Chapter 14 Tours of the world.
At the conclusion of this chapter, you should be able to
* understand the importance of matching a tour product to the client.
* identify the different types of tours and the unique features of each type.
* understand what the client is actually purchasing.
* identify the benefits to the client who purchases a tour and to the counselor who makes the sale.
* define the terms associated with tours.
* know how to compare and select tour operators.
* read and interpret tour brochures and Web sites.
A tour is made up of components, usually including transportation, transfers, lodging, meals, and sightseeing, with varying degrees of structure and varying numbers of components. A tour can be as simple as a day-trip to Atlantic City that includes a flight and transfers from the airport to a hotel, or as complex as a month-long around-the-world tour on a private jet that includes every necessity (and a great deal more). Between these two extremes is a vast selection of tour packages to suit any individual or group.
It is the business of a tour operator (sometimes referred to as a "tour wholesaler") to select places of interest and "package" them for travelers and then sell the package either directly to the consumer or through a travel agency. Sometimes travel agencies package and sell their own tours for an individual client or a group. Now, with assistance from the Internet, individual travelers and travel counselors can create a dynamic package, combining the best deals on flight (including charter flights), hotel, and car rental. The tour industry has never been a "one-size-fits-all" business, but today, with huge Internet search capabilities, tours offer more options and more customization than ever before. Understanding the tour industry means being able to assist your client in selecting the "right" tour or the best tour components. As with lodging, the wrong fit can ruin a vacation. The destination, budget, comfort level, and previous travel experience can all affect the type of tour that is appropriate.
TYPES OF TOURS
Independent tours are the least structured tours available and participants are basically on their own. In fact, participants may not even realize that they are on a tour. Travel counselors and travelers alike refer to an independent tour as a package because no actual touring is involved.
Clients interested in an independent tour decide on the destinations, and the appropriate brochures offer a variety of departure dates, lengths of stay, and choice of hotels. Prices are listed for each hotel and length of stay; the departure date may affect the price. It is not uncommon for a tour brochure to show higher prices for departures on the weekend, days near a holiday, during high season, or during special events (e.g., Mardi Gras, Indianapolis 500).
Independent tour participants are completely free to do what they want. Travelers who want to relax on the beach for a week, shop at all the local establishments, or spend hours in the museums and galleries prefer independent tours because there is no set schedule. Many clients traveling to destinations in the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean select independent tours instead of the other two types.
Hosted tours have minimal structure and offer the services of a host. The host is an employee of the tour company who is available during certain times, usually in an area of the hotel lobby. The host can assist with dinner reservations, theatre tickets, rental cars, and offer suggestions about sightseeing, shopping, and dining. The duties of a tour host are much like the duties of a hotel concierge.
Hosted tours include the same features as an independent tour but may also include some basic sightseeing. The host may go along during the sightseeing or a local guide may perform this duty. A tour guide lives in the destination area and joins the group only for a short period of time. Usually, the included sightseeing provides an overview of the area or city and generally lasts only a few hours. Famous sites are pointed out along the way and an inside visit to a popular attraction may be included.
Travelers who want the freedom to explore but realize that a tour representative would be helpful prefer hosted tours. Destinations in the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, and major European cities are popular choices for hosted tours.
Escorted tours are the most structured and a tour company employee, called an escort, is with the group throughout the trip. Travelers selecting escorted tours usually do so because they appreciate the fact that the escort is always present and all sightseeing has previously been arranged. In fact, almost all details of the trip have been prearranged and the participants have nothing to worry about or plan on their own.
Escorted tours are usually very regimented and it is common for the day to begin with breakfast at 8:00 A.M. and conclude with dinner and a show at 9:00 P.M. Participants do not have to attend each planned activity, but there is no refund if they choose to skip an activity. Of course, if tour members want to spend an extra hour shopping and the group is moving on to another city, flexibility is not an option.
Sightseeing on escorted tours is very comprehensive and includes many of the most popular sites and attractions. Participants are usually taken to the attraction entrance and admission has already been paid. Even though the escort stays with the group, local tour guides may join the group for short periods of time. Local guides are experts on particular sites and enjoy sharing their knowledge and answering questions.
Travelers to most international destinations may prefer an escorted tour, simply for the peace of mind. Escorted tours are offered throughout the United States as well and may include visits to several states. Ground transportation on escorted tours is usually by motorcoach (see Figure 14-1) and in some destinations, ferries, trains, cruise ships, and other modes of transportation are used.
[FIGURE 14-1 OMITTED]
Another type of tour is the special-interest tour. These tours focus on a particular topic, activity, or type of client. A special-interest tour can be independent, hosted, or escorted, but most of them tend to be hosted or escorted.
Dynamic Tour Packaging
Sometimes a traveler wants a custom-fitted tour package that includes activities or components that are not part of a prepackaged tour. For example, a client wants to visit all of the national parks in Utah or all the pyramids in Egypt. Prepackaged tours may include some of these sites, but not all. For this client, a travel counselor would create a customized tour known as an FIT or foreign independent tour. (Although originally created for customized "foreign" tours, FIT is used to identify a domestic customized tour, too.) Arranging an FIT is time consuming and requires a great deal of expertise. The travel counselor has to know, or know how to find, companies to contact for each component, then make reservations, send payments, and so on. Because of the time involved in creating the FIT, and because each component is purchased individually instead of in bulk, FITs can often be more expensive than a prepackaged tour.
