The travel itinerary is the step by step representation of the entire tour program clearly indicating the program schedule along with other details like accommodation sightseeing transport etc to the guests.
A good itinerary will save time and money apart from making the trip hassle-free and a pleasant experience. It will give the framework for a number of days of rail or road travel will be required and where one can go by car.
How much time it takes to see sights and get to them as well as the cost. A good travel itinerary will consider all ground realities like actual transportation time during local sightseeing and in heavy metropolitan traffic.
It will help save time for locating accommodation close to the clients sightseeing that fits his budget as well.
It will avoid making the trip boring because of too many monuments in a row standing in long lines or too much unexpected time getting to places.
One of the main activities of a travel agent or a tour operator is to plan the itinerary depending on the requirements of his or her clients. It takes a great deal of experience in planning such an itinerary which will provide the clients with the complete information regarding the departure and arrival and the facilities provided throughout the tour along with the cost of the entire tour.
I welcome you to this blog on itinerary preparation and tour costing for better understanding this blog is divided into five parts
- Meaning of travel itinerary
- Principles of itinerary planning
- Points to be remembered while planning and itinerary
- Resources for planning travel itineraries
- Tour costing.
Tourist itinerary is a composition of a series of operations that are a result of the study of the market.
A tourist journey is characterized by an itinerary using various means of transport to link one locality with another.
Preparation of different types of itineraries is another important function of travel agency clients.
Programs are made through which clients may choose for their holiday or business travel.
The study and the realization of itineraries call for a perfect organization technical and administrative and also the knowledge of the desires of the public for a holiday and the propensity to receive tourists by the receiving localities.
Principles of Travel itinerary planning
Planning itineraries is an essential function for a professional travel agent and is an effective way to gain client trust.
Once you plan an effective itinerary for a client and the trip runs smoothly and according to plan, the client will be more likely to refer the same agent in future.
Happy clients are also more likely to refer the agent to their friends and business associates thereby generating additional revenue.
When planning itineraries it is helpful to follow some basic guidelines that can be broken down into five categories.
Principles of Itinerary Planning
Let us discuss them one by one
Pacing refers to how quickly or slowly and itinerary moves. Providing a comfortable pace for clients is essential to their enjoyment of the trip. While it is frequently important to keep the itinerary moving, setting a pace that is too rapid can overburden clients and decrease their enjoyment.
A client’s age and health should also be considered when determining pace. Generally younger and healthier clients can move at a faster pace, but this is not always true and each client should be considered on an individual basis.
Finally, any disabilities need to be evaluated when determining an itinerary space.
A good rule of thumb for determining pace for self-driving clients is not to exceed 120 miles that is 200 kilometres per day. Also allowing for rest stops and sightseeing along the way can improve the client’s enjoyment of the trip
One very significant way to add value to a client’s trip is to match his or her interest with the corresponding activities and attractions along the way.To do this effectively an agent must talk to his or her clients and listen carefully to the types of activities and the manner in which they describe their interests.
It is helpful to provide a balance by planning some variety into the trip. To do this he can schedule a mix of recreational activities educational activities and ”frivolous activities” into the basic itinerary.
Determining and matching interest takes practice and destination expertise, but the extra effort it takes to practice and learn will be rewarded in the form of client satisfaction.
No matter how clever an itinerary planned for the client, if much attention to the details is not paid, the itinerary may be a failure.
Details include checking to make sure attractions on the itinerary are open when the client arrives, reconfirming all ground handlers and transport and even checking with the clients to make sure they have made all necessary preparations including taking their passports and filing all essential prescriptions.
Paying attention to details may seem tedious but awkward situations may be avoided if the planner knows the details of the destinations, the visiting hours, etc.
Finally, matching the energy level of the client with the energy level and intensity of the itinerary is another way to ensure the overall success of the trip.
When considering this aspect it is important to take note of how much working certain destinations require whether or not the client is travelling alone or with a family that includes small children and what type of travel experience the client is looking for.
A traveller in search of a quiet beach vacation may not appreciate for scheduled activities per day.
Get an idea of the client’s energy level, to listen to what they tell and what they want, and then match the itinerary based on the observations and experience.
