What does a tour guide do?

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What is a Tour Guide?

A tour guide provides assistance, information, and guidance to individuals or groups of tourists during their travels. Their primary role is to enhance the travel experience by sharing knowledge and insights about the destinations, attractions, and cultural aspects of the places being visited. Tour guides are well-versed in the history, geography, culture, and traditions of the locations they cover, and they use their expertise to educate and entertain the tourists.

Tour guides are responsible for organizing and leading tours, ensuring that the itinerary is followed, and the group stays on schedule. They may work in various settings, including cities, historical sites, natural landscapes, or cultural landmarks. During tours, guides provide commentary, answer questions, and engage with the tourists, creating an interactive and immersive experience. They may also assist with logistical matters, such as arranging transportation, coordinating entry to attractions, and recommending places to eat or shop.

What does a Tour Guide do?

An animated tour guide giving a group of visitors information about the area they are in.

Tour guides bring destinations to life by providing valuable expertise and insights. While guidebooks and online resources can offer information, tour guides offer a unique and personalized experience that cannot be replicated.

Duties and Responsibilities Tour guides have a range of duties and responsibilities to ensure a smooth and enjoyable travel experience for tourists. Some of the key responsibilities include:

  • Planning and organizing: Tour guides research and plan tour itineraries, considering factors such as the duration of the tour, the interests of the group, and the availability of attractions. They arrange transportation, accommodation, meals, and any necessary permits or tickets, ensuring that everything is well-coordinated.
  • Providing information and commentary: A primary role of tour guides is to offer informative and engaging commentary about the destinations being visited. They share historical facts, cultural insights, and interesting anecdotes to educate and entertain tourists. Guides should have a deep understanding of the locations, including their history, architecture, local customs, and traditions.
  • Leading tours and managing groups: Tour guides are responsible for leading the group throughout the tour. They ensure that the group stays together, follows the itinerary, and adheres to any safety guidelines. Guides should have good organizational and leadership skills to manage groups of varying sizes and diverse backgrounds.
  • Assisting with logistics: Tour guides handle practical aspects of the tour, such as coordinating transportation between sites, arranging entry to attractions, and managing timing to optimize the itinerary. They provide directions, answer questions, and offer recommendations for meals, shopping, and other activities.
  • Ensuring safety and security: Guides prioritize the safety and security of the tourists. They inform the group about potential risks or hazards, and they take necessary precautions to prevent accidents or incidents. In emergency situations, guides should be prepared to provide assistance and follow appropriate protocols.
  • Interacting and engaging with tourists: Tour guides create a welcoming and interactive environment for tourists. They foster a positive and friendly atmosphere, encourage questions, and actively engage with the group. Guides should be approachable and adaptable, catering to the needs and interests of the tourists.
  • Resolving issues and addressing concerns: Tour guides act as a point of contact for tourists, addressing any concerns or issues that may arise during the tour. They handle complaints, resolve conflicts, and provide assistance or alternative solutions when needed.
  • Promoting responsible and sustainable tourism: Guides play a crucial role in promoting responsible tourism practices. They educate tourists about local customs and cultural sensitivities, encourage respectful behavior towards local communities and the environment, and advocate for sustainable travel practices.

Types of Tour Guides There are various types of tour guides, each specializing in different areas and catering to specific types of tours. Here are some common types of tour guides and a brief description of what they do:

  • City Tour Guides: City tour guides specialize in providing tours within a specific city or urban area. They are well-versed in the history, architecture, landmarks, and culture of the city. Their role is to guide tourists through popular attractions, historical sites, and local neighborhoods, offering insights and commentary along the way.
  • Cultural Tour Guides: Cultural tour guides focus on highlighting the cultural aspects of a destination. They provide in-depth knowledge about local traditions, customs, festivals, and arts. These guides may accompany tourists to museums, art galleries, cultural events, or religious sites, helping them understand and appreciate the cultural significance of these places.
  • Ecotourism Guides : Ecotourism guides are responsible for designing and planning itineraries that are environmentally and culturally responsible, researching the destination, developing educational materials, preparing necessary equipment, and coordinating logistics such as transportation, accommodation, and meals.
  • Adventure Tour Guides: Adventure tour guides lead tours focused on outdoor activities and adventure sports such as hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, or skiing. They possess skills and knowledge in the specific activities offered, ensuring the safety of participants while providing guidance and instruction. Adventure guides may take tourists to remote and challenging locations, coordinating logistics and providing a thrilling experience.
  • Historical Tour Guides: Historical tour guides specialize in providing detailed insights into the history of a destination. They are knowledgeable about specific historical periods, events, and significant landmarks. These guides often work in historical sites, monuments, or archaeological sites, sharing historical context and stories that bring the past to life for tourists.
  • Specialized Tour Guides: Specialized tour guides cater to niche interests or specific types of tours. Examples include food tour guides who focus on culinary experiences, wine tour guides who provide expertise on vineyards and wine tasting, or art tour guides who lead tours in museums and art galleries, offering interpretations of artworks.

Are you suited to be a tour guide?

Tour guides have distinct personalities . They tend to be social individuals, which means they’re kind, generous, cooperative, patient, caring, helpful, empathetic, tactful, and friendly. They excel at socializing, helping others, and teaching. Some of them are also enterprising, meaning they’re adventurous, ambitious, assertive, extroverted, energetic, enthusiastic, confident, and optimistic.

Does this sound like you? Take our free career test to find out if tour guide is one of your top career matches.

What is the workplace of a Tour Guide like?

The workplace of a tour guide can be quite diverse and dynamic, offering a mix of indoor and outdoor environments. One aspect of their workplace involves cultural and urban settings. City tour guides, for instance, operate within bustling cities, leading tourists through streets, squares, and iconic landmarks. They may work in vibrant neighborhoods, historic districts, or cosmopolitan areas, immersing tourists in the local culture and urban atmosphere. These guides navigate through crowded streets, interact with locals, and provide insights into the city's history, architecture, and vibrant lifestyle. They may also lead tours in museums, art galleries, or cultural centers, where they can showcase the city's artistic and cultural offerings.

Another significant aspect of a tour guide's workplace is outdoor settings. Nature and wildlife tour guides find themselves working in breathtaking natural landscapes, such as forests, mountains, or coastal areas. These guides lead groups on hikes, nature walks, or wildlife safaris, sharing their knowledge about the local flora, fauna, and ecosystems. Their workplace is characterized by stunning scenery, serene environments, and opportunities for visitors to connect with nature. Adventure tour guides also operate in outdoor settings, taking tourists on thrilling activities like rafting, rock climbing, or skiing. They work in adventurous and often remote locations, ensuring the safety of participants while providing an adrenaline-pumping experience.

Additionally, the workplace of a tour guide can extend to various modes of transportation. They may lead tours on buses, boats, trains, or even walking tours, utilizing different forms of transportation to explore diverse attractions and destinations. This allows guides to provide a comprehensive experience, showcasing various facets of a region while offering comfort and convenience to tourists.

Tour Guides are also known as: Tourist Guide

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  • October 20, 2020

Back to Basics: Components of a Tour

All month, we’ve been highlighting basic concepts from various areas of travel. This week, we’re considering the building blocks of successful tours and FITs.

Tours require the combined skills and resources of many people. What do they consider in choosing the components of the tour, and how are the pieces put together?

For a thorough examination of this topic, we suggest you enroll in The Travel Institute’s Travel Introductory Program, the TRIPKit® . But, today, we are taking a quick snapshot of the all-important components of a tour.

