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At first glance, a travel agency and a tour operator may appear identical, and they are similar. But what are the differences between a travel agency and a tour operator? A Travel Agency vs. A Tour Operator
Both a travel agency and a tour operator will help you go on a trip. Both will sell you travel insurance (never go on vacation without travel insurance). Both will do their best to make sure you have a good time. That’s where the resemblance ends.
A tour operator specializes. A tour operator knows an area well. A tour operator can get you into the best sightseeing attractions, take you to restaurants with delicious local cuisine, and make sure you spend your nights in comfortable surroundings. And if there are any problems, your tour guide is there to help — you don’t need to call a travel agent who’s 2,000 miles away.
If you’re an experienced traveler, you may feel comfortable improvising. In that case, a certified travel agent might be the right person to help you (choose a certified travel agent, one who belongs to ASTA or CLIA). If you’re traveling aboard for the first time, you might prefer a little extra help. You don’t want to take the chance on a bed and breakfast being full, or the restaurant your cousin recommended being closed. You want to know where you’re going and what you’re doing. You may want a translator; you’ll definitely want an experienced guide. A tour operator can arrange all that for you.
A travel agent will help you arrange transportation, find lodgings, and suggest an itinerary. A tour operator will arrange your transportation, lodgings, food, entertainment, and itinerary. A tour operator removes the headaches. A tour operator does the work for you.