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Mass Market tour operators have dominated in the outbound market for years, with the rise of holidays abroad becoming more and more popular since the end of the Second World War. Thomas Cook, Thomson and First Choice are examples of mass market tour operators. Thomson and First Choice belong to TUI, these are known as mass market tour operators as they sell/sold holidays that appealed to the majority of holiday makers. Some of the larger mass market tour operators have diversified in now offering more specialised products such as safari and skiing.
TUI AG is the largest travel group in the world; Thomson belongs to TUI and is a travel agency as well as having its own airline. First Choice is another travel agent that has its own airline, which belongs to TUI.
TUI travel was formed in 2007, with the merger of TUI; their existing distribution, tour operators, air-lines and destination groups; with First Choice Holidays Plc.
TUI travel is the majority shareholder of the company and is listed on the London Stock Exchange. They operate in 180 countries worldwide, making TUI the leading tour operator within Europe; to become this they provide a wide and varied service for over 30million customers. TUI is a British based company, with their head office in Crawley, West Sussex, not too far from Gatwick Airport; one of the UKs busiest international airports.
TUI has over 200 different brands to over, over 140 aircraft and 3,500 retail shops across Europe, employing approximately 50,000 employees.
TUI is separated in too four sectors of business, covering all 200 plus brands, these are:
Accommodation and Destinations
The mainstream sector is the largest of the four sectors in size, operating profit and the number of employees. The 3,500 retail outlets through-out Europe, providing over 25million customers per year, with package, self-package, sun and beach holidays. This sector operates over 140 aircraft to a wide variety of destination through-out the year, incorporating a large number of high street retail stores.
The Specialist and Emerging Markets sector includes 40 specialist tour operator companies, providing and selling tour destinations to a smaller demographic, this sector is becoming more popular as people are starting to spread away from the usual "package beach" holiday. Specialist travel and emerging markets are places such as tours in North America, Europe and further afield such as China and Russia, the emerging markets that have not been popular in the past due to inaccessibility. This sector also provides escorted tours to the Galapagos, around-the-world trips and student gap years to Australia for example.
The Activity sector is designed in providing customers that are seeking adventure or active holidays unique tours or packages to suit them. These specialised tour operators operate in the marine, adventure, ski, student and sporting segments, for example hiking in Kilimanjaro, polar expeditions, skiing in Canada and chartering yachts in the Caribbean.
The Accommodation and Destination sector provides on and offline accommodation and destination services worldwide; selling accommodation directly to the customers through online hotel booking sites, such as Laterooms.com; Hotelpedia.com and Asiarooms.com. It also provides accommodation, transfers, excursions and a destination agencies portfolio to tour operators, travel agents, cruise lines and other corporate customers.
Thomas Cook is another example of a mass market tour operator. As with TUI, Thomas Cook has travel agencies, airlines, hotels and tour operator; Club 18-30. In 2007, Thomas Cook merged with MyTravel; this was to cut costs; a predicted £75million per year saving; and to combat competition from the low-cost airlines and web-based travel agents, that are on the rise in where customers are buying their holidays from.
All tour operators that offer air inclusive packages are required by law to have an Air Travel Organisers' Licence (ATOL). This protects customers from losing their money and/or being stranded abroad if something was to happen to the flights. ATOL is managed by the Civil Aviation Authority (www.caa.co.uk)
Specialist Tour Operators
Specialist tour operators cater for niche market holidays, they specialise in particular destinations and/or in a particular product. For example Journey Latin America specialises in the particular destination of Latin America (www.journeylatinamerica.co.uk) and Active Diving specialise in Scuba Diving holidays around the world (www.activediving.co.uk).
Journey Latin America (www.journeylatinamerica.co.uk) specialises in holidays to Latin America; some of the destinations they include are:
The Galapagos Islands
The Falkland Islands
They provide a wide variety of different types of holidays for a wide range of different markets. The types of holidays available are:
Small Group Tours
Learn to... (learning a new skill)
JourneyLatinAmerica markets to everyone, with holidays suitable for low-budgets to the higher budgets, family holidays to romantic honeymoons.
Wildlife holidays with JourneyLatinAmerica offers the traveller a vast array of wildlife and birdlife to see, from giant tortoises to llamas to sloths and penguins, all depending which country has been chosen to go to, there is the added advantage of there being the largest rainforest, driest desert to the longest mountain range and biggest river within the territories of the holidays available.
There is plently of advantages of travelling with a smaller, specialised tour operator, the service is more personal and the smaller operators tend to have more of a passion for the area they specialise in. Smaller operators are experts in their destination, enabling them to give first-hand advice and recommendations to the holiday maker. They also have more care towards to the places, the people and the environment and try to minimise the negative effects of the holiday.
Inbound Tour Operators
Not only is there tour operators for outbound tourists, either specialised or/and mass market; there is also many tour operators for inbound tourists, specialised and/or mass market. These tour operators specialise and cater for inbound tourists to the UK from many different countries. They provide tours and holidays in many different languages and for different budgets. One example of an inbound tour operator is British Tours.
British Tours (www.britishtours.com) specialise in tours of Britain. They provide tours to all size groups, from private groups up to 7 persons by car with their own guide; to larger groups by mini-bus or coach, with own guide. All prices are per car not per person. Tours are available in most languages, at an extra cost; including French, German, Spanish, Russian, Italian, Japanese and Chinese. Tours are suited to individual travellers, families, people with special interest, people with special needs and anyone who wants the freedom to travel at their own pace with their guide to help and inform. The tours of Britain cover the main tourist attractions and sites; the more famous to the lesser known authentic tourist sites; all with guide that are local to the area with a vast knowledge and interest of the particular site. Some of these tours are Stonehenge at Dawn, Legal London, Harry Potter and England's Gardens.
British Tours offer private day tours leaving London as well as personally guided tours of Scotland, Wales and England, special interest tailor-made tours. They also provide European destination tours, such as Paris, Normandy Beaches by private plane and private bus tours of Rome and Italy.
British tours work with 100's of travel agents worldwide, as well as many UK companies for sightseeing, ground-handling, interpreting and corporate entertainment within the UK. British Tours is a member of the London Tourist Board, the British Incoming Tour Operators Association, The Society of the Golden Keys and the American Society of Travel Agents.
An example of a tour and costs with British Tours:
Harry Potter Tour includes the locations where the Harry Potter films have been made, including London, Oxford and Gloucester. Oxford and Gloucester tour only (not including the London sights) for up to 7 people taking roughly 10 hours to complete would cost £655 per car; price includes private car and guide, collection and return to hotel; anywhere in London; entrance and meals are not included in the price. These tours are also available in most languages.