We are continuing to highlight basic concepts from areas of travel. This week, we’re addressing the building blocks of successful tours and FITs.
For a thorough examination of this topic, we suggest you enroll in The Travel Institute’s TRIPKIT, the gold standard in education for agents who are new to the industry.
And don’t miss the exciting free webinar Insider Insights: Globetrotting with Tour Operators and Escorted Tours, presented TOMORROW at 2 pm (EST) by Kim Specht, CTIE, Travel Industry Educator, and her special guest and industry icon, Paula Hayes, retired Vice President of Sales, Globus Family of Brands.
For travel professionals, selling and/or planning tours will often come into play. Tours require the combined skills and resources of many people. What do you consider when choosing the components of a tour, and how are the pieces put together? The answer depends on the intended market and the destination. Some tours offer a minimum of elements; others are all-inclusive.
Let’s look at some options:
- Transportation Most tours include transportation as part of the package. A fly/drive package combines air transportation and a car rental. An air/sea or fly/cruise combines air and ship transportation; a rail tour includes transportation by train; a motor coach tour uses buses to carry tour participants from destination to destination to visit major attractions. Many tours also include transfers to and from airports, hotels, and rail stations.
- Itineraries Tours tend to use one of three types of itineraries:
—A circle itinerary brings travelers back to their starting point via a different route. Passengers experience varied sights and places throughout, without retracing their steps. This approach suits tours that aim to cover a broad area, such as “Highlights of Central Europe.”
—An open-jaw itinerary begins and ends in different places. For example, a “Highlights of Italy” tour might visit Milan, Venice, Florence, Pisa, and Rome—without returning to Milan. This type of itinerary works well when returning to the starting point would mean retracing steps or visiting less-desirable locations.
—A hub-and-spoke itinerary is an increasingly popular approach. Travelers set up their base at a particular accommodation in one city for several days and take day trips into the surrounding area, thus avoiding packing, unpacking and moving baggage. They also might spend one night away from the home base. The hub-and-spoke approach allows travelers to explore a region in depth. For example, on a “Highlights of France” tour, travelers might be based in Paris and take day trips to the numerous sights within striking distance of the City of Light, such as Versailles or Giverny.
- Accommodations Proximity to sightseeing attractions, transfer services, parking for the motor coach, and accessibility for travelers with disabilities may all be important in selecting accommodations for a tour. Hosted and independent packages usually offer participants a choice among several hotels in different price ranges. On escorted tours, participants stay together at a hotel.
- Meals Tour operators can cut costs substantially by requiring tour participants to pay for their own meals or by adjusting the kind of meals offered. A tour operator that includes five dinners and five lunches is offering more than an operator that includes 10 breakfasts. A tour operator that permits an unlimited choice from the menu (à la carte) is offering more than an operator that arranges a set menu or limited choice. Meals plans are detailed in the TRIPKIT and can be as varied as the tour itself.
- Sightseeing Tours usually include some attractions that are standard tourist draws, such as Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, and Universal Studios Orlando. On an independent or a hosted tour, travelers generally receive sightseeing vouchers and admission tickets ahead of time or pick them up at the first stop on their trip. On an escorted tour, attractions might be added during the tour, depending on the interests of the group.
- Other Components The fare for some tours includes services—such as baggage handling—or covers tips, service charges, or taxes. Some tours offer additional amenities, such as flight bags, free drinks, or gifts.
- Price Whatever the components of a tour, travelers are likely to weigh them against its price. A small percentage of tours are quoted per couple (the most obvious are honeymoon packages). But many prices are given per person, double occupancy, meaning that each person pays this price when sharing a room with another. Single occupancy prices are higher, sometimes much higher; the additional price paid by a person traveling alone is called the single supplement. A few tours try to find a roommate for a traveler who does not wish to pay the single rate. When the tour operator will not guarantee a roommate, the traveler may have to pay the single supplement, often referred to as a forced single.
All these moving parts require careful planning. And that emphasizes, once again, the incredible value and worth you bring to the table every time you work with a client!
For more detailed learning on travel products—e.g., Tours and Packages, Air Travel, Ground Travel, Accommodations, and Cruises—be sure to check out The Travel Institute’s TRIPKIT!