Tour operator

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

As a tour operator ( English operator tour, travel agent ) is someone who, travelers at least one power to carry out a travel provides.


The legal term of the tour operator occurs very frequently in travel law , but a legal definition is not (no longer) offered. In § 651a Abs. 1 BGB he is presented as a contracting partner of the traveler in the travel contract . Tour operators offer both the mass tourism vacation packages as well as Individual tourism Individual travel to. Your offer is based on both travel purposes, the vacation trip and the business trip .

The basic word "organizer" is misleading , of the characteristics of which only organizational responsibility , entrepreneurial risk and liability for tour operators apply. However, the implementation of the event is incumbent on the transport companies , hotels or other organizers mediated by the tour operator . However, tour operators are increasingly taking on the role of tour operators with their own airlines ( TUIfly ) or hotels ( TUI Hotels & Resorts ) as part of vertical integration . Tour operators combine travel services into tourist offers or combine them and sell them via travel catalogs on their own account and at their own risk.


In ancient times and during the Middle Ages , the first tour operators organized pilgrimages .

The waves of emigration from Europe to the USA in the 18th and 19th centuries were mostly organized by shipping companies who took on the role of tour operators. So in 1839 the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company and in May 1847 the Hamburg-American Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft came into being . On July 5, 1841, Thomas Cook organized the train journey of 570 activists of the abstinence movement from Leicester to nearby Loughborough at a special price of one shilling per person, making it the first tour operator in the age of industrialization . This was followed by field trips to Liverpool (1845), Scotland (1846) and the World Exhibition in London (1851). Cook made the first trip to mainland Europe in 1855. On May 17, 1861, Cook organized a journey by rail and ship to Paris for workers . For the first time, expenses for accommodation and meals were included in the price ( all inclusive ). This is how package tours began. He opened his first travel agency in London in 1865 .

In April 1906, Alfred Kuoni founded what would later become the largest Swiss tour operator, Kuoni . The first major German tour operator of modern times was the Central European Travel Agency (MER) founded in October 1917 , from which DER emerged in October 1948 . The Austrian Tourist Office was founded in December 1917 and is now the largest tourism group in the country. This was followed in Germany in 1928 by Hubert and Mary Tigges founded Dr. Tigges , a tour operator whose program was geared towards study trips . In November 1951, Ameropa-Reisen was founded by Bahn AG and specialized in the trips of American soldiers to their homeland. Touropa (emerged from DER in 1951), Hummel (1953) and Scharnow-Reisen (1953), followed by Studiosus Reisen (1954) and Marco Polo Reisen (1956) were among the first major tour operators after the war . LTU followed in October 1955, operating as a tour operator from 1964 through "Transair LTU" and from 1980 through "Meier's Weltreisen". The German Flugdienst GmbH (as of November 1961: Condor Flugdienst ) launched in December 1955 Source trips followed in 1962, Neckermann Reisen 1963, TUI took over in 1968, Dr. Tigges.

In November 1970 Kaufhof AG founded ITS Reisen , which was taken over by the Rewe Group in 1995 . Alltours was founded in January 1974, and in 1976 Karstadt took over Neckermann Reisen. In 1983 the FTI Group was founded as "Frosch Touristik". Kuoni was transferred to the German Rewe Group in September 2015. The largest tour operators in Austria today are Alltours, Eurotours International , FTI Austria, Jumbo / Ruefa and REWE Austria.


In terms of the size of their operations , the providers of package tours dominate the mass market . In addition, a number of special tour operators have established themselves in a niche market in the travel industry . For example, some companies have specialized in study, language, youth or expedition trips. Some providers focus on air travel, others on bus travel. There are also niche providers for certain countries and parts of the world. There is also a class market offering luxury travel and luxury hotels (such as Secret Escapes ).

Legal issues

In § 651a Abs. 2 BGB a. F. the tour operator was defined as a " natural or legal person who organizes, offers and provides a trip on their own responsibility". A commercial activity or a certain frequency is not required, so that occasional organizers such as school authorities , youth associations or clubs are included if anyone can participate in the trip by joining. A tour operator is also someone who only has a single travel service provided (e.g. just one flight); All the more, tour operators are companies that combine several partial services with a package tour or with connected travel services .

In the travel contract, according to § 651a BGB, the tour operator undertakes to provide the traveler with a set of travel services (travel). In return , the traveler is obliged to pay the tour operator the agreed travel price . Pursuant to Section 651c (1) of the German Civil Code, the tour operator is obliged to provide the trip in such a way that it has the warranted characteristics and is not affected by defects that negate or reduce the value or suitability for the usual benefit or benefit provided by the contract. In the case of package tours, the tour operator is liable, regardless of fault, for travel defects ( Section 651i BGB) in accordance with the travel contract, the mutual rights of termination and withdrawal before the start of the trip and during the trip, the traveller's claims for a reduction in the travel price, compensation , reimbursement of expenses or remedial action are regulated .

