Tour operators and travel agents may sound similar, but there are some important differences when it comes to the roles they play in the planning of your vacation. There is some overlap in the services each provide, but it’s a good idea to understand which one suits your needs when deciding to plan a vacation abroad. Let’s talk through both options.

The Main Difference:

A tour operator is responsible for operating and providing your vacation by booking, packaging and organizing your hotel, transportation, meals, guides, optional tours and—sometimes—flights. Many tour operators are considered “land-only operators,” which means they focus on the aspects of your package once you arrive in your destination. This means they don’t book flights from your home to the destination as frequently, but once you take that first step off of the plane, everything is taken care of.

Travel agents hold the role of selling and administering packages from various tour operators to their personal clients based on what they’re looking for and what package suits each client best. While many tour operators focus on a select concentration of destinations, most travel agents can specialize in a range of them and then help you narrow down a package for that specific destination based on your budget, preferred method of travel and interests. Travel agents will then work directly with the tour operator to perfect your requests and provide the tour operator with the information and payments they need.

While travel agents used to be the immediate go-to option, the massive hike in internet presence in the last 20 years or so has led to many people independently booking a tour package directly with tour operators. For one, it’s more available than it has ever been in the past—often, the use of an agent to know what operators are out there and available is not needed. Today, most tour operators interact directly with clients and sell their own packages, removing the middle-man, though many people do still prefer to use their local or family travel agent they have relied on for years.

What Are We?

Did you guess tour operator? If so, you’re correct! Although we may not fit the description exactly. We do the booking, packaging and organizing of tour packages, but unlike many tour operators, we still offer that customization element to each of our travelers. None of our inspirational itineraries are bookable with just one click—one of our Personal Travel Specialists schedules a consultation call with each new customer to ensure we create an itinerary that suits their needs, budget and interests to a tee. We also have a pretty special calling card: our By-Your-Side Service℠ offers round-the-clock care before, during and even after your time abroad. Need a tour changed? No problem. Have a question about where to go for dinner? Drop us a note and we’ll respond right away.

While Tenon Tours is a tour operator, we work with and truly appreciate and value our relationships with travel agents as we both share the same goal of providing you with an unforgettable and stress-free vacation.

Are you ready to start planning your next vacation? Whether you choose to book through a travel agent or tour operator, make sure your itinerary is customized to your liking, budget and travel style. And don’t forget, we’re always here if you need an extra hand.

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