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Tour Operator: Types, Certification, Management, and Functions

June 01, 2023
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We see a variety of advertisements in day-to-day life in magazines as well as newspapers regarding a three-day or one-week tour that mentions the total cost of the package with an itinerary.

Tour Operator

For instance, a one-week tour to Thailand under ₹ 50,000 or grab coupons worth ₹ 1000 on booking flights for Goa or heavy-off season discounts if you are headed to Fiji. These are tour package available for both individuals and groups. These tour packages are created by tour operator who has been in industry for a good amount of time.

Get answers to all your questions about a tour operator.

What is a tour operator?

Working out the details of travel and pleasure takes a lot of time and effort. But as said before, it is a time-consuming process; there are travelers who want to spare the effort of planning their journeys, stays, etc. Rather they would pay someone else to do the entire arrangement. This demand led to the origin of tour operators. Today many people who like to wander and explore buy these packages as per their interests, priorities, and budget (which is always pre-determined). This package designed by the tour operator includes travel (to and fro/surface), accommodation, escort/guide, and so on. The person who puts together all these aspects of travel into a tour operator package is called a tour operator.

In general, we can say that a tour operator is a person who figures out information, plans, and co-ordinates travel with various agencies to create a package or service for the traveler. A tour operator is also responsible for the smooth conduct during the duration of the travel. Thus, tour operators can also be called tour consultants or tour coordinators.

A tour operator may or may not necessarily have their own product(s), but at the same time, they can choose to act as an intermediary to tailor a package to meet the demands/needs of the travelers. 

Importance of Tour Operators

Importance of Tour Operators

Tour operators play an important role in organizing explorations, research, and holidays. We must remember that tour operators originated when the idea of romanticized travel came into the picture. 

Tour Operators provide the best and most competitive prices to the traveler. Tour operators play an important role in negotiating with tourism suppliers (such as hotels, cruises, guides, airlines, etc.) Tour Operators also buy products in bulk, getting them at discounted rates. As a result of it, travelers get the best holiday package possible.

When tourists travel to a different land, things can get uncertain, it can be a health issue, or emergency back in the homeland, or loss of documents and the need to return or maybe change their travel plans. It is important for a qualified tour operator to take care of it all. Tour Operators have good networks across the land, which helps travelers in case of emergency in the host country as well as in foreign land.

Tour Operators cater to a personalized experience based on the taste of the traveler. 

Types of Tour Operators

Types of Tour Operators

Typically, there are four different sorts of tour providers. These are categorized based on the type of business and how it operates.

  • Inbound Tour Operators
  • Outbound Tour Operators
  • Domestic Tour Operators
  • Ground Operators

Inbound Tour Operators: Incoming tour operators is another name for them. Inbound tour operators are defined as businesses that welcome visitors, customers, or tourists and handle arrangements within the host nation. For instance, if TCI Ltd. arranges for a group of American tourists to go via it to India and manages the group there, TCI is referred to be an inbound tour operator.

Outbound Tour Operators: Outbound tour operators are those who market trips to overseas locations, whether they be for business or pleasure. For instance, if Thomas Cook handles bookings for a group of French tourists traveling to India, Thomas Cook is referred to be an outbound tour operator in the context of France.

Domestic Tour Operators: Domestic tour operators are those that put up included trips from various tourist attractions and market them to domestic tourists. Typically, these tour firms offer domestic travel services to tourists.

Domestic inclusive tours and independent tours are offered to tourists by domestic tour operators working inside their own country's borders.

Ground Tour Operators: These types of tour operators are often referred to as handling agencies, and their primary job is to plan tours for inbound passengers on behalf of foreign operators. Consider India as an example of a country with a diverse culture.

The issue occurs when a travel operator offers beach vacations, wildlife vacations, adventure tours, and historical tours at various locations. Therefore, it is the ground operator's responsibility to manage the arriving travelers throughout the same season but at various locations and ensure that everything runs according to the package tours or agreements.

