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Enjoy this glossary that we've compiled over the years to provide a helpful reference for tourism professionals, students and volunteers with a passion for product development, sustainable tourism, destination development and experiential travel.



Appreciative Inquiry:
An approach to engaging conversations that encourage imagination, innovation and flexibility with stakeholder groups, and builds on the positive attributes that already exist.


Businesses that benefit from working together to create and market tourism experiences that meet the needs of niche markets.


Content Curation:
The act of discovering, gathering and presenting digital content that surrounds specific subject matter and funnelling it in relevant ways to enhance your online presence. 


Community Tourism Partnerships:
A mutually beneficial commitment between multiple businesses and government organizations to leverage their respective retail, service, community or program deliverables to develop and deliver innovative ways for travellers to experience their community’s rich culture, art, nature and cuisine offerings - often through packaging and marketing - to add new business opportunities and revenues to the community.


Creative Economy:

Describes economic systems where value is based on creative and imaginative qualities rather than the traditional resources of land, labour and capital. It represents the business opportunities, generated from use of people’s creative imagination and an intersection between creativity, culture, economics and technology dominated by images, sounds, texts and symbols.



Customer Lifecycle:
The creation and delivery of value to the customer at every touchpoint in the engagement cycle; in tourism this means from they time they decide to travel, to the time they are at home telling stories and sharing photos.


Customized Market:
Tailoring a tourism product or experience to the specific needs of an individual customer. Generally practiced by companies whose products are very expensive or unique, and who have significant specific information on their customer to design and deliver ‘what they want, when they want, where they want it and with whom!’ 


Customer Experience:
A blend of an organization’s physical performance, the senses stimulated and emotions evoked, each intuitively measured against customer expectations across all moments of contact.

Customer Experience Management:
The processes used by a company to track, oversee and organize every interaction between a customer and the organization throughout the customer lifecycle. The goal is to optimize interactions and all touchpoints, from the customer's perspective, to foster customer loyalty.


Destination Marketing Organization vs Destination Management Organization:

In recent years, the DMO acronym has been used to refer to traditional destination marketing organizations whose primary function is to promote and market the destination, tourism businesses, services, transportation, associated retail stores, restaurants, and events. Many also invest in primary research to inform decision-making. The alternate use of the term DMO (management) refers to organizations that include the promotion and research functions and also invest in broader industry development and stakeholder development activities.


Electronic marketing, using the Internet and other forms of electronic communications to communicate in the most cost-effective ways with target markets.


Emotional Marketing:
Getting your target audience to connect with your product, service, and brand at a very basic and fundamental level; emotionally.


Enabler/Helping Organizations:
In the context of tourism, an enabler or helping organization describes the business-to-business entities that support the development and promotion of tourism to foster growth in the industry, drive consumer awareness, develop product, promote, market and help to sell a destination. Examples include: destination marketing organizations (DMOs), economic development agencies, tourism departments/ministries within government, Chambers of Commerce, etc.


An experience is something that is personally encountered, lived through and affects the individual. It may involve observation or participation; be active or passive, planned, opportunistic, personal or shared.


Experience Broker:
An individual who coaches local area businesses so that they may deliver a high-quality experience aligned with guest expectations; the experiential broker then acts as an intermediary between experience providers and guests to identify market opportunities.


Experience Economy:
A five-tiered economic framework, founded by Joe Pine and James Gilmore, that defines experiences as a distinct economic offer, one that creates a specific atmosphere that engages the customer in memorable ways. It provides an economic understanding of where businesses can focus to meet the consumer demand for: commodities, goods, services, experiences and transformation.


Experiential Marketing:
A holistic approach to customer relations and branding that focuses on making an emotional and physical connection with the customer, rather than merely describing features and benefits.
Experience Provider:
Individuals, companies or organizations that create holistic travel opportunities by sequencing and staging activities, personal encounters and authentic experiences that are designed to create long-lasting memories and customer loyalty. Experience providers consciously create memorable activities by staging a theme, harmonizing positive cues and eliminating negative ones, mixing in memorabilia and engaging all five senses.


Experiential Travel:
Travel that connects you with the essence of a place and its people by engaging visitors in a series of memorable travel activities revealed over time that are inherently personal, engage the senses and make connections on an emotional, physical, spiritual or intellectual level. It responds to the desire to venture beyond the beaten tourist paths, dive deeper into authentic, local culture, connects with people and enriches their lives.


Explorer Quotient (EQ™):

An innovative market segmentation tool from Destination Canada [add hyperlink:] that looks at attitudes, personal beliefs, social values and travel values to better understand current and prospective customers and what drives people to seek out certain types of visitor experiences. This information helps target your focus and investment in product and market development, promotions and sales activities.


Export Ready:

Refers to a business that markets to and through national and international travel trade distribution sales channels, understands commission or net rate pricing, agrees to trade bookings and has a cancellation policy.


FAM Tour:

Familiarization tours are provided through a collaboration of tourism partners to receptive tour operators, travel agencies, travel writers and influencers and others to provide information about a certain experience or destination at no or minimal cost to invited participants.