Types of Special-Interest Tours Types of Special-Interest Tours * literary, famous authors * archaeology * ecology * history * art * music * special event (e.g., Mardi Gras, motor racing, Olympics) Special-Interest Tours--Activities * ecotours * photography * adventure (e.g., mountain biking, rock climbing, backpacking) * sports (e.g., skiing, tennis, golf, scuba) * shopping Special-Interest Tours--Types of Clients * physically challenged * senior citizens * gay and lesbian * 18-35 year olds * religious * student
Once again, the Internet and the World Wide Web are changing things. Improvements in search engine capabilities have spurred the creation of dynamic packaging. Comparison services, such as http://www.travelsupermarket.com and others like it, are capable of searching a large group of suppliers to locate the best price for a flight, hotel, and car rental simultaneously and in less than 30 seconds! Travel professionals can utilize similar technology through a GDS. Travel counselors (and individuals) are able to customize a tour package in far less time than it took to arrange the FIT. Before dynamic travel comparison, hours of time were involved in locating the best components for the best prices.
Dynamic packaging appeals to anyone who is seeking to create his own tour package by choosing the components he wants and getting them at the best prices available. Also, those looking for a package, but not necessarily interested in a custom tour, are able to use the same Web sites, like http://www.travelsupermarket.com, to compare prepackaged tour offerings of several tour operators to make sure they get the best price available.
Like other segments of the travel industry, the tour industry is changing. The market for custom tour packaging is growing. Some tour operators, feeling the pinch of competition from dynamic packaging, have cut travel agent commissions in order to lower package prices for consumers. Travel counselors have to decide whether to promote tour operators that pay the best commissions, or to make their profit by adding a service fee to the tour operator's package price. There remains, however, a large market for the traditional independent, hosted, and escorted prepackaged tours. The remainder of our discussion about tours will focus on these.
Clients who purchase packaged tours enjoy several distinct benefits. One of the most important benefits is volume discount. Tour operators purchase components at bulk rates from airlines, hotels, attractions, restaurants, and so on. Of course, the tour operator adds his profit to the rates before establishing a tour price, but even so, the price is almost always less expensive than if the traveler purchased each component separately.
The fact that tours are prepaid is a benefit to the client for two reasons. First, the client can better plan budgeting around the known price of the tour. The total cost of the trip is more obvious when more components are included in the tour price. Secondly, by prepaying a tour to an international destination, the price may not be affected by currency fluctuation. Generally, once a tour is paid in full, the rate does not increase.
Travelers purchasing hosted or escorted tours enjoy a peace of mind not found in independent travel. Having a host or escort available for questions, problems, and advice is reassuring and comforting to many travelers. Escorted tour members have the added convenience of being taken to each attraction, hotel, or restaurant with all arrangements previously made. By relieving the tour members of the decision making and worrying about arrangements, peace of mind is increased.
Clients who purchase escorted tours receive the benefits of reliable sightseeing and guaranteed entrances (Figure 14-2). Experience has taught tour organizers which sites and attractions travelers prefer and should be included in the tour. For example, it is a sure bet that sites such as the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame will be included in a tour of Paris. Tour organizers also know when attractions are open and schedule visits accordingly. Entrance fees are arranged and paid in advance by the tour operator, relieving the tour participant of yet another concern.
It is important to note that tour brochures must be read carefully with regard to sightseeing. Not all attractions include an inside visit. For example, a tour may stop at the Sydney Opera House for 10 minutes, long enough for photos, but not long enough to go inside. Most tour brochures indicate inside visits by using bold or italicized print. Experienced travel counselors have learned never to assume that an inside visit will be made and are careful not to read more into a brochure item than is there.
Selling tours provides travel counselors with benefits as well. Imagine counseling a client about transportation, making the booking, counseling about accommodations, making the booking, and so on. You are correct if you feel this is very time consuming. Selling a tour instead of arranging each component separately is far more time efficient.
[FIGURE 14-2 OMITTED]
Selling a packaged tour, as opposed to selling individual components, allows the travel counselor to maximize earnings. Commission, if it is paid, will be paid on the total cost of the tour. Since some elements of a tour, such as meals, sightseeing, and admissions are included in the total cost, they are commissionable. If purchased separately from the tour package, the travel counselor would not benefit.
The Best Type of Tour
The best type of tour is the one that suits the client's needs and wants as well as his level of travel experience and knowledge. A traveler who wants a package to the Bahamas so that he can relax on the beach all week would certainly be unhappy with an escorted tour. On the other hand, a client who wants to see the sights of India might appreciate all the benefits an escorted tour has to offer.
As with all areas of travel, the counselor must qualify the client. The traveler's level of travel experience and knowledge are particularly important when selling tours. For example, a traveler who has been to Hawaii several times may want an independent or hosted tour, whereas a client visiting Hawaii for the first time may prefer an escorted tour. The answers to the qualifying questions should establish:
* activities to be included (sightseeing, dining, water sports, and so on)
* length of trip
* season of travel (high, low, or shoulder)
* grade and price range of tour (budget, moderate, or deluxe)
* type of tour (independent, hosted, escorted, FIT, or special interest)
* preferred tour members (no one, adults, children, seniors, or special interest)
* pace (leisurely, moderate, or fast)
* traveler's level of travel knowledge and past experience
In addition to asking the right questions, travel counselors must listen carefully, not only to the traveler's answers, but also to their tone of voice. A client who sounds apprehensive or nervous about being on their own may be telling the counselor that an escorted tour would be best.