If you were developing a tour, what would you include? Obviously, the answer depends on the intended market. Some tours offer a minimum of elements; others are all-inclusive. Let’s take a look at some options:

  • Transportation. Most tours include transportation as part of the package. A fly/drive package combines air transportation and a car rental. An air/sea or fly/cruise combines air and ship transportation; a rail tour includes transportation by train; a motor coach tour uses buses to carry tour participants from destination to destination to visit major attractions. Many tours also include transfers to and from airports, hotels, and rail stations.
  • Itineraries. Tours tend to use one of three types of itineraries: — A circle itinerary brings travelers back to their starting point via a different route. Passengers experience varied sights and places throughout, without retracing their steps. This approach suits tours that aim to cover a broad area, such as “Highlights of Central Europe.” — An open-jaw itinerary begins and ends in different places. For example, a “Highlights of Italy” tour might visit Milan, Venice, Florence, Pisa, and Rome, without returning to Milan. This type of itinerary works well when returning to the starting point would mean retracing steps or visiting less-desirable locations. — A hub-and-spoke itinerary is an increasingly popular approach. Travelers set up their base at a hotel in one city for several days and take day trips into the surrounding area, thus avoiding packing, unpacking and moving baggage. They also might spend one night away from the home base. The hub-and-spoke approach allows travelers to explore a region in depth. For example, on a “Highlights of France” tour, travelers might be based in Paris and take day trips to the numerous sights within striking distance of the City of Light, such as Versailles or Giverny.
  • Accommodations. Proximity to sightseeing attractions, transfer services, parking for the motor coach, and accessibility for travelers with disabilities may all be important in selecting hotels for a tour. Hosted and independent packages usually offer participants a choice among several hotels in different price ranges. On escorted tours, participants stay together at a hotel.
  • Meals. Tour operators can cut costs substantially by requiring tour participants to pay for their own meals or by adjusting the kind of meals offered. A tour operator that includes five dinners and five lunches is offering more than an operator that includes 10 breakfasts. A tour operator that permits an unlimited choice from the menu (à la carte) is offering more than an operator that arranges a set menu or limited choice. Meals plans are detailed in the TRIPKit and can be as varied as the tour itself.
  • Sightseeing. Tours usually include some attractions that are standard tourist draws, such as Walt Disney World Resort, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, and Universal Orlando Resort in Florida. On an independent or a hosted tour, travelers generally receive sightseeing vouchers and admission tickets ahead of time or pick them up at the first stop on their trip. On an escorted tour, attractions might be added during the tour, depending on the interests of the group.
  • Other Components. The fare for some tours includes services—such as baggage handling—or covers tips, service charges, or taxes. Some tours offer additional amenities, such as flight bags, free drinks, or gifts.
  • Price. Whatever the components of a tour, travelers are likely to weigh them against its price. A small percentage of tours are quoted per couple (the most obvious are honeymoon packages). But the majority of prices are given per person, double occupancy , meaning that each person pays this price when sharing a room with another. Single occupancy prices are higher, sometimes much higher; the additional price paid by a person traveling alone is called the single supplement . A few tours try to find a roommate for a traveler who does not wish to pay the single rate. When the tour operator will not guarantee a roommate, the traveler may have to pay the single supplement, often referred to as a forced single .

All of these moving parts require careful planning. And that emphasizes, once again, the incredible value and worth you bring to the table every time you work with a client!

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Tourism Teacher

What is a tour operator and how does it work?

Disclaimer: Some posts on Tourism Teacher may contain affiliate links. If you appreciate this content, you can show your support by making a purchase through these links or by buying me a coffee . Thank you for your support!

The tour operator is an integral component of tourism , yet many people are unclear about what a tour operator actually is or what they do.

In this article I will explain what a tour operator is and why tour operators are important. I will also talk about what the difference between a tour operator and a travel agent is, as well as the different types of tour operators.

What is a tour operator?

Definitions of tour operator, importance of tour operators, the difference between a tour operator and a travel agent, what does a tour operator do, products and services sold by tour operators, inbound tour operators, outbound tour operators, domestic tour operators, ground tour operators, the association of independent tour operators, the tour operator: to conclude.

Tour operators are inextricably linked to the package holiday model. The tour operator is the person or organisation who creates the package. A travel agency is then used to sell the package holiday.

In the chain of distribution , the tour operator is represented by the term ‘wholesaler’. This is because the tour operator is responsible for purchasing products of services in bulk and then redistributing them as a packaged product to consumers.

To put it simply, a tour operator is the person or organisation who takes the individual elements of a holiday (e.g. transfer, hotel, transport) and packages these together.

The types of package vary. Most commonly, tour operators are associated with mass tourism and the traditional package holiday market. However, tour operators do also play an important role in the production of niche tourism products and services too.

If you’re looking for a formal definition of a tour operator with a reputable source, you may want to reference Polyther, who in 1993, defined the tour operator as;

‘[an organisation or person] who has the responsibility of putting the tour ingredients together, marketing it, making reservations and handling actual operation’.

Similarly, Holloway (1992) states that;

tour operations undertake a distinct function in the tourism industry, they purchase separate e lements of tourism products/services and combine them into a package tour which they sell directly or indirectly to the tourists .

The Organisation for Economic and Cultural Development (OECD) define a tour operator as follows;

‘Tour operators are businesses that combine two or more travel services (e.g., transport, accommodation, meals, entertainment, sightseeing) and sell them through travel agencies or directly to final consumers as a single product (called a package tour) for a global price. The components of a package tour might be pre-established or can result from an “a la carte” procedure, in which the visitor decides the combination of services he/she wishes to acquire.’

Tour operators are an important part of the tourism industry .

Tour operators make the logistics of organising a holiday much easier for the consumer. This makes people more likely to travel, more often.

Tour operators have a lot of power. If they choose to sell holidays in a particular location, for example, then that location will receive many of the associated positive and negative economic impacts of tourism .

Tour operators are often vertically or horizontally integrated with other organisations, such as travel agents and airlines. This allows for easier management and distribution of products.

Tour operators typically build holidays en masse. This means that economies of scale play a key role in driving down prices- the more you produce the cheaper the product becomes! This is obviously beneficial to the consumer and helps travel agents to have a competitive advantage when selling holidays.

Many people are not aware that a travel agent and a tour operator are actually two totally different organisations and they are not aware of the difference between a tour operator and a travel agent.

In fact, it is quite easy to understand this difference!

A tour operator is the organisation which puts the different elements of a holiday together. And the travel agent is the organisation who sells it to the consumer.

Whilst this differentiation is pretty easy to comprehend, it is easy to understand why people get tour operators and travel agents confused. This is largely because many organisations will operate under the same company. For example, TUI has a tour operator and a travel agent (and an airline too). As a result, many people do not realise that in actual fact, there are two separate organisations doing two separate jobs.

parked boat

Ultimately, a tour operator is responsible for putting the different elements of a holiday together into a commodified package.

To do this, there are a number of different roles and responsibilities that tour operator staff will have. This includes:

  • Data analysis- which destinations will sell best, how many holidays should they sell etc
  • Assessing suitability of accommodation, transfer and transport options
  • Liaising with stakeholders e.g. coach operators, airlines, hoteliers and resort representatives
  • Negotiating contracts
  • Confirming reservations with airlines/hotels
  • Managing and responding to customer feedback
  • Undertaking market research
  • Production of marketing material
  • Providing pricing information
  • Handling bookings, invoicing and issuing of tickets
  • Working with travel consultants from different travel agencies to put holiday packages together

Tour operators have a number of products and services that they sell, depending on their specific business model, business intentions and target market. A tour operator will typically package together two of more elements to form a packaged product, which is then sold at an inclusive price.

Examples include:

  • Package holidays
  • Accommodation
  • Information on destinations
  • Representative service in resorts

Types of tour operator

Tour operators come in all shapes and sizes. Some are large, multinational organisations and other are small, independent business.

Different types of tour operators develop products for different types of tourism . This can include the mass market, niche tourism market, special interest tourism, the luxury market, tailor-made products and dynamic packages .

great wall of china

There are four different types of tour operators, which I will explain below.

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

The tour operator. types of tour operators.

