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Tourism Terms

Definitions of terms used in the industry

Tourism is the act of travel for the purpose of recreation and business, and the provision of services for this act. Tourists are people who are "travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes not related to the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited" (official UNWTO definition). The distance between these two places is of no significance.

A more comprehensive definition would be that tourism is a service industry, comprising a number of tangible and intangible components. The tangible elements include transport systems — air, rail, road, water and now, space; hospitality services — accommodation, foods and beverages, tours, souvenirs; and related services such as banking, insurance and safety and security. The intangible elements include: rest and relaxation, culture, escape, adventure, new and different experiences.

Many countries depend heavily upon travel expenditures by foreigners as a source of taxation and as a source of income for the enterprises that sell (export) services to these travellers. Consequently the development of tourism is often a strategy employed either by a Non-governmental organization (NGO) or a governmental agency to promote a particular region for the purpose of increasing commerce through exporting goods and services to non-locals.

Sometimes Tourism and Travel are used interchangeably. In this context travel has a similar definition to tourism, but implies a more purposeful journey.

The terms tourism and tourist are sometimes used pejoratively, implying a shallow interest in the societies and places that the tourist visits.

Every industry has a language or jargon that may be difficult to understand. Here are some terms useful for you to know.

Cultural Tourism Terms

Charrette: A meeting that brings together experts to develop ideas on how to improve a natural and/or cultural resource. The outputs of their efforts are maps and designs that offer solutions to such issues as preservation, access and use, interpretation, development, etc. The Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program uses this tool to create community consensus on projects. Visit their web site for more information.

Consolidator: A person or company that forms groups to travel on air charters or at group fares on scheduled flights. Consolidators help to increase sales, earn override commissions or reduce the possibility of tour cancellations.

Escort: A person, usually employed by a tour operator, who accompanies a tour from departure to return as a guide or troubleshooter; or a person who performs such functions only at the destination. The terms host-escort or host are often used, and are preferred, to describe this service.

Escorted Tour: A pre-arranged travel program, usually for a group, with host service. Fully escorted tours also may use local guide services.

Familiarization Tour ("Fam Tour"): A complimentary or reduced-rate travel program for travel agents, airline and rail employees, or other travel buyers, designed to acquaint participants with specific destinations and to stimulate the sale of travel. Familiarization tours are sometimes offered to journalists as research trips for the purpose of cultivating media coverage of specific travel products.

Foreign Independent Travel or Foreign Individual Travel (FIT): An international pre-paid, unescorted tour that includes several travel elements such as accommodations, rental cars and sightseeing. A FIT operator specializes in preparing FITs documents at the request of retail travel agents. FITs usually receive travel vouchers to present to on-site services as verification of pre-payment.

Geotourism: Focuses on preserving a destination's geographic "character"-the combination of natural and human attributes that make one place distinct from another. Geotourism encompasses cultural and environmental concerns, as well as the local impact tourism has upon communities and their individual economies and lifestyles.

Ground Operator: A company that provides local travel services, including transportation or guide services.

Historic Property: A site with qualities that make it significant in history, architecture, archaeology, engineering or culture; sometimes more specifically a site that is eligible for or listed on the National Register of Historic Places, or on a local or state register of significant sites.

Historic District: A defined geographical area that may be as small as a few contiguous buildings, or as large as an entire neighborhood, business district, or community. Within this district are historic properties associated with a particular time or theme in a community's history. Often the collective significance of the district is greater than any one building or archaeological site.

Hostel: An inexpensive, supervised lodging, particularly used by young people or elders.

Hotel Package: A sales device offered by a hotel, sometimes consisting of no more than a room and breakfast; sometimes, especially at resort hotels, consisting of ground transportation, room, meals, sports facilities and other components.

Incentive Tour: A trip offered as a prize, usually by a company, to stimulate employee sales or productivity.

Net Rate: Price of goods to be marked up for eventual resale to the consumer.

Packager: Anyone organizing a tour including prepaid transportation and travel services, usually to more than one destination.

Package Tour: Saleable travel products offering an inclusive price with elements that would otherwise be purchased separately. Usually has a pre-determined price, length of time and features but can also offer options for separate purchase.

