Tourism, like any large industry, has a language of it’s own. And English, luckily, is the international language of the tourism trade. Knowing these terms will help in marketing and communication with overseas tour operators, wholesalers, and agents. It will help when dealing with domestic tourism professionals as well.
Ad Hoc Group - See Pre-formed Group.
Adventure Tour - A tour designed around an adventurous activity such as raft riding, hiking or ballooning.
Affinity Groups - Groups sharing common interest, usually passengers who are members of an organization (see also Pre-formed Group).
Agent - Broadly, one who acts or has the power to act; more usually, one that acts as the representative or agent as: 1) a retail travel agent; 2) a carrier employee who sells tickets, a counter or ticket agent; 3) one with broad powers to act for a principal, a general agent; and 4) more usually with types of compartments, seating comfort and amenities. There is considerable variation among airlines, especially between long-range international and domestic services. The class of service is usually denoted by a reservation/ticketing code which also relates to the fare.
Military - reserved seats at reduced rates to military personnel on active duty.
Standby - heavily discounted and conditioned fares offered by few carriers to those willing to risk displacement at any time prior to transportation at any other recognized fare.
Airline Fare - Price charged for an airline ticket. Numerous types of fares are in use and they change with market conditions. Some of the broad categories are:
Advanced Purchase Excursion - the "APEX" fare is a heavily discounted excursion fare available on many international routes. Comparable fares exist for North American routes. Reservations and payment required well in advance of departure with varying penalties for cancellation.
Excursion - individual fares within specific maximum/minimum time limits. They are usually conditioned in other ways, depending on the airline or route in question.
Group - discounts from regular fares for groups of varying minimum sizes in selected markets, with various conditions which usually require round-trip travel within a specified time limit.
Regular or Normal Tour-Basing - individual fares which are heavily and variously conditioned available only on specified routes and require the advanced purchase of a land package.
Visit USA - individual fares available only to foreign visitors on many major airlines which offer unlimited travel at a flat rate within a specified time period or a discount from regular fares for point-to-point travel. Conditions are heavy and vary from carrier to carrier.
Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) - ARC's purpose is to provide a method of approving authorized agency locations for the sale of transportation and cost-effective procedures for processing records and funds of such sales to carrier customers. ARC has as its stockholders the passenger carriers of the Air Transport
Association of America (ATA). - Additional carriers, domestic and international, participant in the ARC program.
Alumni Tour - A tour designed for those people who have previously traveled with the tour company. Also called reunion tours.
Amenity Package- A cluster of special features, i.e., complimentary shore excursions, bar or boutique credit, or wine at dinner offered to clients on a given tour or cruise, usually as a bonus or extra feature. Used to induce clients to book through a particular travel agency or organization.
American Plan - A type of rate that includes the price of the room, breakfast, luncheon and dinner. Commonly abbreviated as "AP" (see also Room Rates).
Attraction - A natural or man-made facility, location, or activity which offers items of specific interest. An attraction can be a natural or scenic wonder, a man-made theme park, a cultural or historic exhibition, or a wildlife/ecological park.
Back to Back - A term used to describe tours operating on a consistent, continuing bases. For instance, a bus arriving in a city from a cross-country tour, may conclude the first tour upon arrival, and then transport a second tour back along the same route to the original city of the first tour. This efficiency of operation makes it possible to "block out" or reserve hotel rooms on a continuing basis.
Bed and Breakfast (B&B) - Overnight accommodations usually in a private home or boarding house often with either a full, American-style breakfast or continental breakfast.
Block - A number of rooms, seats, or space reserved in advance, usually by wholesalers, escorted tour operations, or travel agents who intend to sell them as components of tour packages.
Booking Form - A document which purchasers of tours must complete to give the operator full particulars about who is buying the tour. It states exactly what is being purchased (including options) and must be signed as acknowledgement that the liability clause has been read and understood.