It is important as a travel agent to plan both an interesting and efficient routing for the client. Ideally, the route should be both scenic and practical.
Whenever possible, avoid backtracking, doubling back or routing a client in the circles.
This is particularly important when routing corporate clients because a travel agent will need to build the routing around the individuals business appointments.
It is important to listen carefully to the client’s plans and help them access if the plan is realistic within the framework of geography.
Time spent on careful and detailed planning of an itinerary is never wasted.
Sometimes, there might be some places which are unfamiliar to the travel agents too or take into consideration the fact that certain tourists may not prefer to travel via some countries whilst yet others will want to reach their destination by a specific time.
All these special aspects have to be borne in mind in order to produce the most practical itinerary in accordance with the passenger’s desires.
Points to be remembered while planning a Travel itinerary
When planning the itinerary for a passenger always remember to observe the following steps
- Establish the places which the tourists wish to visit.
- Established the order in which the tourists wish to visit them.
- link the cities in such a way as to avoid doubling back and zigzagging (unless absolutely necessary) while at the same time meeting any special requests made by the passenger.
- Take account of the political situation, geographical limitations and the practicality of the transport options.
- Ascertained that convenient air/sea/rail or road connections exist and where possible, choose the quickest.
- Give preference, wherever possible, to itineraries with the lowest fares Detours often raised the price.
- Plan the itinerary logically using an outline.
- Be prepared to provide alternatives in case the passenger changes his or her mind or when unexpected circumstances arise which will prevent the itinerary proceeding as originally planned.
- Initial notes and calculations can often help in this regard and should therefore always be retained.
Resources for planning travel itineraries
The various resources necessary to help in the process are
Thorough understanding of travel geography
The best way to gain knowledge of travel itineraries is to travel to the destination by the travel agent himself.
Unfortunately, there is simply no way to visit every possible destination that the client might request.
Therefore following resources may be considered
Familiarization with clients feedback
- Followup with the clients and find out the current clients and find out how their trips were.
- Feedback, both positive and negative can be a valuable source of information.
- Consider developing a database of clients and making notes about their experience in the database.
- This type of follow-up will not only give valuable information about the destinations and itineraries that are planned, but it will also help build rapport and establish clients loyalty and trust.
Consulting travel guidebooks:
- Libraries and bookstores carry large numbers of travel guidebooks.
- Many of these guidebooks are quite helpful to travel agents. Some guides to consider are Michelin, Fielding, Foddor Frommer Birnbaum and Blue Guides.
Information from national and Regional Tourist Boards:
- Governmental tourist boards and offices offer a tremendous variety of useful information for the travel agent.
- One is able to gather information about the history, culture, geography, transport system, lodging, museums, special events and local currency.
- Many of these boards will send the professional brochures, posters, and videos etc. That can be used as pan of the sales process.
- Subscribe or utilize local libraries to locate appropriate travel articles.
- There are dozens of excellent publications including Conde Nast Traveler, National Geographic, Travel and leisure and Travel holidays.
- In addition, there are a number of excellent speciality magazines that focus on a particular aspect of travel such as scuba diving, skiing and boating.
Referring to specialty journals
- There are a variety of professional specialty journals that may be of help.
- Topics include anything from art to zoos and often have statistics useful for the travel industry
For example – Museum news published an entire issue devoted to cultural tourism.
Information from travel industry organizations
- Industry organizations are extremely useful sources of information to the professional travel agent.
Examples of this include CLIA (Cruise Line International Association) Asta, ARTA, ICTA and the Travel and Tourism Research Association, Adventure Travel Society, Ecotourism Society, Dive Travel Industries Association and the Finishing Travel Industry Association.
Travel Industry Journals:
Publications including Travel weekly, travel agent and Travel Age are designed specifically for the professional travel agent. Consider subscribing to one or more of these trade publications
Consulting Confidential Tariffs:
Many tours and ground operators offer publications for specific destinations and countries that describe land services, rates for accommodations, sightseeing and excursions, transfers meals and other items.
Referring to internet
Perhaps two of the greatest technological advances for the travel agent our personal computers and the internet.
