TYPES OF TOURS
1. Custom-designed tours
Travelers who desire the highest degree of control over all of the elements of a tour will often select custom-designed tours, usually by working closely with the client, to accommodate all of the individual needs and request a client makes with respect to the tour elements.
A custom-designed tour is commonly referred to as a (F.I.T), which is short for “foreign independent tour”. The term is used to describe both domestic and foreign tours.
Because (F.I.Ts) are tailor-made and use the full journey component for the individual, they are generally more expensive to operate than pre-packaged tours.
Note: Most travel agents use the pre-packaged tour as basic to tailor all custom-designed tours.
2. Pre-packaged tours
Pre-packaged tours can be further divided into three subtypes: independent, hosted and escorted.
2.1 Independent tours
An independent tours, is a tour where participants travel independently without a group or guide. Participants in an independent tour can depart and return on any day and can even adjust the length of their stay to suit their individual needs and preferences. Travelers on this type of tour may not even realize they are on a tour at all. It does, however, fit the definition of a tour because participants are purchasing some or most of their travel elements as a package.
Many independent tours provide only the basics such as round-trip transport to the destination, transfers from the airport or arrival point and accommodations at a single hotel.
Independent tours are particularly popular with travelers who wish to go to a resort for the primary purpose of relaxation. They are also favored by travelers to destinations that have efficient public transport system combined with a variety of local sightseeing tours that the travelers can choose once they are at the destination.
Frequently independent tours will include a rental car as part of the tour package. Travelers may also elect to extend the length of their tour beyond the original tour specifications by paying a fixed rate for each additional night of their extended stay.
One popular type of independent tour is known as a fly/drive tour. This type of tour allows travelers to visit multiple destinations during their trip and includes air transport, a car rental and lodging, with a selection hotel type. Fly/drive tours appeal to travelers who want to visit multiple destinations and set their own travel pace.
Frequently, tour operators will make agreements with hotel chain and other travel suppliers. These types of agreements between tour operators and suppliers such as hotels make for potentially more cost-effective touring.
Usually, the travelers are given a set of vouchers, one for each night of the tour. Then, travelling on a “go-as-you-please” basis, they given number of vouchers to each travel & tourism suppliers, such as hotels and car rental. This number of vouchers matching the number of nights they stay there.
As you have learned, independent tours offer tremendous flexibility and autonomy for the tour participants. Independent tours are ideal for travelers who value the opportunity to make their own choices and set their own schedules. Independent tours are not for everyone.
Many travelers seek more structure to their travel plans. For these travelers hosted and escorted tours may be a more appropriate option.
2.2 Hosted tours
Hosted tours offer travelers an opportunity to travel independently, but also to receive guidance and assistance from a host at each of the torus’s destinations. Typically the host is a representative of a tour company or ground operators who assist participants with the planning and organization of their activities and other tour arrangements. The host serves as an information specialist, facilitating the needs and wants of the tour participants.
Participants in a hosted tour often arrive separately from other participants, although on certain hosted tours participants will arrive on a charter flight together. Once the participants have arrived, however, most of their activities are done individually, not as a group.
Some hosted tours include a single destination with a single host, while others include multiple destinations with several hosts.
On hosted tours with multiple destinations, participants typically receive round-trip transfers from the airport to their hotel, an orientation session that frequently includes one sightseeing trip and the services of a host in each of the destinations.
The host`s responsibilities vary from tour to tour, but generally the host will greet each of the tour participants at the hotel or airport, give them a brief orientation to the tour components and destination and remain available to the participants over the course of the tour.
Hosted tours are ideal for travelers who want independence and flexibility with respect to their itineraries and destination activities, but still desire the on-site guidance of a travel professional.
2.3 Escorted tours
On an escorted tour, participants travel together as a group and are always accompanied by a professional escort, also referred to as a tour manager, tour director or tour leader. This travel professional coordinates the group`s itinerary and activities and is responsible for making sure all aspects of the tour run smoothly.
The accommodations, meals, transport and sightseeing on an escorted tour are all pre-arranged and as a result the details and difficulties of these matters are taken out of the hands of the participants.
Escorted tours commonly visit many destinations and as a result the tour participants are frequently on the move.
Travelling between sightseeing stops is generally done in a motor-coach. The participants do not select the individual hotels during their stay, but may have the option of selecting a level of accommodation when they purchase the tour package.
Escorts commonly provide a wide variety of information throughout the tour, but at times local tour guides, who are experts on specific regions or tour features, will be utilized to provide more detailed information to the tour participants. These guides are also referred to as step-on guides.
In this way some level of quality control is assured and tour participants benefit by receiving a guide with specialized training.
Generally, participants in an escorted tour travel together from the time the tour begins until the time the tour is completed.
However, many tour companies now recognize the need to give participants some measure of flexibility during portions of the tour. As a result, some escorted tours now offer what are known as modules or tour options, which are choices of tour variations during certain segments of the tour.
For travelers seeking great independence and flexibility, escorted tours will probably not be the best choice because The group itinerary comes before individual needs.
When the motor-coach is set to depart, all participants must leave. However, for travelers who want convenience and do not bothered with organizing travel details, escorted tour are a logical and popular choice.
There is also a perceived feeling of safety in group travel which appeals to less experienced traveler. With the addition of modules and tour options, in some way the distinction between hosted tours and escorted tours is less clear.