Understand Travel Terms, Then Sit Back and Enjoy!
Etienne A. Gibbs, MSW
When planning your travels or buying your airline tickets, you have probably come across definitions and terms that might have seemed strange to you. Granted, many of the definitions and terms become more understandable as you become familiar with the industry as a frequent flier. While there are many terms for hotel room types, car types, and travel amenities, the area that we shall attempt to define would be tours.
Tour operators try to make their brochures and websites as attractive, informative and understandable as possible; however, in reading this information you will undoubtedly encounter some terminology that is new and unfamiliar. To assist you, here's a glossary covering some of the terminology you will most most frequently find in brochures, fliers, and on websites.
* Single Room: A room with one bed for one person.
* Twin Room: A room with two beds for two people.
* Double Room: A room for two persons with a double bed.
* Triple Room: A room for three persons, usually consisting of twin beds (or double beds, plus a rollaway bed.
* Ocean Front: A room directly facing the ocean. Usually it is on the first floor with a door that exists onto the beach.
* Ocean View: A room from which it is possible to view the ocean, whether the room is on the first floor, the 12th floor, or on a hillside.
* Service Charges/Taxes: Service charges are a fixed percentage automatically added to room and meal charges. The city, state or federal government sets taxes.
* Add-on Fare: The cost of air travel from a domestic city to another domestic city from which the tour/vacation package originates and vice versa.
* Baggage Allowance: The weight or volume of baggage that may be carried by a passenger without additional charge.
* Connecting Flight: A segment of an ongoing trip, which requires a change of aircraft, but necessarily a change of airline.
* Direct Flight: A flight on which passengers do not have to change planes, but may involve one more stops enroute.
* Non-stop Flight: Service between two points with no scheduled stop enroute.
* Drop-off Charge: Fee charged by a car rental company to defray the cost of returning the vehicle to its original location.
* Value Added Tax (VAT): Tax imposed by governmental authority.
Thanks to improved Federal regulations and a new generation of operators, air charters have become the preferred way to reach many of the world's most popular vacation destinations for reasons of value and convenience. Here's how they work: The tour operator rents an airplane and sells the seats, often in combination with a hotel package and perhaps other ground components. The result is a substantial savings.
* Force Majeure: An event or effect that cannot be reasonably anticipated or controlled (such as storms or war).
Consular Information Sheets: Governments issue Consular Information Sheets for every country of the world. They include such information as location of the U.S. embassy or consulate in the subject country, unusual immigration practices, health conditions, minor political disturbances, unusual currency and entry regulations, crime and security information, and drug penalties. If an unstable condition exists in a country that is not severe enough to warrant a Travel Warning, a description of the condition(s) may be included under an optional section entitled Safety/Security.
* Passport: An official government document certifying identity and citizenship and granting permission to travel abroad (overseas).
* Visa: An official authorization appended to a passport permitting travel to and within a particular country.
The most traditional tour product is also the most misunderstood. The options are so varied that it's easiest to identify the few elements they share: Group travel, usually by motor coach but sometimes by ship, or train; a set itinerary, with lodging, activities, and most meals included and a tour director to coordinate, guide, and manage the trip. Traveling on an escorted tour provides a measure of security and peace of mind. And today, more tour operators build in free time on group tours, giving travelers the best of both worlds.
There's no group on these trips, no guide and no fixed itinerary, unless the client wants one. The sole difference between this and fully independent travel is that by booking through a tour operator from its available inventory, your clients get the advantage of group buying power, without the group.
Like group tours, packages tend to have fixed itineraries, with ground transportation and hotels booked in advance. But like independent travel, there's no organized group; clients are on their own, free to do as they please at each destination, but they still have the convenience and reliability that come with booking through a tour operator.
Public announcements (PAs) are a means to disseminate information about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term and/or trans-national conditions posing significant risks to the security of American travelers. The PAs are made when there is a specific threat that cannot be countered. In the past, Public Announcements have been issued to deal with short-term coups, violence by terrorists and anniversary dates of specific terrorist events.
A group of people traveling together who follow a pre-planned itinerary. Most tours include accommodations, a number of meals, sightseeing, land transportation, and/or other transportation, plus the services of a professional tour manager or escort who accompanies the group.
Travel warnings are issued when the State Department decides, based on all relevant information, to recommend that Americans avoid travel to a certain country. Countries where avoidance of travel is recommended will have Travel Warnings as well as Consular Information Sheets. You may also want to review specific country Background Notes.
Vacation packages are designed for those traveling independently. They include a combination of two or more travel services (e.g. hotel accommodations, car rental, air transportation) that are offered at a package price. Many vacation packages offer a choice of components and options, thereby enabling you to customize the package to your tastes, interests and/or budget.
Documents issued by tour operators to be exchanged for accommodations, sightseeing and other services.