A question to those who tour abroad. About reservations.

I have another question for the kind HO community. When you are selecting a holiday/vacation/tour package in another country,

  1. do you pay in advance?
  2. Or do you make a reservation paying a percentage?
  3. Do you pay through the foreign/local agent’s website?

Any answer would be greatly appreciated. :smiley:

Hard no to 2 and 3. For 1, theoretically I’d prepay the bill if that was the restaurant’s policy, but I’ve never been asked to.

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LMS - as you’ve posted this to the “not about food” forum, I’m guessing you’re asking about the whole trip, not just the restaurant side of that trip.

In which case, the short answer to your three questions is that it depends on the vendor and their individual terms and conditions. And I’ve certainly come across occasions when the answer to each of your questions is “yes”. Now, I rarely buy a package holiday, preferring to make all of our own arrangements independently but, on the occasions when I have, it’s been through companies in the UK, so total advance payment prior to the trip has been made to them. But, of course, if I’m arranging things independently I’ll be making bookings through the foreign website and paying in local currency.

In terms of paying a percentage at reservation, I’ve not come across this yet for overseas trips but it’s becoming increasingly common for restaurants in the UK to require a small deposit at the time of booking. There’s one restaurant in my town which requires full payment in advance for their tasting menu (which is all they serve). It leaves you with drinks and service charge to pay on the night. It’s an extreme example as the payment is totally non-refundable, although the restaurant allows you to change dates or pass on the reservation to someone.

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This time (Italy next week!) they are making restaurant reservations, but the cost of the restaurants is not paid in advance, and don’t appear to require a deposit, like it tends to be when we dine in the San Francisco Bay area.

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Thanks for bringing that up. Yes I meant about booking a whole trip. For example, a 7 day 6 night tour to Vietnam.
I’m trying to get an idea about how I must start my service, and what to include in my website. I want to cater to what the guests prefer, and to work in line with what they are used to.
Because tourism is ever changing, and I must get myself established as a reliable operator, which of course will take some time.
One step at a time :smiley:

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Ah. I get it now that you’re hoping to start a travel business. I may not be very helpful in that case as I’ve never run any sort of business.

But, as a first step, I’d suggest you look at businesses/websites which offer the same sort of tour, to see how they organise the trips and how they market it to potential customers. That will give you a basis but it might also suggest where there’s a gap in the market that you could fill.

Good luck. You pick a difficult time. As you’ll know, post Covid, the whole hospitality industry is having a very difficult time.


Yes that’s the next step after getting my national tourist guide license. I know, the industry hit the rock bottom and now trying to get back up. But my country has no other out either.
I checked out websites. The thing is, due to fierce competition they don’t publish everything, or even the exact itinerary or pricing. Far less how they charge money or anything about reservation. Besides if I know how the guests think and do things on their side I can get a better idea.
Thanks everyone for taking time to answer me. Really appreciate it and mean it.

A while ago I spoke to a guy engaged in tourism and he said they charge 50% in advance, and receive the balance at the airport when the guests arrive. I must go 30% maybe, just enough to cover the preparation work I guess. I must stay ready armed with all details when the next tourist season starts.

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OH! I assumed just restaurant reservations. I pay for airfare and hotel in advance, of course. I haven’t used a travel agency in years, not since booking on the web became so easy.

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Yes. When I was schooling there were only tourist groups. Backpackers were unheard of. Today it’s the other way around. Solo travellers and those who book everything themselves are the main category.
That’s why my website was originally made as a self guide for those who visit Sri Lanka on their own. It’s time to add a “tour packages” section now. :slightly_smiling_face:

Well for what it’s worth, I used to do all the planning and coordinating myself, but have really come to appreciate outsourcing that to someone who does it for a living. I know it would cost less if I handled the details, but there are times when it has been invaluable.

Once we had a cruise followed by a few stops by land on the Amalfi coast, and there was some kind of weather event, and they handled a bunch of changes.

Just last year there were all manner of changes ( flights cancelled, train strikes, visa snafus) when five of us were scheduled to meet in London, and they sorted (most of) it all out.

Stuff like that might be important to at least a segment of the market.

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While I am not a tour-taker myself, I thought of some info that might be useful. Have you ever heard of Rick Steves, who operates a well-known tour company that focuses on North American travelers who want to visit Europe?

I mention this because you might get some inspiration from their website about what travelers might look be seeking when they visit your own site. Some of the guides also have their own private tour businesses in addition to their work with Rick Steves’ business.

You seem to be someone who is always learning, and examples can be helpful for that. (I learn by example and go through tons of info when I want to figure something out!)


