Two Main Categories of Tour Operators
Tour operators are people or companies that offer various travel packages that are used by tourists. Tour operators are very different from tour agents. Tour operators combine everything that the tourist would possibly need into one package. There are two main categories of tour operators in the United Kingdom. These are the incoming tour operators and the outbound tour operators (Aramberri & Butler 2005).
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Outbound tour operators are tour operators who offer different holiday packages to people who are going abroad for vacation (Talwar 2006). This means that people who live in the UK use outgoing tour operators when they want to go abroad.
Such tour operators own one or several travel services and have packages that include accommodation and tours in the country that the person wants to visit. One of the well known outbound tour operators in the United Kingdom is Thomson (Kozak & Baloglu 2005).
An incoming tour operator, on the other hand, is a tour operator who gives tour services to people who are visiting the country (Spenceley 2008). There are some tourists who do not look for the outbound tour operators; instead, they prefer using the incoming tour operators.
There are a number of reasons why people prefer one category of tour operators to the other. An example of an incoming tour operator in the United Kingdom is the GTi Travel Group.
Roles of Incoming and Outbound Tour Operators in the Same Country
The two categories of tour operators have very different roles when they are working in the same country. One of the roles that are performed by outbound tour operators is booking accommodation for tourists who are travelling from the United Kingdom to any other country. These tour operators usually have agreements with hotels and other service providers to give their clients quality services.
The outbound tour operator also ensures that the flight details of the tourists are in place (Pender & Sharpley 2005). Most of the tour operators have special deals with various airlines.
This makes it easier for the operators to book flights for the tourists. It is also the role of the outbound tour operator to ensure that the tourists reach the destination that they intend. It is up to the outbound tour operator to help the client if a problem arises, unless the tourist specifically asked to be left alone once they are in the plane.
On the other hand, the incoming tour operators have to ensure that the tourists who arrive in the United Kingdom’s airports are taken to their hotels swiftly and safely.
It is also up to the incoming tour operator to ensure that the tourists get the accommodation that they want. The tourists usually choose the type of accommodation that they can afford. The incoming tour operator must ensure that the tourists get to their hotel without any trouble.
Most tourists also ask the incoming tour operator to take care of their means of transport when in the United Kingdom. This means that it is the work of the tour operator to provide buses, personal cars, and other means of transport for the tourists. The tourists who use buses are usually those who travel in groups.
Tourists who travel alone use personal cars. They may, or may not take chauffeurs. The incoming tour operators also book tours for the tourists. This happens when the tourists have chosen the tours that they want to have.
The incoming tour operator can be required to book a personal tour guide for the tourists if they have no specific tour that they would like to have. All these come under the different packages that the incoming tour operators offer.
Roles of Incoming and Outbound Tour Operators in Different Countries
There is the case where the incoming tour operator is in a different country from the outbound tour operator. When this is the case, the two categories of tour operators have similar roles (Gartner & Lime 2000). The two categories of tour operators can, at times, work together. This is possible because the outbound tour operator will provide travel packages for the tourists who are going out of the UK.
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The incoming tour operator in the country where the tourists are heading will then take the tourists and give them tour packages, accommodation, and other services within the country that they are visiting. However, this type of collaboration is not common.
Pros and cons of using any of the two types of tour operators
There are several benefits and disadvantages of using any of these two categories of tour operators. Outbound tour operators are easier to reach because they are in the country where the tourist is coming from.
This makes it easier for the tourists to visit the operators, get to know about their packages, and evaluate the operators in general. It is quite hard to do this with incoming tour operators who are in another country. The only way of communicating with the incoming tour operators is through the Internet or the phone. This can be very frustrating at times.
Incoming tour operators, however, have the advantage of knowing the country well because they have lived in the specific country that the tourist is visiting for a long time. They are also familiar with the locals. This makes it easier for them to plan the best tours compared to the outbound tour operators from another country.
It is also perceived that the incoming tour operators offer cheaper rates than the outbound tour operators because they can get the best and most affordable deals, given that they know the locals and the country in question well.
The incoming tour operators normally make hotel reservations, tours, means of transport, and other fun activities for the visitors. This is in contrast with the outbound tour operators who mostly make travel packages for the destination of choice.
There are some outbound tour operators who do hotel reservations and book tours for the travellers. However, many travellers prefer to obtain travelling packages from the outbound tour operators, but the tour and accommodation packages from the incoming tour operators.
