What Are the Differences Between Travel Agent and Tour Operator?

The Travel Agent and Tour Operators are normally two separate service providers handling different parts of journey, not always exclusive but the difference does lies in the service they provide.

From consumer point of view the big change happened in 1992, since then any one who is offering the services for travels are liable based upon their stake and expected profit which they are expecting. This is great development for the consumer side as now financial responsibly for the potential liability is divided into every party responsible.

The Tour Operators provide much more detailed services which you require from every little thing during the visit. It might not seem a huge difference but the both of these parties are at different end in case of any liability etc. As the travel agents don’t have huge stakes to the whole journey, being just a go between, so they are taking commission for their services. Incase of the dissatisfaction or problem they might not be facing huge lawsuits as they are not the primary sellers.

The main difference between is that the scope. The Travel Agents provide the specific services unless one asks for them to handle other things, they act as go between the airlines and travelers. It is expected that the travel agents most of times have business inside their own office and don’t have any stakes in the running of tours, or are not attached with the actual facilities and services.

The difference between Agent and Tour Operator can also be seen in the way they are being paid. The agents are given commission for their services for the normal things like air tickets etc. The bill of agent is often very small as compare to.

The services of both the tour operator and travel agents are essentially related so some of the organizations start to take both the activities. This however rarely occurs as the tasks of Tour Operators are huge as compare to the Travel Agent.

My Travel Agent is a Crook and Other Horror Stories

There was a recent article on CNN where a women listed all the various ills she experienced in her vacation because of a “bad travel agent”. The airplane ticket she bought wasn’t upgradeable or refundable. The hotel wouldn’t upgrade her to a better room. Her car didn’t have unlimited mileage. She said the travel agent had done all these things in order to earn a bigger commission. And the list went on…

My first reaction as a traveler is that she had a good right to be angry and upset that her vacation wasn’t fantastic. My first reaction as a travel agent was – hold the fort – did she ASK for any of those items when she met with the travel agent?

We aren’t mind readers. We do are best to screen our clients to find out likes, dislikes and preferences. However, the client DOES pay a large part in the process.

To understand how best to utilize a travel agent, you should understand how a travel agency operates.

In “the good old days”, travel agents receive commissions from airlines, hotels, cars and resorts for travel purchased on behalf of a client. With the advent of the internet, these commission checks began disappearing. Regular airfare (without hotels or car rentals) is generally not commissionable. That means when the travel agent does the research for your best fare, s(he) isn’t going to receive any money for the time and effort spent on your behalf. Booking airline tickets alone is actually a money losing proposition for the travel agent. However, many good agents will continue to book these flights as a gesture of goodwill in hopes that you will bring them your other travel.

Your budget determines the type of airfare and accommodations you will receive. If you are on a tight budget, you will likely end up with non refundable / non changeable plane tickets and hotel rooms that won’t allow you to upgrade. Make sure to discuss your budget options and the pros and cons associated with your airfare, car and hotel before you make a purchase. Keep in mind that your travel agent is likely to receive a higher commission on the refundable / upgradeable fares so buying non refundable / non changeable tickets really doesn’t benefit the travel agent.

If you want to use airline or hotel points for upgrades, make sure and tell your agent up front. That way s(he) can find you the best upgradeable bargain.

Your travel agent can be an invaluable asset when planning your next trip or vacation. You, as the consumer, do have certain responsibilities to volunteer information if not directly asked.

Questions to ask your agent.

1. Do you charge any research or other fees?

2. Will you work with me if there are any issues?

3. Do you work with any companies that allow me to pay out my vacation?

4. Is there a 24/7 phone number in case of critical issues?

Questions your agent should ask you

1. What areas of travel interest you?

2. What kind of budget do you have?

3. What types of travel do you like – air, cruise, all inclusive etc?

4. Do you have airline seating preferences?

5. Smoking or non smoking hotel rooms (if applicable)?

6. What level of service do you expect – budget, 5 star etc?

7. Ask about visas and passports for international travel.

Fantastic vacations start with detailed planning. So, get together with your travel agent and start planning your next dream trip.