An inbound tour operator is one who facilitates inbound tourism .

The aim of an inbound tour operator is to bring tourists in to a particular country or countries.

Inbound tour operators will often collaborate with local travel agencies and transport operators to facilitate travel arrangements for their customers.

Inbound tour operator example: A group of German tourists conduct a tour of China, encompassing a visit to Shanghai , Hangzhou and the Yellow Mountains . The tour operator who organises their travel is Chinese-based company China Highlights . This company is based locally in China and they offer local, Chinese tours.

An outbound tour operator is one who facilitates outbound tourism .

The aim of an outbound tour operator is to send tourists out of a particular country or countries.

Outbound tour operators will often collaborate with foreign travel agencies and transport operators to facilitate travel arrangements for their customers.

Outbound tour operator example : A family of four from Liverpool, UK want to book an all-inclusive summer sun holiday in Alicante. They book through TUI , the largest tour operator in Britain, who specialises in outbound travel. They are based in the UK, but they work with foreign partners to facilitate holidays overseas.

A domestic tour operator is one who facilitates domestic tourism .

The aim of a domestic tour operator is to organise travel within a particular country or countries.

Domestic tour operators will often collaborate with domestic travel agencies and transport operators to facilitate travel arrangements for their customers. Domestic tour operators will often also serve the inbound tourism market.

Domestic tour operator example : A group of twenty-something boys from Chicago want to travel to Florida for the spring break holiday. They want to do a tour of the local attractions in the area and have some time to relax on the beach . They organise their travel through the tour company, Trek America . Staff at this company are experts in domestic travel within the USA.

A ground tour operator is an organisation who dopes the ground work as grass roots level.

Many tour operators do not have connections in all places around the world, therefore they build a network of connections to help them run their business.

Essentially, some of the work is passed on to a third party, known as a ground operator. This work may include negotiating local contracts, liaising with local suppliers and providing market data, amongst other things.

This is especially common for small tour operators.

You may also hear ground tour operators referred to as handling operators or handling agents.

Ground tour operator example : A backpacker wants to ‘give something back’ and book a volunteer tourism holiday in Kerala. She wanted to use a known and trusted tour operator to book her trip so she booked it with Intrepid Travel . Intrepid Travel create and sell adventure holidays all over the world, and it is impossible for them to have contacts and every staff in every corner of the globe. Therefore they work with local ground operators, who do the work on the ground. In this instance, the ground organisation is Iris Travel – a tour operator based in Kerela, India.

The Association of Independent Tour Operators , abbreviated as AITO, is a travel industry trade group (like  ABTA  or ATOL) based in Britain. They launched in 1976.

The AITO represents around 120 independent  tour operators  across 200 countries.

These tour operators provide access to a huge range of activities including city breaks, safaris, luxury holidays and much more. The AITO is based in Twickenham, south-west London.

The AITO does a variety of things. Most importantly, you can be reassured that your holiday is well-protected thanks to the Association of Independent Tour Operators.

They assess every member financially as well as by their own business practice code before granting membership; this means that you are guaranteed clear and accurate descriptions of holidays as well as tour standards that are consistently monitored.

Tour operators are an important part of the tourism industry, and with AITO, you have added security when booking your travels through a tour operator. Hopefully after reading this article you are now confident with what a tour operator is, how these organisations work and the different types of tour operators operating the market.

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The difference between group tours, self-guided tours, and custom tours

The difference between group tours, self-guided tours, and custom tours

With so many options these days on how to travel, trip planning can be daunting. Where do I want to go and in what season? When do I have enough time off from work? Do I go alone or with a travel buddy? Do I go on a packaged tour or make my own plans? 

As a boutique tour operator specializing in small group travel – in our case, typically between about 8-12 people (and often less) – we get these questions a lot. Over the years, we’ve transitioned from offering only set date departures into adding self-guided and custom itineraries as well. But what are the pros and cons of these options and which one is best for you?

Here are all the details on guided small group tours, self-guided or self-drive tours and custom trips.

journal map camera square.jpg

Guided Small Group Travel

Small group travel  or small group trips is a subcategory of what might generally be called “packaged trips,” “all inclusive” or “group departures.” Trip dates are set, there is a specific itinerary that is followed, and you have a guide throughout the duration of the trip as well as a group of travel companions. 

On our small group trips , the itinerary is structured for you, including transportation logistics, boutique B&Bs and hotels, curated culinary experiences (good travel must include good food!), plus tickets and entries for activities. We work hard to balance planned group activities with enough free time for explorations on your own that can lead to those spontaneous experiences – like stumbling in to an unexpected live music session at a local pub - that independent travelers typically love.

Traverse Journeys small group trip in Costa Rica, learning about coffee production. Photo credit: Chris Clements

Traverse Journeys small group trip in Costa Rica, learning about coffee production. Photo credit: Chris Clements

The “guided” portion means two things in our case: Every group departure has a Traverse Journeys host, someone who is with you throughout the whole trip ensuring logistics run smoothly and acting as your liaison as you navigate your travels. You’ll also have special local guides who offer a wealth of knowledge about history, culture, architecture, food, nature or whatever other topic we may be exploring on your adventure. 

Another operative word here is “small” – for us this means groups of 8-12, sometimes less. Traveling with our expert hosts in small groups gives you access to unique experiences that are tricky to find on your own, and it also gives you the chance to travel with like-minded people in an intimate, personal setting. Because we keep our group sizes small, we still have the flexibility and independence that many solo travelers do and can enjoy off-the-beaten path routes and immersive local experiences. Sometimes travelers will join as a pair – like a couple or two friends – but often we’ll have individual travelers join our small group trips. And more often than not, everyone is friends by the end! In fact, meeting new travel buddies to share the incredible experiences of travel is often a favorite reason for folks to join our small group departures.

Traverse Journeys small group trip in Croatia, enjoying the sites in Zagreb.

Traverse Journeys small group trip in Croatia, enjoying the sites in Zagreb.

Small Group Travel Pros: 

Logistics are taken care of for you, no planning to stress about

Local guide and host to ensure your comfort throughout the trip and offer a deep understanding of the destination

Great way to meet like-minded travelers and enjoy a fun, social atmosphere

Mid-range pricing, not super cheap but not too expensive either 

Small Group Travel Cons:

Dates are fixed and itinerary is set (with some free time to yourself throughout)

Pricing is based on double occupancy (you share a room), or you can upgrade to have your own room

Often a minimum number of travelers required (like 4) for the trip to be guaranteed

Higher price point than self-guided trips

Small Group Travel Is Best For:

Busy individuals who would rather not devote the time or energy to plan the details

Solo travelers who want to join an experience with like-minded adventurers

Travelers who seek a deeper understanding of the destination through expert guides

First time travelers that are nervous to travel on their own

Destinations that might feel intimidating or where you don’t speak the language

Our top picks for small group travel:

Nepal , India , Chile , Brazil , Italy , Dominica , Greece , Jordan , Colombia , Cuba

Self-guided or Self-drive Itineraries

Self-guided itineraries give travelers more flexibility with dates than small group departures do. Does one of our group itineraries sound perfect for you but the dates don’t work for your schedule? Or perhaps you'd prefer to only travel with your partner, family or friend(s) and forego a dedicated guide. That’s where self-guided trips can shine! Another advantage of self-guided travel is increased independence and flexibility throughout your journey.

Exploring the streets of Chefchaouen, Morocco. Photo credit: Una Simone

Exploring the streets of Chefchaouen, Morocco. Photo credit: Una Simone

Each tour operator might work a little differently, but in our case here’s the deal: Our self-guided itineraries follow a somewhat similar format as the group tours. The route is set (though some tweaks are usually possible), taking you to all the iconic sites, hidden gems and our favorite spots.

