Trip Mapper Travel Acronym Banner

Navigating the Travel Industry: A Guide for New Tour Operators and Travel Advisers

Embarking on a career in the travel industry is an exciting journey filled with opportunities to explore, learn, and help others create unforgettable experiences. As a new tour operator or travel adviser, it's essential to familiarise yourself with the intricacies of the industry to better serve your clients. In this blog, we'll help to debunk travel acronyms and delve into the various types of travel organisations, shedding light on the differences between them. 

Debunking Travel Acronyms

The travel industry is rife with acronyms that can be overwhelming for newcomers. Let's unravel some of the most common ones:

ADR: Average Daily Rate - A metric used in the hotel industry to calculate the average revenue per occupied room per day.

B2B: Business-to-Business - Transactions between businesses, such as a travel adviser working with a tour operator.

B2C: Business-to-Consumer - Transactions between a business and individual customers, like a travel adviser serving end clients.

FAM: Familiarization Trip - A trip provided to travel industry professionals for the purpose of acquainting them with various destinations and services.

FIT: Free Independent Traveller - Travellers who plan their trips independently without joining a group or guided tour.

GDS: Global Distribution System - A network enabling travel agencies to access and book airline seats, hotel rooms, and related services.

IATA: International Air Transport Association - A trade association of the world's airlines regulating aviation standards.

LCC: Low-Cost Carrier - Airlines offering affordable airfares with fewer amenities.

MICE: Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions - Events that drive business tourism and corporate travel.

OTA: Online Travel Agency - Platforms facilitating online booking of flights, accommodations, and travel services.

PAX: Passengers - The number of individuals travelling on a particular flight or tour.

RTW: Round the World - Travel itineraries that circumnavigate the globe, visiting multiple destinations.

TMC: Travel Management Company - Firms specialising in managing corporate travel needs for businesses.

VISA: Visitors International Stay Admission - Permission granted by a country to a foreign traveller for entry.

UK-Specific Travel Acronyms

AITO: Association of Independent Tour Operators - The Specialist Travel Association is a group of unique and specialist travel companies. All AITO members are required to provide the highest level of customer satisfaction by concentrating on three main pillars: "Choice, Quality and Service." Every company admitted to AITO is financially assessed and bound by AITO's own code of business practice.

ABTA: Association of British Travel Agents - A trade association for UK travel agents, tour operators and the wider travel industry. All ABTA members sign up to a code of conduct and commit to agreed service standards, accurate advertising and fair trading.

ATOL: Air Travel Organiser's Licence - ATOL is a scheme that protects travellers and their money if the travel operator they booked with ceases trading, before or whilst they're on holiday. The majority of ATOL protected trips are package holidays.

CAA: Civil Aviation Authority - The UK's aviation regulator, responsible for ensuring the safety and security of civil aviation.

USA-Specific Travel Acronyms

ASTA: American Society of Travel Advisors - A trade association representing travel advisors and the travel industry in the United States.

ESTA: Electronic System for Travel Authorization - An automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program.

FAA: Federal Aviation Administration - The national aviation authority that regulates and oversees civil aviation within the U.S.

TSA: Transportation Security Administration - The agency responsible for ensuring the security of air travel in the United States.

What is the difference between a travel agent and a tour operator?

A travel agent sells package holidays and other travel arrangements that are provided by others, for example, tour operators, hotels and airlines.  

A tour operator is an individual or company responsible for conceptualising holiday ideas, creating the itinerary, and contracting the services required for the holiday. They distribute the package holidays they have put together by selling it directly to consumers or by leveraging the services of a travel agent.

There are many types of tour operator; some of the most common are summarised below:

ITO: Inbound Tour Operator - ITOs specialise in crafting and coordinating travel experiences for foreign tourists visiting a specific destination. These operators are experts in showcasing the cultural richness, historical significance, and natural beauty of their region. From arranging transportation and accommodations to organising guided tours, ITOs focus on making the destination a captivating and memorable experience for international visitors.

OTO: Outbound Tour Operator - OTOs cater to residents of a particular country who wish to explore destinations abroad. OTOs curate comprehensive travel packages, including flights, accommodations, and activities for tourists in their home country to visit an international destination.

Domestic Tour Operators - Domestic tour operators focus on creating travel experiences within the boundaries of a single country, catering to local residents or international visitors. 

RTO: Receptive Tour Operators - RTOs provide tourism products to tour operators in other markets as a business-to-business relationship.

Ground Tour Operators - Ground tour operators operate domestically and organise tours for incoming tourists on behalf of inbound and sometimes outbound tour operators.

Destination Marketing Organisations and Destination Management Companies

What is a Destination Marketing Organisation (DMO)?

DMOs play a crucial role in promoting and marketing a specific destination. A DMO's primary purpose is to increase tourism to their destination by generating awareness and demand. DMOs, whether on a national or regional level, collaborate with local businesses, governments, and stakeholders to enhance the overall appeal of the destination.

While DMOs provide extensive support to local businesses through networking, engagement, knowledge sharing, and training, they refrain from controlling independent businesses, adopting a guiding and facilitating role.

The success of DMOs lies in strategic thinking about itineraries, garnering support from suppliers to offer services on FAM trips, showcasing the destination's appeal to tour operators, travel agents, and industry personnel.

What is a Destination Management Company (DMC)?

DMCs are on-the-ground experts responsible for managing and coordinating the logistics of travel within a destination. They work closely with tour operators, providing services like transportation, accommodation, and guided tours.

Destination Management Companies focus on the intricate details of planning and booking trips, particularly for corporate meetings, incentive trips, conferences, and MICE. DMCs, positioned as experts on the destination, leverage their knowledge of local customs, language, culture, and nuances. Functioning as specialised consultants, DMCs save clients time and stress by coordinating everything from meet-and-greet services to accommodation and activities.

DMCs promote and sell products from preferred partners with whom they have established relationships. For local businesses, partnering with a DMC provides a valuable avenue to access new client bases. 

While individuals may confidently research and book trips online, DMCs offer an invaluable service by taking the stress out of travel planning and creating highly personalised, bespoke itineraries and packages.

As a new travel adviser, mastering common acronyms and travel jargon is an essential aspect of professional development. It not only facilitates effective communication but will also contribute to overall competence and success in the dynamic and competitive travel industry! Finally, one final acronym to remember:

TMB: TripMapper for Business, travel planning and invoicing software for tour operators, DMCs and travel agents! Book a demo now