different types of tour operators
Tour Operators

Types of Tour Operators


We know that the travel market is vast, and it can be confusing trying to navigate the different types of tour operators and their offerings. 

Whether you are a tour operator trying to choose which market to specialise in or a traveller looking for assistance with your next trip, we’ve got you covered!

In this blog post we will walk you through the main types of tour operators and explain how each one can help their customers to plan and book their dream trips.

What is the role of a Tour Operator?

Tour operators help travellers to design, plan, book and enjoy their trips, assisting with the entire customer journey from beginning to end. 

They often combine components from several different companies such as airlines and accommodation providers as well as extras such as activities, transfers and entertainment, transforming them into tours which are sold to the public as a package

The tour operators themselves are also responsible for the marketing of their travel packages, a topic that we covered in ‘the tour operators’ guide to creating an exciting marketing strategy’, and should be available for direct communication with the customer throughout the entire process. 

Types of Tour Operators

Wondering what the differences are between each tour operator?

Well, we’re here to help.

While there are several different types of tour operator, the main ones include:

  • Inbound Tour Operator
  • Outbound Tour Operator
  • Domestic Tour Operator
  • Ground Operator
  • Receptive Tour Operator

These companies can also focus on the mass market or can specialise on a niche group, such as eco-tourism, adventure sports or food tours. 

Types of tour operators by nezasa

Inbound Tour Operators

As we explained in ‘Outbound vs Inbound Tour Operators’, inbound tour operators are locally-based companies that work by bringing visitors into a specific country or destination, often partnering with other businesses such as accommodation and transport providers in order to offer customers package deals.

Inbound tour operators are also sometimes referred to as destination management companies, aiming to promote their destination as a whole to incoming travellers and assist them with all aspects of their trip. This also requires a knowledge of overseas markets and the needs and interests of different types of customers in order for them to promote their tours effectively.

Outbound Tour Operators

While inbound tour operators bring tourists into a country, outbound tour operators market to travellers in their own country and offer tours in international destinations

When creating tour packages, outbound tour operators usually focus on specific countries, destinations or regions of the world, and also partner with businesses in the host country to provide customers with convenient and comprehensive packages.

A good example of an outbound tour operator is TUI, one of the world’s largest travel companies that works mainly by selling tours to overseas destinations and who is also one of our customers. 

Domestic Tour Operators

As the name suggests, domestic tour operators put together packages for domestic travellers – those who are travelling within their native country. This type of business aims to promote travel within their own country, and offers packages in popular destinations. 

Haven Holidays is a domestic tour operator that focuses on the British market by offering breaks in its self-catering holiday parks in an array of coastal destinations around the UK. These types of tour operators frequently offer family-friendly activities and diverse entertainment options for those who want to enjoy weekend breaks or summer holidays within their own country. 

Ground Operators

Like domestic tour operators, ground operators also work within their own country. However, ground operators usually work on behalf of inbound or outbound tour operators and are the ones that provide the actual travel service in a destination, helping to organise and assist tourists.

This type of tour operator is especially useful for tours in far-flung destinations where it can be difficult to plan itineraries without local knowledge, expertise and contacts. Ground operators are likely to be on hand in the destination itself to organise transfers, negotiate special rates with accommodation providers or find the best local tour guides. 

Receptive Tour Operators

Receptive Tour Operators provide tourism products, whether in the form of packages or single components, to other tour operators or travel agents. They do not sell directly to the public and usually follow a structure similar to a wholesaler.

RTOs are experts in their market, and help their customers to find the best accommodation providers, services and activities in their chosen destination. This type of tour operator makes money by adding a percentage rate to the final price that their customer is selling the travel product for. 

For example, a receptive tour operator may work with an outbound tour operator by providing them with travel packages for a specific destination. The outbound tour operator then sells this tour package to its customers and adds an extra fee to the cost, which goes directly to the receptive tour operator.

Technology for Tour Operators

Here at Nezasa, we provide tour operators with a cutting-edge product that allows them to plan, book and customise their customers’ trips with ease. The use of a software solution like ours is an excellent way to simplify aspects of your business, allowing you to focus on the customer themselves. 

Our TripBuilder software is a unique, seamless and integrated solution, designed to help you efficiently create hyper-personalised and flexible itineraries for your customers. 

To find out more about our innovative products, make sure to sign up for our next webinar here