Your accommodations are booked for you along with key meals and activities, such as a pachamanca farm lunch in Peru, a catamaran sunset sail in Costa Rica , a glacier hike in Iceland or a cooking class in Mexico . You just need to make sure to follow the step-by-step plan and get yourself from A to B! Transportation options vary: it may be arranged for you (either public transit options or private vehicles) or you may need to rent a car (which may be included in the cost of your package). In some cases, you can also opt for shared transportation which reduces costs.

You won’t have a Traverse host with you 24/7, but you will have the option to book local guides at the right time and place and you’ll benefit from the stress-free planning with a detailed itinerary at your fingertips. There are further add-ons and optional activities as well, allowing you to pick and choose aspects of your itinerary for a more customized experience.

Friends exploring the beaches of Costa Rica. Photo credit: Chris Clements

Friends exploring the beaches of Costa Rica. Photo credit: Chris Clements

Self-Guided Itinerary Pros:

You can choose your own dates to travel and pick what works for you

Minimize the hassle of booking accommodation, entry tickets, transportation logistics, and planning the route. It’s all taken care of for you!

Travel solo, as a couple, or with a group of friends/family. No stranger danger :)

Lower price point than small group or custom trips

More independence and customization than small group tours

Self-Guided Itinerary Cons:

Many destinations work best with a rental vehicle, so in those places you’ll need to be comfortable driving in a foreign country

You’ll be need to be a bit more proactive, we provide the itinerary but you have to follow it! No Traverse host to wake you up in the morning :)

It’s a bit less social, as you won’t be meeting as many other independent travelers

Self-Guided Itineraries Are Best for:

Busy individuals who want to pick their dates of travel and have most logistics planned for them

Small family or friend groups that want a private itinerary together 

Independent adventurers who prefer more budget-friendly travels

Travelers who are more concerned about social distancing and want to take extra precautions

Our self-guided itinerary top picks:

Ecuador , Croatia , Iceland , Morocco , New Zealand , Peru , Ireland , Costa Rica

Custom Trips

This is where travel planning gets super fun! Travel agents or tour operators like us use our expert knowledge, vetted vendor partners and local connections within destinations to create  custom trips or  bespoke itineraries that cater specifically to individual travel needs and tastes.

Mom & daughter in the Sahara desert of Morocco. Photo credit: Josh Telles

Mom & daughter in the Sahara desert of Morocco. Photo credit: Josh Telles

Interested in a regional wine and culinary customs in Italy, or an active cycling and hiking adventure in Patagonia ? Want to capture stunning photographs of the sunset at just the right time in the mountains of Morocco? This is where a custom itinerary shines, as it’s a curated experience designed just for you. These trips are also great for travelers who want a private experience and a stress-free bespoke experience. We’ve created custom trips for all kinds of travelers from families wanting to explore their ancestral roots, honeymooners eager for a bucket list adventure, and friends looking for a relaxing retreat.

In our case, we only offer custom trips to destinations we know super well like Italy, Costa Rica, Ireland, Morocco, New Zealand, Peru and Iceland (and more). If you’re not sure of the exact route you want to follow then we may suggest basing the trip off our existing small group itinerary (as these routes usually incorporate the best of the best in any destination!), and from there we can add in elements according to your wish list of experiences. Of course, we can also create a fully customized route based on your individual wants. To make your trip truly special we use our pool of fantastic partners, from cute little B&Bs to incredible local guides to artisan craft makers to cozy restaurants with farm-to-table cuisine .

The process for creating a custom trip involves reaching out to see if our services and offerings are a fit for your wants and needs as well as your budget, followed by a proposal outlining the projected itinerary and pricing, a deposit payment, followed by detailed planning for you. 

Custom Trip Pros:

Customize when, where, and what to your liking

Pick your travel dates and travel partners

Name your budget and we’ll do our best to match it

Take part in the creative process of developing your trip just how you want it, while having a travel professional by your side through the process to handle the logistics and offer expert local insight

Custom Trip Cons:

You’ll need to participate in the planning and think more about all the options you prefer

Cost is higher than self-guided itineraries and potentially higher than small group trips, depending on your group size and travel goals

Our top custom trip picks:

Ireland, Costa Rica, Morocco, Spain, Iceland, Chile, Dominica

Ready to plan your trip? Check out our group trips by region , our self-guided trips and our custom trip offerings and start your planning today!

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Costa Rica Retreat

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What is a Tourist Service and why does it matter?

‘Tourist Services’ under the Package Travel Regulations 2018

In this article, Nick Parkinson , Associate at Travlaw, discusses the importance of understanding what constitutes a ‘tourist service’ for the purpose of the Package Travel Regulations 2018 , a regulation which is of course at the very heart of the Travel & Leisure industry.

We are often asked by our clients whether any of the services they are providing would be regarded as ‘tourist services’ for the purpose of the Package Travel Regulations.  As if often the case, there are some clear cut examples, but there are also some ‘grey areas’.

  Why Does it Matter What A ‘Tourist Service’ Is?

The term ‘tourist service’ is not a new concept.  It appeared in the old Package Travel Regulations from 1992, and survives in the current 2018 Package Travel Regulations (‘the PTRs’).  However, it continues to cause a lot of confusion for the travel industry.

The main reason why this concept is so important is because it is one of the factors that will determine whether or not a holiday will be treated as a ‘package’.  Potentially, travel companies could be selling package holidays without realising it, and committing a criminal offence in the process!

The importance of understanding what could amount to a ‘tourist service’ does not stop there.  Let’s say that you are already selling a package (e.g. flight and hotel) and you throw in a ‘tourist service’ on top.  In doing that, you will be liable for anything that goes wrong during that ‘tourist service’.  Accidents inevitably occur from time to time even in low risk scenarios, such as a tourist bus being involved in a road traffic accident.  It is vital, therefore, to make sure that you are adequately covered under your public liability insurance policy.

We should quickly recap on what constitutes a package.

What is a ‘Package’?

Keeping it simple, a package holiday will be created when a travel company supplies at least two different services from the following categories of ‘travel services’:

  • Carriage (e.g. flights, trains, cruise ship)
  • Accommodation
  • Rental of motor vehicles
  • Tourist Services

The first thing to clarify is that, for example, simply supplying accommodation at two different hotels would not create a package.  The two services need to be from different categories.  

The traditional package that we think of would consist of a flight and accommodation, but any combination of two items from the above list would constitute a package.  However, the difficulty comes where a travel company generally sells only one of these services but then decide to start including ‘extras’.  The question is whether these ‘extras’ would be considered as ‘tourist service’.  If so, all of a sudden we are selling a regulated ‘package holiday’!

We should therefore take a look at the definition of a ‘tourist service’

What is a ‘Tourist Service’?

Tourist services are not defined by the PTRs.  Good start!  The PTRs do, however, tell us two important things about what kind of tourist services will be caught by the PTRs. 

Firstly, we can disregard tourist services that are an ‘intrinsic part of the travel services’ (i.e. flights, accommodation or car rental).  Secondly, any other tourist services will be caught by the PTRs if either:

  • They account for a significant proportion of the total value of the travel services, or
  • They represent an essential feature of the trip or holiday, or
  • They are advertised as an essential feature of the trip or holiday,

There are quite a few words for lawyers to scrutinise here.  What does ‘intrinsic’ mean? What is a significant proportion? What would be an essential feature?  Finally, what is a ‘tourist service’ as opposed to ‘any other service’?

Let’s work our way through the above using two examples.  These examples are entirely typical with the kind of queries that we have had over the last year or so.

Rome – including tickets for the Colosseum and Vatican

Let’s say we are offering accommodation in Rome at £1,000 for a week.  Included in the price are entry tickets to two of the major tourist attractions in the city.  These tickets are worth £100. 