Bonding - The purchase, for a premium, of a guarantee of protection for a supplier or a customer. In the travel industry, certain bonding programs are mandatory. ATC insists that travel agents be bonded to protect the airlines against defaults. Some operators and agents buy bonds voluntarily to protect their clients and for promotional purposes.
Breakage - Expenses budgeted for a tour but not used or expended, thus resulting in additional to the tour operator, i.e., meals budgeted but not consumed, currency fluctuations in favor of the tour operator, or the tour selling much larger numbers of passengers than anticipated.
Bulk Fare - Fare available only to tour organizers or operators who purchase a specified block of seats from a carrier at a low, non-commissionable price and then have the responsibility of selling the seats, including a commission in their marked-up price for the seats.
Carrier - Transportation company such as air, bus, steamship line, railroad, etc. for passengers and/or cargo.
Certified Tour Professional (CTP) - A designation conferred upon tour professionals who complete prescribed academic study, professional service, escorted travel employment, and evaluation requirements. The CTP Program is administered by the National Tour Foundation (located in Lexington, KY) and is open to individuals employed in any segment of the group travel industry.
Certified Travel Counselor (CTC) - A designation given to professional competence as a travel agent. It is conferred upon travel professionals with five year's or more industry experience who have completed a two-year graduate-level travel management program offered by the Institute of Certified Travel Agents (located in Wellesley, MA).
Charter - To hire the exclusive use of any aircraft, vessel or other vehicle.
Charter Operations - As used in motor carrier certificates, the term contemplates the transportation of preformed groups, that is groups organized by someone other than the carrier, and which are sold the exclusive use of the vehicle. An operator authorized to arrange transportation in charter operations, however, is not limited to dealing with preformed groups, but can itself form the tour group.
Circle Trip - A journey with stopovers that returns to the point of departure without retracing its routes.
City Tour - A sightseeing trip through a city, usually lasting a half day or full day.
Commercial Rate - A special rate agreed upon by a company and a hotel. Usually, the hotel agrees to supply rooms of a specified quality or better at a flat rate.
Commission - The amount, which may vary, a travel agent receives from the suppliers for selling transportation, accommodations or other services.
Commissionable Tours - A tour available for sale through retail and wholesale travel agencies, which provides for a payment of an agreed upon sales commission either to the retail or wholesale seller.
Conditions - The section or clause of a transportation or tour contract that specifies what is not offered and may spell-out the circumstances under which the contract may be invalidated in all or in part.
Confidential Tariff - A schedule of wholesale rates distributed in confidence to travel wholesalers and travel agents (see also Net Wholesale Rate).
Confirmed Reservation - An oral or written statement by a supplier that he has received and will honor a reservation. Oral confirmations have virtually no legal worth. Even written or telegraphed confirmations have specified or implied limitations. For example, a hotel is not obligated to honor a reservation if the guest arrives after 6:00 p.m. unless late arrival is specified.
Consolidator - A person or company which forms groups to travel flights to increase sales, earn override commissions or reduce the possibility of tour cancellations.
Consolidation - Cancellation by a charter tour operator of one or more flights associated with a specific charter departure or departure period with the transfer of passengers to another charter flight or flights to depart on or near the same day. Selling the same tour with identical departure dates through a number of wholesalers, cooperatives or other outlets in order to increase sales tour cancellations.
Consortium - A loosely knit group or independently owned and managed companies such as travel agencies, tour operators, hotels, etc. with a joint marketing distribution process. RMI is considered in the UK to be a "consortium" of states and destinations.
Continental Breakfast - At a minimum, a beverage (coffee, tea or milk) and rolls or toast. Sometimes includes fruit juice.
Continental Plan - A hotel rate that includes bed and continental breakfast.
Contractor - A land operator who provides services to wholesalers, tour operators, and travel agents.
Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) - Nonprofit organization supported by transient room taxes, government budget allocations, private memberships, or a combination thereof, which encourages groups to hold meetings, conventions, and trade shows in its city; assists those groups with advance preparation and during meetings, and promotes tourism.
Co-op Advertising - Any consumer or trade advertising in which one or more partners pool their resources.
