Who is a tour operator?
A tour operator is a service provider who puts together tour destination packages that usually include all-inclusive travel, accommodation, tour activities arrangements. Tour operators buy the individual components of tour packages in bulk and then re-sell them for a profit.
If we consider that the travel agents are the retailer arm of tourism business, then the tour operators can be linked to wholesalers, since they buy in ‘bulk’ from the providers of travel services like Airlines and hoteliers, break the ‘bulk’ into manageable packages and provide the finished product the inclusive tour for sale to the travel agencies or direct to the consumer/tourists.
For instance, a tour operator might purchase bulk hotel rooms, air-tickets, and sightseeing activities for a particular destination such like Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania among other. Then, the tour operator makes different tour packages that are tailored to single travelers, couples, families and groups desiring to travel to any of the listed destination within a given period of time. In Rwanda for instance, a tour operator can purchase gorilla trekking permits for Volcanoes national park, hotel rooms in Five to Five Hotel in Kigali, Cottages at Mountain gorilla view lodge, Air-tickets from Australia to Kigali and then creates different Rwanda safari packages to be sold to different clients at a profit.
In that way, the tour operator car sell these package to travel agents with or direct to individual clients with Australia. If the tour operator sales this package direct to the client, he/she must have a ground handler in Rwanda, chosen from the many tour companies and travel agencies in Kigali.
Tour operators must accept responsibility for all problems that arise after the sale of their travel packages. Therefore, if a client is mistreated by the airline, hotel, restaurant or sightseeing company, the tour operator is required to help resolve the issue on behalf of her client. Therefore, a tour operator should be trust worth and keep the name of his or her company clean by offering good services.
Safari operators also give shopping, dining, sightseeing and lodging advice to potential clients and tour groups as needed. Tour operators are generally self-employed. Therefore, they must have a physical or online office, hire support employees as their customer base builds and advertise to get customers.
Tour operators must have a head for business and have the ability to make quick decisions that affect their clients who might be far away from their homes.
Tour operators also guide visitors throughout their destination. In most cases, safari guides are the same as drivers – they transport visitors from day one to the last day. The tour operators are expected to be knowledgeable about the tourist destination where to take visitors.
Tour operators devise, arrange and promote holidays and travel options, working with hotels, airlines and other transport companies for ground travel, in order to execute the arrangements, promoted either through travel agents or direct to potential tourists by mans of websites or brochure. They provide customers with advice about where to travel as well as the best means of reaching such destinations.