Person-trip: The research term for one person taking one trip of 100 or more miles, one-way, away from home.

Preservation: The conservation of the qualities and materials that make historic buildings, sites, structures, objects and districts significant. Approaches to preservation include stabilization, restoration, rehabilitation, and reconstruction.

Rack Rate: The official cost posted by a hotel, attraction or rental car, but usually not used by tour operators.

Receptive Operator: A tour operator or travel agent specializing in services for incoming visitors, such as meeting them at the airport and facilitating their transfer to lodging facilities.

Retail Agency: Travel company selling directly to the public, sometimes a subdivision of a wholesale and/or retail travel organization.

Supplier: The producer of a unit of travel merchandise, such as a carrier, hotel, sightseeing operator, or cultural organization.

Sustainable Tourism: The primary concern of sustainable tourism is to support balance within the ecological environment and minimize the impact upon it by mass-market tourism. The use of this term is evolving as it is also used to describe the impact of mass-tourism on cultural and historic resources.

Technical Visit: Tour designed for a special interest groups, usually to visit a place of business with a common interest. The tour usually includes part business/part leisure and is customized for the group.

Tour: Any prearranged (but not necessarily prepaid) journey to one or more places.

Tour Leader: A person with special qualifications to conduct a particular travel group, such as a botanist who conducts a garden tour.

Tour Operator: A company that creates and/or markets inclusive tours and/or performs tour services.

Vouchers: Documents issued by a tour operator to be exchanged for accommodations, meals, sightseeing, admission tickets, etc.

Wholesaler: A company that creates and markets inclusive tours and FITS for sale through travel agents. Company usually sells nothing at retail, and does not always create his/her own product. Company also is less likely to perform local services.

Ecotourism Terms

Canopy walkway: A constructed bridge walkway through the tree tops of a forest.

Conservation enterprises: Income generating activities that focus on conserving natural resources and ecosystems.

Ecosystem: A dynamic complex of plant, animal, fungal and microorganism communities and their associated non-living environment interacting as an ecological unit.

Ecotourism: Responsible travel to natural areas which conserves the environment and sustains the livelihood of local people.

Ecotourism activities: Activities included in a tour that are designed to entertain clients and are coordinated by a professional guide or interpreter. Over 80 activities have been listed for ecotourism, such as birdwatching, hiking, diving, kayaking, participating in cultural events, photography, and mountaineering.

Ecotourism product: A combination of resources, activities, and services, which are sold and managed through professional tour operators.

Ecotourism resources: Natural and cultural features that attract visitors, such as landscapes, endemic or rare flora and fauna, cultural festivals, and historical monuments.

Ecotourism services: Tourism services such as transportation, food, lodging, guiding and interpretation services which cause minimal damage to the biological and cultural environments and promote a better understanding of the natural and cultural history of an area.

Endemism: The level of species that occur naturally only in a specific region or site.

Stakeholders: Individuals who have a vested interest in development, including community members; environmental, social, and community NGOs; natural resource, planning, and government officials; hotel owners, tour operators, guides, transportation providers, and representatives from other related services in the private sector.

Sustainable development: Development that meets the needs and aspirations of the current generation without compromising the ability to meet those of future generations.

Hospitality Terms

ADS: Alternate Distribution System, such as Expedia and Travelocity

A/R: Accounts Receivable - direct bill accounts of companies or individuals who buy hotel services.

Attractions: General all-inclusive term travel industry marketers use to refer to products that have visitor appeal, like museums, historic sites, performing arts institutions, preservation districts, theme parks, entertainment and national sites.

Business Travel: Travel for commercial, governmental or educational purposes with leisure as a secondary motivation.

Buyer: A member of the travel trade who reserves room blocks from accommodations or coordinates the development of a travel product.

Booked: Hotel rooms, airline tickets or other travel services held for a specific client.

Booking: Term used to refer to a completed sale by a destination, convention center, facility, hotel or supplier (i.e. convention, meeting, trade show or group business booking).

Blocked rooms: Hotel rooms held without a deposit.

CRS: Central Reservation System

Cover: Each diner at a restaurant.