Another trap the travel counselor must avoid is injecting the counselor's preferences into the scenario. For example, a client tells the counselor that he wants to go to Alaska, but the travel counselor says that the Caribbean would be a much better destination. This counselor's reply is not only rude, it may also cause the traveler to go to another agency to book his trip to Alaska.
The client's destination can influence the type of tour selection. Most travelers going to Las Vegas, Florida, the Bahamas, Caribbean, and Mexican resort areas prefer independent or hosted tours. These destinations are chosen primarily for their individual activities rather than group sightseeing. Other destinations such as Africa, Asia, Australia, South America, and Europe lend themselves to escorted tours (Figure 14-3). Most travelers consider these destinations more exotic than the others mentioned, and as such, the security and comfort of being with a group is preferred.
[FIGURE 14-3 OMITTED]
THE LANGUAGE OF TOURS
There are hundreds of companies worldwide that arrange and market tours. These companies are commonly referred to as tour operators. Tour operators, sometimes called tour wholesalers, can market tours strictly through travel agencies or they also can sell directly to the consumer. Tour operators may also utilize ground operators to arrange specific components such as city sightseeing, special meals, and attraction entrances.
All tour operators establish prices on a per-person basis with the idea that two people will be traveling together. Everything in a brochure--the tour, airfare, extensions, discounts, and insurance--is priced per person.
Independent and hosted tours may offer travelers a choice of accommodation room type. It is common to see two or three prices for the same tour, each price representing a different type of room. For example, a three-night hotel package in a Honolulu hotel may show Garden View $375, and Ocean View $450.
Another factor that should be considered when comparing prices for escorted tours and packages using all-inclusive accommodations is meals. Tours can include continental breakfast, buffet, table d'hote, or a la carte meals. Some tours utilize a dine-around program, which gives tour members a choice of restaurants.
If a client is traveling alone, there is a single supplement. Single supplements may be expressed as a flat dollar amount or as a percentage of the tour price. A client traveling alone pays the per-person price plus the single supplement.
When three people are traveling together and will share accommodations on a tour, there is usually a triple reduction. The triple reduction is per person and applies to each person in the party of three.
Some tours show a land-only price or a land-air price. The land-only price includes all tour components, including surface transportation, but not air. The land-air price includes all tour components and air transportation, usually from a gateway city. The gateway city is generally an airline hub and it is the city from which an international flight begins or ends. Many tour brochures include a chart that lists the airfare from various cities to the gateway. This airfare is called an air add-on.
Most tours are booked by travel counselors and, in fact, a few tour operators will not take bookings directly from the traveler. When a tour booking is made, a confirmation number, also called a booking or reservation number or record locator, is given. This number identifies the booking to the tour operator. The confirmation number must be used on all future communication with the tour operator.
Some tour operators require a deposit at the time a booking is made. The deposit can be a flat dollar amount per person or a percentage of the tour price. Other tour operators may give the travel counselor an option date. The option date is the date by which the tour operator must have the deposit. Option dates vary by tour operator, but seven days from the date of the booking is common.
At a later time, usually 45 to 60 days before the trip, final payment must be made. The method of payment used for the deposit and the final payment depend on the tour operator. Most tour operators accept credit cards for the deposit and the final payment.
After a tour has been booked and deposit taken, most tour operators charge a revision fee for any changes that are made. Usually revision fees are a flat dollar amount, sometimes per person, sometimes per booking. When a tour must be cancelled, there may be a cancellation fee. The amount of the fee depends on when the cancellation was made and varies by tour operator. A tour operator's cancellation policy is clearly detailed in the brochure.
Almost all tour operators offer an insurance package that covers trip cancellation or interruption, baggage, and health or accident. Often called trip protection, this insurance is priced per person, and may vary in price based on the length or type of the trip. Insurance offered by the tour operator does not usually cover loss due to carrier (e.g., airline, tour operator) bankruptcy.
Sometime after the final payment has been made, usually two to three weeks before departure, the tour operator sends a document packet to the travel agency. This packet can include airline tickets, tour tickets, baggage tags, nametags, itinerary, hotel vouchers, guidebooks, discount coupons, and general information. The travel counselor should check the tickets and vouchers over carefully to make sure all information is correct.
Some independent and hosted tours, especially in the United States, may be handled as "ticketless." The tour operator may send or fax an itinerary to the travel agency but no other documents are sent. Vouchers, coupons, and other information may be given to the client at the airport or at the destination.
PLEASE TURN TO PAGE 218 AND COMPLETE EXERCISE 14-2 NOW.
SELECTING TOUR OPERATORS
Tour operators come in all shapes and sizes, and the Internet makes it easy for the unscrupulous among them to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers. Anyone can set up a Web site and make claims to do anything. Now that more consumers are booking their own tours, the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) reports a constant stream of complaints about fraudulent activities and misrepresentation online. It is understandable that consumers make these sorts of mistakes when booking tours. It would be inexcusable for a travel counselor to do the same.
Many travel agencies have a preferred vendor list that includes tour operators, cruise lines, airlines, hotel chains, and car rental companies. These companies are included on the list because they have proven to offer quality products, excellent service, and value for the price. Tour operators included on a preferred vendor list are financially stable.
