10 Difference between Tour Operator and Travel Agent (With Table)

Technological advancement has made traveling around the world easier. But a lot of people have lost thousands of dollars when trying to book holiday packages online.

Travel industries have tried to get rid of these misconceptions by introducing tour operators and travel agents. The purpose is to protect travelers from scammers in the online travel industry.

Many people usually find tour operator and travel agent terms quite confusing. This industry jargon may sound the same but that is not true in real life.

So, what is the main difference between tour operator and travel agent? The former is the company or an individual responsible for planning the trip while the latter is the broker or intermediary selling the tour package.

The relationship between the travel agent and tour operator can be confusing for first-time travelers. Understanding the definition of travel agent and tour operator is crucial in this case.

This article provides insight into the differences between tour operators and travel agencies in a tabular form. Take the time also to read the similarities between tour operators and travel agents.

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Comparison Table (Tour Operator vs Travel Agent)

Basic Terms Tour Operator Travel Agent
DefinitionIt is the person or company responsible for planning the trip.It is a broker or intermediary selling the tour packages.
RoleTaking care of the client according to the package descriptionSell holiday packages purchased from different tour operators.
Countries DealingSpecializes in one or a few countries destinationsDeal with many countries’ destinations.
Amount of ProfitEarn huge profits since they set the price tag.Earn a commission based on the number of bookings.
DependenceIndependentDepend on tour operators
RequirementsBusiness management skillsSimple training programs
SignificanceOffer advice about the legalities on the groundOffer to advise concerning the travel documents like visa and passport
Job DescriptionTheir job ends when the traveler returns home.Their job ends when the traveler starts the vacation
Other ResponsibilitiesLook after hotel, accommodation, meals, and conveyance.Only sell and administrate the tour packages
Act asWholesalers in the travel industryRetailers in the travel industry

Who Is a Tour Operator?

A tour operator is a person or company responsible for planning, arranging, advertising, and creating trips or tours packages for clients.

Tour operators are responsible for creating holiday packages such as accommodation, airport pick-ups, activities, and trips.

The trips usually take place through an intermediary or directly. These two channels are ways how the tour operators make sales in the travel industry.

Inbound tour operators are those companies that receive guests and handle all arrangements within the host country (responsible for community-based tourism experience).

Outbound tour operators promote foreign destinations while domestic tour operators offer travel services to domestic travelers (service may not be taking place entirely in the country).

Ground tour operators are locally based and usually work in close association with other travel businesses. The operators do not sell transportation and guidance services individually.

Who Is a Travel Agent?

A travel agent is a person who sells and administrates holiday packages to tourists. These individuals help tourists narrow down their searches and recommend the best travel packages.

Travel agency works with several tour operators and earns a commission after the tourist has made a booking with the desired tour operator.

Travel agents offer tourists different experiences depending on their needs. Travel agencies are responsible for promoting tourism in a particular country or destination.

The travel agency is responsible for processing and packaging all the attraction, amenities, and ancillary services.

Travel agents work directly with tour operators and they provide transportation, accommodations, and trip packages.

Main Difference between Tour Operator and Travel Agent

  1. Tour operators create holiday packages, sell, advertise and plan. Travel agents sell and administrate tour packages.
  2. Tour operators deal with finer details such as accommodation, tickets, and meals. Travel agents help tourists to choose a suitable package.
  3. Tour operators offer advice on legalities on the ground while travel agents offer advice on travel documents such as passports or visas
  4. Tour operators’ job ends when the client returns home after vacation while travel agents job end when the client makes a booking for vacation.
  5. Tour operators earn huge profits since they set trip fees while travel agents earn commission from the bookings made by the client.

Similarities between Tour Operator and Travel Agent

  1. Both belong in the travel industry
  2. Both help tourists fulfill their holiday experiences
  3. Both have information about various destinations.
  4. Both promote tourism in various destinations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Tour Operator an Agent?

Not really. An agent sells the holiday packages bought from a tour operator. The tour operator takes care of the tourist according to the holiday package description.

Difference between Travel Agency and Tour Operators

Travel agencies sell attractive tour packages to people interested in holiday vacations. Tour operators are responsible for creating holiday packages and broke them to travel agencies.

Difference between Wholesale Travel Agency and Tour Operator

A wholesale travel agency deals with one component of travel product whereas a tour operator deals with a variety of tour programs. Besides that, a wholesale travel agency does not sell directly to the public and a tour operator does sell directly to the client.

In Conclusion

The core difference between a tour operator and a travel agent is that a tour operator creates the holiday packages while a travel agent is responsible for selling and administering the holiday packages to clients interested in the vacation.

Do not allow the close relationship between travel agents and tour operators to confuse you. I hope this article was helpful in telling the difference between travel agency and tour operator.

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