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Our aim is to give simple explanations of some frequently used words, phrases and acronyms used in travel distribution. It’s not an exhaustive list.

Did you come across a word, phrase or acronym you don't know? Please get in touch with your Industry Relationship Manager (IRM).


Term Meaning
ABTA Association of British Travel Agents. Visit the ABTA website to find out more.
Accessible Useable by all people. E.g. a hotel, restaurant, or attraction that can by enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities, regardless of physical or other limitations. Also referred to as inclusive travel.
ACTA Association of Canadian Travel Agencies; a national member-based trade association that represents the retail travel sector of Canada’s tourism industry. Find out more about ACTA on their website.
Aggregator A website that searches for deals across multiple websites and shows consumers the results in one place.
Airline vacation arm The holiday package arm of major airlines.
Allocation A pre-negotiated number of seats / rooms / vehicles held by a wholesaler or inbound tour operator for sale to their clients.
ASTA The American Society of Travel Advisors is the world's largest association of travel professionals. Their members include travel advisors and the companies whose products they sell such as tours, cruises, hotels, car rentals, etc. They are the leading advocate for travel advisors, the travel industry and the traveling public in the USA. Visit the ASTA website to discover more.
ASVA The Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions is the representative body for the Visitor Attractions Sector in Scotland. Visit the ASVA website to find out more.
Business tourism Incorporates visitors travelling for conventions, conferences, seminars, workshops, symposiums, incentives, exhibitions, and special events. Visit our business preparation page to find out more about business tourism and pricing.
B2B Business to business.
B2B2C Business to business to consumer.
B2C Business to consumer (i.e. end client / visitor).
Buyer The person working on behalf of an intermediary (e.g. a DMC or tour operator) who sources and negotiates the contract to buy from the individual tourism supplier.
Client The visitor coming on holiday via an intermediary (e.g. a tour operator or travel agent).
Commission The fee paid to intermediaries for them to market, distribute and sell your product. You can find out more about pricing in our business preparation section.
Consumer Also known as the customer, traveller, visitor or client.
Distributer Also known as travel trade or intermediaries through whom businesses can sell their bookable product to other businesses in the travel distribution system or to the end consumer. Find out more about distributers in our how travel trade can benefit your business section.
Distribution (channel) The channels or places through which a consumer may purchase your product. Also known as route to market.
Distribution online Using the internet and web portals to distribute or promote your product to consumers.
DMC Destination Management Company. Find out more in our How travel trade can benefit your business section.
DMO Destination Management Organisation is a regional collaborative group of businesses looking after the promotion of a particular region and its businesses including accommodation providers, restaurants, attractions, events, tours, etc. The primary function is to attracts visitors to the destination and therefore enhance the local economy. Examples include VisitAberdeenshire, South of Scotland Destination Alliance or Visit Moray Speyside.
ETOA European Tour Operator Association. The trade association for tour operators and suppliers in European destinations, from global brands to local independent businesses. Discover more on the ETOA website.
Educational visit Hosted tours for intermediaries (e.g. DMCs or tour operators) that provide the opportunity to experience your product first-hand and improve product and destination knowledge
FAM trip Familiarisation trip / tour for buyers / contractors or a tour operators’ sales team prior to selling Scotland. Similar to educational visit.
Fully independent traveller (FIT) Also known as "free independent traveller", "foreign independent traveller", or "frequent independent traveller". These travellers usually travel on their own, in couples, or in smaller groups of friends or family. These travellers tend to plan their own itineraries and book aspects of their holiday themselves. There are tour operators and travel agents who specialise in providing bookable tours for these kind of travellers.
FOC Free of charge.
Gross rate The price that consumers pay for your product, i.e. the cost plus your commission. Also known as retail rate, rack rate or door rate
Group travel An organised, multi-day holiday that is pre-booked and during which consumers meet a group of other travellers visiting the same locations. Groups can range in size from a few people up to coaches of 50 or more.
Group rate Discounted rates for multiple rooms booked at a time.
Free sell A room, seat or vehicle provided by an operator to a wholesaler or inbound tour operator in unrestricted quantities until otherwise indicated, so a booking may be confirmed immediately to a client. This arrangement involves reporting from supplier and operator, as well as monthly payment.
IATA International Air Transport Association. More information can be found on the IATA website.
Inbound tourism International tourist traffic coming into a country. Also referred to as export tourism from a source market.
Inbound tour operator A tour operator based in a specific destination country who plans itineraries and organises travel arrangements or conducts tours for travellers based elsewhere.
Incentive travel Incentive travel is a trip offered as a prize or reward, usually for top performing employees or sales agent.
Inclusive travel Also referred to as accessible travel. More information can be found on our accessible and inclusive tourism page.
Intermediary Anyone who acts as a link in the chain of distribution between a product and its customers. Travel agents, tour operators and DMCs are all considered an intermediary (or distributor).
IPS International Passenger Survey
Itinerary The planned route for a trip. This is what the travel trade professionals sell to their customers. It’s a pre-planned experience that includes where and when to go, and what to expect when you get there.
Low season travel Also called off-peak or shoulder season travel, certain destinations are less popular during different times of the year (think of a tropical island in the middle of the rainy season). Often, rates are lower during these times. Working with intermediaries can help drive sales in quiet times for your business.
