What is a Tour Operator?
A Tour Operator is usually responsible for creating and co-ordinating package holidays. They work independently or for large tour companies.
These packaged vacations usually include:
- all necessary travel arrangements (flights, airport shuttles, busses, boat, trains, etc)
- entrance fees to museums, art galleries, parks, historical sites and other places of interest etc
Some Tour Operators specialise in a particular field of vacations.
- wildlife photography holidays
- art & painting holidays
- adventure holidays (gorilla trekking, climbing Kilimanjaro etc)
- golfing holidays
- walking (slack-packing) holidays
- 4×4 holidays etc
If a Tour Operator specialises – then they usually come with in-depth knowledge and passion for that kind of tour. This is necessary as guests will have a load of questions and the Tour Operator will need to be on top of their game and be ready, most of the time, with the answers.
What does a Tour Operator do?
- researching and visiting new places of interest so that they may be included in a ‘new’ tour
- meeting with local communities to discuss possible inclusions in tours
- planning and co-ordinating itineraries
- working out costings
- making bookings, paying deposits, issuing tickets
- printing out itineraries for clients
- assisting clients with any queries
- dealing with problems: lost luggage, delayed flights etc
- sometimes traveling with their tour group
- keeping detailed records
Are you … ?
- interested in the travel industry?
- a peoples’ person?
- polite and professional?
- friendly and patient?
- detail orientated?
- fit and healthy?
- a person with logistical skills?
- a problem solver?
- willing to work long and unusual hours?
- have excellent communication skills
- enthusiastic and energetic?
- able to remain calm in emergencies?
How do I become a Tour Operator?
There are no direct ways of becoming a Tour Operator.
You may consider first becoming a Tour Guide for a couple of years and collect experience along route before becoming a Tour Operator or, you could complete various courses in tourism that will assist you in becoming a successful Tour Operator.
Obviously the more skills you collect, the more successful you will be.
Here are a few examples:
- COLLEGE CAMPUS
Offers a 3 year Diploma in Travel and Tourism Management
- BOSTON CITY CAMPUS
Offers a few courses including a 3 year Travel and Tourism Operations Certificate – NQF Level 4
Offers a 6 month course in Tour Operators Management
- DRUMBEAT ACADEMY
Offers a short course in Tour Operations.
Is becoming a Tour Operator the right career choice for me?
See below for more info.