During the last two decades, the tour operator industry has responded positively with ever expanding needs for new and variety of tour packages demanded by the tourists.
If the pattern continues, this shall definitely lead to development of new sophisticated tour packages and new tour operators specialized in the provisioning of these.
Today, tour operators are offering variety of tour packages to cater the requirements of inbound, outbound and domestic tourism markets. The main packages are:
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Types of Packages
1. Independent Tour:
Independent tour is prepared to the individual/particular traveler’s specification. In this tour, a traveler is free and independent to select any component for his journey. The travel agency/tour operator puts the components of the ‘Tour’ together, working directly with the vendors – airlines, hotels, cruise lines, transport operators and others.
The vendors usually quote a net figure to the travel agency and allow him to mark up the price, so that it can cover his time and expenses. In independent tour, the suppliers quote the rack rate for individual reservation.
Thus, an independent tour may be a package of transportation and ground arrangements specifically tailored to the individual’s preferences and not advertised in a tour brochure.
Generally, this type of tours are known as ‘Foreign Independent Tours’ (FITs) and ‘Domestic Independent Tours’ (DITs) as per the location of the destination(s) involved in the package.
2. Inclusive Tour:
The tour ingredients purchased, combined and sold as a package at an inclusive price to tourists by a tour operator is known as an inclusive tour. It is an advertised tour package which includes travel and ground arrangements at group rates.
This makes the inclusive tour less expensive than the independent tour. In fact, in this case, the tour operator has to guarantee that those seats, rooms, etc. will be sold in order to get the group rate.
In case, these are not sold, the tour operator is supposed to absorb the total loss. Thus, an inclusive tour is a prepaid and well planned tour covering all components including services at special rates, requiring that all tour members must travel on the same flight round trip and must travel together during entire course of the tour.
Today, a variety of inclusive tours are offered by tour operators such as inclusive tour excursions, inclusive tour by charter and so on.
3. Escorted Tour:
It is also known as ‘Conducted Tour’. A tour escort is provided from the starting point back to the point of return to accompany the tour members. This type of tour is generally arranged by ground operators on behalf of main tour operator.
Some tours will have both a local escort and a professional escort sharing the responsibilities involved throughout the entire journey. In many cases tour operators use the services of a different escort/tour leader according to nature of each destination visited.
The principal duties of tour escorts are to receive tour members at the airport, assist them through custom clearance and other formalities and then perform the same duties at the time of their departure.
The tour escort is also responsible for providing other facilities during their stay at a particular destination. Due to step by step guiding and escorting, these tours are also referred as ‘Hosted Tours’. Professionally, escorted tours are planned/organized for the first-time travelers.
4. Business Tour:
The nature of business tour is significantly different in many ways from that of other tour packages i.e. holiday. However, the pleasure element can not be separated from the business tours.
Because business persons travel for a variety of reasons – destinations are not chosen by them but predetermined and more often attractions are added to make business tours more effective and attractive.
Today, two forms of business tours have received a special attention from the tour operators namely, Conference Package and Special Events Package. Organization of business tours has become a profitable venture for many tour operators.
These packages include a wide range of activities such as venues for business meetings/conferences, accommodation, transportation, secretarial services, conference equipments, local sightseeing and other facilities.
More recently, incentive tours, and special interest tours have appeared in the shape of incentive travel at the tour operation market. The incentive tours, one of the largest and growing segment, offered by a business organization to its employees and their spouses as reward for some special endeavour or as a spur to achievement.
These packages have been found to have greater motivating power than cash reward and other incentives given 10 the employees. Special interest tour is another form of tour package, which is also gaining weight in the tour operator industry.
These tours are designed and arranged for those interested in eco tourism, farm tourism, ethnic studies, safaris, skiing, beaches, adventures, deserts, cultural events, and pilgrimage etc.