Results of the 2014 Tour Operator Survey


For years, industry veterans have been sharing their years of experience with newcomers. The team here at Fire Starter Brands set out to learn the truth about these treasured anecdotes.

In addition to conducting over 200 face-to-face meetings with tour operator companies last year, this April we conducted a groundbreaking survey. Our survey was sent to more than 2,400 contacts world-wide that are tour operator members of each of the major travel associations and we are excited to share with you some of the results. 


  • Tour operator companies tend to be smaller businesses with only 32% of respondents reporting that they work for companies with more than 20 employees.
  • Four out of five of those surveyed are decision makers for their company.
  • Tour Operators are two times as likely to respond to a postcard, traditional mail piece and/or email blast from suppliers.  
  • Tour operators are eight times more likely to act upon information received during a personal visit.
  • Tour operators plan ahead. 4 out of 5 tour operators report that they plan tours more than 6 months in advance with more than 30% reporting that their tours are planned more than a year ahead of the actual travel dates.
  • Tour operators report that word of mouth is the number one source of new business for their companies while online marketing barely surpassed the printed catalog or brochure for the number two spot.  Radio & television were the least likely sources for tour operators to find new business.
  • From tree houses to luxury boutique hotels, tour operators are include a wide variety of accommodations in their itineraries.
  • Activities matter - more than 97% of tour operators report that they've included local sightseeing (walking tours, step-on guides, bus or sightseeing cruises) in their itineraries. Rounding out the top three items included are ticketed performing arts and cultural institutions.
  • Everybody eats. In fact, nearly 95% of tour operators include breakfast and dinner in their itineraries and over 86% include lunch. Operators also report that they're now building tours that include tailgate parties, cocktail receptions and 'sweets & treats' as meal alternatives.
  • Almost as many operators report to working with active adult groups as do those who work with student groups. Operators report a strong presence in the independent, corporate and senior group markets too!
  • Nearly half of all operators report that they'll move more than 10,000 passengers in the coming year with nearly 13% reporting that they'll accommodate more than 50,000 travelers.
  • 7 out of 10 operators are likely to recommend Fire Starter Brands to a travel industry supplier that is looking to attract more tour groups.

This survey's margin of error is +/- 8%.

For more details or to learn more about how Fire Starter Brands can help your organization use this incredible data to attract and engage more tour operators, contact us today for a free consultation.