Functions of Tour Operators

Functions of Tour Operators

A tour operator is an organization, individual, or entity in charge of setting up the actual transportation and lodging for any tour or holiday. Additionally, they organize and run vacations by hiring, scheduling, and combining different tour elements, including accommodation, food, transportation, guides, optional excursions, and occasionally even flights.

A tour operator is similar to a service provider in that they provide holidaymakers with the easiest way to arrive, stay, and depart from a place. A tour operator controls a significant number of travel-related airlines, services, and lodging. 

The following are some of the functions of tour operators:

Planning a tour: Planning a tour is one of the significant functions of the tour operators. Planning a tour, creating an itinerary, information about the destination, activities to do, and more are all the duties of the tour operator. A tour operator is also a tour consultant who offers his/her advice to the traveler on the basis of the interest they have, which they may choose for their next leisure or business trip.

Making Tour package: Tour operator buys travel components (such as flights, hotels, excursions, and more) to combine them into a package tour. They create a tour package by assembling various travel components into a final product that is sold to the tourist with a price tag of its own.

Arranging the tour: Travel companies create travel packages and organize tours based on visitor preferences. To give visitors/travelers the greatest experience possible, tour operators organize the trip package and numerous tourism activities.

Travel Information: No matter the size of the tour operators, it is always necessary to provide appropriate information to travelers. It is the most important function of tour operators to give timely updates degrading the destination, accommodation, sightseeing, immigration, health, rules, and regulation.

Reservation: One function that every tour operator or travel agency perform is making a reservation. A tour operator should be well connected to get the best price to make a booking, whether for hotels, flights, or entertainment activities.

Considering the Alternatives: Tour operators must evaluate available options to provide unique and unforgettable travel experiences. It is necessary for a tour operator to evaluate all the available options before they sell it to tourists.

Sales and Marketing: The only way a tour operator can make money is by selling the tour packages that they have carefully constructed, keeping in mind the traveler’s requirements. It is a salient function of the tour operator to market their packages in the right manner to generate revenue.

Taking Care of Problems: As said before, tour operators are also called tour coordinators who are responsible for the smooth conduct of the holiday if any problem arises. Tour operators correct the issues and offer travelers the best possible substitute during their vacation.

Tour Operator Certification

The highest ethical and environmental standards available are met by your operations if they have been certified by an Accredited Certification Body. The public's concern about the negative and beneficial effects of travel and tourism is increasing, and certification offers a respectable answer to challenging environmental and social problems.

These are the following certificates that a tour operator can take to become a certified operator.

IATA – International Air Transport Association

PATA – Pacific Asia Travel Association

WTTC – World Travel and Tourism Council

IATO – Indian Association of Tour Operators

Being a tour operator is a multifaceted and exciting job. Building strong partnerships with suppliers and delivering outstanding customer service is key to success in this field. Additionally, to become and keep up with the latest trends in travel industry, tour operator training is provided by many organizations and education centers. Tour operators should ensure to enrol in these programs and use technology to their benefit.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is the main role of a tour operator?

A1. A tour operator is a member of the hospitality industry that plans tours and offers assistance to clients, and ensures they have a comfortable time. Based on their financial situation and personal preferences, these experts provide consumers with advice on various travel packages.

Q2. Why does one need a tour operator?

A2. They personalize the tour and ensure that every detail is taken care of. Everything from the airport to hotel transfer, meet and greet, hotel check-in, meals, transportation to the trade show, sightseeing, and other activities are scheduled to make the most of your time and money spent with them.

Q3. How do I start a tour and travel business?

A3. Starting a tour and travel business can be an exciting and rewarding venture. Here are some steps to help you get started:

  • Know Your Business.
  • Determine Target Market.
  • Analyze Competitors.
  • Set Goals.
  • Outline Strategies.
  • Set a Budget.
  • Get to Work.

Deepti Shangari
Deepti Shangari, a seasoned senior content writer, whose passion to write, manage and conquer knows no bounds. To her, the world is an ever-changing symphony of ecstatic motion, a mesmerizing dance of evolution and unfolding. With each passing moment, the vibrant tapestry unfurls before her very eyes, inspiring her to craft literary pieces that transcend the ordinary.