A specialist tour operator plans unique travel adventures for niche clientele. More specifically, these individuals organize trips for people with shared hobbies or interests, such as cycling or hiking, who would like to engage in such activities during recreational travel. This type of tour operator may work with a company that specializes in organizing such excursions or may work as an independent travel coordinator.
Most specialist tour operators organize travel plans from beginning to end. This includes organizing air and ground transportation, lodging and special activities. In some cases, a specialized tour operator may work with other professional tour guides in order to accomplish certain travel activities. For example, he or she may be the key organizer for a group’s safari adventure, but may also collaborate with a wildlife guide or tracker more experienced in the fine details of leading a group on a safari tour.
While this term often applies to an individual performing the duties of a specialist tour operator, it also applies to entire companies that specialize in such services. Travelers often seek an agency specializing in unique travel adventures instead of a more common travel agency. It is common for such an agency to only hire tour operators experienced in creating specialist tours. Other highly desired skills include a strong eye for detail, excellent communication, the ability to work with strict deadlines and knowledge of the tourism industry, in general.
In addition to prior experience working in a tourism career, it is not unusual to find that a specialist tour operator has also participated in one or more specialized tours as a traveler. Many have chosen specialized tourism jobs precisely due to the joy of engaging in adventure travel, such as safari expeditions, foreign cycling tours or hunting excursions. This kind of firsthand experience is often valued by specialized tour agencies as the helpful knowledge and experience gained during such vacations can be passed on to clients.
Beyond making travel arrangements, specific specialist tour operator duties may vary according to the travel activities each is experienced in. Operators work to tailor a client’s vacation toward an expressed interest that can be shared with fellow travelers or that can be enjoyed amongst family members. Some operators only organize travel for foreign or exotic destinations offered within certain time frames, but many also work to organize local excursions for weekend getaways or various short-term activities, such as skiing or fly fishing.