What is Travel Itinerary?
An itinerary is a plan of a journey showing the route and the places that the visitor will visit. Thus, it is a schedule or timetable produced in association with a package tour. It is basically designed to identify the route, day-by-day journey format, origin, destination, and all the enroute halting points, period of halts along with accommodation, mode of travel, activities and other services offered during a visitor’s tour.
Table of Content
An itinerary is not just a piece of information but a selling point aimed at convincing potential customers. Itineraries are also produced for travellers’ booking flights; it then includes departure time, airport, terminal details, flight number, baggage limits, transits, seat allocation and minimum check-in time, which doesn’t really include any marketing element. But package tour itineraries play a key role in attracting clients.
Types of Itinerary
A package tour itinerary may be divided into five types with the primary objective of reminding the duties and responsibilities of different stakeholders involved in organising a package to such as tour managers, vendors, coach drivers, interpreters, escorts and guides.
Thus, the five types of itinerary can be tourist’s itinerary, tour manager’s itinerary, escort or guide’s itinerary, vendor’s itinerary and coach driver’s itinerary.
Another classification of itinerary may also be done keeping in mind the needs of tourists and convenience of tour operators such as GIT itinerary, FIT itinerary, Tailor-made itinerary and special interest itinerary. Let us now learn the nature of these types in detail.
Tourists itinerary is given to a particular tourist for his reference as part of the package tour. A tourist expects the tour to be organised as per the itinerary mentioned in the package tour he/she has purchased.
For planners it is important to check its feasibility. Generally, planners organise FAM trips in advance to have the feel of the itinerary and identify the limitations and they are rectified before they are incorporated into a package tour and made available for the reference of the tourists.
Hence tour planners should take into consideration various aspects such as purpose of tour, budget, accommodation, transportation, choice of destinations and attractions, activities at destinations, legal issues, host and guest behaviour and so on. They may also keep certain things as optional.
Tour managers itinerary
The role of the tour manager is crucial to any package tour as he/she has to perform different duties from planning to actual operation of the tour continuously on the spot. Professional expertise, knowledge of different travel issues, crisis management and his/her own personal experiences matter a lot in organising a tour.
Tour manager’s itinerary includes the complete details of the whole tour from day one to the last day. Apart from the general details as listed in a tourist’s itinerary a tour managers itinerary also carries information about alternative arrangements, contact details, quick references, differential rates and tariff details, details of coach drivers and escorts and guides. This helps him/her to have complete control over the smooth conduct of the tour as well as to execute contingency plans if required at times.
Escort or Guide itinerary
An escort or guide should know in detail where the group is being taken to, what activities and events are to be organised, time management of the tour and other group details. Vast experience, knowledge of practical ground difficulties, presence of mind and readiness to handle a crisis of an escort or guide adds to the successful conduct of a tour. The escorts being physically with the group/tourist all through the journey, they are more than expected to deliver and keep the image of the company in high esteem.
Vendors play a major role in delivering what is mentioned in the clients itinerary. Hence it is unavoidable but to be aware of the specific parts of the itinerary so as to make the necessary arrangements in advance and delivery to the fullest satisfaction of the guests when they arrive at their place.
For instance, a hotel may organise a surprise welcome event when the group arrives as per the nature of the group and time of arrival, may offer special services and enhance the service satisfaction and value addition. It is possible only if the vendors know at least the specific part of clients itinerary which is expected from them.
Coach drivers itinerary
A typical coach driver’s itinerary includes group arrival point and time, pickup points and time, turn around points, restricted areas of driving, sightseeing activities, other entertainment activities, parking spaces, entry points, drop-in points all with specific time. For instance, it may be seen that at places a driver is asked to drive slow which is mentioned in his itinerary so that tourist may have a better view of a monument and take photographs. A copy of the client’s itinerary resembles a coach driver’s itinerary with the above mentioned additional informations. This helps the driver in coordinating with the escort and managing the group.
Steps in Planning Tour Itinerary
Step 1 – Research other tours in the marketplace
Step 2 – Name your tour:
Step 3 – Map out the duration, frequency and departure point of your tour
- When will your tour depart? ……………. am/pm
- When will your tour return? ……………. am/pm
- How often will your tour operate? ……………. per/ wk
- Where will the central departure point be? …………….
- Will you offer accommodation pick up? Yes No
Step 4 – List the major locations and highlights of your tour
- Where will your tour travel to?
- What are the main highlights that visitors are going to experience?
Step 5 – Research your tour content and commentary
List the main topics you wish to include in your commentary, such as flora, fauna, history, culture, as well as the main points to consider with each of these topics and the resources you will use to find the information.
Step 6 – List any third-party activities, attractions, entrance fees and inclusions
List any activities offered by other companies or entrance fees and determine if they will be included in your tour price or offered as extras. For example cruises, bike rides, entry into national parks, caves etc…
Step 7 – Obtain permission to access private and public properties
Whether you are passing through, stopping for meals or visiting attractions, it is imperative that you obtain permission in writing from the property owner prior to accessing any private property. If travelling through property managed by the Department of Environment and Conservation, you will need to apply for a Commercial Operator’s License.
If your itinerary includes entering Aboriginal Land, restricted area you will be required to apply for Entry Permits for which you will need to gain access approval.
Step 8 – Perfecting your tour timing
It is crucially important to map out your tour itinerary accurately to ensure that you arrive on time for activity and meal stops and return to your original destination at a reasonable time.
Step 9 – Test driving your tour itinerary
It is very important to do several ‘try runs’ of your tour itinerary to ensure you get the timing right. It is also a good idea to invite people who have some knowledge of the industry and are prepared to give you constructive comments, to do a tour.
Do and Do Not of Itinerary
Do’s of Itinerary
- Do add all places of halt with date and time.
- Do provide a brief summary of the city(s)/country and the sights.
- Do provide name of the hotel, type of vehicle, time of arrival and departure.
- Do include meal plans.
- Do provide links for additional information about the city, country, sights, restaurants, hotels.
- Do provide as many relevant maps as possible.
- Do provide names and places written in the local language.
- Do provide unique information about the destination (Ex: scams and customs).
Do not’s of Itinerary
- Don’t add too many details which might cause confusion.
- Don’t leave directions ambiguous. There are lots of distractions when coming into a new city, be as specific as possible.
- Don’t forget about the nature of group, age group, physical disabilities, eating habits and language barriers.
- Don’t go overboard on the hotel recommendations. Most hotels are pretty similar in a given price range.
- Don’t include shops which are not registered, restricted areas without availing permits etc.
- Don’t forget about restaurant recommendations.