Career Development

What Does a Tour Operator Do?

Find out what a tour operator does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a tour operator.

Tour operators plan and coordinate a wide range of activities, from sightseeing tours to adventure excursions. They work with a variety of suppliers—from hotels and restaurants to transportation companies and local guides—to ensure that their clients have an enjoyable and memorable experience.

Tour operators are often responsible for more than just planning trips; they may also be involved in marketing their services to potential clients. This might include creating brochures or other promotional materials, developing a website, or even presenting at trade shows or conferences.

Tour Operator Job Duties

A tour operator typically has a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Negotiating with hotels, restaurants, transportation providers, and other businesses to secure the best possible rates
  • Coordinating all aspects of group travel, including booking hotels, flights, rental cars, excursions, entertainment, and activities
  • Reviewing all travel documents to ensure that all details are correct before finalizing arrangements
  • Updating clients during the trip regarding any changes in schedules or itineraries
  • Arranging transportation to and from airports, hotels, and event sites
  • Scheduling sightseeing trips, adventure tours, and other activities for groups
  • Managing the group’s schedule, including booking appointments with local merchants or businesses
  • Communicating with clients and providing them with information about travel plans and activities
  • Providing information about hotels, restaurants, entertainment options, and other travel-related topics

Tour Operator Salary & Outlook

Tour operators’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the size and type of company for which they work. They may also earn additional compensation in the form of commissions and bonuses.

  • Median Annual Salary: $49,500 ($23.8/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $80,500 ($38.7/hour)

The employment of tour operators is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade.

Tourism is a large industry that supports many other industries, such as transportation and lodging. As the economy grows, more people will travel domestically and internationally, which will lead to increased demand for tour operators.

Related: Tour Operator Interview Questions and Answers

Tour Operator Job Requirements

A tour operator typically needs the following qualifications:

Education: Entry-level tour operators typically need a high school diploma or GED certificate. Some employers prefer an associate or bachelor’s degree in tourism, hospitality or a related field. These degrees can help you get a job in a specific area of tourism, such as cruise ship operations or destination management.

Training & Experience: Tour operators typically receive on-the-job training from their employer. This training may include learning the company’s policies and procedures, as well as the software and technology they use. Training may also include shadowing a current tour operator to learn the basics of the job.

Certifications & Licenses: Tour operators must have a license to sell sightseeing tours in their region. The exact requirements for each region vary, so you should review the regulations in your area before pursuing certification.

Tour Operator Skills

Tour operators need the following skills in order to be successful:

Customer service: Customer service skills can help you interact with customers and provide them with a positive experience. Tour operators often interact with customers over the phone or in person, so it’s important to be friendly and helpful. You can also use customer service skills to ensure your customers are satisfied with their experience.

Marketing: Marketing skills allow you to promote your tour company and its offerings. You can use marketing skills to create advertisements, develop a website and create social media posts to promote your business. You can also use marketing skills to research the travel industry and find ways to improve your business.

Negotiation: Negotiation is the ability to persuade others to agree with your ideas. Tour operators often use negotiation skills to secure discounts on travel packages, hotel stays and other travel-related services. They also use negotiation skills to convince suppliers to offer them the best prices on travel-related products and services.

Time management: Time management is the ability to plan and execute a series of tasks in a specific order to meet a deadline. Tour operators often have multiple responsibilities, including managing the itinerary of a group of tourists, coordinating transportation and making sure the group is on time for each event. This skill is important for tour operators to ensure their groups have a positive experience.

Financial planning: Tour operators need to have a basic understanding of financial planning to ensure their business is profitable. This includes knowing how to create a budget, track expenses and make financial decisions that benefit the company. You may also need to have a basic understanding of accounting to keep track of your business’s finances.

Tour Operator Work Environment

Tour operators typically work in an office setting, although they may travel to meet with clients or visit potential tour sites. They typically work regular business hours, although they may be required to work evenings and weekends to accommodate the schedules of their clients. Some tour operators may also be required to travel extensively to meet with clients or visit potential tour sites. Tour operators typically work under tight deadlines and may be required to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously. They must be able to handle last-minute changes and be able to think quickly and creatively to solve problems.

Tour Operator Trends

Here are three trends influencing how tour operators work. Tour operators will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

More Focus on Experiences

As the world becomes more connected, people are looking for new and exciting experiences that they can share with their friends and family. This is leading to a growing demand for tour operators who can provide unique and memorable trips.

Tour operators who are able to meet this demand will be in high demand, as they will be able to offer something that no one else can. They will also be able to create lasting relationships with their clients, which can lead to repeat business and referrals.

The Growth of Cultural Tourism

Cultural tourism is becoming increasingly popular as people become more interested in learning about other cultures. This trend is being driven by a number of factors, including the growth of international travel and the increasing popularity of social media.

Tour operators who are able to capitalize on the cultural tourism trend will be in a better position to attract customers. They can do this by offering tours that focus on specific cultures or by creating partnerships with local businesses. In addition, tour operators should consider developing online content that highlights the attractions and culture of the places they visit.

More Focus on Local Experiences

As tourists become more adventurous and curious about the world around them, they are looking for tour operators who can provide them with local experiences.

This means that tour operators need to be able to not only understand the local culture, but also connect with the people who live there. By doing so, they can provide tourists with an authentic experience that they will never forget.

How to Become a Tour Operator

A tour operator career can be a great way to get started in the travel industry. It’s a good idea to start by working for a small company that specializes in tours. This will give you the opportunity to learn about all aspects of the business, from marketing and sales to operations and customer service. You can then move on to bigger companies or start your own tour company.

Advancement Prospects

Tour operators typically start out in entry-level positions, such as customer service representatives or tour guides. With experience, they may advance to supervisory or managerial positions, such as operations manager or travel director. Some tour operators may also start their own business. In order to be successful, they need to have strong customer service and marketing skills, as well as knowledge of the travel industry.

Tour Operator Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we offer travelers the opportunity to explore the world and experience new cultures through our unique tour packages. We are looking for a tour operator with a passion for travel and customer service to join our team. The ideal candidate will have experience in the travel industry, as well as excellent organizational and communication skills. He or she will be responsible for coordinating all aspects of tour packages, including hotel and flight bookings, transportation, and activity itineraries. The goal is to provide our clients with a seamless travel experience from start to finish.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Arrange all aspects of tour packages, including accommodations, transportation, and activities
  • Research various destinations to find the most appealing and budget-friendly options for customers
  • Work with clients to create a personalized itinerary that meets their needs and interests
  • Negotiate with hotels, airlines, and other vendors to get the best rates and availability
  • Process payments and handle all customer inquiries and complaints in a professional manner
  • Keep abreast of industry news and developments to ensure that the company is offering the latest and greatest products
  • Stay within the allocated budget for each tour while still providing a high level of service
  • Promote the company’s tours through various marketing channels
  • Create detailed reports on tour performance and customer feedback
  • Train and manage a team of tour guides
  • Ensure that all safety regulations are being followed
  • Handle all administrative tasks related to tour operations

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in tourism, hospitality, business administration, or related field
  • Minimum 2 years experience working in the tourism or hospitality industry
  • Excellent communication and customer service skills
  • Fluency in English; additional languages a plus
  • Strong organizational and time-management skills
  • Creativity and ability to think outside the box

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Experience working as a tour guide
  • Knowledge of popular tourist destinations in the area
  • Ability to develop new tour routes and itineraries
  • Connections with local businesses and attractions


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