Membership in the USTOA and the National Tour Association (NTA) is a good indication that the tour operator is financially stable and is concerned with protecting the clients' personal and financial security. To be accepted as a member of the USTOA, a tour operator must:
* supply a variety of travel industry and banking references
* comply with the established Code of Ethics
* maintain a certain volume of bookings
* have had the same ownership and management for at least three years
* carry $1 million in liability insurance
* obtain a $1 million bond for USTOA's consumer protection plan
At http://www.ustoa.com, travel agents may download information on how to select a tour or vacation package, a traveler's glossary, and a chart of all USTOA members and the destinations they serve. If a client comes to you with a tour operator you are not familiar with, check it against the USTOA list.
NTA members are primarily motorcoach tour operators but can be any type of tour operator. Membership in the NTA requires tour operators to
* carry $1 million in liability insurance
* comply with the NTA Code of Ethics
Some tour operators also elect to become members of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). Although membership in ASTA does not have the financial requirements of the other organizations, ASTA membership is often seen as a statement that the tour operator is anxious to work with travel agencies.
Helpful Industry Web Sites Membership Organizations American Society of Travel Agents: http://www.astanet.com National Tour Association: http://www.nta.com Pacific Asia Travel Association: http://www.pata.org United States Tour Operators Association: http://www.ustoa.com
READING TOUR BROCHURES AND WEB SITES
Almost all tour brochures are arranged using the same format. The first several pages include a table of contents, information about the tour operator, special features and discounts, and information about the modes of transportation and accommodations. These pages are designed to excite the reader and convince him that choosing a tour from this company is the correct decision.
Travel counselors can learn a great deal about the company and the clientele to which the company caters simply by reading the text and looking at the pictures. Take a look at any tour brochure and see if you can answer these questions:
1. What is the average age of the tour members?
2. Do children seem to be welcome or do the pictures feature adults only?
3. How are the tour members dressed: casually or formally?
4. Is the focus on activities and sightseeing or on leisure time and relaxation?
5. Of what organizations is the tour operator a member?
6. From the brochure, do you feel the tour operator would be considered upscale, moderate, or budget? (Hint: consider the quality of the photographs and the paper on which the brochure is printed.)
The bulk of the brochure or Web site contains the various tour products. Depending on the type of tour, each may be covered on one page to as many as four or five pages. Each tour product shows a day-by-day itinerary, usually indicating included meals and sightseeing. There may be a boxed area for each tour that details special features and sightseeing. Each tour product may have a price chart showing rates based on departure date, hotel choice, or hotel room type.
The final pages of a tour brochure, and a prominent section of a tour operator Web site, deal with important information such as deposits, final payments, documents, cancellation policies, insurance, and liability. It is in this section of the brochure that every tour operator disclaims responsibility or liability for things like loss or delays or events outside their control. It is here that you will usually find answers to frequently asked questions. A very important point to remember is that one tour operator's policies are not necessarily the same as another tour operator's policies (Figure 14-4). In fact, a tour operator may change policies from one year to the next.
When a traveler looks at a tour brochure, the eyes generally go to the price first. The traveler may not take into consideration all that is included. Travel counselors looking at a tour brochure usually look at the tour features: number of days, places visited, and what is included. It is very important that the travel counselor explain all of these details so that the client understands exactly what is being offered.
One of the indicators of a tour's price is the quality of the hotels used. A deluxe tour includes the best hotels, often more centrally located. Less expensive tours may offer a lower grade of hotels that are farther from the city center or popular sightseeing attractions.
A second factor that can greatly affect a tour's price is meals. How many meals are included? Which meals are included? (Breakfast is far less expensive than dinner.) Are the meals buffet, table d'hote, or a la carte?
One of the most important aspects of a tour is the pace. Pace can affect a tour's price; generally, the faster the pace, the less expensive the tour. Does the client want to see eight European countries in five days? If so, he must understand that he may have to be up at 6:00 A.M. and may be on the motorcoach until late at night each evening. He will be hustled on and off the motorcoach 20 times each day; the rest he sees from the motorcoach window as it drives by. This pace is not a vacation--it is hard work!
Moderately priced tours generally allow some free time but not much. Deluxe tours often set aside an afternoon in each city or location as free time. Tour members can use the free time how they wish: exploring, shopping, or just relaxing by the hotel pool.
Again, there is no right or wrong tour pace as long as the travel counselor listens to what the traveler wants and then follows his lead. Some clients want to see eight European countries in five days, so for them, the fast-paced tour is perfect. But for those travelers who want to take things a bit slower, selling the same fast-paced tour is a major mistake, and the traveler will be dissatisfied with the tour and the travel counselor.
A traveler comes into a travel agency and says, "I'm interested in European tours." What does the travel counselor do? Does traveler counselor do; jump up and grab some brochures from the files or brochure rack? If so, does the counselor has no concept of what being a good travel counselor is all about. As with all areas of selling travel, specific information must be learned before any brochures can be selected.
First, the travel counselor should convey an interest in the client's request and make the client feel comfortable and important. The travel counselor might say something like, "Europe, that's wonderful! I'm sure we can find the perfect tour for you."
Many sales experts suggest that the travel counselor immediately introduce himself and, hopefully, the client will do the same. If the client does not offer their name, the counselor should ask. The travel counselor should make note of the client's name and use it during the conversation.
The next step is to ask questions in order to learn exactly what type of tour the traveler has in mind. All of the questions that the travel counselor asks should be designed to help the counselor determine what tour operators and brochures are likely to offer products that suit the client.
What questions would you ask? What would you hope to learn from each question?
After the travel counselor understands what the client wants, the counselor should select two or three brochures that offer appropriate products. A mistake some travel counselors make is overloading the client with dozens of brochures and options. The client is overwhelmed and may end up quite frustrated by the vast array of choices. In this case, remember that more is not better.
