This jargon buster aims to give simple explanations of some frequently used words, phrases and acronyms used in travel distribution. It’s not an exhaustive list, so if you’ve heard a word, phrase or acronym you don't know, please get in touch with your Industry Relationship Manager (IRM)
ABTA - Association of British Travel Agents. Visit the ABTA website to find out more
Accessible - Useable by all people. Whether a hotel, restaurant, or attraction can by enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities, regardless of physical or other limitations
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
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.
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).
Buyers – The person working for or on behalf of the DMC, tour operator etc, who sources and negotiates the contract to buy from the individual tourism supplier
Client – The visitor coming on holiday or a tour operator who is selling to the end visitor
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
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 and 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 visits – Hosted trips which provide the opportunity to experience your product first-hand and improve product and destination knowledge
FAM – Familiarisation trip/tour for buyers/contractors or a tour operators’ sales team prior to selling Scotland
Fully independent travellers (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 travel agents who now specialise in providing solutions for these 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 where consumers meet a group of other travellers on the same holiday. 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 payment monthly
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
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, for top performing employees or sales agents
Intermediary – Anyone who acts as a link in the chain of distribution between a product and its customers. Travel agents, tour operators etc. are considered the intermediaries (distributors)
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 with where to go, when, and what to expect when you get there
Low season travel – Also called off-peak 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 also drop during these times. Working with intermediaries can help deliver sales into quiet times for your business.
Luxury tour operator – These tour operators work with often high net worth individuals or customers who are looking for a luxury holiday for them or their family. Their travel plans may include private yachts, helicopters or exclusive, VIP experiences – the sky’s the limit.
Market segment – Identifying a market segment is an ideal way to make sure that your offering is being marketed to and attracting the right type of customers
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 (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 i.e. 2 pax. It also extends to the number of guests, diners or participants
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
Packages – An easy and popular way to travel is by buying packages. These often include accommodation, travel and some meals
Rack rate – Standard daily rate established for hotel rooms. This rate is typically public, printed on hotel brochures and listed on websites.
Responsible tourism – Ecologically sustainable tourism with a primary focus on experiencing natural areas that fosters environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation, and conservation. 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, making them similar to 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
Single supplement – A single supplement is a surcharge applied to a single person staying in a room usually intended for two or more people
Suppliers – Tourism businesses who sell to buyers (DMCs or tour operators). They sell 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
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
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. They are B2B and act as a silent partner. They will sell these products via travel agents, tour operators, coach operators and other third parties
Many travel trade events have their own anagram, too. For example: GEM (Global European Marketplace), WTM (World Travel market). Visit our travel trade events and exhibitions page to find out more.