Co-op Marketing - Any marketing program or project in which one or more partners pool their resources.
Co-op Tour - Selling a tour through a number of wholesalers, cooperatives or other outlets in order to increase sales and reduce the possibility of tour cancellations.
Costing - Process of itemizing and calculating all costs the tour operator will pay on a given tour. Usually the manager.
Customized Tour - A tour designed to fit the specific needs of a particular target market.
Customs - A federal agency charged with collecting duty on specified items imported into the country. The agency also restricts the entry of forbidden items.
Cut-off Date - The designated day when the buyer must release or add function room or bedroom commitments.
Deluxe Tour - In travel usage, presumably "of the highest standard."
Departure Tax - Fee collected from a traveler by the host country at the time of departure.
Deposit - An advance payment required to obtain confirmed space, amount or a percentage of the total bill.
Destination - The place to which a traveler is going. In the travel industry; any city, area or country which can be marketed as a single entity to tourists.
Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) - A category of membership of the National Tour Association which includes state or provincial tourism offices, convention and visitors bureaus, and chambers of commerce who promote a city, region, or state as a travel destination.
Domestic Escorted Tour (DET) - Packaged, preplanned itinerary (including services of an escort) within a traveler's own country.
Double-occupancy Rate - The price per person for a room to be shared with another person. The rate most frequently quoted in tour brochures.
Double Room Rate - The full price of a room for two people; be careful, some people say double when they mean double-occupancy.
Downgrade - To move to a lesser accommodation or class of service.
Educational Tour - A tour designed around some educational activity such as studying Renaissance art.
Errors and Omissions Insurance - Coverage equivalent to malpractice insurance, insuring an agent's or operator's staff should an act of negligence, error, or omission occur causing a client great hardship or expense, often referred to as "E and O insurance."
Escort - 1) A person, usually employed or subcontracted (or independently contracted) by the tour operator who accompanies a tour group departure to return, as a guide, trouble-shooter, etc.; 2) A person who performs such functions only at the destination. Also referred to as a courier, conductor, host, manager, director or leader.
Escorted Tour - 1) A prearranged travel program, usually for a group, escorted by a courier. In a fully-conducted tour, escort and/or guide service is provided throughout; 2) A sightseeing program conducted by a guide, such as a city tour.
Escrow Accounts - Funds placed in the custody of licensed financial institutions for safekeeping. Many contracts in travel require that agents and tour operators maintain customers' deposits and prepayments in escrow accounts.
Ethnic Tour - A tour designed for people of the same heritage traveling to their native origin or to a destination with ethnic relevance.
Excursion - Journey where the traveler returns to the original point of departure.
Extension - A fully arranged sub-tour offered optionally at extra cost to buyers of a tour or cruise. Extensions may occur before, during or after the basic travel program.
Familiarization Tour or Fam Tour - A complimentary or reduced-rate travel program for travel agents and/or airline employees and travel writers designed to acquaint them with a specific destination to stimulate the sale of travel.
Fam Tour - Familiarization tour for travel agents or journalists planned and executed by a destination or region, usually in cooperation with an international airline.
FIT- Foreign Independent Tour. A prepaid travel arrangement tailored to meet a traveler's basic needs including airline, ground transportation, accommodation, and some attraction vouchers. Also called a "pre-planned fly-drive."
Flag Carrier - Carrier designated by a country to serve international routes.
Fly/Drive - A travel arrangement which combines air transportation with a rental car. May also include accommodation vouchers.
Folio - An itemized record of a guest's charges and credits, which is maintained in the front office until departure. Also referred to as a guest bill and a guest statement.
Gateway - Most often refers to a major air or seaport. Internationally, it can also mean the port where Customs clearance takes place.
Ground Operator - A company or individual providing such services as hotel accommodations, sightseeing, transfers, and other related services, exclusive of transportation to and from a given destination (see also Receptive Operator).
Group Inclusive Tour - A prepaid tour of specified minimum group size, ingredients, and value.
