A Travel Package
is a prearranged vacation. Some package vacations include only bsic travel services (for example, transportation,
accommodations), while others may include a complete travel plan (for example,
meals, sightseeing, transfers, etc.). Usually, these packages are assembled by
an independent tour operator and are sold to you through travel agents.
Purchasing a travel package has the advantage of convenience and, in many cases, value. However, because of the vast array of travel packages, you can be confused unless you shop wisely and read the fine print in advertisements and brochures.
This advice is intended to provide you with an understanding of the terminology used in the travel industry and advise you of the steps you can take to avoid problems.
Brochure: A printed folder describing a tour or a package and specifying the conditions of the offering.
Carrier: Any organization that deals in transporting passengers or goods.
Certified Travel Counselor (CTC): A designation attesting to professional competence as a travel agent. It is conferred upon completion of a college-level travel management program by the
Commission: The amount paid by the supplier (carrier, hotel, tour operator ,etc.) to the travel agent for selling transportation, accommodations or other services.
Conditions: The section or clause of a transportation or tour contract that specifies what is offered to the purchaser. A conditions clause often specifies what is not offered and may spell out the circumstances under which all or part of the contract may be invalidated.
Confirmed Reservation: An oral or written confirmation by a supplier that it has received and will honor a reservation.
Escort: A person who accompanies a tour from departure to return, as guide, trouble shooter, etc.. or a person who performs such functions only at the destination. (Also known as a host.)
Escorted Tour: Prearranged travel program, usually for a group, with escort service or a sightseeing program conducted by a guide.
Escrow Account: Deposit account in a bank maintained by the charter operator which protects passenger funds until services are performed.
Extension: A fully arranged sub-tour offered optionally at an extra cost to buyers of a tour or cruise. Extensions may occur before, during or after the basic travel program.
Foreign Independent Tour (FIT): An international pre-paid tour, usually unescorted, although guide service is often offered on some segments. An FIT is designed to the specifications of an individual client or clients.
Gateway: City, airport or area from which a flight or tour departs.
Group Inclusive Tour (GIT): A pre-paid tour of specified minimum group size, components and value.
Guaranteed Tour: A travel program guaranteed to operate unless cancelled before an established cut-off date.
No Show: A passenger or guest who fails to use or cancel his or her reservation.
Overbooking: The practice by a supplier of confirming reservations beyond capacity in expectation of cancellations or no shows; or, the same result due to error. Many carriers have admitted they intentionally overbook their flights because of a high number of passengers who are no shows.
Package or Package Tour: Any advertised tour. Often a tour to a single destination which includes prepaid transportation, accommodations and some combination of other tour features -- meals, transfers, sightseeing, car rental, etc.
Tour: Any prearranged (but not necessarily prepaid) journey to one or more places and back to the point of origin.
Tour Operator: A company which creates a package tour and/or performs tour services. Most tour operators sell both through travel agents and directly to clients.
Charter Operation: A company that makes all the arrangements to permit individuals to participate on a single itinerary in a public charter and which is directly responsible to the charter participants.
Direct Flight: Air transport on which the passenger does not have to change planes. Not necessarily non-stop.
Non-Stop Flight: Air transport between two (2) points with no scheduled traffic stops enroute.
OW: One way airfare
Public Charter: Air transportation alone, or air transportation together with hotel and other land arrangements, organized by a charter operator and generally priced below regularly scheduled air service.
RT: Round trip airfare.
Standby: A conditional status. The holder of a standby ticket is not eligible to board his or her flight until all passengers who have or want confirmed reservations have been accommodated.
Land Terms (Includes those services available to a traveler
after he or she has reached his or her destination):
American Plan (AP): Hotel rate that includes a bed and three (3) meals.
Bed and Breakfast: Overnight accommodations usually in a private home or boarding house with breakfast included in the rate.
Continental Plan (CP): Hotel rate that includes bed and continental breakfast (usually at least a beverage and rolls or toast, sometimes juice).
Double: Any hotel room for two (2) persons; more specifically, a room with a double bed.
Double Room Rate: The full price of a room for two (2) people. (Be careful, some people say double and mean double occupancy).
European Plan: Hotel rate with bed only; meals extra.
Family Plan: A discount schedule offered by some hotels or resorts, to second and successive members of families who travel together.
