GLOSSARY OF TERMS
Enjoy this glossary that we've compiled over the years to provide a helpful reference for professionals, students and volunteers in the tourism industry with a passion for product development, destination development, market development and experiential travel.
Affinity Group / Travellers
Travellers linked by a common bond. They may be members of an organization (e.g. Smithsonian Institution), have a history with an organization (e.g. alumni organizations), a common ethnic bond (e.g. the Ukrainian Friendship Society) or a social bond (e.g. church, fitness groups, college buddies).
Describes travel, most often a vacation, that includes all the essentials in the booking price. Besides accommodation, you can expect food, drinks, activities, and entertainment to be included without paying extra for it. Examples include cruise ships, time-share resorts, destination hotels.
An approach to engaging conversations that encourage imagination, innovation, and flexibility with stakeholder groups and builds on the positive attributes that already exist.
A place of interest where travellers visit, typically for its inherent or an exhibited natural or cultural value, historical significance, natural or built beauty, offering leisure and amusement. To be considered an attraction, a product must be findable - clearly located on maps and street addresses and directions provided. If tourists can’t find the facility, it is not a tourist attraction.
The process of comparing performance and processes within an industry to assess relative position against either a set industry standard or against those who are “best in class."
Best Practice(s)/Best Practice Mission
They are used to designate a tourism operator's highest quality, excellence, or superior practices in a particular field. In dome destinations, Best Practice Missions offer local operators the opportunity to visit another destination and learn from other leading owners, operators, and managers.
A business visitor is a visitor whose main purpose for a tourism trip corresponds to the business and professional category (e.g., conference, meeting, incentive travel).
Call to Action
A marketing and sales device that tells the customer how to take the next step towards a purchase or executes an activity; often uses an imperative verb. E.g., "Call today!" or "Click here to subscribe.”
Businesses that benefit from working together to create and market tourism experiences that meet the needs of niche markets.
Fees paid to sales intermediaries or partners are called commissions. The commission is the difference between the published, direct-to-consumer price and the net rate price. Commissions are paid in return for the marketing and sales activities and extended reach into marketing the business wouldn’t otherwise access. Commissions vary depending on the sales channel and generally range from 10-30%.
A tour offered through retail and wholesale travel agencies that provides payment of an agreed-upon sales commission to the retailer or wholesale seller.
Community Tourism Partnerships
A mutually beneficial commitment between businesses, associations and government organizations to leverage their respective contributions in ways that benefit tourism within their community.
The act of discovering, gathering and presenting digital content that surrounds specific subject matter and funneling it in relevant ways to enhance your online presence.
Describes economic systems where value is based on creative and imaginative qualities rather than the traditional land, labour, and capital resources. It represents the business opportunities generated by using people's creative imagination and an intersection between creativity, culture, economics and technology dominated by images, sounds, texts and symbols.
Custom Travel Package
A package that is personalized to a group’s specific needs and desires. A client works with a representative from the company developing and delivering the package to understand the group’s interests. Then, an itinerary is designed to provide exactly what the client wants.
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
Processes used by companies to track, oversee and organize all interactions between a customer and the business throughout the customer lifecycle. The goal is to optimize interactions and all touchpoints and foster customer loyalty.
The creation and delivery of value to the customer at every touchpoint in the engagement cycle; in tourism, this means from the time they decide to travel to the time they are at home telling stories and sharing photos.
A debriefing session is an opportunity, after a test run, to gain participant insight into the visitor experience that will help you improve the offer before launching in-market. It is a simple yet powerful tool that enables participants to reflect on what happened during the experience and provide feedback. The debriefing session should be hosted right after the experience test run, so it is fresh in their minds.
There are two types of demand generators in tourism. A primary demand generator refers to the element that serves as the main purpose for attracting a traveller to a destination. A secondary demand generator refers to activities and services a guest chooses while in the destination but would not serve as a primary motivation for travel 'to the destination.
A geographic area where tourists choose to travel outside their place of residence that offers an appealing set of products, services, activities, and experiences that compel a traveller to visit. A destination can be a country, province/state, region, city of a single entity, such as a national park.
Involves a systematic in-person and online examination of a destination and the visitor experience to answer a fundamental question, "What can be done locally to become a stronger, more successful tourism destination for investment, a place to live, and attract increased visitor spending?"
It is a process of leading, influencing and managing all the aspects of a destination that contribute to tourism development and the visitor experience. It includes elements such as infrastructure, policy, products and services, human resources, stewardship, and capacity. It focused on the supply side of the tourism industry to enhance the contribution of tourism that is vibrant, healthy, and a manageable component of the local economy while respecting the needs of local residents, the community, businesses, and visitors while celebrating what is local, authentic, and unique.