Group Leader - An individual, acting as a liaison to a tour operator, designated to coordinate arrangements for a group. In some cases may also serve as the escort.
Group Tour - A prearranged, prepaid travel program for a group usually including transportation, accommodations, attraction admissions, and meals (see also Packaged Tour).
Guaranteed Payment - A hotel reservation secured by the guest's agreement to pay for his room whether he uses it or not. Payment is usually guaranteed by a company, travel agent or tour wholesaler who has an established credit rating with the hotel.
Guaranteed Tour - A tour guaranteed to operate unless cancelled before an established cut-off date (usually 60 days prior to departure).
Guide - 1) A person qualified to conduct tours of specific localities or attractions--many reliable guides are licensed; 2) An airline, bus, railroad, or shop manual of schedules and fares--listings are not guaranteed, but travel agents and carrier reservationists use such manuals as a matter of necessity.
Guided Tour - A local sightseeing trip conducted by a guide.
Hotel Classification - There is no official classification or accepted rating system for U.S. hotels, but the following definitions are generally understood:
Budget - Budget hotels and motels are reasonably priced accommodations and are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. lodging industry. In general they provide a
room with a bed, TV, telephone, and shower as well as free parking. They often do not have room service or a restaurant.
Moderate - These hotels account for nearly 75% of available U.S. hotel rooms. They have on-site restaurants, bar, and perhaps conference rooms, as well as the basic services. Tourist (economy or second class) - Budget operations; most have private baths; services may be very limited.
Deluxe - A top-grade hotel, all rooms have a private bath; all the usual public rooms and services are provided; a high standard of décor and services is maintained.
First Class and Luxury - Many luxury hotels in the U.S. exist in large cities, offering a number of special services to the business and leisure traveler. A U.S. first-class hotel offers, for example, first-rate restaurants, banquet and conference rooms, valet service, room service, cable TV, and complimentary morning newspaper.
Hub & Spoke Tours - Tours which utilize a central destination with side trips of varying length to nearby destinations.
Inbound Tour - Group of travelers whose trip originated in another city or country.
Inbound Tour Operator - See Receptive Operator.
Incentive or Incentive Commission - See Override.
Incentive Tour - 1) A trip offered as a prize, particularly to stimulate the productivity of employees or sales agents; 2) The business of operating such travel programs.
Incidentals - Charges incurred by the participants of a tour, but which are not included in the tour price.
Inclusive Tour - A tour in which specific elements - airfare, hotels, transfers, etc., are offered for a flat rate. An inclusive tour does not necessarily cover all costs.
Independent Tour - An unescorted tour sold through agents to individuals. For one price the client receives air travel, a hotel room, attraction admissions, and typically a car rental.
Intermodal Tour - Tour using several forms of transportation such as plane, motor coach, cruise line, and railroad to create a diversified and efficient tour package.
IT - Inclusive Tour. Any prepaid travel arrangement containing transportation, lodging, and other features, such as sightseeing, excursions, etc.
Itinerary - The travel schedule provided by a travel agent for his or her client. A proposed or preliminary outline of all details, i.e. flight numbers, departure times, etc., as well as describing planned activities. It should be delivered shortly before departure.
Land Operator - A company that provides local services, transfers, sightseeing, guides, etc. (see also Receptive Operator).
Lead Time - Advance time or length of time between initiating a tour and its departure date.
Leg - Portion on a journey between two scheduled stops.
Letter of Agreement - A letter from the buyer to the supplier accepting the terms of the proposal. This may also be the supplier's initial proposal that has been initiated by the buyer.
Load Factor - Average number of seats occupied.
Low Season - That time of the year at any given destination when tourist traffic, and often rates, are at their lowest. Also referred to as off-peak or off-season.
Manifest - Final, official listing of all passengers and/or cargo aboard a transportation vehicle or vessel.
Market Segment - A limited portion of the total consumer market.
Mark-up - The amount added by a tour wholesaler to the net prices of package components. Percentage varies. Retailers' commissions are paid out of mark-up revenues.
Master Account - The guest account for a particular group or function that will be paid by the sponsoring organization.
