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Tour Operators is a person or company that organizes and sells package tours or holidays. A tour operator typically combines tour and travel components to create a holiday. The most common example of a tour operator’s product would be a flight on a charter airline plus a transfer from the airport to a hotel and the services of a local representative, all for one price. The original reason for existence of tour operating was the difficulty of making arrangements in far-flung places, with problems of language, currency and communication.

The advent of the internet has led to a rapid increase in self-packaging of holidays. However, tour operators still have their competence in arranging tours for those who do not have time to do DIY holidays, and specialize in large group events and meetings such as conferences or seminars. Also, tour operators still exercise contracting power with suppliers (airlines, hotels, other land arrangements, cruises, etc. ) and influence over other entities (tourism boards and other government authorities) in order to create packages and special departures for destinations otherwise difficult and expensive to visit.

The top major tour operators association in the Philippines is the, Blue Horizons Travel and Tours, Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) and Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA) etc. Characteristics of the Tour Operators Two major trends that characterise the tour operating industry: • Concentration and integration: The package holiday market is dominated by a very small number of internationally operating tour operators. The main trends in the industry are economies of scale, horizontal and vertical integration.

Through these strategies, tour-operators can achieve considerable buying power and control over their suppliers, as well as the distribution of their products. Horizontal integration refers to a situation when companies join together with the aim to remove competition, to increase economies of scale, and to increase purchasing power. • Specialisation: Intense integration practices have also led to increased specialisation and the development of niche operators and niche products. Small and medium size operators have to compete with larger, integrated companies.

Independent tour operators compete by providing high quality, specialist and tailor-made services, which is responding to the trend that holidaymakers are becoming more discerning about the holidays that they take. They often specialise in geographical areas or activities. Travel Agents Travel agents assist travellers by sorting through vast amounts of information to help their clients make the best possible travel arrangements. Travel agents offer advice on destinations and make arrangements for transportation, hotel accommodations, car rentals, and tours for their clients.

In addition, resorts and specialty travel groups use travel agents to promote travel packages to their clients. Travel agents are expected to be able to advise travellers about their destinations, such as the weather conditions, local ordinances and customs, attractions, and exhibitions. Travel agents use a variety of published and computer-based sources for information on departure and arrival times, fares, quality of hotel accommodations, and group discounts.

They may also visit hotels, resorts, and restaurants themselves to evaluate the comfort, cleanliness, and the quality of specific hotels and restaurants so that they can base recommendations on their own experiences or those of colleagues or clients. Many travel agents specialize in specific destinations or regions; others specialize in travel targeted to particular demographic groups, such as senior citizens. Travel agents who primarily work for tour operators and other travel arrangers may help develop, arrange, and sell the company’s own package tours and travel services.

They may promote these services, using telemarketing, direct mail, and the Internet. They make presentations to social and special-interest groups, arrange advertising displays, and suggest company-sponsored trips to business managers. Characteristics of the Travel Agents Based on Knowledge Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction. Geography — Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life. | Sales and Marketing — Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems. Transportation — Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits. | English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar. | Clerical — Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.

Based on SkillsActive Listening — Giving full attention to what other people is saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times. Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively. Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people. Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents. Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do. Persuasion — Persuading others to change their minds or behaviour.

Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions. Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one. Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making. Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions. | Major Roles and Functions of Tour Operators and Travel Agents The Role and Functions of Tour Operators

Sometimes there is confusion over the difference in functions of tour operators and travel agents. Tour operators are the organisers and providers of package holidays. They make contracts with hoteliers, airlines and ground transport companies then print brochures, advertising the holidays that they have assembled. The role of tour operators, unlike the travel agencies who sell holiday and a range of other travel products, tour operators actually assemble the component parts of a holiday, package holidays i. e. the means of travel, accommodation, facilities, transfers, excursion and other services.

If we consider that the travel agents are the retailer arm of the travel business, then the tour operators can be linked to wholesalers, since they buy in ‘bulk’ from the providers of travel services, such as the hoteliers and airlines, break the ‘bulk’ into manageable packages and offer the finished product to the inclusive tour for sale to the travel agencies or direct to the consumer. The Role and Functions of Travel Agents Travel agents plan, organize, and conduct long distance cruises, tours and expeditions for individuals or groups.

The responsibility of the travel agent is to assist travellers with the constantly changing airfares and schedules, thousands of available vacation packages, and a vast amount of travel information on the internet. To sort out the many travel options, tourists and business people often turn to travel agents, who assess their needs and help them make the best possible travel arrangements. In general, travel agents give advice on destinations and make arrangements for transportation, hotel accommodations, car rentals, tours, and recreation. They also may advise on weather conditions, restaurants, tourist attractions, and recreation.

For international travel, agents also provide information on customs regulations, required papers (passports, visas, and certificates of vaccination), and currency exchange rates. Travel agents consult a variety of published and computer-based sources for information on departure and arrival times, fares, and hotel ratings and accommodations. They may visit hotels, resorts, and restaurants to evaluate their comfort, cleanliness, and the quality of food and service so that they can base recommendations on their own travel experiences or those of colleagues or clients.

The Business Dimensions of the Intermediaries An intermediary is a third party that offers intermediation services between two trading parties. The intermediary acts as a conduit for goods or services offered by a supplier to a consumer. Typically the intermediary offers some added value to the transaction that may not be possible by direct trading. This study module explains tourism intermediaries and provides the framework within which travel distribution takes place.

The principles of tourism distribution are discussed and developments of the industry from a historical perspective as well as present overview and future trends are described. The role of the single intermediaries is discussed from a management perspective. Examples of companies from each Intermediary are included and illustrate the theory. Technological advances have opened new channels and opportunities for suppliers of tourism, travel intermediaries and consumers. Much of this trend has been driven by “online” developments which will be described in one of the chapters with their impact on the traditional industry examined.

It needs to be outlined that tourism intermediaries may consist of quite different structures depending within which world region they are operating. The travel distribution in Asia is differently organized than in Europe or America. Even within the European market there appear distribution differences for example in Scandinavia and Middle Europe. This study module will emphasize on the travel distribution structure of leisure travel within Middle and South Europe, as there are the main tourism generating areas situated as well as the top tourist destinations for Europe.

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