Systemising a tour operation checklist

Download an editable version of this checklist 


Determine who will be responsible for receiving enquiries  
Prepare a set script for all phone queries  
Prepare a set template which you use for every online enquiry  
Respond to online enquiries within 24 hours if possible  


Determine who will be responsible for processing reservations  
Establish a system for recording reservations  
Establish a system to ensure bookings can be confirmed instantly  
Determine the type of tickets to be issued  
Define your reservation hours  
Have a backup system for after hour's calls - diversion to a mobile  
Consider outsourcing phone enquiries to a third party  


Determine payment types accepted - credit, cash, PayPal, cheque  
Determine how providers will be paid - invoice, cash on the day  


Determine your minimum passenger numbers for the tour to operate  
Determine your maximum passenger numbers  
Determine when and how external providers will be advised of final passenger numbers  


Set up a system for passenger cancellations  
Write a comprehensive cancellation policy  


Set up a system for passenger cancellations  
Write a comprehensive cancellation policy  


Prepare a vehicle maintenance checklist  
Prepare a comprehensive tour overview, including commentary, meet and greet protocol, timed stops  
If you have stock, prepare a stock check system for goods, including ordering and checking  


Prepare a safety management plan  
Develop incident and accident procedures  
Document a risk management plan  
Prepare an emergency plan  
Obtain a first aid kit and system for using it  
Develop a procedure for dealing with hazardous chemicals  
Draft a customer complaint form  


Write comprehensive job descriptions for all positions within your business  
Develop a recruitment, selection and induction system for new staff  
Determine what training will be available to staff  
Develop a rostering system for staff  
Draft a customer feedback form and determine how you will gather this information  


Although difficult to do, it is advised that you operate with no minimum numbers initially. This will help build credibility with your customers and with booking agents (those who can sell your tours). Agents and passengers do not like unreliable operators, if you cancel tours often, especially after confirmations have been made, it reflects badly on the agent and the operator.

It is important to maintain a good relationship with your suppliers, such as third party cruise operators or lunch providers. The type of tour you are operating will govern when the tour is 'closed off'. Suppliers may also dictate when final passenger numbers are due. The time frame for advising passenger numbers will depend on the structure and content of your tour and the supplier's requirements:

  1. Day tour operators usually advise suppliers the day before of passenger numbers.
  2. Extended tours and safari tours are sold on a seat by seat basis, therefore approximately four weeks before departure, you need to advise your suppliers of approximate passenger numbers and if necessary release surplus room allocations.
  3. A group tour would generally be closed at least one month before departure date.

Once passenger numbers are finalised for your tour, you should confirm in writing to the supplier, including details of the reservation and any additional discussions or comments relevant to the reservation:

  • full description of the service that is required
  • date of reservation
  • time of service with an estimated time of arrival
  • the number of passengers - plus driver and/or tour guide
  • special requests - dietary requirements or requests, accessible room requests
  • quoted cost of service
  • special requirements
  • additional comments