If the tickets are a ‘tourist service’ for the purpose of the PTRs, then we are now supplying a package holiday and not just accommodation.  To find out if the tickets do constitute a ‘tourist service’ we need to ask ourselves up to 3 questions:

  • Is it a tourist service? Yes, sightseeing is clearly a ‘tourist activity’
  • Are they an intrinsic (essential) part of the travel services? No
  • Does it account for a significant proportion of the holiday? No
  • Was it advertised an essential feature of the holiday? That depends
  • Does it otherwise represent an essential feature of the holiday? Probably not

Questions 1 and 2 are fairly straight forward, but question 3 is worthy of further explanation.

What is a ‘significant proportion’?

The PTRs, surprisingly, do not elaborate on what would constitute a ‘significant proportion’ of the holiday. The answer, however, is hidden away at para 18 of EU Directive 2015/2302 (‘the EU Directive’), being the EU legislation that required the UK to implement the PTRs in the first place.  The explanation in the EU Directive, unlike the PTRs, is clearly set out.  If any tourist services account for 25% or more of the total travel services, that would be a significant proportion .  With tickets costing only £100 against a holiday costing £1,000, we are well below that threshold in this example.

So far, it is not looking like the tickets would be deemed to be a ‘tourist service’ under the PTRs, but it gets a muddy at question 4.

How does the ‘essential feature’ test work?

This can get tricky.  Visiting a couple of ‘major attractions’ is not essential to a trip to Rome.  After all, there are plenty of other things to do in Rome!  So the tickets probably do not represent an essential feature of the trip or holiday.  However, if a big ‘song and dance’ is made about these trips in any marketing materials, there is a real risk that it could be said that it has been advertised as an essential feature.  If so, it will be deemed to be one of the kinds of tourist services that are caught by the PTRs, thus we have now supplied a package holiday and not just accommodation!

Alternatively, had the sight seeing tickets been worth £250, it wouldn’t matter if or how it was advertised because that would be over 25% of the total cost of the holiday – thus deeming it a tourist service.

Let’s consider a second example.

A irport Parking

Let’s say airport parking is ‘thrown in’ with the cost of a return flight from London to Glasgow. The total cost is £100, but the parking is worth £30.  Again, let’s work our way through the same 4 questions about the airport parking:

  • Is it a tourist service? Hmm…
  • Are they an intrinsic (essential) part of the travel services? Probably not.
  • Does it account for a significant proportion of the holiday? Yes. It is worth 30% of the total cost of the trip, i.e. more than 25%
  • Was it advertised an essential feature of the holiday? Unlikely (but it doesn’t matter having already ticked the 25% box)
  • Does it otherwise represent an essential feature of the holiday? Unlikely (but it doesn’t matter having already ticked the 25% box)

This time, question 3 is fairly straightforward whereas questions 1 and 2 are worthy of a bit more consideration.

What is an ‘intrinsic’ part of the travel services?

Under question 2,  there may be potential for lawyers to argue about what ‘intrinsic’ means.  However, my view is that it would have to be something that is not only within the process of air travel, but that is also essential in order to travel by air. 

Applying that interpretation:

  • Any services provided before check-in at the airport, or after passing through the arrival gates, would automatically be excluded. That would exclude airport parking, or say a ‘free local sim card’ for your phone on arrival.  They are not even within the process of air travel, let alone essential to it
  • As to any services that are within the process of air travel, only the essential ones would be caught by the Regulations. So a bus transfer from the gate to the aircraft would be covered, whereas a VIP luxury lounge pass with a glass of champagne would not!

In this scenario, the main focus will be on the first question.  Is airport parking a ‘tourist service’ to start with?  If so, then it will be one of the kinds of tourist services that are caught by the PTRs (because it seems to ticks all of the other boxes at questions 2 & 3 above).

What is a ‘tourist service’?

Although the PTRs do not define what a ‘tourist service’ is, once again we are given some guidance from our old friend, the EU Directive.  The EU Directive does not define a tourist service either, but (at recital 18) it does at least confirm that the following may be tourist services:  admission to concerts, sport events, excursions or event parks, guided tours, ski passes and rental of sports equipment such as skiing equipment, or spa treatments

Parking is not on the list. Great!  However, can we confidently say that this is therefore not a tourist service?  This question seems to split the lawyers right down the middle!

My view on ‘what is a tourist service’?

In my view, I would lean towards saying that parking is not a ‘tourist service’ to start with, for which I can put forward four arguments in support:

  • The examples from the EU Directive are all leisure based activities that tourists typically partake on holiday. Parking is merely a ‘means to an end’ and, although it may not be an intrinsic (or essential) part of air travel, it seems much closer related to that than any of the examples of fun filled activities to be enjoyed at the destination as listed in the EU Directive.
  • Surely, not every single service a tourist receives during a trip or holiday would be regarded as a ‘tourist service’? If it did, that would render the word ‘tourist’ in the phrase ‘tourist service’ meaningless.  For example, if a tourist receives a McDonalds after visiting a museum, surely that would not be a ‘tourist service’, albeit it is a service that just happened to have been provided to a tourist whilst doing ‘touristy activities’.   
  • The EU Directive (recital 5) states that, although the purpose of the legislation is for consumer protection, it must also ‘strike the right balance between that and the competitiveness of businesses’. For flight only sales to suddenly become ‘packages’ just because airport parking is thrown in, sounds like a step too far to me!  By the same token, the example of a ‘sim card for the local country’ provided on arrival could also potentially convert a ‘flight only’ sale to a package.
  • The EU Directive does not even say that the examples provided are definitely ‘tourist services’, rather it says that they ‘may be’. This suggests that it will depend on the circumstances (it is indicative rather than prescriptive).  This point is less significant for this example, because parking is not on the list anyway, but ‘even if it were’ on the list – it still wouldn’t be a foregone conclusion.  So this point is less important for parking.  It could, however, be of more interest in other scenarios.

The Alternative Point of View

As stated, I would lean towards saying that parking is not a ‘tourist service’ for the reasons above, but this is a question that often splits lawyers down the middle.  Arguments to the contrary may be:

  • Airport parking is clearly a service catering for travellers, a large proportion of which are tourists. If the customer that books airport parking happens to be a tourist, it seems entirely plausible to construe that as a ‘tourist service’.
  • The objectives of the Directive are geared around ensuring a ‘high level of consumer protection’ (see recital 6 and others). If referrals to the European Court of Justice (CJEU) in respect of claims under Regulation 261 are anything to go by, one would anticipate that there is a good chance that any referral to the CJEU as to the scope of ‘tourist service’ may be a ‘consumer friendly one’

Other Common Scenarios

You may be forgiven for feeling a bit dizzy right now.  So here are some other examples that illustrate the range of scenarios that we are often asked about:

  • Skiing holidays (accommodation and ski-slope pass)?
  • Murder Mystery Weekend in Barnsley?
  • Business Conferences with accommodation?
  • Business Conferences with accommodation & an afternoon of sightseeing?
  • Education (e.g. school trips, or exchange programs for language students)?

Some of these questions are much easier to answer than others!


As is often the case, some things are clear cut but there are always grey areas.  The law makers seem to like giving the lawyers things to argue about, and there is no shortage of things to argue about when it comes to the PTRs.  If in doubt, make sure you seek legal advice.  And, of course, there are no better lawyers to give you advice on travel & leisure related issues than the team at Travlaw!

Have a Query? Get In Touch

Navigating through the Package Travel Regulations can, of course, be a daunting prospect at times and the consequences of ‘getting it wrong’ could be significant.  Nobody wants to commit a criminal offence by selling packages without realising it!

We do, however, have a fantastic team here at Travlaw who can cover the needs of your business whether that be in relation to the PTRs, disputes, employment issues, drafting T&C’s, compliance, or even Brexit!  Indeed, we act for numerous tour operators, travel agents, hotels, airlines all over the world and we would be delighted to discuss the PTRs, or indeed any travel law related issue that affects your business. 