Changes in the travel industry are occurring rapidly and an ability to keep abreast of these changes is essential to the effectiveness as a travel agent.
There is a variety of excellent computers CD-Roms that contain volumes of information about geography, travel issues and destinations.
The Internet is also becoming an essential source of information to a professional travel agent
Not only can a wealth of information be obtained through the internet, but it is now possible to take “virtual” tours of just about any destination in the world.
Understanding client’s comfort level
The travel agent must keep reminding the clients that they can visit that destination again many times and not to stress over trying to see everything on their first trip.
Enjoy what they are able to do and realize that the things they miss this time can be done the next time or the time after.
A big mistake people make is to try to cram too much into a trip.
Don’t view a trip as a once-in-a-lifetime event. That mentality puts a lot of pressure on a traveller to do and see everything
More important is just to relax and enjoy after the first trip the knowledge gained by the agent would become an advantage to make the next trip even better and to see all the stuff which have missed the first time.
Determine the type of comfort needed and then take all the steps necessary to care for and make sure that all arrangements are made accordingly.
Don’t visit a tourist place that doesn’t interest intensely just because it is a ”must-see”. If it is not a must-see as for the client’s needs it is a waste of valuable vacation time.
Enough research needs to be done to learn what is available, but don’t spend all day at an art museum if what is really wanted to do is taste wine or search for ceramics. It is supposed to be fun not a school trip. Go with an open mind.
Nowadays there is so much available information on destinations people have preferences and will express their opinion to friends and relatives and others.
Don’t just head for the popular tourist destinations.Seek out roads less travelled.
Search for that spirit of a traveller and an adventurer within and try out different places and different cuisines. Something one cannot experience in their resident country or city.
It is vital for any company to price its product correctly. Prices must be right for the market and sufficient to cover overheads and provide a satisfactory level of profit.
The prices vary according to season and hence reflect the level of demand and tend to be set by the market leader.
The cost of an all-inclusive tour reflects
- Transportation costs (calculated over the course of a season to take into account the seasonal variation in demand)
- Ground handling arrangements Airports/port taxes
- Value-added tax
- A small fee to cover price rises
- Markup that is approximately 25% of cost price
This covers agency commissioned marketing costs head office administration cost and profit.
The typical cost structure of an inclusive tour would be
Transportation cost at 45%
Accommodation cost at 37%
Other services at destination – 3%
Head office overheads – 5%
Travel agency commission – 10% as a percentage of overall cost
On entering a new market it may be that the principal objective is to penetrate and obtain a targeted share of the market in the first year of the operating and this may be achieved by reducing or even forgoing profits during the first year and/or by reducing the per capita contribution to corporate costs.
Indeed, to some destinations, the operator may introduce loss pricing policies subsidizing the cost of this policy from other more profitable routes in order to get a foothold in the market to the new destination.
In some cases, it may be necessary to discount tours in order to clear surplus capacity. However, the technique can also be used to encourage members of the public to book early.
In some cases comparatively small operating margins tour, operators are always looking for additional sources of revenue. This can come from
- The sale of excursion at the destination
- Duty-free sales on board flights
- Car hire
- Interest received on deposits and final payments invested
Foreign currency speculation
The sale of insurance policies
The imposition of cancellation charges that exceed any cost borne by the operator
To sum up, an itinerary is a complete and systematic plan of a proposed tour it requires a travel agents key attention both at the time of planning and execution.
The itinerary consists of a number of days of travel number of days of stage number of places of visit and the activities in which the clients will be involved etc.
Most itineraries are a composition of a series of operations that are a result of the study of the tourism market. There are several Principles in planning for an itinerary- the pace interest details energy and routing.
While planning and itinerary the agent must bear in mind the factors such as the places of interest of the client establishing the route plans avoiding zigzagging, knowledge of the prevailing geographical political situations, choosing the quickest modes of transport wherever necessary etc.
A travel agent before planned the itinerary should acquire certain knowledge relating to the thorough understanding of the geography of the destinations client’s feedback, consulting guide books, periodicals, gathering information from tourist boards etc.
Tour costing represents the determination of total costs of a tour which will help the travel agent or tour operator to decide its selling price along with a certain percentage of profit.
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