Guaranteed Payment Reservation: A hotel reservation secured by the guest's agreement to pay for his or her room whether he uses it or not. Payment is usually guaranteed by a company, travel agent or tour wholesaler who has an established credit rating with the hotel, or by use of a credit card as a guarantee.
Hotel Classifications: The
following are generally understood throughout
European Hotel Ratings:
Deluxe: Top-grade hotel; all rooms have private bath; all the usual public rooms and services provided; high standard; high standard of decor and services maintain.
1st Class: Medium-range hotel; at least some rooms with private bath; most of the usual public rooms and services are provided.
Tourist (Economy or 2cd Class): Budget operations; few or no private baths; services may be very limited.
The official Hotel & Resort Guide (OHRG), which is often referred to by travel agents, further subdivides these three categories into three groups: superior, average or moderate. Thus, a superior, deluxe hotel rates with the best in the world and an average, first-class hotel is about in mid-range. OHRG says that hotels below its superior tourist ratings should be used with caution by Westerners.
In addition, many Governments rate their hotels according to the international five-star system under which a five-star hotel is best. Some countries are meticulous and generally current in their ratings; many are not. In general, three-star and better hotels (and a few two-star properties) are believed suitable for Western travelers.
Per Person Double Occupancy Rate: The price per person for a room to be shared with another person; the rate most frequently quoted in tour brochures.
Single Supplement: An extra charge assessed to a tour purchased for single accommodations.
Transfer: Local transportation and baggage handling service, as from one carrier terminal to another, from a terminal to a hotel or from a hotel to a theater. The conditions of a tour contract should specify whether transfers are private car or motorcoach and whether escort service is provided.
How to Avoid Problems:
Make every effort to determine if the tour operator you're thinking of doing business with is reliable. Ask your travel agent if he or she has ever used the tour operator in the past. If so, were their clients satisfied with the service? Recommendations from friends or relatives are added evidence, but no assurance, that your travel experience will be a satisfactory one.
Also, before you arrange your trip, check with the Better Business Bureau in the city where the company is located.
travel advertisements and/or brochures, pay particular attention to the
1). Small Print or Asterisks: Make sure that asterisks or small print are not used as a means of altering the meaning of any advertising statement. Asterisks are commonly used to indicate restrictions -- required length of stay, particular days and/or times of departure or additional changes.
2). Availability: Make sure that the travel services are currently available at advertised prices. If the travel service at the advertised price is not immediately effective, availability should be stated in the advertisement.
3). Extra Charges: Any extra charges such as port taxes, service charges or single supplement charges should be clearly and conspicuously disclosed.
4). Features: If the brochure/advertisement states, for example, you can play golf or you will be able to visit an amusement park, it does not necessarily mean that these attractions will be included in the travel program for the advertised price. Make sure to look for the following:
A. What features are included in the package price:
Airfare, hotel, transfers, sightseeing, gratuities, baggage handling, meals, mileage charges(where a rental car is involved).
B. The total number of nights in each city and hotel, as well as the amount of free time you will have on the tour.
C. The daily itinerary/schedule of events.
D. The name of each hotel and the type (grade) of accommodations offered by each.
E. Whether the tour is escorted and, if so, to what degree.
5). Conditions: You should pay special attention to the contents of the "conditions" clause, usually found in fine print on the last page of the brochure.
A. How firm is the price? (i.e. does the tour operator have the right to increase the fare?)
B. What are the cancellation penalties? What is considered a valid reason for either you or the tour operator to cancel the trip?
C. What are the "major changes" under which a tour operator will give you full refund?
6). Abbreviations: Common abbreviations used in travel ads and brochures. See above Glossary of Travel Terminology.
reservations, either through a travel agency or with a tour operator directly,
obtain the following information:
1). If you book your vacation through a travel agency, what is the name and the address of the tour operator?
2). Has the advertised price changed? Do the charges you pay match the charges you expected?
3). How far in advance is full payment required?
4). How much deposit is required?
5). Is there an escrow account? To whom is payment made?
6). What is the confirmation procedure? (Warning: confirmations may have limitations--for example, a hotel is not obligated to honor a reservation if the guest arrives after 6 p.m., unless late arrival is specified. However, if the reservation is guaranteed, then that hotel is obligated to honor it.)
REMEMBER: Purchasing a travel package has the advantage of convenience and, in many cases, value -- but you must do your homework.
This report is general in nature and not intended as a reliability report on any company, service or product.