Conversion Study: Research study to analyze whether advertising respondents actually were converted to travelers as a result of advertising and follow-up material.

Commissions: A percent of the total product cost paid to travel agents and other travel product distributors for selling the product to the consumer.

Conventions and Trade Shows: Major segment of travel industry business. Trade shows differ from conventions in that they have exhibit space that provides product exhibition and sales opportunities for suppliers, as well as information gathering and buying opportunities for customers.

Charter Group: Group travel in which a previously organized group travels together, usually on a custom itinerary.

Carrier: Any provider of mass transportation, usually used in reference to an airline.

Destination: A hotel, resort, attraction, city, region, or state.

FIT (Free Independent Travel): Individual travel in which a tour operator has previously arranged blocks of rooms at various destinations in advance for use by individual travelers. These travelers travel independently, not in a group, usually by rental car or public transportation.

GDS: Global Distribution System, such as Sabre and Worldspan

Group Rate: Negotiated hotel rate for convention, trade show, meeting, tour or incentive group.

GIT (Groups Independent Travel): Group travel in which individuals purchase a group package in which they will travel with others along a pre-set itinerary.

IPU: Interface Processing Unit

IDS: Internet Distribution System

Inclusive Tour: A tour program that includes a variety of feature for a single rate (airfare, accommodations, sightseeing, performances, etc.)

Leisure Travel: Travel for recreational, educational, sightseeing, relaxing and other experiential purposes

Market Share: The percentage of business within a market category.

Market Volume: The total number of travelers within a market category.

Net Rate: The rate provided to wholesalers and tour operators that can be marked up to sell to the customer.

No Show: A customer with a reservation at a restaurant, hotel, etc. who fails to show up and does not cancel.

Occupancy Percentage: A percentage indicating the number of bed nights sold (compared to number available) in a hotel, resort, motel or destination.

POS: Point Of Sales System

PMS: Property Management System

Property: A hotel, motel, inn, lodge or other accommodation facility.

Peaks and Valleys: The high and low end of the travel season. Travel industry marketers plan programs to build consistent year-round business and event out the "peaks and valleys."

Package: A fixed price sellable travel product that makes it easy for a traveler to buy and enjoy a destination or several destinations. Packages offer a mix of elements like transportation, accommodations, restaurants, entertainment, cultural activities, sightseeing and car rental.

Room Block: Several rooms held for a group.

Retail Agent: A travel agent.

Retailer: Another term for travel agents who sell travel products directly to consumers.

Rack Rate: The rate accommodations quote to the public. Group rates, convention, trade show, meeting and incentive travel rates are negotiated by the hotel and program organizers.

Repeat Business: Business that continues to return, thereby generating increased profits.

Traveler: Someone who leaves his or her own economic trade area, (usually going a distance of a minimum of fifty to one hundred miles) and stays overnight.

Travel Trade: The collective term for tour operators, wholesalers and travel agents.

Travel Seasons: Travel industry business cycles including:

Peak: Primary travel season

Off Peak: Period when business is slowest

Shoulder: Period between peak and off peak periods when business is stronger, but has room for growth.

Travel Product: Refers to any product or service that is bought by or sold to consumers of trade including accommodations, attractions, events, restaurants, transportation, etc.

Travel Agent: An individual who arranges travel for individuals or groups. Travel agents may be generalists or specialists (cruises, adventure travel, conventions and meetings.) The agents receive a 10 to 15% commission from accommodations, transportation companies and attractions for coordinating the booking of travel. They typically coordinate travel for their customers at the same or lower cost than if the customer booked the travel on his/her own.

Travel: Leisure and other travel including travel for business, medical care, education, etc. All tourism is travel, but not all travel is tourism.

Tourism: Leisure travel.

Tourist/Visitor/Traveler: Any person who travels either for leisure or business purposes more than 100 miles (round-trip) in a day or who stays overnight away from his/her primary domicile.

Tour Wholesaler: An individual or company that sells tour packages and tour product to travel agents. Tour wholesalers usually receive a 20% discount from accommodations, transportation companies and attractions and pass on a 10 to 15% discount to the retail agent.