We’ve been to South Africa twice. First time was part of an organised tour group, so everything sorted by the company. Second time, it was just the two of us but all arrangements were planned and made for us by a small UK company, right down to the driver, who also acted as a guide, while he was transferring us between locations. Could have done it ourselves but this was so much easier and, almost certainly, more comprehensive. His specialism was the country’s military history and it was genuinely thrilling to be sat on top of Spion Kop, listening to him recount the details of the battle, pointing to where events had taken place literally a few yards away. And, on the final day when he was taking us back to Cape Town he said we’d plenty of time so he’d go the scenic route. Never any mention till we got there that we’d visit the site where Nelson Mandela was captured by the security police. Memorable.

I think what I’m saying to LMS is that I think the secret of success for small group tours is to find the unique selling points that other operators don’t have. I wonder if this could be food which I assume, by his presence here, LMS has an interest in. I mean the food of India/Pakistan/Bangladesh is reasonably well known but not so much Sri Lankan.


I took a look at Rick Steve’s website, and it’s exactly what I’m preparing now. His site has more elements obviously because it’s an expensive theme. But my itineraries will be similar. I think it’s a universally used format. Anyway I can’t charge like they do because I am still new to the trade, and I must build up trust in people before I can charge the full amount. Some day :smiley:
About food, we don’t have a huge line up of items here, to be honest. What we offer here is available in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Thailand, China, and other Asian countries. What Sri Lanka is known for is sun,sand,and sea. Coconuts, pineapples, and other tropical fruits. And the star of the show is seafood. However, seafood is very expensive here, except for some types of fish. I have a plan to offer them too, at an affordable price.
My main question is about how to charge money. Whether Europeans are used to paying for their trip in advance, or what percentage they pay over the internet for making a reservation.
Currently I’m planning the itineraries. :slightly_smiling_face:


I think the issue of trust may be important. If I am paying money in advance, I want to be sure that the company is honest and reputable. I follow a particular Tripadvisor for a Spanish resort area and it has not been uncommon for people to have been totally scammed by fraudsters setting up a fake company, advertising fake properties to rent, takign folk’s payments and disappearing.

In respect of my two trips to South Africa I used British companies. One had a well known good reputation. The other had a similarly good, if more recent, reputation. With regard to the latter, I found other companies, based in South Africa, which offered the same service. I’m sort of sure they would have been fine but it felt “safer” to use the British company, as I couldnt find much by way of reviews. Assuming I’m not alone in wanting to be sure my chosen company is not going to rip me off, then your major problem is how to build up that trust. Might you be able to start off in a relatively small way - perhaps offering tour services that represented only a part of someone’s trip to Sri Lanka, rather than organising their whole trip?


If your main payment option is with a credit card (which, it should be, by the way) then there really shouldn’t be any issue with concerns by a customer on whether your company, be it new, old, or somewhere in between, will follow through.

At the end of the day, if your company bails out before the trip is set to occur, the customer can simply have their CC company fight their battle for them, and they’ll get their money back.

As to how to iterate the payment, or payments. You could do 50% at time of booking, remaining 35% within 2 weeks of travel date, and the final 15% within 3 days of travel date. Or something like that.

And you could also offer the option of a 5% discount if payment is made in full at time of booking.

Good luck.


And hoppers!!! Mmmmmm


@Harters yes I want to build trust. I must also look into the possibility of getting groups from agents in the UK and other countries.
Big companies do have their assurance of giving what they offer, here too. But there are times when they employ unqualified guides and underpay the staff. Name is big, reputation is good among the guests, but they exploit the staff. I want justice to everyone who helps.
@ipsedixit I can charge from credit cards but the payment gateways charge a lot. That’s hard for a beginner. We have PayPal here, but money out only. No money in facility. People have been asking the Central Bank to do something about it but no response. Anyway I can find a way to settle that through someone who has a payment gateway. But it would be great if PayPal is there because they assure refunds which is a relief for those who pay.
@jammy you’ve been here? Yes hoppers and egg hoppers are popular among tourists. Also I think coconuts and pineapples too. :smiley:

The idea of getting groups from UK agents (and other countries) seems a very sound way forward. British companies offering small group tours must rely on local guides, facilitators, etc to actually operate the holidays. You should Google to find such companies and make your pitch to them. Perhaps also Google for reviews of their existing arrangements and see if there is a gap in the market you can fill.


Planning to do exactly that. It will be a hard task as the vast majority of agents in the UK have already partnered with companies here. Also I’ll need to show a huge staff, fleet, guides etc to get a contract. But there could be new agencies that think small and practical. I have hope.

I haven’t been, but have had hoppers. I’d love to visit Sri Lanka at some point. Such a diverse ecosystem and such an old culture.

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