Feel free to contact the author of this article  [email protected]  or any other member of the Travlaw team on 0113 258 0033 or at  [email protected] .

This article was originally published on: 22 January 2020

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Chapter 7. Travel Services

7.1 Components of Travel Services

The travel services sector helps travellers arrange and reserve their vacation or business trips (StatsCan, 2018). This sector is made up of businesses and organizations that work in a coordinated effort to provide travellers with seamless arrangements to maximize their travel experience. Go2HR describes travel services experiences and employment opportunities as follows:

Within this sector, you have the flexibility of working in various capacities with event and conference planning organizations, travel companies and organizations, as well as associations, government agencies and companies that specialize in serving the needs of the tourism sector as a whole. (go2HR, Essential Tips – Travel Services, 2020)

Before we move on, let’s explore the term travel services a little more. As detailed in Chapter 1 , Canada, the United States, and Mexico have used the NAICS guidelines, which define the tourism industry as consisting of transportation, accommodation, food and beverage, recreation and entertainment, and travel services (Tourism HR Canada, 2020). These five sectors are defined and further detailed in B.C. by the B.C. government (BC Government, 2014) and go2HR on their website (go2HR, Career Explorer, 2020).

For many years, however, the tourism industry was classified into eight sectors: accommodations, adventure and recreation, attractions, events and conferences, food and beverage, tourism services, transportation, and travel trade (Yukon Department of Tourism and Culture, 2020; go2HR, 2020, What is Tourism? – Travel Services).

Travel website showing outdoor activities in B.C., such as skiing and surfing.

Tourism services support industry development and the delivery of guest experiences, and some of these are missing from the NAICS classification. To ensure you have a complete picture of the tourism industry in BC, this chapter will cover both the NAICS travel services activities and some additional tourism services.

First, we’ll review the components of travel services as identified under NAICS, as well as exploring popular careers within:

  • Travel agencies (brick and mortar)
  • Online Travel Agencies/OTA
  • Tour operators
  • Destination marketing organizations (DMOs)

Other Organizations

Following these definitions and descriptions, we’ll take a look at some other support functions that fall under tourism services. These include sector organizations, tourism and hospitality human resources organizations, training providers, educational institutions, government branches and ministries, economic development and city planning offices, and consultants.

Finally, we’ll look at issues and trends in travel services, both at home, and abroad.

While the application of travel services functions are structured somewhat differently around the world, there are a few core types of travel services in every destination. Essentially, travel services are those processes used by guests to book components of their trip. Let’s explore these services in more detail.

Travel Agencies

Travel agency storefront, which is plastered with sales posters and advertisements.

A travel agency is a business that operates as the intermediary between the travel industry (supplier) and the traveller (purchaser). Part of the role of the travel agency is to market prepackaged travel tours and holidays to potential travellers. The agency can further function as a broker between the traveller and hotels, car rentals, and tour companies (Goeldner & Ritchie, 2003). Travel agencies can be small and privately owned or part of a larger entity.

A travel agent is the direct point of contact for a traveller who is researching and intending to purchase packages and experiences through an agency. Travel agents can specialize in certain types of travel including specific destinations; outdoor adventures; and backpacking, rail, cruise, cycling, or culinary tours, to name a few. These specializations can help travellers when they require advice about their trips. Some travel agents operate at a fixed address and others offer services both online and at a bricks-and-mortar location. Travellers are then able to have face-to-face conversations with their agents and also reach them by phone or by email. To promote professionalism within the travel industry, travel counsellors can apply for a specialized diploma or certificate in travel from ACTA (ACTA, 2020a; go2HR, 2020a).

Today, travellers have the option of researching and booking everything they need online without the help of a travel agent. As technology and the internet are increasingly being used to market destinations, people can now choose to book tours with a particular agency or agent, or they can be identified as seeking Domestic Independent Travel (DIT) or Foreign Independent Travel (FIT) , by creating their own itineraries from a number of suppliers.

Online Travel Agents (OTAs)

Increasing numbers of travellers are turning to online travel agents (OTAs), companies that aggregate accommodations and transportation options and allow users to choose one or many components of their trip based on price or other incentives. Examples of OTAs include iTravel2000, Booking.com, Expedia.ca, Hotwire.com, and Kayak.com. OTAs continue to gain popularity with the travelers; in 2012, they reported online sales of almost $100 billion (Carey, Kang, & Zea, 2012) and almost triple that figure, upward of $278 billion, in 2013 ( The Economist , 2014).

In early 2015 Expedia purchased Travelocity for $280 million, merging two of the world’s largest travel websites. Expedia became the owner of Hotels.com, Hotwire, Egencia, and Travelocity brands, facing its major competition from Priceline (Alba, 2015).

Although OTAs can provide lower-cost travel options to travellers and the freedom to plan and reserve when they choose, they have posed challenges for the tourism industry and travel services infrastructure. As evidenced by the merger of Expedia and Travelocity, the majority of popular OTA sites are owned by just a few companies, causing some concern over lack of competition between brands. Additionally, many OTAs charge accommodation providers and operators a commission to be listed in their inventory system. Commission-based services, as applied by Kayak, Expedia, Hotwire, Hotels.com, and others, can have an impact on smaller operators who cannot afford to pay commissions for multiple online inventories (Carey, Kang & Zea, 2012). Being excluded from listings can decrease the marketing reach of the product to potential travellers, which is a challenge when many service providers in the tourism industry are small or medium-sized businesses with budgets to match.

While the industry and communities struggle to keep up with the changing dynamics of travel sales, travellers are adapting to this new world order. One of these adaptations is the ever-increasing use of mobile devices for travel booking. The Expedia Future of Travel Report found that 49% of travellers from the millennial generation (which includes those born between 1980 and 1999) use mobile devices to book travel (Expedia Inc., 2014), and these numbers are expected to continue to increase. Travel agencies are reacting by developing personalized features for digital travellers and mobile user platforms (ETC Digital, 2014). With the number of smartphone users expected to reach 1.75 billion in 2014 (CWT Travel Management Institute, 2014) these agencies must adapt as demand dictates.

A chunky computer with a black and green screen.

A key feature of travel agencies’ (and to a growing extent transportation carriers) mobile services includes the ability to have up-to-date itinerary changes and information sent directly to consumers’ phones (Amadeus, 2014). By using mobile platforms that can develop customized, up-to-date travel itineraries for clients, agencies and operators are able to provide a personal touch, ideally increasing customer satisfaction rates.

Take a Closer Look: PATA — The Future of Travel is Personalisation at Scale

“The industry has changed monumentally over the past decade. The rise of meta-search websites and sharing economy services like Airbnb is giving travellers more control and choice than ever before. However, this is nothing compared to the changes that are on the horizon as technologies like mobile, AR, AI, and VR become mainstream.

One thing is certain; the pace of change is accelerating. Against this backdrop, the travel industry as a whole will need to fundamentally shift its focus to continuous innovation.” (PATA, 2019)

Despite the growth and demand for OTAs, brick and mortar travel agencies are still in demand by travellers (IBISWorld, 2019) as they have both an online presence and physical locations. The COVID-19 pandemic may see an increase in travellers relying on personal contact with brick and mortar travel agencies but at a distance through mail and phone.

Tour Operators

People walk across the snow in the mountains. A tour bus is parked behind them.

A tour operator packages all or most of the components of an offered trip and then sells them to the traveller. These packages can also be sold through retail outlets or travel agencies (CATO, 2020; Goeldner & Ritchie, 2003). Tour operators work closely with hotels, transportation providers, and attractions in order to purchase large volumes of each component and package these at a better rate than the traveller could if purchasing individually. Tour operators generally sell to the leisure market.