Tours are best sold face-to-face. In this way, the counselor can sit down with the client with brochures, point out a tour from each brochure, and show the client how each tour satisfies the client's needs. The travel counselor should use the pictures, the day-by-day itinerary of the tour, and the highlighted features as selling tools.
The traveler may have questions about the tour and the counselor should answer them immediately if possible. If the counselor does not know the answer to the client's question but can quickly find it, the counselor should do so. For answers that take a bit of time, there is nothing wrong with saying, "I don't know but I will be happy to find out and let you know." If the counselor does not already have the client's name, now is a good time to ask for it as well as the traveler's phone number.
The travel counselor should help the traveler compare the tours being suggested, both for included features and price. The counselor should make sure the client understands the price and what it includes as well as any additional charges or add-ons. It is a good idea to highlight brochure text dealing with deposits, final payments, cancellation policies, and insurance. Once the traveler has the brochure at home, these important sections may easily be reread.
Rarely will a tour actually be sold during the first contact with the client, unless all travelers are in the agency together. Usually the client takes the brochures home to discuss the options with any traveling companions. Before the client leaves the agency, the travel counselor should suggest that he will call the client in a few days to see if the client has any questions or concerns about the tour.
If the travel counselor was not well versed on the brochures during the first contact with the client, now is the time to brush up on them. Most clients devour the tour brochure information and can very easily end up knowing more about the tour than the travel counselor. If the travel counselor wants to appear professional, knowledgeable, and avoid embarrassment, he will take the brochures home and study them thoroughly.
MAKING TOUR RESERVATIONS AND PAYMENTS
Once a specific tour has been chosen by the client, the travel counselor makes the reservation. Most tour reservations are still made by phone to the individual tour operator, even though most are available through the various GDSs and/or their own Web sites. Many of the tour operator Web sites have "agent only" sections and may even pay an extra percent or two for Web site bookings. Automated bookings have the advantage of taking far less time than booking by phone, but there is no opportunity to ask for clarifications or discuss options unless you phone.
Most clients pay for their tour with a credit card, and almost all tour operators accept payment by credit card, either given by phone or entered into a GDS or Web site. In most cases, the tour operator obtains the credit card approval code and processes the charge. With credit card payments, the total amount goes to the tour operator, who must then issue a check to the booking travel agency for any commissions. Commissions may not be received for several days or weeks after the tour departs.
If the client prefers to pay by check or cash, the travel agency would then pay the tour operator with an agency check. When writing an agency check for final payment on a tour, the agency's commission is simply deducted from the final payment. This method obviously results in the agency receiving its commissions several days or weeks earlier, and can be a sizable advantage for some travel agencies.
Regardless of how the reservation is made, the travel counselor must be prepared with specific information about the client and the desired tour. This information includes:
* tour name or number
* departure and return dates
* special requests, add-ons, discounts, or feature reductions
* client names (as shown on the photo ID or passport)
* form of payment to be used for the deposit or full payment
Helpful Industry Web Sites Apple Vacations: http://www.applevacations.com Blue Sky Tours: http://www.blueskytours.com Celtic Tours: http://www.celtictours.com Central Holidays: http://www.centralholidays.com Classic Custom Vacations: http://www.classicvacations.com Collette Tours: http://www.collettetours.com Contiki: http://www.contiki.com Delta Vacations: http://www.deltavacations.com Gate 1 Travel: http://www.gate1travel.com General Tours: http://www.generaltours.com Globus & Cosmos: http://www.globusandcosmos.com GoGo Tours: http://www.gogowwv.com Isram World of Travel: http://www.isram.com Maupintour: http://www.maupintour.com Mayflower Tours: http://www.mayflowertours.com Pleasant Holidays: http://www.pleasantholidays.com Sunny Land Tours: http://www.sunnylandtours.com Trafalgar Tours: http://www.trafalgartours.com Travel Impressions: http://www.travelimpressions.com
Because the travel counselor has to be in contact with the client, the counselor should also have the client's telephone number, fax, e-mail address, and mailing address. You may wish to use a reservation form (see Figure 14-6) to assist in gathering all the necessary information. This form is also used to record the confirmation number and reservationist's name (phone bookings only) at the time the reservation is made and to record all payment information, both from the client as well as to the tour operator.
Invariably, clients call with questions about the tours they booked, making these forms very handy. If the booking travel counselor is out of the office at the time a client calls, another counselor can look at the form and see exactly what has transpired. If the form is complete, it is possible that the other counselor can answer the client's questions, eliminating the need for a call back.
Most travel agencies maintain a file folder on each tour booking. The file contains the reservation form, action summary, tour brochure, payment receipts, and any other pertinent data about the booking. Every communication with the client and tour operator should be documented on the action summary and each tour file should contain the same types of paperwork.
[FIGURE 14-6 OMITTED]
CONFIRMATION AND FOLLOW-UP
As an added touch to the service the travel counselor is providing the client, a confirmation letter puts what has been done on the client's behalf in writing (Figure 14-7). The most appropriate time to send a confirmation letter to the client is after the deposit has been processed. If an error has been made during the booking process (e.g., incorrect date, tour, name), the confirmation letter may bring it to the travel counselor's attention.
There are four main subjects that should be covered in the confirmation letter. It is always nice to begin by thanking the client for his business. After all, where would the travel counselor be without the client? Next, state what has been done (e.g., reservation made, deposit sent). Confirm to the client the features that are and are not included in the price. If the client did not purchase insurance, briefly outline the tour operator's cancellation policy and recommend insurance.
