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Essential skills profile

This profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skills is generally performed by most workers in this occupation. The levels of complexity estimated for each task are ranked between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced).

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Tour Operators (621)

This profile was developed as part of an occupational standard. The NOC group to which it relates is "Retail Trade Managers." Retail trade managers plan, organize, direct and control the operations of establishments that sell merchandise or services on a retail basis. Retail trade managers are employed by retail sales establishments or they may own and operate their own store.

Reading Help - Reading
  • Read trade publications to determine industry trends. (2)
  • Read letters to process information requests from potential clients. (2)
  • Scan resumes of job applicants. (2)
  • Skim promotional materials from suppliers, such as pamphlets, to maintain current knowledge of new facilities, new services and prices. (2)
  • Read tour manuals and travel guides to generate ideas for product development. (3)
  • Read books on trends to plan and market future tours. (4)
  • Read contracts with suppliers to review terms as per negotiated agreements (e.g., dates, rates) and assess the legal implications. (4)
  • Read resource materials such as academic literature, reports, government publications and travel guides to research destinations. (4)
Document use Help - Document use
  • Read mailing lists to distribute promotional materials. (1)
  • Refer to library catalogues to research tours. (2)
  • Refer to pictures in travel guides and brochures to form a visual impression of destinations and facilities. (2)
  • Read computer printouts of reservation confirmations to check for accuracy and completeness. (2)
  • Refer to calendars and airline schedules to schedule tour operators. (2)
  • Interpret maps to determine the suitability of roads and routes. (2)
  • Scan needs assessment questionnaires to identify what clients want. (3)
  • Interpret bank statements and financial reports to manage finances. (4)
  • Interpret complex tables and statistics such as those used for weather reporting and forecasting. (4)
Writing Help - Writing
  • Write check lists to remind self and others of things to do. (1)
  • Write notes to record ideas offered by tour participants and potential clients. (1)
  • Write letters to respond to customer complaints or to request information about destinations. (2)
  • Prepare draft itineraries for distribution to test their viability and adjust as necessary. (2)
  • Write press releases to implement public relations strategies. (3)
  • Revise the writing of others for factual accuracy, grammar, spelling and effectiveness. (3)
  • Write magazine articles to promote sales. (4)
  • Write advertisements to market tours. (4)
Numeracy Help - Numeracy Money Math
  • Collect payments and apply to accounts receivable. (1)
  • Prepare invoices, including calculation of discounts and taxes. (2)
  • Prepare payroll disbursements and maintain records. (3)
Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math
  • Determine human resource requirements and set personnel schedules. (2)
  • Compare options for activities with differing cost structures and make selections to prepare itineraries. (3)
  • Plan tour budgets and schedules to develop and finalize itineraries and monitor their execution by tour directors. (3)
  • Prepare company-wide budgets to develop and implement annual business plans. (4)
Measurement and Calculation Math
  • Convert metric system measurements to imperial system measurements and vice versa (for example kilometers to miles). (2)
Data Analysis Math
  • Compare the seasonal weather statistics of various potential destinations. (1)
Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate budget and scheduling factors such as the size of the group, travel times and the amount of supplies that will be required. (3)
Oral communication Help - Oral communication
  • Network with industry professionals such as competitors and tour staff at trade shows in order to stay up-to-date on emerging trends. (1)
  • Speak with potential clients when making sales calls. (1)
  • Interact with tour directors, suppliers and clients to troubleshoot problems. (2)
  • Speak with representatives in tourism offices and trade associations to generate ideas for product development. (2)
  • Respond to client complaints. (2)
  • Deliver presentations or seminars to invited audiences (e.g., to industry representatives, travel agents, potential clients and travel writers). (3)
  • Interact with employees to perform human resource management duties such as delivering training programs, supervising day-to-day work and conducting performance reviews. (3)
  • Interact with suppliers to negotiate contracts. (3)
Thinking Help - Thinking Problem Solving
  • A tour director has not reported for work and the tour starts at 9:00 a.m. Crisis management guidelines are always in place. Tour operators first determine if a scheduling error was made. The employee's past practice is used to quickly assess whether the employee will likely appear in sufficient time. Tour operators find a replacement or change the itinerary to ensure that the tour proceeds. (2)
  • Complaints are made because employees did not follow guidelines (e.g., money management, telephone manners) in the operations manual. Tour operators obtain all of the relevant information to validate complaints prior to meeting with the employee to discuss the problem and take steps to prevent it from happening again. (2)
  • A tour director phones in when the coach breaks down en route to a destination. This problem is very time sensitive as the itinerary and all related bookings (e.g., accommodations) are pre-arranged for specific times. The mood of the group may also sour. Tour operators track down a replacement coach and negotiate the terms of an emergency agreement. If necessary, tour operators adjust the itinerary and reschedule with vendors. (3)
  • It is impossible to conduct a sold-out tour, planned one and one-half years in advance, due to a ferry system change. Tour operators are obliged to dismantle the itinerary and develop alternative options for clients. Tour operators apply organizational and communication skills to solve the complex web of problems across a range of dimensions including legal, logistical, financial and client relations. (3)
Decision Making
  • Determine whether each tour will be implemented as planned. (2)
  • Make decisions about hiring and terminating employees. (3)
  • Make decisions about scheduling assignments, considering each tour director's strengths and weaknesses, to promote the success of tours. (3)
  • Make decisions about designing a new itinerary to an unfamiliar destination. (4)
  • Make decisions about guaranteeing departures in advance of operating a tour and making the corresponding commitments as required with clients, suppliers and staff. (4)
Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking information was not collected for this profile.

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Tour operators have variety in their work activities (e.g., product development, marketing, human resource management) although the processes applied (e.g., to develop itineraries) are repetitive. They establish their own priorities and determine the order of tasks. The work plan of tour operators is highly integrated with the work of others such as tour directors and suppliers. Tour operators routinely troubleshoot operational and human resource crises which results in frequent interruptions and re-prioritizing of their work plans. (3)

Significant Use of Memory
  • Remember what tours are currently being conducted, the names of the tour directors assigned and general itinerary details.
  • Remember advertisements and new ideas to follow up when timely and recall the names and faces of industry contacts.
  • Memorize guidelines outlined in the operations manual.
Finding Information
  • Consult suppliers to find information on products and services. (1)
  • Research client interests by telemarketing and reading evaluations. (2)
  • Speak with industry professionals to obtain information on emerging trends. (2)
  • Research new destinations by synthesizing and evaluating information acquired through reading, experience and feedback on personal impressions, electronic means (e.g. Internet), familiarization tours and attending destination seminars. (4)
Digital technology Help - Digital technology
  • Use other computer applications, such as computers or computer-controlled machinery or equipment. For example, they may use global positioning system (GPS) equipment. (1)
  • They write letters. (2)
  • They prepare visual aids for presentations. (2)
  • They prepare invoices. (2)
  • They do research using the Internet. (2)
  • They manage client information and do costing. (3)
  • They prepare budgets. (3)
Additional information Help - Additional information Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Tour operators lead their company's team to execute business plans through combined effort and organized co-operation. They work alone some of the time to plan itineraries and perform management functions. They work independently most of the time, co-ordinating their work with the work of others (such as tour directors, office staff) as required. They may work with a partner or helper.

Tour operators participate in formal group discussions with business partners in joint venture projects and employees under their supervision to discuss methods for improving work processes, product quality, allocation of responsibilities and goals.

Continuous Learning

Tour operators continue to learn in order to maintain and upgrade their skills (such as computer) and their knowledge (such as new destinations).

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