Inbound, Outbound, and Receptive Tour Operators

Tour operators may be inbound, outbound, or receptive:

  • Inbound tour operators  bring travellers into a country as a group or through individual tour packages (e.g., a package from China to visit Canada).
  • Outbound tour operators work within a country to take travellers to other countries (e.g., a package from Canada to the United Kingdom).
  • Receptive tour operators (RTOs) are not travel agents, and they do not operate the tours. They represent the various products of tourism suppliers to tour operators in other markets in a business-to-business (B2B) relationship. Receptive tour operators are key to selling packages to overseas markets (Destination BC, 2020) and creating awareness around possible product.

Destination Marketing Organizations

Destination marketing organizations (DMOs) include national tourism boards, state/provincial tourism offices, and community convention and visitor bureaus around the world. DMOs promote “the long-term development and marketing of a destination, focusing on convention sales, tourism marketing and service” (Destinations BC, 2020).

Spotlight On: Destinations International

Destinations International is the global trade association for official DMOs. It is made up of over 600 official DMOs in 15 countries around the world. DMAI provides its members with information, resources, research, networking opportunities, professional development, and certification programs. For more information, visit the Destinations International website.

With the proliferation of other planning and booking channels, including OTA s, today’s DMOs are shifting away from travel services functions and placing a higher priority on destination management components.

Working Together

One way tour operators, DMOs, and travel agents work together is by participating in familiarization tours (FAMs for short). These are usually hosted by the local DMO and include visits to different tour operators within a region. FAM attendees can be media, travel agents, RTO representatives, and tour operator representatives. FAMs are frequently low to no cost for the guests as the purpose is to orient them to the tour product or experience so they can promote or sell it to potential guests.

The majority of examples in this chapter so far have pertained to leisure travellers. There are, however, specialty organizations that deal specifically with business trips.

Spotlight On: Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Canada

“GBTA Canada is the voice of the Canadian business travel industry. We believe in providing the business travel and meetings community with a global platform to serve as a resource library for their peers, to implement world-class Conferences, workshops and virtual meetings, and to foster an interactive network of innovation and support.” The GBTA state that their economic impact contributes $23.5 billion CAD in Canadian business travel (Economic Impact Study) and “$435+ billion CAD of business travel and meetings expenditures represented globally.” Visit the GBTA website .

Business Travel Planning and Reservations

Unlike leisure trips, which are generally planned and booked by end consumers using their choice of tools, business travel often involves a travel management company, or its online tools. Travel managers negotiate with suppliers and ensure that all the trip components are cost effective and comply with the policies of the organization.

Many business travel planners rely on global distribution systems (GDS) to price and plan components. GDS combine information from a group of suppliers, such as airlines. In the past, this has created a chain of information from the supplier to GDS to the travel management company. Today, however, there is a push from airlines (through the International Air Transport Association’s Resolution 787) to dissolve the GDS model and forge direct relationships with buyers (BTN Group, 2014).

Destination Management Companies

According to the Association of Destination Management Executives International (ADMEI), a destination management company (DMC) specializes in designing and implementing corporate programs, and “is a strategic partner to provide creative local experiences in event management, tours/activities, transportation, entertainment, and program logistics” (ADMEI, 2020). The packages produced by DMCs are extraordinary experiences rather than general business trips. These are typically used as employee incentives, corporate retreats, product launches, and loyalty programs. DMCs are the one point of contact for the client corporation, arranging for airfare, airport transfers, ground transportation, meals, special activities, and special touches such as branded signage, gifts, and decor (ADMEI, 2020). The end user is simply given (or awarded) the package and then liaises with the DMC to ensure particular arrangements meet his or her needs and schedule.

As you can see, travel services range from online to personal, and from leisure to business applications. Now that you have a general sense of the components of travel services, let’s look at some examples in Canada and BC.

Under NAICS, businesses and functions that assist with planning and reserving components of the visitor experience.

Other services that work to support the development of tourism and the delivery of guest experiences.

A business that provides a physical location for travel planning requirements.

An individual who helps the potential traveller with trip planning and booking services, often specializing in specific types of travel.

A trade organization established in 1977 to ensure high standards of customer service, engage in advocacy for the trade, conduct research, and facilitate travel agent training.

A service that allows the traveller to research, plan, and purchase travel without the assistance of a person, using the internet on sites such as Expedia.ca or Hotels.com.

An operator who packages suppliers together (hotel + activity) or specializes in one type of activity or product.

An operator who packages products together to bring visitors from external markets to a destination.

An operator who packages and sells travel products to people within a destination who want to travel abroad.

Someone who represents the products of tourism suppliers to tour operators in other markets in a business-to-business (B2B) relationship.

Also known as a destination management organization; includes national tourism boards, state/provincial tourism offices, and community convention and visitor bureaus.

Tours provided to overseas travel agents, travel agencies, RTOs, and others to provide information about a certain product at no or minimal cost to participants. The short form is pronounced like the start of the word "family" (not as each individual letter).

A company that creates and executes corporate travel and event packages designed for employee rewards or special retreats.

Introduction to Tourism and Hospitality in BC - 2nd Edition Copyright © 2015, 2020, 2021 by Morgan Westcott and Wendy Anderson, Eds is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Definition of tour

 (Entry 1 of 2)

Definition of tour  (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

intransitive verb

  • peregrinate

Examples of tour in a Sentence

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'tour.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Middle English, from Anglo-French tur, tourn turning, circuit, journey — more at turn

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2b

1708, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Phrases Containing tour

  • Cook's tour
  • package tour
  • tour de force
  • tour of inspection

Dictionary Entries Near tour

Cite this entry.

“Tour.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tour. Accessed 20 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

Kids definition of tour.

Kids Definition of tour  (Entry 2 of 2)

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Definition of tour verb from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

  • tour something He toured America with his one-man show.
  • She toured the country promoting her book.
  • (+ adv./prep.) We spent four weeks touring around Europe.
  • He's toured across Europe, the UK and North America.
  • She is currently touring with her new band.
  • He no longer tours.
  • The band toured the UK last year.
  • The town makes an ideal base for touring the Highlands.
  • I was on my own as I toured round.
  • We plan to tour all over the country.
  • She has toured extensively in the US.
  • The Beatles stopped touring years before.
  • extensively
  • internationally

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  • the Tour of Britain
  • package tour
  • tour of duty
  • tour of duties

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Definition of 'at your service'

  • at your service

Examples of 'at your service' in a sentence at your service

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  • at your earliest convenience
  • at your fingertips
  • at your heels
  • at your wits' end
  • (at) any minute (now)
  • (at) any moment (now)
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Taylor swift gives travis kelce numerous shoutouts during eras tour paris show.

Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce showed ‘lots of’ PDA at Patrick Mahomes’ gala

Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce showed ‘lots of’ PDA at Patrick Mahomes’ gala

Travis Kelce reacts to Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber’s 2012 ‘Punk’d’ episode

Travis Kelce reacts to Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber’s 2012 ‘Punk’d’ episode

Taylor Swift fans outraged by viral picture of baby on floor at ‘Eras Tour’ concert

Taylor Swift fans outraged by viral picture of baby on floor at ‘Eras Tour’ concert

Sophie Turner opens up about support from Taylor Swift amid Joe Jonas divorce

Sophie Turner opens up about support from Taylor Swift amid Joe Jonas divorce

Kim Kardashian loses more than 100K followers after Taylor Swift’s ‘TTPD’ diss track

Kim Kardashian loses more than 100K followers after Taylor Swift’s ‘TTPD’ diss track

Flo Rida shows off all of his tattoos which were done in one year

Flo Rida shows off all of his tattoos which were done in one year

Jonathan Knight talks ‘Farmhouse Fixer,’ New Kids On The Block tour 2024

Jonathan Knight talks ‘Farmhouse Fixer,’ New Kids On The Block tour 2024

Paris Hilton admits ‘no one is perfect’ after car seat safety concerns

Paris Hilton admits ‘no one is perfect’ after car seat safety concerns

Sarah Paulson reveals the surprising secret to long-term relationship with Holland Taylor

Sarah Paulson reveals the surprising secret to long-term relationship with Holland Taylor

Everything we know about the Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck divorce rumors

Everything we know about the Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck divorce rumors

Cambridge Dictionary

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Meaning of tour – Learner’s Dictionary

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  • The tour offers a chance to visit places of interest .
  • Despite the accident , she intends to complete her tour as originally planned .
  • The band's American tour coincided with the release of their second album .
  • They went on a sightseeing tour of London.
  • The tour guide was very informative .

