Differences of Tour Operators and Travel Agents

Tour Operators & travel Agents are different in Malaysia! And the public have had the wrong perception for long time. In Malaysia, Tour Operators and Travel Agents are different and play different roles. In a factory scenario, a Tour Operator is like the production department and the Travel Agent is like the Sales Department…

A Tour Operator is the organizer and provider of package holidays. It is often referred as the Ground Handler. The Tour Company will make contracts with hotels and resorts, airlines and ground transport companies like private cars, buses, vans, ferries and trains & etc. With all the necessary pricing and information compiled, the Tour Operator will draft detailed tour packages and distribute to Travel Agents in Travel Agent Directory in Malaysia and even overseas.

The roles & responsibilities of a Tour Operator are booking and arranging:

- Transportation: Chaffered Car, Chartered Bus & Van, Air Ticket, Train Ticket, Ferry Ticket, Cruise Ticket, other transit modes and even special vehicles like trishaw.
- Tour Guide: All Tour Guides must be licensed by the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia after attending and examined in a professional Tourist Guide Courses.
- Sight Seeing: Entrance for tourist destinations, eco-tour, adventures tour, jungle trekking, snorkeling & scuba diving, island hopping and even handicraft or cultural & living experiences.
- Food & Beverage: Breakfast, Tea Time or Tea Break, Lunch & Dinner, whether by set, buffet or packed food.
- Accommodation: Hotels, Resorts, Service Apartments, Camping Sites, Dormitories, Training Camps, Chalets, Tree Houses or traditional houses & habitats that accommodating travelers.
- Activities: Tele-match, treasure hunt, paint ball, team building, outside office meeting…
- Special Events: Company dinner, karaoke contest.

On the other hand, Travel Agents do not operate tours. Travel agencies gives traveling advices to travelers, promote and sell the tour packages that they have from various Tour Operators, then administer the tour bookings. Travel Agents usually are set up in prime locations with heavy traffic such as beside the main roads, inside crowed shopping malls or at the ground floor of a landmark building.

The roles & responsibilities of a Travel Agent are:

- Selling ells travel related products and services, particularly package tours to end-user customers on behalf of third party travel suppliers, such as airlines, hotels, tour operator and tour companies, and cruise lines & etc.
- Most travel agents have a special department devoted to travel arrangements for business travelers, while some agencies specialize in commercial and business travelers.
- Some also serve as general service agents for foreign travel companies in different countries.
- Act as an agent for tour packages:
- Buy tour packages or tour services at discounts & sell with profits.
- Get commissions from suppliers & other tour companies.
- Act as a ticketing agent for transportation (e.g. airlines, ferry, bus, train & etc).
- Other commercial operations are undertaken: insurance, travel guides, car rental, Bureau de change, private tour guide & etc.
- Offer impartial travel advice to the customer.

Next time, if you traveling in small group less than 10 travelers, it is advisable to engage a Travel Agent. Do not try to find the best travel agent in Malaysia. There is no such myth! Just go with the travel agent that suit your traveling needs and budgets or the tour agent that you trusted the most. However, if you are organizing a group tour like company tour, a Tour Operator will be able to provide you a more suitable tailor-made service.

The above information are guidelines and advices that 88Holidays provided to its Corporate Clients in organizing group tour. It is simple but useful information to help organizing a successful company tour with many years experiences.

Get the Most Out of Your Travel Agent

Booking air travel, making hotel reservations and arranging vacation travel in general has changed completely with the advent of the internet and many people try to be their own travel agents. While you can arrange seemingly most of your travel yourself, you can’t do as well as your travel agent in a long run!

Travel processionals, whether your local travel agent, tour operator or destination specialist still possess contacts that you as an industry outsider do not have. As in number of other professions, travel agents, whether in a shopping center near your home or an online agency, wherever they may be located, do know something you do not, have way to book and arrange travel for you in ways unavailable or unknown to you.

Traditionally you could contact a travel agent and ask for a quote, whether a price of an air ticket, hotel or a vacation package. For the most part travel agents still provide that kind of information, although there is a limit how much information they may disclose as not all information is readily available to them.

First of all, most travel agents indeed may have at their fingertips routine cost of air ticketing, hotel rates or certain vacation packages available and will be happy to provide the price information to you instantly when asked. But once your travel request will need to be somewhat customized, whether tailored to your dates of travel or your other travel preferences, to find a relevant answer will be time consuming. Because of this time element involved, do not automatically assume an agency is keen to spend the time to furnish the information you seek when there is no commitment you will travel at all.

Look at the situations from the following perspective. In the old days if you had a problem with your car, you’d drive it to your neighborhood car mechanic and asked him to see what was wrong with it. You would drop the car off at the garage, the mechanic would have a look and tell you what the problem was. He would also give you an estimate and it was up to you to decide if you wanted him to fix it right then and there, wait or seek another opinion and another quote. His services cost you nothing.

