Travel Agent vs. Tour Operator

Both, the travel agent and the tour operator deals with touring and traveling. But the main difference is that, a travel agent is a one who make all the arrangements of our tour. He’s affiliated to a travel agency or he carries this business on his own. But his main motive is to arrange the tour, to deal with clients and flight insurances. While on the other hand, a tour operator is the one who operates your tour. They give us traveling options and they handle the tour, primarily. From booking tickets to packaging, hotels and even a guide, he look into all the maters.

What is Travel Agent?

As we have talked about the main difference already. A travel agent only plans or organizes the trip. He does not accompany travelers or tourists. If he’s working under a travel agency then he plans everything out for the tourists. Moreover, a travel agent help the tourists in buying tickets, telling them about promotional offers on ticket purchase. Some travel agents are also private retailers. They advertise various hotels, places, resorts of different counties or cities to their customers. For this, they charge money, of course. They even pay services to the travelers on behalf of all these hotels, resorts or even rent-a-car services. So, they actually sell products on behalf of suppliers. They even tell the travelers about discount offers. So, the travel agent is a person who works under a private or public retailer and provides the tourism and travel related services to others on behalf of the company under which supervision he is operating. When it comes to tourism and travel facilities then all kind of facilities comes under this area like car rentals, hotels booking, railway or airline reservation, cruise lines etc. The working system of modern day travel agents has been reshaped to much extent. Now in addition to providing the ordinary tourism services, these provide the system for making travel arrangements for commercial and business purposes as well. The designation travel agent itself describing a person working as an agent. So, being an agent, the source of income of travel agent is the commission that he is paid by the agencies for which he is working. In addition to earning commission against bookings, he also received benefits and bonuses from the tourism and travel companies as well. Money exchange, travel guide, travel insurance and likewise other services can also be the mode of earning of travel agents as well. In short, the basic role of travel agent is to work as an agent for sale and administration of the packages of the company under which supervision he is working.

What is Tour Operator?

There are specialized tour operators as well. Like for one distinct country, there will be a specialized tour operator, who knows almost everything about that place. Tour operate also supply travelers with a complete package of residency, transportation and even flight. So, tour operators basically create pre-packages holidays for the travelers. So, a tour operator actually plans out the tour or holiday. He book tickets, a hotel, destinations, flight, transportation and even food! You can also ask for a tour guide. Their responsibility is to provide your vacation with all the necessities. Just like a travel agent, travel operator deals in the combined business of travel and tourism. Most of the operation of travel operators are linked with the sale and purchase of tickets and the visa process. Some travel operators provide the other facilities to their clients as well in the shape of arranging special trips for their clients. Some common types of tour operators are inbound tour operators, outbound tour operators, domestic tour operators, group operators and destination management companies. The basic functions of all these remain with little difference on the additional services and sectors in which they operate. It has proper organization structure because in a case of large travel operating company there can be subsidiaries in the other cities or countries as well. The sources of income of travel operators are providing services to the clients and also earning commission from the different companies by booking their services for the clients. However, most of the travel operators have their own service area as well and instead of hiring the third party services, these provide the all kind of services to the clients on their own. If talk about the management, then travel operator business requires fulfilling more legal formalities. Moreover, a license permitting the carrying on business of travel operator is also required to be acquired from the concerned ministry of travel and tourism.

Key Differences between Travel Agent and Tour Operator

  1. Travel agents usually sell packages, they have bought from various tour operators.
  2. Tour operators look into all the aspects of a vacation, they plan almost each and everything. While, travel agents sell packages to their clients on the basis of where do their clients actually want to go.
  3. There are specialized tour operators as well. Dealing with specially one country at a time. But there’s no specialization in the case of a travel agent.
  4. Some travel agents work directly with tour operators and provide the tour operators with the information of clients.
  5. A travel agent keep his profit. While, a tour operator keeps less profit than a travel agent.
  6. Many a people now prefer a tour operator rather a travel agent.
  7. Travel agent gets permit to work from the respective tour operator either private or public while travel operator acquires license from the regional ministry of tourism.
  8. Becoming a travel agent doesn’t requires so much time as compared to the travel operator that needs more to sustain and grow in the competitive travel industry.
  9. There are proper training programs in order to pursue the career as a travel agent while travel operator needs the business management practices.
  10. Due to change in lifestyle and traits the focus of travel operators is more on the diversification of package while the focus of travel agents is more on the sale of package tours, hotel bookings, and traveling documents processing.
  11. The duties of travel agent are mostly services based that requires not too much investment while travel operator is required to invest in the business.
  12. Tour operator is directly responsible to the regulatory authorities while travel agent is first responsible to the clients and then to the travel operator.
  13. In term of legality and liability, travel agent comes at first position to answer the clients while travel operator has secondary liability in this regard.
  14. There is no licensing system in case of travel agent while travel operator is required to get a license from the respective ministry of travel and tourism. He is also required to renew the license from time to time.
  15. Common types of tour operators are inbound tour operators, outbound tour operators, domestic tour operators, group operators and destination management companies. Wholesale and retail travel agent are the types of the travel agent.
  16. The source of income of travel agent is commission and benefits that he get from the travel operator. While travel operator earned by providing services to the clients and he also earned commission from the different companies by booking their services for the clients.
  17. Travel operator is the name of a full-fledged company in comparison to the travel agent who only sells the tour operator’s tours to the willing traveler or tourists.
  18. A travel operator can be the supplier of the services as well that he present to its customers. In that’s way he doesn’t work as commission agent for the services providing companies. While travel agent in all cases remains the distributor of these services.
  19. Travel operator offers diverse kind of traveling and tourism programs while travel agent tends to focus more on a specific area.

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