According to Section 651r (1) BGB, the tour operator must ensure that the travel price paid is reimbursed to the traveler if, in the event of the tour operator's insolvency, travel services are canceled or the traveler complies with requests for payment from service providers with regard to travel services whose payment claims the tour operator has not met . The tour operator can only meet these obligations through insurance with an insurance company authorized to conduct business or through a promise to pay from a credit institution authorized to conduct business ( travel insurance certificate ).

The tour operator is usually also the publisher of a travel catalog about the trips it offers, in which it may also include the reservation of an adjustment of the travel price in accordance with Section 1 (5) No. 3 PAngV .

economic aspects

Tour operators combine the partial services of individual service providers into the product of package tours or modular tours and offer these under their own name and risk. The most important tasks are the coordination of individual partial services (outward journey / hotel / sightseeing / departure) within the duration of the journey and the planning of the travel chains . With the latter, between the lead (the drive from the apartment to the train station , airport or port ), main course ( rail travel , bus travel , air travel , cruise ) and the follow-up (from the arrival station, airport of or port of destination to the hotel) distinguished.

In contrast to the traditional tour operator, the vertically integrated tour operator combines several levels of value creation into a value chain in one company by operating airlines or hotels himself. He can then better control the product and service quality, for example by operating his own hotels in such a way that the usual complaints are eliminated and customer satisfaction is increased. It makes use of economies of scale that follow the law of mass production and ultimately lead to competitive advantages through economies of scale .

A horizontal integration is by expanding the existing product range to related products for tend to be the same clientele instead. Some tour operators have expanded their travel catalogs to include wellness trips since 1999.


For the demarcation between tour operator and travel agent , the regulation according to § 651a Paragraph 2 BGB and the perspective of the traveler are decisive (§ § 133 BGB, § 157 BGB).

  • A tour operator provides the entirety of travel services promised in the travel contract itself or uses vicarious agents (service providers) to fulfill its obligations towards the traveler .
  • A travel agent arranges travel contracts between tour operators and travelers. He advises customers and properly forwards the booking to the tour operator.
  • A travel agency is a company in the travel industry that acts as a travel agent in tourism between tour operator and traveler. It can also organize trips itself and thus act as a tour operator.
  • In contrast to a classic tour operator , a virtual tour operator does not buy the components of a package tour ( flight , hotel beds, transfers, etc.) before booking, but puts them together online to form a travel package according to the wishes of the customer (see also: package tour operator ), The virtual tour operator is liable in the event of overbooking or flight cancellations. A virtual tour operator does without printed catalogs and offers its products online via web portals without advice . Virtual tour operators thus create a larger and, above all, more price-flexible product portfolio for customers.

A travel agency / travel agent usually arranges a travel offer from a tour operator, because third-party travel services are provided to the traveler on behalf of others and for third-party account. However, the agent is not responsible for carrying out the trip.

Web links

Wiktionary: Tour operator  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Adrian von Dörnberg / Walter Freyer / Werner Sülberg, Tour Operator Management , 2013, p. 54
  2. 147 years ago today… ; in: Märkische Oderzeitung, Frankfurter Stadtbote 17./18. May 2008, p. 1
  3. ^ Adrian von Dörnberg / Walter Freyer / Werner Sülberg, Tour Operator Management , 2013, p. 54
  4. ^ Verlag Schweizer Rundschau (ed.), Schweizer Rundschau , Volume 75, 1976, p. 45
  5. Lower Saxony State Museums (ed.), Party-Perlon-Petticoats , 2008, p. 89
  6. ^ Adrian von Dörnberg / Walter Freyer / Werner Sülberg, Tour Operator Management , 2013, p. 52
  7. Wolfgang Fuchs / Jörn W. Mundt / Hans-Dieter Zollondz (eds.), Lexikon Tourismus , 2008, p. 581
  8. ^ Adrian von Dörnberg / Walter Freyer / Werner Sülberg, Tour Operator Management , 2013, p. 5
  9. Christoph Haehling von Lanzenauer / Kristiane Klemm (eds.), Demographic Change and Tourism , 2007, p. 121
  10. Wolfgang Fuchs / Jörn W. Mundt / Hans-Dieter Zollondz (eds.), Lexikon Tourismus , 2008, p. 576 ff.
  11. Wolfgang Fuchs / Jörn W. Mundt / Hans-Dieter Zollondz (eds.), Lexikon Tourismus , 2008, p. 579
  12. Manager magazine of February 21, 2005, virtual tour operators oust travel agencies