But not anymore. These days, no garage, no car repair mechanic is willing to spend time trying to find out what’s the problem with your vehicle without charging you at least one hour labor upfront. Pay and he will look and tell you. Up to you if you will decide to take your car to another shop or have him fix it, he has covered his time spent diagnosing what’s wrong with your car.

Similarly, many travel agencies and professional travel planners and tour operators will charge you an upfront travel planning fee if you are requesting travel arrangements that first of all are time consuming, or there is no guarantee you will book anything. All you are after are essentially private tailor-made travel arrangement s and there are no simple answers or options to give you, and the only way to find out will be for the agent to dig and consult all sorts of different sources he has at this disposal and then present the travel alternatives to you for you to decide upon.

When working with a travel agent, travel planner or any other travel professional such as a knowledgeable destination specialist, keep in mind that a certain protocol will assure you will get not only the kind of travel arrangements you want in general but also you’ll gain a true partner that will always work in your best interest whether you’ll travel away from home on business or for pleasure.

1. First of all, when contacting a travel agent, whether in person or online, don’t hesitate to give them your name – don’t worry, most agents won’t spam you back. Without your name when you’re asking for a valuable travel advice most agents won’t take your request too seriously. Call if you wish but most agents prefer not to take notes, email is a way to go and for an agent to look up a fare often a time means he has to plug in a name, so might as well that name will be your real name. If you decide not to accept the booking the reservation will expire and no harm done. If you decide later to purchase the reservation the agent does not have to rekey it into the system all over again.

2. If you’re trying to be you own travel agent, even in part, say you plan to book your own hotels online, disclose it to the agent your are contacting for assistance, he/she may still be interested to help you with the rest of your travel arrangements. Don’t hide your intentions from the agent as agents don’t like to be used for information gathering purposes only.

3. If at all possible, always contact your travel agent or destination specialist as soon as you know when and where you wish to travel, not last minute before your intended departure. That is even more important when you’re planning a trip to a lesser frequented destination.

4. Don’t book your flights and hotels online and ask a travel agent to do the rest, namely the difficult parts, such as complex transportation connections, travel arrangements in remote locations or to book segments that you just feel are not safe for you to book online yourself. Give your agent to design and book your entire trip for you. The worst you can do is design your own vacation package, then copy and email the same request to dozen different agents to see who may be the lowest bidder. Yes, the internet is perfect for that kind of information gathering but look at this from a perspective of a travel agent. If he/she knows you are sending the same request to dozen agents many of them will not be too interested in dealing with you. Then again, telling them the truth they will appreciate knowing what you are doing and approach the whole thing quite differently and in the end they just might offer you a deal.

5. If you’re after booking shoe-string cost of travel, for example wishing to book the lowest type of accommodations, best be your own travel agent. Do realize that agents can’t book services that are simply too cheap to begin with, not to mention that that kind of suppliers do not pay agent s any kind of commission. The agent may still help you but keep in mind he will be doing you a favor and will be working for you at no charge. If so, appreciate it, email your thank you.

Do realize that to ask an agent million questions, get all the answers, including time consuming quotes, only for you to never replay again is definitely rude and turns agents off completely. If you are polite and respectful many will often work without any commitment on your part, providing you with information you need, working for free. But because of those that just siphon info out of agents so they could possibly book travel on their own leaves not only a sour taste in agent’s mouth but certainly induces the decision to charge au upfront planning fees when a next inquiry comes.

6. On another hand, when it comes to upper end accommodations keep in mind these hotels routinely offer discounts to agents that agents can markup and still offer you room costs below hotel rack rates. Genuine agent is not interested in selling you a higher end hotel in order to make a higher commission but to tailor in a better trip experience for you where he deems it desirable.

7. Keep in mind that there is a difference between a travel agent and a so called Destination Specialist. Most travel agents use online reservation systems to book transportation, hotel and vacation packages. They essentially book or resell ready-to-sell travel offers from a variety of suppliers that do not require more than filling in your name and dates of travel. When it comes to you needing customized arrangements, they will need to contact tour operators and destination specialists that are either part of their consortium or a network they belong to. Depending on the connections they have they will or will not be able to help you.

8. Destination Specialists pride themselves in really knowing their destinations. Many of them have indeed not only traveled extensively but know a particular destination inside-out so they can arrange travel logistics for you based on knowing, rather than looking it up in a brochure or some kind of data base. Many Destination Specialists specialize in difficult, custom designed itineraries and do not sell travel packages. Often a time though not always that kind of service reflects higher markup.

9. Last, please note that many destination specialists as well as travel agents work 110 or more hours per week because especially custom-design travel is indeed very time consuming. Being good at travel logistics does take experience and while with the internet it seems second nature to be able to arrange travel on your own, many travel professional are indeed very good at what they do! They do know more about travel than you, give them a chance, they can save you not only money but also many headaches and above all, they can assure not only that you’ll travel worry-free but that you may have a trip of your life! Keep in mind, a good agent is not after selling you a single ticket or a package tour, they want you to become a repeat client, their go-to-travel processional for rest of your life.

