What is a Tour Operator?


Tour operators are prevalent around the world and facilitate hundreds of thousands of vacations for various clients. So what is a tour operator? A tour operator is a company who facilitates a trip or vacation for their clients. Many times this includes lodging, guides and events, destination transportation (rental cars), meals, flights, and sometimes more. Some of the largest tour operators that you may have heard of are Thomas Cook, Virgin Atlantic Holidays, Condor, and Conlin Travel. Many times the term travel agency is used interchangeably with tour operator, but in many cases tour operators actually employ many travel agents to compose itineraries.

Tour operators provide a sense of safety and security with travel arrangements and accommodations once you've reached your destination. Travelers don't worry about the hassle of many moving parts, and can simply address one point of contact for any aspect of their trip.

Tour operators have been around for a long time and before the age of the internet, they were the premier way to travel to an unfamiliar location. Thomas Cook for example was founded in 1841 in the United Kingdom. The tour operator business is taking a hit however, as the rise of online travel agents (OTA's) like Airbnb, TripAdvisor, and Booking.com are taking a massive bite in the aging travel agent's market share, and people are getting more comfortable with researching a destination online, and planning their trips themselves more affordably.

From a strictly lodging perspective, people many times actually may prefer to choose their own accommodations. With a tour operator, many times you don't know exactly what you're getting. For example, you're going to the Florida Keys, staying in a 4 star resort and you get a 2 bedroom suite at $XX per night. If you were to book your stay yourself, you can compare and contrast where on the island you'd like to stay, your view, number of people the property sleeps, and decor to fit your needs, and maybe get it a better price.

So why would a vacation home management company in Orlando write a blog about tour operators? Many vacation rental management companies partner with tour operators to drive bookings to their managed homes. Tour operators can be a viable option for bookings for management companies, but many times it does come at a bit higher cost to the homeowner. Tour operators often times charge a flat rate to guests per booking, along with a commission on the payout. Most times, management companies pass this commission off to the owner, thus increasing the total commission charged to that homeowner. This is yet another reason to make sure you're working with a qualified agent, who knows what questions to ask management companies to vet them on behalf of his/her clients.

Online Travel Agents, Wholesale booking agents, and Booking agencies are all additional ways that property management companies generate bookings as well. We dive into what each of these are and how they work in the following blogs.

What is An Online Travel Agent Blog

What is a Wholesale Booking Agent Blog

What is a Booking Agency Blog

Written by Keith Wachter

iTrip Vacations Orlando Business Development Specialist