Most travel counselors believe that staying in touch with their clients is a very important part of doing business, and rightly so. An excellent way to achieve and maintain a solid counselor-client relationship is by a follow-up letter or phone call to the client after he has returned from his tour. A waste of time? Definitely not!
[FIGURE 14-7 OMITTED]
A follow-up letter or phone call accomplishes two very important things:
* lets the client know that the counselor cares about more than just making a sale
* provides the counselor with vendor and product feedback
The counselor has taken great pains to satisfy the client during the sales process of the tour. The clients have spent hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dollars on the tour that the counselor suggested. They have returned home; now is not the time to abandon them. Showing that the counselor cares about the services they did or did not receive, the way they were treated, and their overall opinion solidifies the counselor-client relationship.
If there were problems with the tour or tour operator, they have to be questioned. Were the problems avoidable? Were they the counselor's fault? Did the tour operator perform less than efficiently? A letter to the tour operator might be in order, expressing the client's dissatisfaction and the counselor's concern. Perhaps, the clients should be re-imbursed by the tour operator for services not received. If the problems were severe, it may be that the agency's manager will reconsider selling this tour operator in the future. The point is to never lose sight of the fact that this is a service industry. Without satisfied clients, counselors and their agencies cannot survive.
? What Would You Do? You have been working as a travel counselor for several months and your boss has offered you a choice of familiarization trips: Las Vegas, which you love and have been to several times; Hawaii, which you have sold but never visited; and Kenya, which you have never sold or visited. 1. In what way(s) is Las Vegas the best choice? 2. In what way(s) is Hawaii the best choice? 3. In what way(s) is Kenya the best choice?
A tour consists of several components including transportation, hotels, meals, and sightseeing. There is a wide variety of tour types that can be matched to each individual traveler, depending on his or her preferences. By understanding the types of tours, the tour operators, and their products, the travel professional can accurately match clients to appropriate products. Improved Web search capabilities have resulted in the growth of dynamic tour packaging and changed the way tour packages are marketed.
There are many benefits to selling and booking tours, both for the client and for the travel agency. For clients, benefits include paying a set price and paying less for the tour than they would for the individual components. With an escorted tour, the client has the added benefit of someone else taking care of the details. For the travel counselor, selling tours is an efficient way of generating higher revenue and making more efficient use of time.
It is important to understand the language of tours and each part of a tour brochure as it relates to use as a selling tool. Selecting a tour operator is based upon several factors such as membership in professional organizations, longevity, and preferred vendor status. Most tour payments are done by credit card, and travel counselors should be especially aware of the importance of consistent record keeping between the time a reservation is made and when the client departs. Selling tours involves the ability to match the client's needs with the tour products.
For additional Travel and Tourism resources, go to http://www.hospitality-tourism.delmar.com.
EXERCISE 14-1 Types of Tours and Their Benefits
1. Identify the two unique features of escorted tours.
2. Name the five products and services being purchased when an escorted tour is selected.
3. What are the benefits to the client when an escorted tour is purchased?
4. Identify the two unique features of an independent tour.
5. Name the components typically included in an independent tour.
6. What are the benefits to the client when an independent tour is purchased?
7. Identify the two unique features of a hosted tour.
8. Name the products and services being purchased when a hosted tour is selected.
9. What are the benefits to the client who purchases a hosted tour?
10. What are the differences between a host, an escort, and a guide?
11. What subjects might be the focus of special interest tours?
12. What client groups might be the focus of special interest tours?
13. What activities might be the focus of special interest tours?
14. What is the advantage of dynamic packaging?
15. In detail, explain why it is to the travel counselor's advantage to sell a tour instead of air, hotel, and rental car separately.
16. Identify the type of tour that you think best suits the needs of these clients.
a. Young couple, inexperienced travelers, have saved for three years to go to Hawaii, want to see everything in 10-14 days.
b. Four college friends, inexperienced travelers, want to go to Jamaica as a graduation treat.
c. Older couple, well traveled, want to return to France to visit the Normandy beaches and wine regions.
d. Middle-aged couple, well traveled but first time to Egypt and Israel, interested in the main tourist sites.
e. Young couple, first time to Las Vegas, want to see a couple of shows, gamble, and relax by the hotel pool.
