A tour operator is a service provider who puts together vacation destination packages that usually include all-inclusive travel, hotel, dining and recreation arrangements. Tour operators generally purchase the individual components of these travel packages in bulk and then resell them for a profit.
For example, a tour operator might purchase bulk airline tickets, hotel rooms, restaurant meal plans and sightseeing activities for a particular destination such as Rome. Then, the tour operator creates different packages that are tailored to families, singles and couples desiring to travel to Rome within a definite time period.
Tour operators must accept responsibility for all problems that arise after the sale of their travel packages. Therefore, if a customer is mistreated by the airline, hotel, restaurant or sightseeing company, the tour operator is required to help resolve the issue on behalf of her customer.
Tour operators also give shopping, dining, sightseeing and lodging advice to potential customers and tour groups as needed. Tour operators are generally self-employed. Therefore, they must have a physical or online office, hire support employees as their customer base builds and advertise to get customers. Tour operators must have a head for business and have the ability to make quick decisions that effect their customers who might be far away from their homes.