Difference Between Travel Agent and Tour Operator


Main Difference

Traveling is one of the most common activities for people, especially during the summer vacations people go around the world to visit different places and enjoy their time with family or friends. Although people can go to these locations on their own, sometimes there is need of some guidance or a person who can make arrangements for you so that no problems are faced in a foreign land. Individuals who are responsible for these activities are usually called travel agents and tour operators. Mostly it is thought that both the terms are similar to each other, and they do the same work, but this is not entirely accurate. They have specific jobs, and few differences between them exist. This topic will look at them in a detailed manner. A travel agent will be the person who provides all the services related to your tour and manage where you fly from, where you get your connecting flights and hiring of cars in the local area. A tour operator, on the other hand, will be responsible for all the issues related to travel including the trip. It takes care of your hotel reservations, airport choices, what activities are done in a new city and the places you want to visit. It is, therefore, safe to say that a tour operator can be a travel agent, but a travel agent cannot always be a tour operator. Another difference between them in some cases is that a tour operator will be responsible for all the things when you arrive in the city while a tour operator will become your guide even before you start your journey. A tour agent does not have a contract with the people who want to travel, it just provides the facilities on an individual basis once a person gets in contact with them. A travel agent is like signing a contract in which it is their obligation to provide all the facilities from the beginning to the end. One more difference that can be obtained from all this is that a tour operator can act as a middle man between the traveler and the travel agent while an agent acts on its own. Flights arrangements can be the responsibility of the travel agent while a tour operator asks the travel agents to make these arrangements on behalf of the people who want to visit.

Comparison Chart

Travel AgentTour Operator
DefinitionAct on their own with prospective travelersDo not act on their own with prospective travelers
RoleBecome part of packages provided by different agenciesProvide the main packages
ScopeResponsible for all the traveling arrangements at a place throughout the tripIn charge of managing everything from the start till the end.
ProfitA travel agent makes more profit than a tour operator in the overall termsA tour operator makes more profit in percentage than a travel agent.

Definition of Travel Agent

A travel agent is someone who is responsible for providing travel services to individuals who want to visit different places. It deals with the availability of flights which are suitable for persons who are going, car bookings in the area where they are visiting and making other reservations such as getting people in touch with the local tour operators. The primary job of a travel agent is to act as an agent for the traveler and the tour operators and sell products related to the field on their behalf. They do not have to invest a lot in the purchase from their side is only made when a traveler asks them to or when the tour operator wants it to happen. They get tickets on discounted rates and sell them at a higher price. Therefore, it is safer option to become a travel agent.


Definition of Tour Operator

A tour operator is a person who makes all the arrangements on behalf of individuals who want to go to different places in the world. Such operators, therefore, are not unique to a particular area and have packages suiting all types of people for multiple sites. Their job includes providing individuals with a proper plan on when the tour will start, how they will be commuted from one location to the other, where they will stay, what places will be visited and what will be the activities they will have to enjoy themselves. They get in touch with travel agents for the case of flight or cab booking and give them their share according to the arrangements made. More investment is required for this business, and it needs more contacts for working properly since every place requires different actions and people who are traveling want no issues to arise during their visiting.

Differences in a Nutshell

  1. Travel agents act on their own with prospective travelers while tour operators act as a middleman between the two.
  2. Travel agents become part of packages provided by different agencies, while tour operators are the ones who compile the packages.
  3. Travel agents are responsible for all the traveling arrangements at a place throughout the trip while a tour operator is in charge of managing everything from the start till the end.
  4. Travel agent manages all the flights and local trips for the client while a tour operator manages all the thing such as bookings, reservations, sites to visit and etc.
  5. Travel agents can be specific to a location while tour operators are not restricted to one country or area.
  6. A tour operator makes more profit in percentage than a travel agent.
  7. A travel agent makes more profit than a tour operator in the overall terms.
  8. Becoming a travel agent is relatively easier since is focuses on one aspect while a tour operator requires more time to learn the trade.
  9. A tour operator requires less initial investment. A travel agent needs more money to start their own business.
  10. A tour operator provides diverse opportunities while a travel agent provides particular options.


Whenever we plan to travel around the world we want to make things easier for ourselves. This is done with the help of few people who are known as travel agents and tour operators. This article looks at the main differences between them, how they function and run their business. Hopefully, people will learn a lot from reading this.


Comparison Video

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Harlon Moss

Harlon currently works as a quality moderator and content writer for Difference Wiki. He graduated from the University of California in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science. Follow him on Twitter @HarlonMoss