Master Bill - All items contracted by the operator and supplier to be paid by the operator.
Meet and Greet - Prepurchased service for meeting and greeting a client upon arrival in a city, usually at the airport, with entrance formalities, collecting baggage, and obtaining transportation.
Motorcoach - A large, comfortable, well-powered bus that can transport groups and their luggage over long distances.
Motorcoach Tour Operator - A company that creates tours in which group members are transported via motorcoch to their destination, itinerary activities, and back.
Net Wholesale Rate - A rate usually slightly lower than the wholesale rate, applicable to groups of individuals when a hotel is specifically mentioned in a tour folder. Rate is marked up by wholesale sellers of tour to cover distribution, promotion, etc.
Occupancy - The percentage of available rooms occupied for a given period. It is computed by dividing the number of rooms available for the same period.
Off-Peak - In reference to a fare or a hotel rate, other than the period(s) that are usually busiest.
Open Jaw - An arrangement, route, or fare authorized in a tariff, granting the traveling public the privilege of purchasing round-trip transportation from the point of origin to one destination, at which another form of transportation is used, to a second destination, at which point a passenger resumes the original form of transportation and returns to the point of origin; or from such destination to another destination that is in the general direction of the original starting point.
Operations - Performing the practical work of operating a tour or travel program. Usually involves the in-house control and handling of all phases of the tour, both with suppliers and with clients.
Operations Manager - Individual in charge of performing the practical and detailed work of tour operations (see also Operations).
Operator - A loose term that may mean contractor, tour operator, or wholesaler, or a combination of any or all of those functions.
Option - A tour feature extension or side trip offered at extra cost.
Override - A commission over and above the normal base commission percentage.
Package - 1) Prearranged combination of elements such as air, hotel, sightseeing, and social events packaged together and sold as an all-inclusive package price, not sold by component parts. 2) To package, meaning to combine elements as above into an all-inclusive package product sold as such at a package price.
Package Tour - A vacation plan arranged by tour operators (wholesalers) that provides (for a set fee) all or most of the required services, such as transportation, hotel room, sightseeing, attractions, and entertainment.
Packager - An individual or organization that coordinates and promotes the development of a package tour and establishes operating procedures and guidelines for that tour.
Pax - Industry abbreviation for passengers.
Peak Fare, Rate or Season - On many carriers and at many destinations, the highest level of charges assessed during the year.
Preformed Group - A tour group in existence prior to the tour, the members of which share a common bond, interest or organizational affiliation. Also referred to as an affinity group. Examples of preformed groups include civic clubs, senior citizen groups, and alumni associations.
Product - Also referred to as touristic product, means any commercial component of a package, such as lodging, attraction, sightseeing, transfer, et al. May also mean a complete package.
Rack Rate - Regular published rate of a hotel or other tourism service.
Receptive Operator - A destination-based tour operator or travel agent who specializes in services for incoming visitors and working as a go-between for international tour operators and local suppliers.
Retailer - Middlemen, such as travel agents, who sell directly to the consumer.
Day Rate - Usually one-half the regular rate of a room for use by a guest during a given day up to 5:00 p.m. Sometimes called a "use rate."
Flat Rate - Specific room rate for a group agreed upon by the hotel and group in advance.
Group Rate - Same as Flat Rate.
Net Group Rate - A wholesale rate for group business (usually a minimum of 10-15 people) to which an operator may add a mark-up if desired.
Net Wholesale Rate - A rate usually lower than the Group Rate, applicable to groups or individuals when a hotel is specifically mentioned in a tour folder. This rate is marked-up by the wholesale sellers of the tour to cover distribution, promotion, and retail rate. A full rate available to or advertised to the public. The rate can change depending on the season.
Rooming List - List of passengers' names on a tour or other group travel program submitted to a hotel indicating room by room who is rooming with whom. Twin-bedded rooms, singles, and triples are usually listed separately.
Series Operator - A travel agent, wholesaler, tour operator, broker, etc., who blocks space in advance for a series of movements over a given period of time, not necessarily on a back-to-back basis.