FIT (Fully Independent Traveller):
Originally FIT was an abbreviation for a foreign independent tour. Today, it is most commonly used for flexible or fully independent travel describing a type of travel that does not incorporate a packaged tour but is customized for the traveller by a tourism professional who sells travel, such as a tour operator or travel agent.


Ideal/Valued Guest:
The visitors with the greatest potential to strengthen to grow your business or destination. Knowing their attitudes, values, motivations and demographic profile is essential to designing value-based, emotionally connecting travel experiences.


Inbound Tour Operator:

An operator who packages multiple elements together in a variety of ways (accommodation, shuttles, experiences, meals, admissions) to bring visitors from external markets to a destination.


Incentive Travel:

An organizational management tool that uses an exceptional travel experience to motivate and/or recognize participants for increased levels of performance in support of organizational goals.


Major Market Segment:
A large market of travellers identifiable as having particular customers with specific buying characteristics (e.g. family, business, festivals, motor-coach).


Market Ready:

Refers to a business that markets to potential travellers; communicates with potential travellers year-round and is able to accept advance reservations.


Mass Market:
The un-segmented market in which tourism products and services are available, positioned and sold to any traveller (e.g. museum admissions, airline tickets, cruise), or large geographic regions (e.g. USA, Germany).


Moment of Truth:
A moment of truth is usually defined as an instance where a visitor comes into contact with businesses or destinations in real life, or online. It provides the opportunity for either party to make an impression or change an impression about the business.


Net Promoter Score:

A metric designed to monitor customer engagement, reflecting the likelihood that travellers will recommend a destination to friends, family, or colleagues.


Net-Rate Pricing:

The net rate is the price without the commission included. The tourism business or travel trade distributor can mark-up the rate with  the margin they wish to make, or an amount which is contractually agreed upon to secure business. Companies that work with net rate pricing include receptive tour operators (e.g., Jonview), tour operators (e.g., Virgin Holidays), Destination Management Companies, travel agencies and packaging partners.

Niche Market:
A business focus on a small, defined part of a larger market that has a need for a product or service that is not being addressed by mainstream providers. Common to small businesses aiming to differentiate themselves. Companies succeed by narrowly defining a group of potential customers and serving them well (e.g. Girls Getaway Weekends, Weddings, Spa seekers).


Online Travel Agency (OTA):

A travel website that specializes in the sale of travel products to consumers without the assistance of a person. Some agencies sell a variety of travel products including flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, activities and packages (e.g., Travelocity, Expedia, Trivago).


Outbound Tour Operator:

An operator who packages and sells travel products to people within a destination who want to travel abroad.


Refers to all business (private, public, not-for-profit) that operate a tourism asset that provides value to a visitor. It is a broader reference than the traditional ‘tour operator’ or ‘receptive operator’ and includes everyone and everything such hoteliers, attractions, restaurants, transportation, outfitters, wilderness operators, trails, heritage properties etc.


The steps customers take as they move from being aware of the travel opportunity to actually purchasing travel.


Perceived Value:

The worth that a product or service has in the mind of the consumer that shapes how much he or she is willing to pay.


Receptive Tour Operator:

A Canada-based tour company that specializes in tourism experiences and manages products and services for incoming visitors most often booked through international tour operators. Receptive tour operators play an important role in the packaged travel industry.


Responsible Tourism:

Any form of tourism that can be consumed in a more responsible way. It minimizes negative economic, environmental and social impacts; generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well-being of host communities, improves working conditions and access to the industry; involves local people in decisions that affect their lives and life chances; makes positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, to the maintenance of the world’s diversity; provides more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues; provides access for physically challenged people; and is culturally sensitive, engenders respect between tourists and hosts and builds local pride and confidence.


Search engine optimization (SEO) is different than social media optimization (SMO). In a nutshell, SEO optimizes your website for rankings with search engines through the use of select keywords, optimizing HTML and backend coding, meta description, alt tags, headers etc. SMO is about optimizing the content to increase brand and encourage sharing by your viewers through various social media channels.


Service Economy:
Services represent a diverse group of intangible economic activities such as restaurants, hotels, shoe-shining, physiotherapy, computer repair, a home inspection before buying a house ... and the list goes on!


Sharing Economy: 
An emerging and trending business concept based on the ability for individuals to rent or borrow good and services rather than buy them. Leading examples that are shaping how we think about this business model are Airbnb and Uber.


Social Media:
Social media are works of user-created video, audio, text or multimedia that are published and shared in a social environment, such as a blog, social networking site, photo or video hosting site.


Social Networking:
The interaction between a group of people who share a common interest. Using websites such as Facebook and Twitter to network and share information and media. Individuals and businesses can use social networks to further customer relationships and extend the customer lifecycle.


Storytelling involves a two-way interaction between a storyteller and one or more listeners in person, online or through other means of communication. It is a first-person narrative that accompanies an experience, offers personal insights and can reflect the passion, values and humour of the experience provider/storyteller. Done well, it engages travellers.


Supply vs. Demand Thinking:
Supply thinking is tourism that is built on what a company wants to sell vs. what the demand from the marketplace is looking for.