It is possible to find an incoming tour operator selling their packages to an outbound tour operator. This works in the case where the incoming tour operator gets tour packages and tour guides for the outbound tour operator. They both agree on the amount of money that the outbound tour operator will pay for these packages.
The outbound tour operator then offers these services at a much higher rate every time they are taking tourists abroad in order to make a profit (Dale & Oliver 2005). It is also worth noting that the two categories can also work together mutually. The incoming tour operator can help the outbound tour operator when it comes to matters of optional destinations, passenger transfers, and special visits.
However, the outbound tour operator and the inbound tour operator have to be from different countries for this mutual relationship to work. For example, the outbound operator can be from the United Kingdom, while the inbound tour operator can be from India.
Although there are differences between the two tour operators, there are some similarities that these two categories of tour operators from different countries share (Marvell 2005). The first similarity is that they both handle tourists. The two categories also have to work together to get maximum profits.
It is hard for the incoming tour operator to know when tourists will be travelling if he does not work with the outbound tour operator, especially when the two operators are from different countries.
In the same manner, the outbound tour operator will not be able to provide quality services to tourists if he does not hand in hand with the incoming tour operator (Sharpley 2006). Another similarity between two categories is that they purchase services in bulk. Such services include hotel and airline packages, among other services.
It is also very common to find one company working as both an incoming and an outbound tour operator. This is very common in the United Kingdom. Such companies take tourists out of the country and invite the visiting tourists into the United Kingdom at the same time.
In terms of business, this is a way of making maximum profits. However, there are tourists who do not like to use such tour operators for one reason or another (Scott, Baggio & Cooper 2008).
Incoming and outbound tour operators who operate in the same country do not present a lot of economic competition to one another because they target different types of clients.
The inbound tour operators target the tourists who are arriving in the country, while the outbound tour operators target tourists who are leaving the country. This is why it is very possible for one company to act as both the incoming and the outbound tour operator (Buhalis & Laws 2001).
The outbound and the incoming tour operators challenge one another economically when they are located in different countries (Bhatia 2012). This scenario happens because they both target the same type of clients; that is, those travelling to one of the involved countries.
For example, when the outbound tour operator is in the UK and the tourists are heading to Africa, the incoming tour operators in Africa will also want this same group of tourists as their clients. This means that the two categories of tour operators are in competition with one another.
Some of the outbound and incoming tour operators who do not want this cut throat competition opt to work together. This involves the outbound tour operators buying packages from the incoming tour operators in the country that the tourists are heading to. It is also possible for the incoming tour operators to buy packages from the outbound tour operators.
Based on this possibility, one might find that one incoming or outbound tour operator has several deals with outbound or incoming tour operators from different parts of the world. It is also very difficult to find one company acting as an incoming tour operator in one country and an outbound tour operator in another country due to this competition.
List of References
Aramberri, J, & Butler, R 2005, Tourism development: Issues for a vulnerable industry, Channel View, Clevedon, UK
Bhatia, AK 2012, The business of travel agency and tour operations management, Sterling Publishers New Delhi, India
Buhalis, D, & Laws, E 2001, Tourism distribution channels: practices, issues and transformations, Thomson Learning, London, UK.
Dale, G, & Oliver, H, 2005, BTEC national travel and tourism, Heinemann Educational Publishers, Oxford, UK
Gartner, WC, & Lime, D 2000, Trends in outdoor recreation, leisure, and tourism, CABI Publishers, Cambridge, MA
Kozak, M, & Baloglu S 2005, Managing and marketing tourist destinations: Strategies to gain a competitive edge, Routledge, Oxon, UK
Marvell, A, 2005, GCE AS travel and tourism single award for Edexcel, Heinemann Educational Publishers, Oxford, UK
Pender, L, & Sharpley R 2005, The management of tourism, SAGE Publishers, Thousand Oaks, CA
Scott, N, Baggio, R, & Cooper, C 2008, Network analysis and tourism: From theory to practice, Channel View Publishers, Ontario, Canada.
Sharpley, R, 2006, Travel and tourism, SAGE Publishers, London, UK
Spenceley, A 2008, Responsible tourism: Critical issues for conservation and development, Earthscan, Gateshead, UK
Talwar, P 2006, Travel and tourism management, Isha Books, New Delhi, India