Destination Management Company (DMC)
It is a business with extensive local knowledge with everything on the ground. They handle all aspects of travel, from airport transportation to themed events, activities and tours to overall program logistics. As for-profit businesses, they charge a fee for their service and work cooperatively with DMO’s, hotels, resorts, convention centers and venues on behalf of their clients.
Destination Management Organization (DMO)
Promotes a destination to make it more attractive to tourists, businesses and other potential travellers through a wide array of traditional print and digital media, content and social media marketing, media relations and experiential marketing activities.
It is the intersection of digital media and technologies with the built environment to communicate with the public, encourage community interaction and even play, and create more livable cities.
It comprises all travel activities that residents living within the country engage in while travelling within their own country.
Dynamic packaging allows an independent traveller to build their own, personalized trip, piecing together a variety of individual elements to create their trip itinerary. The traveller might book a flight, a rental car and then add things like side excursions, a mini-package or add-on other conveniences like airport parking. The price a traveller pays for a dynamic package depends on the individual elements booked as part of their package.
Electronic marketing, using the Internet and other forms of electronic communications to communicate in the most cost-effective ways with target markets.
Purposeful travel that is motivated by educational purposes. Examples include student exchanges, school day trips, second language training travel programs, professional development training and formal study tours. It transcends traditional market segments such as adventure travel, cultural travel, aboriginal, and nature travel.
Getting your target audience to connect with your product, service, and brand at a very basic and fundamental level; emotionally.
Refers to the feelings evoked when a person interacts with a product, service, or experience. Emotions influence consumer decision making, it would be a flaw not to consider the emotional impact that you offer has on visitors.
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 a product, promote, market, and help sell a destination. Examples include destination marketing organizations (DMOs), economic development agencies, tourism departments/ministries within the 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.
An individual who coaches local area businesses to 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 design is a systematic approach for a business or cluster of businesses to design, develop, deliver, and promote new travel opportunities in ways that inspire travellers to “choose you”! It involves three major phases with nine iterative steps of continuous learning, innovation, and listening to your visitors.
It is based on the premise that businesses must orchestrate memorable events for their customers and that memory itself becomes the product: the "experience." More advanced experience businesses can begin charging for the value of the "transformation" that an experience offers. Created by Joe Pine and James Gilmore, their progression of economic value includes commodities, goods, services, experiences and transformation.
Individuals, companies or organizations that create holistic travel opportunities by sequencing and staging activities, personal encounters and authentic experiences designed to create long-lasting memories and customer loyalty. They consciously create memorable activities by staging a theme, harmonizing positive cues and eliminating negative ones, mixing in memorabilia and engaging all five senses.
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.
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, connect with people, and enrich their lives.
Explorer Quotient (EQ™)
An innovative market segmentation tool from Destination Canada 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.
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.
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 traveller, who makes their own travel arrangements and travels independently. FIT travellers generally shy away from group tours and packaged travel but may purchase some packaged elements such as a flight and car rental to take advantage of pricing discounts offered through packages.
A type of FIT using a rented car and driving around on a preset itinerary or randomly travelling.
Hub and Spoke
Travel that is centralized around specific overnight location from which day trips to nearby travel activities occur. Air carriers use selected cities as 'hubs' or connection points for service on their system for travel to regional destinations.
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 in-destination operator who packages multiple elements together (e.g., accommodation, shuttles, activities, services, meals, etc.) in a variety of ways to sell packages that bring visitors from external markets to a destination.
Comprises the activities of a non-resident visitor within the country of reference on an inbound tourism trip.
An organizational management tool that uses an exceptional travel experience to motivate and/or recognize participants for increased performance levels in support of organizational goals.
Is comprised of inbound tourism and outbound tourism, the activities of resident visitors outside the country of reference, either as part of domestic or outbound tourism trips and the activities of non-resident visitors within the country of reference on inbound tourism trips.
Print materials, signage, narration, guided tours, and anything that “interprets” the site for the visitor. Interpretation helps the traveller understand the experience and its value by context, history and meaning. Common interpretation techniques include guided tours, presentations and discussions, drama performances, musical performances, brochures, signs, displays, and audiovisual presentations.
Is a schedule of events relating to planned travel activities, within one or more destinations, to be visited at specified times. It generally includes descriptions of destinations to be visited at specified, the means of transportation, flights, activities and experiences.