EXERCISE 14-2 The Language of Tours
1. Define these terms in your own words.
a. air add-on
b. confirmation number
d. final payment
e. gateway city
f. ground operator
g. option date
h. revision fee
i. single supplement
j. tour operator
k. triple reduction
2. Are prices shown in tour brochures per person or for a party of two?
3. In what way do the hotels used and type of included meals have a bearing on a tour price?
4. What methods of payment can be used to pay for a tour?
5. What is usually included in the insurance package that is offered by the tour operator?
6. What items may be included in a tour document packet?
9-Day Hawaii Tour
Day 1: Arrive Honolulu, Oahu
Transfer to the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel
Day 2: Oahu
Sightseeing: Polynesian Cultural Center Included Meals: Breakfast and Dinner Hotel: Sheraton Waikiki Hotel
Day 3: Honolulu
Sightseeing: Iolani Palace, Punchbowl National Memorial, Pearl Harbor National Memorial Included Meals: Breakfast and dinner Hotel: Sheraton Waikiki Hotel
Day 4: Oahu
Day at leisure Included Meals: Breakfast Hotel: Sheraton Waikiki Hotel
Day 5: Oahu-Maui Flight from Oahu to Maui Sightseeing: Lahaina, lao Needle, and Kaanapali Beach Included Meals: Breakfast and Dinner Hotel: Maui Marriott Beach Resort
Day 6: Maui
Day at Leisure Included Meals: Breakfast Hotel: Maui Marriott Beach Resort
Day 7: Maui
Day at Leisure Included Meals: Breakfast and Dinner Hotel: Maui Marriott Beach Resort
Day 8: Maui--Depart for Home
Morning at Leisure Transfer to Maui Airport Included Meals: Breakfast Depart for Home
Day 9: Arrive Home
Land Rates Per Person Twin Single Triple Jan.-Mar. $1599 $2199 $1569 Apr.-Dec. $1569 $2169 $1539
Within 5 days of booking, a nonrefundable deposit of $100 per person must be sent. The balance is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by American Express, Discover/Novus, Mastercard, or Visa, or by sending a travel agency check. All rates are guaranteed upon deposit.
A handling fee of $50.00 per transaction will be assessed for any change or revision made to a reservation. A change of departure date within 90 days of departure will be considered a cancellation and cancellation charges will apply.
If you have not purchased waivers and you need to transfer or cancel for any reason prior to tour departure, the cancellation fees will be:
* More than 60 days prior to departure: a nonrefundable deposit will be retained.
* 60-16 days prior to departure: 25% of the total price.
* 15-1 day prior to departure: 50% of the total price.
* Day of departure and after: 100% of the total price.
The purchase of waivers will guarantee full refund on all payments except the waiver fee for cancellation for any reason. However, the Land Waiver does not cover the return of air costs nor does the Air Waiver cover the return of land costs. Waivers must be paid with deposit.
* Land Waiver: $50 per person
* Air Waiver: $10 per person
EXERCISE 14-3 9-Day Hawaii Tour
Using the above information, answer the following questions:
1. How many nights are spent in Maui?
2. What forms of payment are accepted?
3. On what island is the Pearl Harbor National Memorial visited?
4. How many meals are included on this tour?
5. When must the deposit be paid?
6. At what time are the tour rates guaranteed?
7. How much will be charged if your client changes departure dates 45 days prior?
8. How many days on this tour are spent at leisure?
9. How much is the per-person deposit?
10. On what island can your client enjoy Kaanapali Beach?
11. What hotels are used on this tour?
12. What is the cancellation fee for an April 5 departure if it is cancelled on March 28?
13. On what island is the Polynesian Cultural Center visited?
14. Your clients are two adults who will depart on February 12. Air cost is $900 per person and will be booked with the tour operator. Your agency will earn 10 percent commission on the land tour and 3 percent on the air.
* Total cost?
* Total amount paid at deposit?
* Total final payment amount?
* Commission amount?
15. Your clients are three adults booking the October 18 departure. They do not need air included, but they do want to purchase the Land Waiver. Your agency earns 7 percent commission on the land tour and 10 percent on the waiver.
* Total cost?
* Total amount paid at deposit?
* Total final payment amount?
* Commission amount?
EXERCISE 14-4 Tour Price and Commission Calculation
Using the Britain and Ireland Tour information, answer the following questions:
1. Two adults, June 20 departure, air from Salt Lake City, Travel Protection.
* Total cost?
* Total amount paid at deposit?
* Total final payment amount?
* Commission amount?
2. One adult, August 3 departure, air from Pittsburgh, Travel Protection.
* Total cost?
* Total amount paid at deposit?
* Total final payment amount?
* Commission amount?
3. Two adults and one child, age 14, May 27 departure, land only, Travel Protection.
* Total cost?
* Total amount paid at deposit?
* Total final payment amount?
* Commission amount?
4. Three adults, July 6 departure, air from Tampa, no Travel Protection.
* Total cost?
* Total amount paid at deposit?
* Total final payment amount?
* Commission amount?
5. Your clients from question 4 cancel their trip on June 20. How much is the refund?
16-Day Britain & Ireland Tour Land: $1720 Land: $1840 Land: $1920 Land & Air: $2160 Land & Air: $2345 Land & Air: $2460 April 1-April 16 May 6-May 21 June 10-June 25 April 20-May 5 May 9-May 24 June 15-June 30 April 27-May 12 May 13-May 28 June 20-July 5 April 29-May 14 May 27-June 11 June 29-July 14 Land: $1950 Land: $1980 Land & Air: $2470 Land & Air: $2490 July 6-July 21 August 3-August 18 July 11-July 26 August 7-August 22 July 17-August 1 August 10-August 25 July 29-August 13 August 15-August 30 All prices are per person based on double occupancy. Land & Air prices include air transportation from New York. For add-ons from your city and nonincluded taxes, fees, and surcharges, see the chart below. Departures Salt Lake Washington Pittsburgh City Tampa DC April 1-April 29 $110 $215 $145 $65 May 6-May 27 $125 $245 $170 $80 June 10-June 29 $145 $270 $195 $95 July 6-July 29 $175 $295 $210 $105 August 3-August 15 $210 $310 $225 $120 All prices are per person. In addition to the rates there will be a total of $125 that covers all international and domestic taxes, fees, and surcharges.
Reservations and Payments
* Deposit: $200 per person, to be paid within 7 days of the reservation
* Final Payment: total balance due no less than 45 days before departure
* A fee of $50 per transaction will be charged for any revision or alteration made after deposit has been paid provided that the revision or alteration is made at least 45 days before departure.
