Wanna travel? Use a tour operator! - NTA Courier
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Wanna travel? Use a tour operator!

By Bob Rouse
May 14, 2024

The National Tour Association is loaded with tour operators: professional travel planners who create packaged-travel treks for individual travelers and groups of all sizes, ages, and interests. Wherever on Earth you want to go—and whatever you want to do when you get there—a tour operator can plan an unforgettable adventure for you.

All tour operators partner with other professionals: destination experts, hoteliers, restaurants, museums, cruise lines, attractions, and experience providers offering everything from a wildlife cruise to toe-tapping  blues. If a tour operator doesn’t package exactly what you want, they can find another operator who does. That’s one reason they belong to NTA, a network of trusted travel professionals.

And here’s a reason for you to find a tour operator: You can save money, says Christina Werner of Custom Holidays, located in Allen Park, Michigan.

“Tour operators can often secure better deals and discounts due to their longstanding relationships with hotels, airlines, and other service providers,” Werner says. “By leveraging their purchasing power, tour operators pass on significant savings to travelers, making luxury and unique experiences more accessible—and budget friendly.”

Tour operator Marcela Laukova is pictured in the High Tatras Mountains, Slovakia.

Group travel offers group savings, says Marcela Laukova of Discover Slovakia Tours, based in Lučenec, Slovakia. “When you travel with a group, you’re sharing the costs for transportation, guide services, special visits, workshops, and other activities,” she says.

Jim Warren, foreground, visits the Grand Canyon with a group of travelers from Australia.

Enlisting the services of a tour operator goes well beyond bargain hunting, though, says Jim Warren of Alberta-based Anderson Vacations.

“An experienced tour operator knows about unique and less-traveled routes, attractions, and accommodations,” Warren says. “We have on-site insights you won’t find by searching the internet.” 

Tour operators also have an on-the-ground knowledge of an area, according to Stacy Barry of Nashville-based Sharin’ the South Tours.

“I have heard so many stories of people who have planned trips to my location and make costly errors, such as not timing things appropriately and missing events, or planning to go to an attraction that isn’t open that day of the week,” Barry says. “Additionally, I can plan a trip here in half the time it would take somebody unfamiliar with the area.”

Werner agrees, adding out that a tour operator’s perspective transcends traditional guidebooks, tourist traps, and online advice.

“By immersing travelers in the local culture and community, we provide authentic experiences that foster genuine connections and meaningful insights,” she says. “Whether it’s participating in a traditional cooking class or engaging with local artisans, tour operators offer a window into the soul of a destination, allowing travelers to savor the essence of the journey.”

Michelle Pino, second from left, poses with a group before taking a flightseeing tour near Talkeetna, Alaska.

Travelers can also savor the ease of the journey, according to Michelle Pino of Northeast Unlimited Tours, headquartered in Sandwich, Massachusetts.

“You don’t need to drive! Traveling on a luxury motorcoach allows you to sit back, relax, and enjoy a stress-free vacation at an affordable price point,” Pino says.

Maybe you enjoy the challenge of planning a vacation, buying your own tickets for travel and activities, and wading through customer reviews to find comfortable accommodations. But if you’d rather leave the details to a someone who’s been where you’re going, your internet search can start and end at NTAonline.com.

The association allows free access to its list of member tour operators, searchable by company location, and by the many destinations where it takes travelers. You can take comfort in knowing that NTA vets its operators, verifying their business credentials and requiring them to carry a significant amount of insurance.

In the world of packaged travel, tour operators are the whole package, says Elaine Moulder, owner of Michigan-based Brilliant Edventures.

“When you book a group tour, you get more—more services and benefits and more for your dollar, and you don’t have to worry about driving and parking,” she said, adding one more perk: “And you get to make new friends.”

So when you’re ready to travel (and frankly, who isn’t?), you don’t have to go it alone. By joining with others on an adventure planned and led by an experienced tour operator, you can immerse yourself in the moment … and build memories for a lifetime.

For more information about the National Tour Association and its tour operator members, go to NTAonline.com.

Top image: ©bodnarphoto/Adobe Stock

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