Single Supplement - An extra charge assessed to a tour purchased for single accommodations.
Special Event Tour - A tour designed around a particular event, i.e. the Kentucky Derby, Mardi Gras, or Rose Bowl Parade.
Special Interest Tour- A tour designed to appeal to clients with a special or common interest. Most such tours provide an expert tour leader and usually visit places and/or events of special interest to the participants.
Step-on Guide - A freelance guide who comes aboard a motorcoach to give an informed overview of the city or attraction to be toured.
Supplier - The actual producer of a unit of travel merchandise; a carrier, hotel, sightseeing guide, etc.
Tariff - 1) Fare or rate from a supplier; 2) class or type of fare or rate; 3) published list of fares compiling fares and conditions of purchase.
Tour - Any prearranged journey to one or more destinations and back to the point of origin.
Tour Catalog - A publication by tour wholesalers listing all of their tour offerings. Catalogs are distributed to retail agents who make them available to their customers. Bookings by retail agents are commissionable.
Tour Departure - Related to the operation of any published tour; the date of the start by any individual or group entire operation of that single tour.
Tour Development- A marketing activity designed to create tour programs to the U.S. by foreign wholesalers.
Tour Escort - A professional travel escort. Often called tour leader or tour manager (see Escort).
Tour Guide - Someone who takes people on sightseeing excursions of limited duration.
Tour Manager - Person employed as the escort for a group of tourists, usually for the duration of the entire tour, perhaps supplemented by local guides. The term tour director, leader, escort conductor and in Europe, courier, have the same meaning and are used interchangeably (see also Escort).
Tour Manual - 1) A summary of facts about a company's rules, regulations, and official procedures; 2) a compendium of facts about a destination including its attractions, accommodations, geography, special events, etc., used by destination marketing organizations to attract tour operators and visitors to their area.
Tour Operator - A person or company which creates and/or markets inclusive tours and/or subcontracts their travel agents and/or directly to clients (see Contractor, Operator and Wholesaler).
Tour Series - Prearranged link of stopovers for customers traveling by motorcoach, usually carrying a theme.
Tour Vouchers - Documents issued by tour operators to be exchanged for accommodations, meals, sightseeing, and other services. Sometimes called coupons.
Tour Wholesaler - A commercial enterprise which assembles tour packages by buying individual components, pricing them as a unit, and selling them through retailers to the consumer.
Trade Mission - Group tour with a business rather than a vacation purpose. Usually planned for business or government representatives traveling overseas to secure new business in foreign markets for their product, city or other entity.
Transfers - Local transportation arrangements from arrival carrier terminal to another, from terminal to a hotel, or from a hotel to a theater. The conditions of a tour contract should specify whether transfers are by private car or motorcoach and whether escort service is provided.
Travel Agent (Agency)- Person or firm qualified to arrange for hotel rooms, meals, transportation, cruises, tours, and other travel elements.
Travel Mission - A marketing activity carried out in foreign markets by public and private representatives of a destination. Usually involves trade information, presentations, and media activities.
Upgrade - To move to a better accommodation or class of service.
Visit USA Committee - A committee of U.S. tourism managers located in international markets. VISIT USA Committees work closely with USTTA and/or the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service in planning, developing, and implementing projects and programs to promote travel to the U.S.
Visit USA Fares - Air tariffs offering visitors to the U.S. reduced fares on domestic travel. Also referred to as VUSA fares
Wholesaler- A company that usually creates and certainly markets inclusive tours and FITs for sale through travel agents. Often used interchangeably with "tour operator," but several distinctions might be drawn; 1) a wholesaler presumably sells nothing at retail; a tour operator often does both; 2) a wholesaler does not always create his or her own products; a tour operator virtually always does; 3) a wholesaler is less inclined than a tour operator to perform local services. Industry writers often fail to make distinctions and to confound things further, many travel companies perform any or all of the functions of travel agent, contractor, tour operator, and wholesaler.