Luxury tour operator These tour operators usually work with often high net worth individuals or customers who are looking for a luxury holiday. Their travel plans may include private yachts, helicopters or exclusive, VIP experiences – the sky’s the limit.
Market segment Identifying a market segment in which to operate and a target audience to which to promote your product or experience to is an ideal way to make sure that your offering is attracting the right type of customers. Learn more about the different visitor markets for Scotland.
MICE Meetings, incentives, conferences, and events. Find out more in our How travel trade can benefit your business section.
Net rate The gross rate less the commission amount. The amount that you receive from the distributor.
NTO National Tourist Organisation, such as VisitScotland or VisitBritain (the latter sometimes referred to as VB).
Online booking system An easy way for customers to book (or reserve) in real time an offering online and receive confirmation without having to go through an agent.
Online travel agent (OTA) Allows consumers to check live availability and pricing then book travel products in real time through the OTA website. An online travel agency, or OTA, is a website or mobile app that allows users to search for and book travel services such as flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, and activities. The booking is made directly with the online travel agency but confirmed by the service provider, such as an airline or a hotel. Find out more in our How travel trade can benefit your business section.
Outbound tourism Residents travelling out of their country to an international destination.
PAX Pax is travel industry jargon that refers to the number of passengers, e.g. 2 pax. It also extends to the number of guests, diners or participants.
PTR The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements 2018. This provides important protection for consumers who book a package holiday. It is important for Scottish tourism businesses to be aware of these arrangements and ensure they comply when selling to European travellers. Read more about it on
Package An easy and popular way to travel is by buying a package holiday. This often includes accommodation, travel and some meals, but can also include attractions or experiences.
Rack rate Standard daily rate established for hotel rooms. This rate is typically public, printed on hotel brochures and listed on websites. This is not the same as a trade rate.
Responsible tourism This term refers to ecologically sustainable tourism. A primary focus may be on experiencing natural areas that foster environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation, and conservation. Responsible tourism goes beyond this though and businesses are encouraged to develop and promote a number of sustainability initiatives, e.g. climate action plans, inclusive travel, slow travel. Visit our Responsible tourism section to find out more.
Retail travel agent These allow travellers to book travel products either through a wholesaler, a tour operator, or direct with the supplier. Traditional tour operators and high street travel agents may also have an online travel booking system, like an OTA. Find out more in our How travel trade can benefit your business section.
SDMA The Scottish Destination Management Association is the officially recognised and constituted association for Scottish-based tour operators and destination management companies. Visit the SDMA website to find out more.
Seasonal pricing Different price levels throughout the year to cover low and high seasons. These are usually the same date periods each year and apply for school holidays, public holidays or for local events where the dates vary each year.
Shoulder season Also called off-peak or low season travel.
Single supplement A single supplement is a surcharge applied to a single person staying in a room usually intended for two or more people.
STGA The Scottish Tourist Guides Association is the only professional membership body for fully trained, accredited guides within Scotland with endorsement from VisitScotland and VisitBritain.
Supplier A tourism business who sells to buyers (DMCs or tour operators). The sale is B2B (Business to Business).
Tour operator A business specialising in developing holiday programs and itineraries for direct sales to end clients or to travel agent networks. Tour operators can be generalists offering tour packages published in catalogues and sold through travel agents, or they can be and FIT tour operator selling tours directly to the end client. Tour operators are usually based in source markets and can have significant brand presence and sales networks.
Travel agent / travel advisor A travel agent or travel advisor is a professional travel consultant with the resources, connections and expertise to book a package holiday. They have a strong and influential role in the choice of holiday destination their clients choose. They negotiate commission, working directly with DMCs, tour operators and wholesalers, and occasionally booking with an accommodation or activity provider directly. In some markets, travel agents may act purely as resellers, selling programmes from larger tour operators. Find out more in our How travel trade can benefit your business section.
Trade shows Events held both in Scotland and overseas which act as a platform for suppliers to meet with buyers. (B2B).
Travel trade A collective term for the agents that make up the distribution system, including tour operators, wholesalers, retail, and online agents. Often referred to as intermediaries.
UKInbound UKInbound is a trade association that represents the interests of the UK’s inbound tourism sector. UKInbound provide opportunities for its membership to grow and develop via a programme of events designed to connect buyers and suppliers in the travel trade. For more information, visit the UKInbound website.
USTOA The United States Tour Operators Association; an organisation representing the interests of tour operators across the United States. USTOA Active members represent some of the top names in travel and tourism, and account for a sizeable portion of the tour operator market in North America. Discover more on the USTOA website.
Vertically Integrated Tourism Group Tourism businesses that own companies across all travel trade categories, e.g. packaging and selling Scotland as tour operators, travel agents, OTAs and Wholesalers. These businesses tend to incorporate a variety of subsidiaries that sell through all available routes to market.
Visiting friends and relatives (VFR) Visitors whose main purpose is to visit with friends and relatives.
Wholesaler They contract tourism product, but wouldn’t sell directly to the consumer. They are usually B2B only and act as a silent partner in the distribution chain. They will sell these products via travel agents, tour operators, coach operators and other third parties.

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