tour operator vs travel agency

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michael147

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What is the difference between tour operator and travel agency?
 

Barb_D

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A tour operator actually takes you around the place you are visiting.

A travel agent helps you make your resevations/booking, perhaps with the tour operator you have chosen.
 

michael147

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A tour operator actually takes you around the place you are visiting.

A travel agent helps you make your resevations/booking, perhaps with the tour operator you have chosen.

But why does the dictionary says that a tour operator is a company that arranges travel tours?
 

Tdol

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Which dictionary? Not all dictionaries are of equal authority.

But why does the dictionary says that a tour operator is a company that arranges travel tours?

This is right to an extent- they do arrange tours, but they actually take you on them.
 

Gillnetter

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But why does the dictionary says that a tour operator is a company that arranges travel tours?
An agent is someone who acts for someone else. A travel agent sells various and sundry parts of travel for other concerns: airlines, cruise lines, hotels, automobile rental companies, tour operators, and others. A tour operator plans, arranges, advertises, sells, and operates tours. Tours are best defined as pre-planned travel. One may, for example, purchase a tour to the American Southwest. This tour may include: transportation by motor coach from a certain location, lodging, attractions, and the services of a tour guide. A tour operator may be very localized and only offer tours of parts of Chicago, for example. Other tour operators offer tours throughout the world. Some tour operators are known as tour wholesalers because they do not sell their own tours, but rely on travel agents to do the selling. Other tour operators may sell their tours to groups who request specialized tours. For many years I planned tours, mostly in the US, and sold these tours myself and through interested travel agencies. While I still operate the occasional tour, I now instruct budding tour operators how to set up and work a tour business.
 

michael147

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Which dictionary? Not all dictionaries are of equal authority.



This is right to an extent- they do arrange tours, but they actually take you on them.

I've got Longman, Collins Cobuild, and the Macmillan English Dictionary that all say a tour operator is a company that arranges travel tours.
 

5jj

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I've got Longman, Collins Cobuild, and the Macmillan English Dictionary that all say a tour operator is a company that arranges travel tours.
Nobody is disputing that.
 

emsr2d2

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If I book a holiday with a travel agent, I expect that travel agent to make the bookings for me, send me the tickets and then I'm on my own.
"Tour operator" these days does appear to have two meanings.
1) If I book my holiday with a tour operator, they arrange everything and then I get on a coach with their name on the side, with an employee of theirs on the bus telling me all about the places we are visiting and what we can see. One of the company's staff would be available to me in person at all times during my trip.
2) If I book my holiday via a tour operator, they might just send me the tickets and maybe the accommodation voucher and then, as with option 1, I'm on my own.

First Choice is a travel company in the UK. They have high street shops where you can book a holiday (travel agency) but they have also just been named "Tour Operator of the Year". You can book independent travel, package holidays or fully guided tours with them.
 

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Nobody would call a "travel agent" a "tour operator" here. Or vice versa.
 

emsr2d2

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Nobody would call a "travel agent" a "tour operator" here. Or vice versa.

Yes, I should have pointed out that a high street shop called a "travel agency" or a "travel agents" only really works in BrE. There are fewer and fewer of them in shopping streets because so many people now book their travel online.
 

SoothingDave

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We have travel agents in the US. Fewer than 20 years ago, for sure. But that is the person you call to book your vacation or business travel.

A "tour operator" to me is either a person who runs the tour you take while on your vacation, or a fancy term for a bus company that runs junkets.
 

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Your #1 a few posts ago -- the bus (coach) with their name on the side, an employee on the bus telling us about the sites, the meals paid for through the tour at pre-arranged restaurants, the hotels arranged, etc. -- that's what a tour operator is to me.

I might use my travel agent to book a tour with R2D2 tours, and my travel agent to get me the airline tickets to get to the start of the tour site, but then R2D2 takes over from there and makes sure I see everything there is to see.
 

emsr2d2

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Your #1 a few posts ago -- the bus (coach) with their name on the side, an employee on the bus telling us about the sites, the meals paid for through the tour at pre-arranged restaurants, the hotels arranged, etc. -- that's what a tour operator is to me.

I might use my travel agent to book a tour with R2D2 tours, and my travel agent to get me the airline tickets to get to the start of the tour site, but then R2D2 takes over from there and makes sure I see everything there is to see.

I think I feel a career change coming on! :-D
 
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