Tour operator: job description

Tour operator: job description

Tour operators are responsible for organising and preparing holiday tours. They follow trends in the popularity of destinations and packages, and adjust company plans accordingly.
Skills in other languages would be a big advantage in this role.

What does a tour operator do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Responsibilities of the job vary according to the time of year and size of employer, but generally include:

  • deciding how many holidays to sell each season and the resorts/countries to use
  • visiting resorts to ascertain accommodation quality and suitability
  • liaising with coach operators, airlines, hoteliers and resort reps
  • agreeing service levels, contracts and costs
  • confirming customer names with airlines/hotels
  • collecting, evaluating and responding (as appropriate) to customer feedback
  • using market research information to guide decisions
  • producing brochures and internet-based information
  • providing pricing information
  • marketing holidays to clients via travel agents, websites, brochures and television advertising
  • handling bookings, invoicing and issuing of tickets
  • predicting profits or number of bookings.

Typical employers of tour operators

  • Private touring companies
  • Small specialist organisers
  • Major international tour operators
  • Bespoke tour designers
  • Cruise liners

Vacancies are advertised online, in newspapers and trade publications including Travel Trade Gazette and Travel Weekly as well as their online equivalents. Networking and speculative applications are advisable, for which the Travel Trades Gazette Directory may be helpful. A few larger companies operate graduate training schemes. Paid summer vacation jobs may be available with some employers.

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into becoming a tour guide for both university graduates and school leavers.

Graduates with degrees in leisure, travel, tourism, management, marketing, IT, business, languages or hotel and catering management may have an advantage. Relevant professional or vocational qualifications, such as NVQs and HNDs, may also be beneficial.

Pre-entry experience gained working with the general public or within the hotel, tourism or travel trades (particularly overseas) are advantageous.

To find out how to get into a career in this area via a school leaver route, visit the hospitality and travel section of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.

Key skills for tour operators

  • A demonstrable interest in travel
  • Knowledge of key holiday destinations
  • Foreign language skills
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Communication skills
  • Customer service skills
  • Organisational skills
  • IT skills
  • Commercial awareness
  • Good time management skills.