Transcends traditional market segments such as adventure travel, cultural travel, aboriginal, and nature travel. It is a type of leisure travel that involves high-quality learning opportunities that allow visitors to experience and interact with the cultural, historical and natural wonders of an area, attraction or event. The consumer is motivated by an interest in travelling and learning; experiences may be as short as a day or involve multi-destination travel.
Major Market Segment
A large market of travellers identifiable as having particular customers with specific buying characteristics (e.g. family, business, festivals, motor-coach).
Refers to a legally registered business that follows a defined business plan to provide their product in a way that meets typical customer needs and expectations. They communicate with potential travellers year-round, and can accept advance reservations.
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).
People travelling attending meetings, conferences, trade shows and exhibitions” and “other business and professional purposes”. The common acronym for this sector is MICE: Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions.
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.
A net rate price is the amount a sales intermediary, such as an inbound tour operator, receptive tour operator, tour wholesaler or other sales partner, will pay to purchase a package. The difference between a company’s published, direct-to-consumer price and the net rate price represents the commission paid. Companies that require net rate pricing include receptive tour operators (e.g., Jonview), tour operators (e.g., Virgin Holidays), Destination Management Companies (e.g., Cantrav), travel agencies and packaging partners.
A business focus on a small defined part of a larger market that has a need for a product or service that mainstream providers are not addressing. 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 specializing in the sale of travel products to consumers without the assistance of a person. Online travel agencies sell various travel products including flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, activities and packages (e.g., Travelocity, Expedia, Trivago) and take a commission from the tourism businesses that use their online platform as a sales channel.
Refers to all businesses (private, public, not-for-profit) that operate tourism assets, or deliver tourism services, activities or experiences, that provide 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.
Outbound Tour Operator
An operator who packages and sells travel products to people within a destination who want to travel abroad.
The term that describes too many visitors to a destination. It is subjective based on the capacity within a destination. Too many guests leads to overcrowding in areas where residents suffer the consequences of temporary and seasonal tourism peaks that result in forced or permanent changes to their lifestyles. Examples pushing out locals, jammed roads, no place for staff to live affordably, scaring away wildlife, increased crime.
The steps customers take as they move from being aware of the travel opportunity to actually purchasing travel.
The worth that a product or service has in the consumer's mind shapes how much he or she is willing to pay.
Piloting Experiences (aka Trail Run)
Think of a pilot, or trial run, as a dress rehearsal that allows you to test all the elements of your activity, or travel package, before it is launched in-market. This enables a business to refine their delivery, identify gaps, test out the flow and group size dynamics, build confidence and gather feedback from the ideal guest, involve destination and media partners. Most importantly it reduces risk by informing the final tweaks that can be made prior welcoming paid guests.
A multi-faceted approach to the planning, design, and management of public spaces. It can include information, interpretation, events, community, business engagement, etc., and physical appearance and facilities.
Place marketing is a marketing strategy using which a place is promoted. It can also be referred to as place branding or place promotion.
An addition to a product, service or travel package that enhances the value to the customer and generates additional value to the business such as: f additional revenue, customer loyalty, new partnership, or social media advocacy.
Product Life Cycle
The cyclical pattern of demand for most products from “new and exciting” to “old and dated.” There are four stages in a product's life cycle—introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. Ultimately some products/services/experiences are removed from the market.
The selling price posted by a hotel, attraction, or transportation service for the public but not used by tour operators.
Receptive Tour Operator
Also called an inbound tour operator, a receptive tour operator is an in-destination operator who packages multiple elements together (accommodation, shuttles, activities, services, meals, etc.) in a variety of ways to sell packages that bring visitors from external markets to a destination. Receptive tour operators play an important role in the packaged travel industry.
It aims to restore the harm and heal damaged resources needed for healthy communities, businesses, workplaces, and guest activities. It views wholes and not parts of the tourism ecosystem and recognizes the need to replace the old economic systems based on consumption and profit with new economic thinking and caring for the life and well-being of all creatures and the Earth.
Any form of tourism that can be consumed in a more responsible way. It minimizes negative social, economic and environmental 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, embracing 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, encourages respect between tourists and hosts, and builds local pride and confidence.
SEO vs SMO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is different from social media optimization (SMO). In a nutshell, SEO optimizes your website for rankings with search engines through select keywords, optimizing HTML and backend coding, meta description, alt tags, headers etc. On the other hand, SMO is about optimizing the content to increase brand and encourage sharing by your viewers through various social media channels.
SMART is a common acronym used in goal setting to remember that goals should be: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
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!