Sustainable Travel:
Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities optimizing environmental resources while, helping to conserve natural heritage and biodiversity; respecting the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities, their built and living cultural heritage and traditional values; contributes to inter-cultural understanding and tolerance; and ensures viable, long-term economic operations, providing socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders that are fairly  distributed within host communities.



A term used in the travel trade to describe: (1) fare/rate from a supplier  (2) class or type of fare; (3) published rates from a supplier;  and (4) official publication compiling rates or fares and conditions of services


A touchpoint is any time a customer or potential customer comes in contact with your brand–before, during, or after they purchase something from you or interact with your business. Identifying your touchpoints is a vital step towards understanding the customer journey from their perspective and building positive engagement every step of the way.


Tour Operator:

 A company that creates and/or markets packaged tours and/or performs tour services.


Is defined as: “The activities of persons traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes.” Source: The World Tourism Organization.


Tourism Economy:
An important economic driver, the tourism economy focuses on the value created by tourism businesses (private, not-for-profit, government) that generate sustainable visitor activities. It is a sectoral lens that has been commonly used to understand the contribution tourism businesses and visitors bring to a community.


Traveller Ready:

Refers to a business which has all of its licenses, permits and insurance in place in order to operate legally (also known as Visitor Ready).


Travel Trade:
The distribution network of companies (operating at a national or international level) that resell travel products to visitors that have been reserved and purchased from other tour operators or travel businesses. This includes:
•    Travel agencies - companies that offer travel services and assistance to groups and individuals including, documentation, ticketing, booking for transportation and/or accommodation.
•    Tour operators - companies that bring together separate travel components (such as airline seats, hotel rooms, activities and attractions), into one package. Examples of tour operators include: Thomas Cook (UK), DERTOUR (Germany), Scenic Tours (Australia), Tauck Tours (US)
•    Online travel agencies (OTA’s) – OTA’S specialize in offering planning sources and booking capabilities. Major OTA’s include: Expedia,, Travelocity.


Travel Wholesaler:

A company that purchases large blocks of rooms, tickets, etc., and then resell them as tours products or packages to travel agents. They do not sell to the general public. Packaged elements are purchased in exchange for a commission or a reduced fee, known as a tariff. These companies target bulk transactions for the larger the volume, the better the discount.


User Experience:

User Experience (UX) encompasses all aspects of the visitor's interaction with your company. This includes their pre-travel information search experience, booking, selection of products, services and experiences, plus their online and face-to-face interactions across all touchpoints.


Visitor Centric Model: 
A visual representation of a way of thinking about tourism that places the visitor at the heart of the model, the starting point for tourism planning, development, promotions and delivering on the brand promise.


Visitor Economy:

The visitor economy refers to the widespread and often unseen benefits from dollars spent by travellers. It encompasses everything that attracts visitors to a destination and everything that makes a place special, distinctive and capable of engendering price and interest in a place worth experiencing. The full impact of the visitor economy is felt when the multiplier effect of tourist spending ripples throughout the entire economy, supporting job creation, infrastructure development, community building, strengthening the brand and engaging visitors in memorable experiences. A successful visitor economy requires managing all of the components in an integrated and long-term way with a clear focus on the needs of the visitor the destination is trying to attract.


Visitor Experience:
The sum of all perceptions, senses stimulated, emotions evoked and interactions a traveller has with the people, places and cultures of a destination, the communities and businesses they encounter.


Visitor Lifecycle:
All physical and emotional touchpoint a traveller experiences with a tourism business and destination as he/she moves through the stages of pre-trip considerations and purchase, engaging with the place, people, products and services, plus their post-trip reflections and actions. Together this influences loyalty, the potential for a long-term relationship with the traveller and their desire to revisit and/or refer.


Word of Mouth:

The phenomenon of a particular message or recommendation being passed from an individual to his/her contacts through the internet or to the public at large through online means such as TripAdvisor, blogs, comment sections, YouTube, Instagram, etc.

appreciative inquiry
content curation
Community Tourism Partnerships
Customer Lifecycle
Customized Market
Customer Experience
Customer Experience Management
Emotional Marketing
Enabler/Helper Organizations
Experience Broker
Experience Economy
Experience Provider
Experiential Travel
Major Market Segment
Mass Market
Moment of Truth
Niche Market
Path to Purchase
Service Economy
Sharing Economy
Social Media
Social Networking
Supply vs Demand Thinking
Sustainable Travel
Tourism Economy
Travel Trade
Experiential Marketing
Creative Economy
Destination Marketing vs. Destintion Management
Explorer Quotient
Export Ready
FAM Tour
Ideal/Valued Guest
Inbound Tour Operator
Incentive Travel
Market Ready
Net Promoter Score
Net-Rate Pricing
Online Travel Agency
Outbound Tour Operator
Perceived Value
Responsible Tourism
Receptive Tour Operator
Tour Operator
Traveller Ready
Travel Wholesaler
Customer Experience Manage
User Experience
Visitor Centric Model
Visitor Economy
Visitor Experience
Visitor Lifecycle
Word of Mouth
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