Exported from Streamline App (https://app.streamlineicons.com)

What is the difference between a tour operator and a travel agent?

A tour operator vs. a travel agent

Embarking on the next step in your career journey? Interested in the travel industry? In that case, you’ll definitely want to better understand and navigate the wonderful world of travel. This is why it’s essential to understand the distinctions between a tour operator vs. travel agent, what each party does and what the pros and cons of the two different roles are. That’s exactly what we cover in this blog post, so keep reading to discover more.

A tour operator vs. a travel agent: What’s the difference?

The difference between a tour operator and a travel agent boils down to the primary duties and responsibilities of each party. In terms of their job description, tour operators can be individuals or organisations that plan and create trips and holiday packages. A travel agent, on the other hand, is an individual or a broker who sells these packages, acting as an intermediary between their customer — the traveller — and the tour operator.

Let’s look at the distinctions through an example. Imagine going to a restaurant and looking at its menu. The travel agent will be that party that presents you with a menu of travel options to choose from, including arranging and accepting payments. Meanwhile, the tour operator will be the party behind the scenes that creates all those wonderful arrays of options for amazing travel experiences.

In short, travel agents are something like intermediaries that purchase holiday packages from tour operators and then resell them to holidaymakers. That’s why a travel agent’s role is often client-facing.

What is a tour operator?

A tour operator is a travel industry specialist that’s responsible for creating travel packages that are sold on to travellers, who access them via a travel agent. That’s why the role of the two parties is often seen to overlap in some ways. However, there are several differences, especially in terms of what each party actually does. Let’s take a closer look below.

What does a tour operator do?

Some of the responsibilities of a tour operator include:

  • Researching different destinations
  • Negotiating bulk deals with airlines and hotels
  • Creating itineraries
  • Handling logistics, such as airport transfers and excursions
  • Providing detailed pricing information
  • Doing market research and engaging in marketing activities
  • Networking with coach operators, airlines, hoteliers, resort representatives and others
  • Determining the cost, contracts and services offered to travellers
  • Choosing the number of vacations to sell during each season, including which resorts and countries to use
  • Liaising with travel agents to market vacation packages
  • Collaborating with travel consultants to put holiday packages together

Pros and cons

Like any career, becoming a tour operator comes with its pros and cons. Here are a few worth considering:

In terms of advantages, tour operators:

  • Have specialised knowledge about destinations, activities and logistics
  • Can handle all aspects of a trip, from accommodations to transportation
  • Can often offer discounts for group bookings
  • Prioritise safety measures and have contingency plans in place for emergencies
  • Provide insights into local culture, customs and hidden gems that may be overlooked
  • Offer structured itineraries to ensure travellers make the most of their time at the destination
  • Provide ongoing support before, during and after the trip

In terms of disadvantages, it is worth noting the following:

  • Tour operators have limited flexibility in changing itineraries or accommodations once bookings are made
  • There may be limited options for customising a trip to suit individual preferences and interests

What is a travel agent?

A travel agent goes beyond just selling travel packages. Acting as travel consultants, they have in-depth destination knowledge and the ability to tailor trips to specific interests and budgets. What’s more, travel agents play a big role in solving travellers’ problems. They can find the best deals, help them navigate visa requirements or even handle unforeseen circumstances during a trip.

What does a travel agent do?

The role of a travel agent is varied and diverse. Examples of some of the tasks that travel agents carry out include:

  • Consulting with clients to understand their needs
  • Comparing package options from various tour operators
  • Researching visa requirements, passports and travel advisories
  • Assisting with booking flights, accommodation and activities
  • Handling last-minute changes or emergencies
  • Pre-empting traveller requirements by sending past clients deals they may like
  • Promoting and marketing the business
  • Dealing with customer queries and complaints
  • Managing budgets and maintaining financial and statistical records
  • Selling vacation trip services

Pros and cons

There are a few pros and cons of becoming a travel agent that are worth considering. Here’s what you should be aware of in terms of the advantages of pursuing such a career:

  • Travel agents offer expert advice and insider knowledge about destinations, accommodations and activities
  • They handle all the trip planning, booking and logistics, saving clients time and effort
  • Provide personalised recommendations tailored to customer preferences, budget and travel style
  • Access to exclusive deals, discounts and packages that may not be available to the general public
  • Act as a traveller’s advocate in case of travel disruptions, assisting with rebooking, refunds or compensation
  • Offer a one-stop-shop for all travel-related needs, including flights, accommodations, tours and travel insurance
  • Provide reassurance and peace of mind knowing that a professional is handling all aspects of a trip

In terms of cons, a travel agent:

  • Occasionally may need to be contactable outside of normal working hours
  • Some travel agents charge service fees or booking fees for their services, which may put them at a disadvantage in the eyes of the customer
  • Availability may be limited, especially during peak travel seasons or for last-minute bookings
  • Not all travel agents have first-hand knowledge of every destination, potentially limiting their ability to provide accurate advice

The Travel Franchise: Your gateway to a fulfilling career in travel

If you’re ready to embark on an adventure in the exciting and lucrative world of travel, you’ll want to do it with an industry leader. That’s where The Travel Franchise takes centre stage with amazing travel franchise opportunities. Just some of the advantages you will enjoy when you join The Travel Franchise network with your own travel franchise include:

  • Extensive training to get you up and running in no time
  • Valuable support that ensures you never feel alone
  • Access to a network of reputable tour operators
  • The ability to build your own brand 
  • Affordable ownership packages to suit every budget
  • And so much more

If you’d like to find out more about how to start a travel agency in the UK, don’t hesitate to explore The Travel Franchise opportunities.

The Travel Franchise reviews

Before signing up to a travel franchise in order to launch your travel agency, it’s vital you do your due diligence. It’s important to look at the company’s credentials and awards. Another great way to ascertain the performance of the company is to read the reviews written by others who have signed up and joined as franchisees. This gives you an insight into unbiased and real-life experiences. Trustpilot reviews of The Travel Franchise are exceptionally positive, giving it a five-star rating.

If you are ready to embark on your journey in the travel industry, joining the industry’s best is the ideal way to go. That’s why we invite you to grab this opportunity with both hands and learn more about the franchise opportunities with The Travel Franchise today!

Ready to turn your travel passion into a rewarding career? Learn more about The Travel Franchise’s exciting opportunities and explore how to become a travel agent with our unrivaled support system.

This page was visited by 90 people today.

Learn how it works instantly!

Your instant access to all our presentations is one e-mail away!