5 Signs You’ve Found A Great Corporate Travel Agent

The term ‘travel agent’ is regarded by some as a part of the past, as though the idea is somewhat passé. This, of course, is the furthest thing from the truth, and nothing brings home this point more than the role of the corporate travel agent. This person/entity is pivotal in working with a very different client that needs to top-notch amenities and facilities. For businesses looking to have the upper hand in their industry, having the right corporate travel agent can make all the difference.

Here are five ways to tell that you’ve got not only a good, but a great corporate travel agent:

1. The agent is connected in, and to, your industry. Your agent should have a deep understanding of your business. By knowing how your industry works, your agent has a better way finding venues that work best, what services are essential, and above all else, what makes your company be unique.

2. Your bottom dollar is also their bottom dollar. A great travel agent not only understands your budgetary demands, but he/she tries to find all value available when booking for your company. Their flexibility extends to everything from last-minute travel to relaxing getaways and finding the right price.

3. Your agent reminds calm, composed, and rational regardless of the situation. No matter the chaos, he/she handles the smallest details with ease. Even in the midst of any number of travel scenarios, a great corporate travel agent keeps his/her cool and has a solution at the ready.

4. The right agent operates under your company’s travel policy. Much in the same way that travel experts advise would-be travelers to set a budget and make a plan, great travel agents at the corporate level are able to navigate all necessary travel request while maintaining the integrity of your company’s budget and policies.

5. The agent is able to readily handle every size of client. This day and age requires companies of all sizes to travel so as to make the right connections. Unfortunately, small companies tend to be ignored because they don’t have the larger budgets other companies do. No company wants to feel ignored. At the same time, bigger companies need to know that even though the travel agent accommodates small accounts, their larger needs won’t send the agent into a tailspin. Great agents and agencies do both without dropping the ball.

Bonus Point: A great agent/agency understands your company’s need to maintain privacy. When seeking the right travel agent for your company, always be sure to inquire about their policy and procedure regarding private data. It’s important to keep in mind that not only are you depending on your agent to work with sensitive information with the utmost respect, but your employees are trusting you to do the same in all facets of the business.

Finding the right corporate travel agent takes work and an exhaustive desire to find the best agency for your company’s needs. Ultimately, your hard work will be rewarded with stress-free travel planning.

Contact A Travel Agent To Help Plan Your Honeymoon Travel

It’s tough to comprehend spending another dime considering the exorbitant expenses incurred in planning the wedding of your dreams, but after months of vigorous planning, you will want to get away and spend some alone-time with your spouse. You can plan your honeymoon vacation by getting the help of a travel agent and let them do all the work so that you can relax and enjoy your honeymoon travel. There are several benefits in selecting a travel agent for planning your honeymoon travel. Some of them are stated below:

Finest days to take a trip – Travel agents book tons of vacations every year and they know what the finest days to travel are from the viewpoint of one’s budget as well as from the standpoint of time. If you are able to provide the agent with some flexibility in travel dates, they can get the least expensive and most stress-free choices for your honeymoon travel.

Save money on your honeymoon vacation – When you select a travel agent to book your honeymoon vacation they will get the best discounts on flights and hotels since travel agencies can buy tickets in bulk and pass these savings on to you.

Saves a ton of work when planning your honeymoon vacation – You can save hours of time since the agent will be the one to deal with the booking and preparations of your honeymoon vacation. You just need to tell them where, when and why.

A travel agency can provide answers to any questions about documents need for honeymoon vacation- An individual’s agent knows essential closing dates and necessities for passports, etc. They will help direct you through the process.

A travel agent can provide you with some insider perks for honeymoon vacation- Since travel agents are acquainted with the right questions to ask, they may be capable of coming up with offers that the common person would never come across on their own.

Travel agents know about desirable destinations – As agents usually travel a lot themselves, it is very possible that they have been to most of the typical honeymoon vacation destinations. If they haven’t themselves, probabilities are that someone in their office has. This will permit them to answer questions you may have about the best restaurants and public transit for your selected honeymoon vacation destination.

Travel agents help deal with any problems that arise if changes occur to your itinerary -If an individual changes their honeymoon vacation plans for any cause, they only need to make one phone call. A person will call their travel agent and then the travel agent will have to make the dozens of phone calls needed to recreate the honeymoon vacation plans.

Travel agents will give you one bill – When you decide to work with an agent, you will end up with one big bill to shell out and not a bunch of purchases with many receipts, confirmations, etc. Several travel agencies will offer a person with recompense plans. Selecting to work with a travel agent can not only lessen the constant worry when it comes to the planning of your honeymoon travel, but can also save you money as well as time.

Your wedding day is one of the most important days in a woman’s life. After spending countless hours planning and preparing for the wedding of your dreams, a romantic honeymoon is just what is needed to enjoy some alone-time with your spouse. The best way to enjoy honeymoon travel is by taking the help of a travel agency. This travel agency can arrange everything for your honeymoon vacation so that all you have to do is enjoy each others company.