* 45 days or more before departure: nonrefundable deposit
* 45 to 22 days before departure: 25% of the total price in addition to the nonrefundable deposit
* 21-8 days before departure: 30% of the total price in addition to the nonrefundable deposit
* 7-1 days before departure: 50% of the total price in addition to the nonrefundable deposit
* Day of departure or no-show: 100% of the total price
* $79.00 per person for trips (excluding taxes, fees, and surcharges) up to $1,000
* $99.00 per person for trips (excluding taxes, fees, and surcharges) over $1,000
* There is no charge for Travel Protection for children ages 8 through 16 traveling and sharing a room with two adults.
* Travel Protection must be paid with deposit Single Supplement
* An additional charge of 25% of the Land or Land & Air price applies for single travelers
* A reduction from the Land or Land & Air price of $145 per person will apply for three adults sharing accommodations.
* A reduction from the Land or Land & Air price of $175 will apply for children ages 8 through 16 sharing accommodations with two adults.
EXERCISE 14-5 Case Study Selling an Escorted Tour Package
Use the Web site http://www.caravantours.com to assist your client in planning an escorted tour to Mexico for his wife's sixtieth birthday. They have only two weeks for their trip and would like to spend around $1,500 per person, including transportation. They want a well-paced and unhurried itinerary and do not want to travel on any boats.
1. Of the Mexico tour offerings on the Web site, which tour meets your client's needs? Describe the itinerary features of this tour.
2. What is the total cost for a spring departure?
3. Is airfare included?
4. If your client books the tour today, when is the deposit due? What is the amount of the deposit?
5. What are the cancellation fees if the client cancels?
6. When is final payment due?
7. What is the amount of the final payment?
8. What is the cost to purchase the Travel Protection Plan for this tour?
9. List four benefits of the Travel Protection Plan:
10. What is included in the tour package?
11. List three reasons why you would consider this tour operator to be reputable:
12. How much luggage is allowed per person?
1. What do the letters ASTA stand for?
2. What do the letters USTOA stand for?
3. What do the letters NTA stand for?
4. What is a preferred vendor list?
5. In what way can you use the pictures in a tour brochure to learn about the vendor?
6. In what portion of a tour brochure do you usually find information about deposits and final payments?
7. In what ways do clients and travel counselors look at tour brochures differently?
8. Why is understanding a tour's pace important?
9. What types of information should be learned during the qualification process?
10. Why should tours be booked in the GDS when possible?
11. What items are usually kept in a tour client's file?
12. What four areas should be covered in a confirmation letter?
13. What two functions does a follow-up letter or phone call serve?
14. Identify the appropriate term for each definition.
a. The penalty amount for a cancelled tour.
b. Transportation, transfers, accommodations, meals, and sightseeing.
c. Down payment amount for a tour.
d. Most structured type of tour; an escort is with the group throughout.
e. The balance due after deposit.
f. A tour that has been constructed by the travel counselor to fit the client's needs.
g. The airport from which airfare is included.
h. A company that arranges everything except air transportation.
i. Moderately structured tour; a host is available at designated times.
j. Least structured tour; participants are basically on their own.
k. The date by which the tour company must have the deposit.
l. A penalty amount for making changes to a booked tour.
m. A penalty amount for a single traveler on a tour.
n. A type of airfare that can only be used in conjunction with a tour.
o. A local tour employee who joins the group for short sightseeing excursions.
p. A company that creates and markets tours to travel counselors and the public.
q. An amount that is subtracted from the price when three people travel together.
FIGURE 14-4 Each tour company establishes its own policies. A comparison indicates many differences in regard to deposits, final payments, and cancellations. Deposit Final Payment Tour Operator A $100 per person 45 days prior paid at time to departure of booking Tour Operator B $200 per person 45 days prior paid within 7 to departure days of booking Tour Operator C $400 per person 60 days prior paid within 7 to departure days of booking Cancellation Insurance Tour Operator A 46+ days--$50/ $30 to $40/ person person based 45-30 days-- on tour--must $100/person be paid at 29-15 days-- deposit $150/person less than 14 days--no refund Tour Operator B 46+ days--$200 $69 to $79/ /person person based 45-16 days--20% on tour--must of total price be paid prior 15-1 days--35% to final of total price payment day of departure--no refund Tour Operator C 75+ days--no $99 to $199/ penalty person based 74-46 days-- on tour--must $400 per be paid prior person to final 45-15 days--50% payment of total price 14-3 days--75% of total price less than 3 days--no refund Tour Brochure Pricing Formula $$$ Per-person brochure price + $$$ Single supplement, if applicable - $$$ Triple reduction, if applicable + $$$ Upgrades, add-ons, additional features, insurance, if any - $$$ Discounts or reduction in features, if any = $$$$ Total per-person tour price For two people traveling together, multiply the total per-person tour price by two. For three people traveling together, multiply the total per-person tour price by three. Types of Tours and Their Components Transfers Transportation and Porterage Accommodations Independent probably possibly yes Hosted probably probably yes Escorted yes yes yes Meals Sightseeing Independent no no Hosted no minimal Escorted yes yes
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|Title Annotation:||Section IV Selling Other Travel Products and Services|
|Author:||Gorham, Ginger; Rice, Susan|
|Publication:||Travel Perspectives, A Guide to Becoming a Travel Professional|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2007|
|Previous Article:||Chapter 13 Consolidators, charters, group sales, and travel insurance.|
|Next Article:||Chapter 15 The basics of cruising.|