Six Benefits of Traveling with a USTOA Tour Operator
By Terry Dale, President and CEO of the United States Tour Operators Association
Only tour operators who meet the highest standards of care, integrity, and insurance can become members of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA). These U.S. based companies take travelers to the farthest corners of the earth, offering unparalleled access, peace of mind, and protection every step of the way.
During times of crisis – pandemics, natural disasters, even political upheaval – tour operators are uniquely positioned to assist their guests to ensure they return home safely. In times of uncertainty, the tour operator members of USTOA enable consumers to travel with confidence.
What’s so special about tour operators who are members of USTOA? Here are six benefits to traveling with one:
- Protect Your Trip
The $1 Million Travelers Assistance Program protects your trip when you book with a USTOA tour operator. Companies must qualify for the program to become a member, which, among other requirements, stipulates that in the case of a company’s bankruptcy or insolvency, all your tour payments are protected up to an aggregate of $1 million dollars.
- Travel Confidently
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, USTOA has released a set of health and sanitization guidelines specifically for tour operators. The TOURCARE Guidelines were developed in collaboration with the Canadian Association of Tour Operators (CATO) and the European Tourism Association (ETOA). These guidelines set a universal standard for all tour operator members.
- Have Peace of Mind
If unforeseen problems arise, a tour escort, local host, or representative is always there to assist travelers. Vacations that are planned by trusted industry professionals bring this peace of mind when traveling domestically or abroad.
- Save Money
By buying in bulk and negotiating special rates for accommodations, transportation, meals, and more, tour operators can offer substantial savings to the traveler. Plus, prepaying for trips allow travelers to budget for vacations with greater certainty. Every cost and inclusion are presented upfront, and there’s a convenience of “one-stop shopping” for the vacation, which, rather than booking every hotel, meal, and transportation separately, also saves considerable time.
- Find Variety and Flexibility
Tour operators offer packaged travel to meet any vacation dream: solo travelers, multi-generational families, honeymooners, river cruise fanatics, and the most adventurous guests can find an itinerary that fits their interests with thousands of trips and a wide range of budget to choose from. Many itineraries are flexible and can be custom-made to allow for freedom to explore a destination on your own or add on new experiences.
- Gain Unparalleled Access
With insider information that is not in any guidebook, on-the-ground experts bring a unique perspective to the trip and find the best hidden gems to share with guests. By negotiating with local companies and hard-to-visit attractions, guides offer a new level of accessibility. Locally crafted itineraries take travelers beyond the hot spots and offer fulfilling and educational experiences, from eating a home-cooked meal to taking an art class.
Representing nearly $19 billion in revenue, the member companies of the United States Tour Operators Association provide tours, packages and custom arrangements that allow 9.8 million travelers annually unparalleled access, insider knowledge, peace-of-mind, value and freedom to enjoy destinations and experiences across the entire globe. Each member company has met the travel industry’s highest standards, including participation in the USTOA’s Travelers Assistance Program, which protects consumer payments up to $1 million if the company goes out of business. As a voice for the tour operator industry for more than 40 years, USTOA also provides education and assistance for consumers and travel agents.