(Definition of tour from the Cambridge Learner's Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

Translations of tour

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Word of the Day

hit the road

to leave a place or begin a journey

Searching out and tracking down: talking about finding or discovering things

Searching out and tracking down: talking about finding or discovering things

tour service meaning

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  1. Qualities Your Tour Guide Should Have

    tour service meaning

  2. Tours

    tour service meaning

  3. The Complexities of the Tour Operator Supply Chain: A Guide

    tour service meaning

  4. The Role of Tour Guides As Brokers in Tourism Industry

    tour service meaning

  5. Tour Operator

    tour service meaning

  6. What Does a Tour Guide Do?

    tour service meaning


  1. 300,000 people expected to travel on Washington State Ferries this Thanksgiving holiday

  2. Who is Domestic Tour Operator? Tour Operator

  3. 4 Tips to Improve Customer Service in Travel and Tourism

  4. BTTM/3rd Sem/Travel Agencies and Tour operations/Definition of Travel Agent and Tour operator

  5. NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees Inc is live!

  6. The Fact About Our Life. #crazyfacts #facts #motivation #animation #dreams #amazinhfact


  1. What Does a Tour Guide Do? Definition, Types and Salary

    Definition, Types and Salary. Working as a tour guide can be a great way to meet new people, travel, share incredible experiences and learn more about a culture or place. Becoming a guide is often an educational and rewarding experience. There are many guiding opportunities available that can suit a variety of interests and skill sets.

  2. TOUR

    TOUR meaning: 1. a visit to a place or area, especially one during which you look around the place or area and…. Learn more.

  3. What does a tour guide do?

    A tour guide provides assistance, information, and guidance to individuals or groups of tourists during their travels. Their primary role is to enhance the travel experience by sharing knowledge and insights about the destinations, attractions, and cultural aspects of the places being visited. Tour guides are well-versed in the history, geography, culture, and traditions of the locations they ...

  4. Back to Basics: Components of a Tour

    Obviously, the answer depends on the intended market. Some tours offer a minimum of elements; others are all-inclusive. Let's take a look at some options: Transportation. Most tours include transportation as part of the package. A fly/drive package combines air transportation and a car rental. An air/sea or fly/cruise combines air and ship ...

  5. TOUR

    TOUR definition: 1. a visit to a place or area, especially one during which you look around the place or area and…. Learn more.

  6. Tour operator

    A tour operator is a business that typically combines and organizes accommodations, meals, sightseeing and transportation components, in order to create a package tour. They advertise and produce brochures to promote their products, holidays and itineraries. Tour operators can sell directly to the public or sell through travel agents or a ...

  7. TOUR definition in American English

    tour in American English. (tur) noun. 1. a traveling around from place to place. 2. a long journey including the visiting of a number of places in sequence, esp. with an organized group led by a guide. 3. a brief trip through a place, as a building or a site, in order to view or inspect it.

  8. TOUR

    TOUR meaning: 1. a visit to and around a place, area, or country: 2. to travel around a place for pleasure: . Learn more.

  9. tour noun

    Synonyms trip trip journey tour expedition excursion outing day out These are all words for an act of travelling to a place. trip an act of travelling from one place to another, and usually back again:. a business trip; a five-minute trip by taxi; journey an act of travelling from one place to another, especially when they are a long way apart:. a long and difficult journey across the mountains

  10. tour noun

    1 tour (of/round/around something) a journey made for pleasure during which several different towns, countries, etc. are visited a walking/sightseeing, etc. tour a bus tour of northern California a tour operator (= a person or company that organizes tours) Topic Collocations Travel and Tourism vacations. have/take a vacation/a break/a day off/a year off/time off

  11. Tour of duty

    Following a tour of duty, sailors often have the opportunity to reunite with family and loved ones. For military personnel, a tour of duty is usually a period of time spent in combat or in a hostile environment. In an army, for instance, soldiers on active duty serve 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the length of their service commitment.

  12. What is a tour operator and how does it work?

    What is a tour operator? Tour operators are inextricably linked to the package holiday model. The tour operator is the person or organisation who creates the package. A travel agency is then used to sell the package holiday.. In the chain of distribution, the tour operator is represented by the term 'wholesaler'.This is because the tour operator is responsible for purchasing products of ...

  13. The difference between group tours, self-guided tours, and custom tour

    Guided Small Group Travel. Small group travel or small group trips is a subcategory of what might generally be called "packaged trips," "all inclusive" or "group departures."Trip dates are set, there is a specific itinerary that is followed, and you have a guide throughout the duration of the trip as well as a group of travel companions.

  14. What is a Tourist Service and why does it matter?

    The term 'tourist service' is not a new concept. It appeared in the old Package Travel Regulations from 1992, and survives in the current 2018 Package Travel Regulations ('the PTRs'). However, it continues to cause a lot of confusion for the travel industry. The main reason why this concept is so important is because it is one of the ...

  15. 7.1 Components of Travel Services

    A travel agency is a business that operates as the intermediary between the travel industry (supplier) and the traveller (purchaser). Part of the role of the travel agency is to market prepackaged travel tours and holidays to potential travellers. The agency can further function as a broker between the traveller and hotels, car rentals, and ...

  16. tour

    • A large, blue twin-engine air boat that normally is used for tours of the Everglades serves as the major on-site platform. tour of • a four-month tour of South America Related topics: Tourism tour tour 2 verb 1 [intransitive, transitive] DLT TRAVEL to visit several parts of a country or area We're touring the Greek islands this summer ...

  17. TOUR Definition & Meaning

    Tour definition: a traveling around from place to place.. See examples of TOUR used in a sentence.

  18. Tour Definition & Meaning

    tour: [noun] a series of professional tournaments (as in golf or tennis). a brief turn : round.

  19. Tour

    Use the noun tour to describe a route taken while sight-seeing or the act of experiencing a place, like a tour of Italy in which travelers tour museums and churches. ... a period of time spent in military service. synonyms: duty tour, enlistment, hitch, term of enlistment, tour of duty. see more see less. type of: period, period of time, time ...

  20. TOUR definition and meaning

    7 meanings: 1. an extended journey, usually taken for pleasure, visiting places of interest along the route 2. military a.... Click for more definitions.

  21. tour verb

    Word Origin Middle English (originally referring to a tour of duty; also denoting a circular movement): from Old French, 'turn', via Latin from Greek tornos 'lathe'. Sense 1 dates from the mid 17th cent.

  22. Travel vs Tour: Which Should You Use In Writing?

    While the general rule is to use "travel" when referring to the act of going from one place to another and "tour" when referring to a guided trip or excursion, there are some exceptions where these rules may not apply. Here are some examples: 1. Travel As A Noun. When "travel" is used as a noun, it can refer to a specific journey or ...

  23. Definition of 'at your service'

    You can use 'at your service' after your name as a formal way of introducing yourself to.... Click for English pronunciations, examples sentences, video.

  24. Taylor Swift gives Travis Kelce numerous shoutouts during Eras Tour

    Taylor Swift made a stop in the City of Love for her Eras Tour and she was definitely feeling it. Her boyfriend Travis Kelce was in attendance at her recent Paris show, and she made sure to make hi…

  25. TOUR

    TOUR definition: 1. a visit to and around a place, area, or country: 2. to travel around a place for pleasure: . Learn more.