a fulfilling career in the world of travel.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do I need a specific degree to become a travel agent in India?

While there’s no mandatory degree requirement, having a diploma or degree in tourism, hospitality, or a related field can be advantageous, offering in-depth industry knowledge and credibility.

Is online competition from platforms like MakeMyTrip a threat to individual travel agents?

Online platforms are certainly competitive, but individual agents can differentiate by offering personalized services, curated experiences, and hands-on support that many online platforms may not provide.

How important is it to have a physical office space in today’s digital age?

While having a digital presence is crucial, a physical office can offer credibility and a space for face-to-face consultations. However, some agents successfully operate exclusively online or adopt a hybrid model.

What kind of initial investment is required to start a travel agency?

The initial investment can vary based on factors like location, size of the operation, technology adopted, and marketing efforts. It’s advisable to create a detailed business plan to estimate these costs.

How can I keep up with changing travel trends and preferences?

Engage in continuous market research, attend industry seminars, join travel forums, and actively seek feedback from clients to stay updated with evolving trends.

Are there any licenses or permits required to operate as a travel agent in India?

Yes, it’s essential to get registered with relevant authorities, such as the state’s tourism department. Additionally, joining recognized associations like IATA can offer added credibility.

Q: How do I handle unforeseen challenges like natural disasters or global pandemics affecting travel?

It’s crucial to have a clear crisis management plan, offer flexible booking and cancellation policies, and maintain open communication with clients during such events.

Is it beneficial to specialize in specific types of travel, such as honeymoon packages or adventure tours?

Specializing can help differentiate your services in a crowded market, allowing you to cater to niche audiences and build expertise in specific travel segments.

How do I ensure the safety and satisfaction of my clients?

Partner with reputable service providers, regularly update your knowledge about destinations, offer comprehensive travel insurance, and provide clients with safety tips and resources relevant to their trips.

Can I run a travel agency as a part-time venture?

While starting part-time is feasible, understanding that the demands of the industry might require more attention, especially during peak travel seasons, is essential. As the business grows, it might necessitate full-time attention.

Meet Ankit Kumar holding a master's degree in Museology, Ankit Kumar brings a profound understanding of the cultural and historical significance of museums. With a passion for research and a keen interest in writing, they have not only excelled in guiding individuals in their career paths but also have a flair for creating insightful and engaging blogs on various aspects of museology as well as different professions.

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