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In the travel industry, it is easy to assume all words mean the same thing. But that is not always the case. Some words are similar in meaning but are actually two different things which produce two different experiences. It is important to know the right terms to use especially when travelling outside the country. It could save you a pretty penny.

Here are some travel words we use interchangeably all the time:

1. Tour Operator versus Destination Management Company (DMC)

A DMC is a business that specialises in the promotion and reselling of tours or accommodation related to a specific area because they have advanced knowledge in that field.

While a Tour operator is a person or company who arranges tours for visiting travellers. Then there are also the Inbound Tour Operators (ITO) who specialise in providing tours to overseas travellers visiting a destination through a partnership with local suppliers or operating the tours themselves.

2. Travel Writer Versus Travelogue

A Travelogue is a travel blogger who writes for their own blog, using their personality to sell their writings or create an audience. While a travel writer is one who writes for someone else like an established brand/publication e.g. a newspaper or magazine company. The travel writer can leverage on the brand he writes for to grow his audience rather than his personality. The rights of the work of a travelogue are his while those of a travel writer belongs to the establishment he is writing for.

3. Resort Versus Motel Versus Hotel

There are lots of hotels in Nigeria that call themselves a resort. But outside Nigeria, there is a distinction in these three terms – resort, motel and hotel.

A resort is a self-contained commercial establishment that provides for vacationers’ needs. It has recreation, food, shopping and entertainment centres along with lodgings in the premises. It is so all-inclusive that people can come by for recreational purposes like swimming, playing tennis/basketball on the courts, bring kids to enjoy the kiddies playground, etc. without spending the night. Example of a resort is Omu Resort.

A hotel is more private and is more for lodging. Sure they have swimming pools, gyms or even conference rooms but they limit it to only guests who lodge.

However, a motel is a series of rooms with entrances facing a parking lot and this establishment is usually along a commercial road e.g. Motel Benin Plaza.

4. Suite Versus Studio Apartment

A suite is bigger than a standard hotel room. It is a set of rooms in a hotel; either it’s a single room partitioned to look like an apartment or it has at least two rooms in a living space. It is great for short-term rentals. A studio apartment is like a self-contained unit that houses everything like a bedroom, living area and kitchen area in a single room except the bathroom. It is ideal for long-term rentals.

5. Bellhop Versus Valet

Bellhop and Valet services are not common in Nigeria but some hotels abroad offer these services. Bellhops/Bellboys/Porters are staffs of the hotel who help with taking your luggage to your room as a guest of the hotel.

While a Valet is someone who performs personal services for guests e.g. helping them park their car in the parking lot. They form part of your lodging experience but be ready to tip them for any service rendered.

6. Amenities Versus Facilities

Amenities are just another way of saying ‘features’ of a hotel/room. They refer to any ‘thing’ that can benefit the hotel by providing guests’ comfort and enjoyment like AC, water heaters, internet access like Wifi or wireless connections, balcony/patio, swimming pools, golf courses, laundry services, valet services, elevators, etc.

While facilities refer to building constructions, places or equipment to help guests with their needs for a specific service (not for pleasure or entertainment in particular). E.g. health clubs, spa, banquet halls, parking lot, business centres, etc.

7. Reception Versus Lobby

A reception area is often called a front desk. It is where guests come to make enquiries or bookings for a room. There are chairs for guests to rest in and wait for other guests to check out if the room they paid for is unavailable when they arrive.

A lobby is a large sitting area where guests of the hotel can come to hang out or relax. In Nigeria, most establishments merge it with a bar area but it can be a separate space with TV and sound system so guests can relax and enjoy a conversation or meet with other hotel guests. 

“Information,” they say, “is power.” Now you know the difference, you can make informed choices when planning a holiday or daring to start a business in the tourism industry.

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This article was first published on 6th June 2019 and updated on June 10th, 2019 at 8:18 pm


Ann Esievoadje is a freelance writer who is passionate about encouraging a reading culture and personal development. She has authored two books, The Quilt (fiction) and Being Mummy and Me (non-fiction). She manages Pulchra Publishing which offers a content creation/editing, transcription, different forms of writing (including Ghostwriting) service and her blog, Life Love and Anything Goes at You can reach her at

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