Educational Resources


The Terms/Vocabulary page is an essential resource for anyone looking to familiarize themselves with the specific language used in the travel and tourism industry. Get clear and concise definitions for industry-specific terms, from group tours and F.I.T. to specialized travel, to ensure that you’re equipped with the knowledge you need to navigate the industry with confidence.

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  • Tour Operator

    A tour operator is a business that designs, develops, markets, and operates packaged travel and tourism products and tours. Tour operators sell through travel agents and/or directly to consumers.

  • FIT: Fully Independent Traveler or Foreign Individual Traveler

    An international pre-paid unescorted tour that includes several travel elements such as accommodations, rental cars, and sightseeing. An FIT operator specializes in preparing FIT’s documents at the request of retail travel agents. FITs usually receive travel vouchers to present to on-site services as verification of pre-payment. Packages are designed for independent travelers that do not usually involve group activities at any stage of the trip. A typical example is the fly-drive package, offering a saving in airfare, car rental and perhaps some additional services on a package basis. They may also include accommodations for some or all nights, and/or some meals.

  • Receptive Operator

    A person or company that specializes in particular destinations, providing services at the destination to group travel organizers and tour operators. Some limit their services to the community and area in which they are based; others provide services to entire regions.

  • Online Travel Agency (OTA)

    OTA’s are online companies whose websites allow consumers to book various travel related services directly via internet.  They are third party agents reselling trips, hotels, cars, flights, vacation packages etc. provided / organised by others.

  • Specialty Travel

    A tour catering to a unique interest, hobby or features major happenings as the reason for the journey.  Examples would be concerts, sporting events, faith travel, adventure tours or family travel.

  • Escorted Group Tour

    A prearranged group tour developed and managed by a tour operator, receptive operator, or travel agent. A tour guide accompanies the group on the tour and handles all logistical matters.

  • Travel Agent

    A licensed travel product retailer that provides travel information, reservations, and other forms of assistance to consumers, companies, and groups in making travel arrangements.

  • Wholesaler

    A company that operates as an intermediary between the travel product supplier and the retail travel agent in the marketplace, generally providing services such as information and reservations to travel agents. (Tour operators often operate as wholesalers, but usually when they are involved in some form of product packaging.)

  • Retail Agency

    Travel Company selling directly to the public, sometimes a subdivision of a wholesale and/or retail travel organization.

  • Ground Operator

    A company or individual providing services to a tour operator at the destination, such as sightseeing tours, local transfers, guides, and other local services, but not including transportation to and from the destination. Sometimes called a land operator.

  • Group Leader

    A person who has a keen interest in assisting a tour operator in motivating her/his group to travel. They are usually rewarded for their efforts through free travel. For example, if they assist in having 20 people book on a tour, they will usually travel for free on that same tour.

  • Inbound and Outbound Tour Operator

    An inbound operator welcomes groups/people into their area whereas an outbound operator sends groups/people away.

  • Tourism

    Tourism is the business of providing and marketing services and facilities for pleasure travelers. Thus, the concept of tourism is of direct concern to governments, carriers, and lodging, restaurant, and entertainment industries and of indirect concern to virtually every industry and business in the world.

  • Travel Trade

    A term describing the full range of organizations that operates as intermediaries in the travel and tourism industry. These typically include tour operators, wholesalers, receptive operators, group leaders and travel agents.

  • Marketplace vs. Consumer show

    A marketplace is a travel trade event where tourism suppliers have scheduled appointments with travel trade buyers/Tour Operators. A Consumer Show is when the public attends and you answer questions and sell your product to a wide variety of people.

  • Trade Show

    An exhibition of travel and tourism products designed to solicit business from travel trade buyers.

  • Itinerary

    A travel schedule provided by a travel agent for his/her customer. A proposed or preliminary itinerary may be rather vague or specific. A final itinerary: however, provides all details – flight numbers, departure times, reservation confirmation numbers – and describes planned activities.

  • Tour

    Any prearranged (but not necessarily pre-paid) journey to one or more places and back to the point of origin.

  • Familiarization or 'fam' tours

    A complimentary or reduced-rate travel program for tour operators, travel agents, and/or travel writers, designed to improve knowledge about a particular destination or package. The purpose in the first two cases is to encourage active marketing support; in the third it is to encourage favourable media stories about the destination.

  • Motorcoach Tour

    A group tour in which the primary mode of transportation is by motorcoach.

  • Step on guide

    A local guide steps onto a motorcoach to give an interpretive tour of an area, but then steps off when the group travels on to their next destination.

Thank you for a great ACS 2023! Stay tuned for ACS 2025 information in March 2025, until then you can still access 2023 details for reference.