Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions


What is a tour?

A tour is a trip taken by a group of people who travel together and 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.

What is a vacation package?

A vacation package combines multiple travel elements into an all-inclusive price. This price is usually lower than if the elements were purchased separately. Volume purchasing makes this possible. Any of the following elements (or others) can be present in a package: air transportation, lodgings/accommodations, meals, motorcoach, rail or private vehicle, entertainment, car rental, airport transfers, sightseeing, etc. One or more destinations can be involved, and optional elements can be added.

What does a tour operator do?

A tour operator puts together travel "packages" involving a number of different elements: airlines, ground transportation, hotels, restaurants, local guides and other services for one or more destinations. These packages are sold to the public, usually through travel advisors.

What are the benefits of a tour or vacation package?

Besides lower price, the traveler enjoys peace of mind and convenience. Prepayment covers all major expenses, so that money concerns are minimized. On group tours, there is the added camaraderie of other travelers. Tour operator representatives visit destinations in advance of tours, checking hotel quality, dining facilities, equipment, etc. This advance planning allows realistic information to be passed along to travel advisors, and then to their clients.

Is it advisable to book through a travel advisor?

Yes. Travel advisors are professionals with travel savvy who have the latest information, first-hand knowledge and experience in all phases of travel. They know the tour operators and can be especially helpful in arranging all-inclusive tours. Advisors can translate a traveler's preferences into those specific packages that will best satisfy each traveler's needs, style and budget. Find a USTOA Certified Travel Advisor.

What if a problem occurs on my vacation?

The vast majority of tours and vacation packages go off like clockwork. But should a legitimate complaint arise during your trip, such as a service not provided or severe disappointment in quality or performance, the matter usually can be resolved with the assistance of your travel advisor and/or tour operator. Remember, it is in their best interest to resolve all legitimate complaints as quickly and fairly as possible, because a satisfied customer comes back for more, and refers others.

What does the USTOA symbol in a travel brochure or advertisement mean to me?

It means that the tour operator, USTOA Active Member, has been in business at least three years and has 18 industry references. Additionally, the company must participate in the USTOA $1 Million Travelers Assistance Program by posting a $1 million security to be used solely for reimbursing consumers in the case of bankruptcy or insolvency. The symbol also represents commitment to truth, accuracy and clarity in advertising. In a nutshell, a company deserving your confidence.

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USTOA $1 Million
Travelers Assistance Program

A travel vacation should not only be an unforgettable experience, but offer solid peace of mind. That’s why USTOA created a consumer protection fund which protects consumers who book with our Active Members.

Learn More

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