An emerging and trending business concept is based on individuals' ability to rent or borrow goods and services rather than buy them. Leading examples that are shaping how we think about this business model are Airbnb and Uber.
Organized guided tours and activities offered to passengers when the ship is in port that enables visitors to gain greater exposure, insight, and understanding of the places they visit. A fee is usually charged for participation.
Social media is the sharing of information and communication between people on the Internet or using mobile devices. It allows for content (video, photo, text, audio) created by individuals and businesses community to be published directly to various social channels such as YouTube, Facebook, TripAdvisor, websites and blogs.
The use of dedicated websites, online platforms or applications to interact with other users, or to find people with similar interests to oneself.
Special Interest Package
Special interest packages are sold to groups or independent travellers and are often customized to the specific niche interests or hobbies of travellers (e.g. bird watching, shopping) or time-sensitive (e.g. built around an anchor event or seasonal activity).
An itinerary in which part of the group does one thing while the other part does something else.
Special activities planned for those who accompany an attendee to a convention, trade show or meeting. Note that programs today are not simply for women but rather for men and women, spouses, and friends. Programs must be creatively designed to interest intelligent and curious audiences.
Parties who may be affected by agency decisions and actions (i.e., ser groups, elected officials, commercial interests, environmentalists, park managers, tourism industry representatives, consumers, host countries, host communities, funders and financiers, and others).
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.
Tourism development minimizes the costs and maximizes the benefits while meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It is development that can be carried out indefinitely without harming the resources on which it depends.
Minimizes the costs and maximizes the benefits while meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It is development that can be carried out indefinitely without harming the resources on which it depends.
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.
Test/Pilot/Trial a New Visitor Experience
The opportunity to test all elements of your new visitor experience before it goes to market to gain feedback from your target customer, identify any gaps or improvements, confirm all logistical details, and build confidence with your delivery partners.
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.
A person employed by the tour organization and escorting a group. Their responsibilities vary but may include coordinating and overseeing travel logistics, delivering core program elements, providing subject matter and area expertise.
Companies that purchase individual travel services (e.g. accommodations, travel, attractions, guided services, events) and combine them into a package. Tour operators may contract tourism products and services directly from a supplier or through a receptive tour operator and then sell their packages to customers in international markets.
The activities of persons travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes.
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. Thus, it is a sectoral lens that is used to understand the contribution tourism businesses and visitors bring to a community.
A travel package combines two or more tourism products, services, or experiences at an ‘all-inclusive price’ that provides ease and value for the traveller and a single point of purchase. Packages often include a mix of elements like transportation, accommodations, restaurants, entertainment, cultural/outdoor activities and other value-added elements.
A company that provides one or more travel components directly to the public or via a tour package (e.g. hotels, transportation, attractions, travel insurance, national historic site).
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 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. Examples of major OTA’s include Expedia, lasminute.com, Travelocity.
Experts at bundling different travel products together and reselling them as packages or tours. They typically purchase large blocks of rooms, tickets, etc., and then resell them as tour products or packages to travel agents. They do not sell to the general public. Packaged elements are purchased at a reduced fee, known as a net rate. These companies target bulk transactions; the larger the volume, the better the discount.
Refers to a business with all of its licenses, permits, and insurance in place to operate legally (also known as Visitor Ready).
Someone who moves between different geographic locations, for any purpose and any duration. A visitor for statistical purposes (domestic, inbound, or outbound) is classified as a tourist (or overnight visitor), if his/her trip includes an overnight stay or as a same-day visitor (an excursionist).
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.
The relationship between the benefits associated with a product or service and the costs of obtaining the product or service.
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.
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.
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. It may involve observation or participation. It may be active or passive, planned or opportunistic, personal or shared.
Visitor Experience Design
A systematic approach for a business or cluster of businesses to design, develop, deliver, and promote new travel opportunities in ways that inspire travellers to “choose you”!
Visitor Friendly Communities
The degree to which all visitors feel welcomed and embraced in a friendly manner that influences how they view, remember, and talk about their experience. Travellers are more likely to recommend a friendly destination to others, online and off-line. In our digitally connected world, advocacy encourages visitors to revisit time and again and refer the destination to others.
All physical and emotional touchpoints 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. This influences loyalty, the potential for long-term relationships with the traveller and their desire to revisit or refer.
Refers to a business with all of its licenses, permits, and insurance in place to operate legally (also known as Traveller Ready).
Forms or coupons provided to a traveller who purchases a tour that indicates that specific tour components have been prepaid. Vouchers are then exchanged for tour components like accommodations, meals, sightseeing, theatre tickets, etc., during the actual trip.
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.