Tour Operator: Develops, markets and operates group travel programs that provide a complete travel experience for one price and includes transportation (airline, rail, motorcoach, and/or ship), accommodations, sightseeing, selected meals and an escort. Tour operators market directly to the consumer, through travel agents and are beginning to be listed on computerized reservation systems.

TIA: Travel Industry Association of America.

Tariff: Rate of fare quoted and published by a travel industry supplier (i.e. hotels, tour operators, etc.) Usually an annual tariff is produced in booklet form for use in sales calls at trade shows.

Target Audience/Market: A specific demographic, sociographic target at which marketing communications are directed.

UPS: Uninterruptible Power Supply

Vouchers: Forms or coupons provided to a traveler who purchases a tour that indicate that certain tour components have been prepaid. Vouchers are then exchanged for tour components like accommodations, meals, sightseeing, theater tickets, etc. during the actual trip.

Wholesaler: Develop and markets inclusive tours and individual travel programs to the consumer through travel agents. Wholesalers do not sell directly to the public.

Restaurant Terms

ABCD AWARD - An award given by restaurants to employees who go above and beyond in their work to encourage them to excel in their work.

Arabica beans - a kind of coffee bean which produces superior quality coffees which possess the best flavor and aromatic characteristics.

BACKORDERED - A product that the vendor or warehouse ran out of that will ship at a later date.

Barista - Master expresso maker, an expert in coffees and brewing.

BOGO - Buy one, get one free.

BOUNCE BACK COUPON - A coupon given to the customer after the sale, enticing them to come back. It is usually has a seven to thirty day expiration date.

BREAK-EVEN POINT - A break even point is the minimum amount of sales that a restaurant must achieve in order to cover all costs before making a profit.

CASH-IN SHEET - A cash-in is a counting procedure used to account for all money during an employee's shift.

CASUAL DINING - A restaurant providing table service, relaxing environment, and a meal costing from $6.00 to $15.00.

COMPANY CULTURE - The environment, effecting every decision made in your restaurant concerning how problems are dealt with and staff management.

COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS - Detailed information about who your competition is, what they provide concerning products, services, customer benefits. It provides information on how well you can compete against them.

CORE MENU CONCEPT - The main product line of your menu. This concept could be a style of food such as Italian, Mexican, American or Japanese. It can also be a type of food (hamburgers, chicken or pizza, etc.) The rest of the menu (beverages, appetizers, deserts, etc) is secondary and added to the core menu concept.

Corrosion-resistant materials - materials maintaining their original surface with prolonged influence of food, cleaning compounds, and bactericidal solutions they are in contact with.

CORPORATION - A legal entity that exists separately from the owners. Legally, a corporation is like a person: It can be sued, own property, or acquire debts. Setting up a corporation is expensive initially, but is usually well worth it if you are going to be in business for a while. Corporations come in many forms and many times offer better tax advantages and liability reduction than other legal structures.

CORRECTIVE FEEDBACK - Giving the employee tips on how to improve their job performance.

COST OF GOODS - The weekly total dollar usage of all inventoried items in the restaurant.

CROSS CONTAMINATION - Cross contamination occurs when micro-organisms from one food product come into contact with another food product.

Cupping - professional coffee bean tasters use this process to determine quality, acidity and aroma of beans in the choice of their blends. It involves steeping the beans as with tea leaves and then smelling and tasting the brew at different temperatures as it cools.

CURB SIGN - A sign placed outside your business, allowing you to place specials, menus or artwork.

CUSTOMER CONTACT POINT - The point where the customer and the employee come in contact with each other from a service perspective.

DAY-PART - The time of day when a specific kind of meal is served. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all day-parts.

DEMOGRAPHIC SURVEYS - Surveys that determine and analyze characteristics such as age, gender, income levels, lifestyles, consumer habits, etc. A demographic survey helps pinpoint a given market that is appropriate for a given concept. It is helpful in determining locations, concept types, menu offerings, and prices.

Dramshop laws - statutes that impose a special liability on those in the business of producing, distributing and selling alcoholic beverages to the public.

DRINK COST - Weekly total dollar usage of all items inventoried in your restaurant.

Dual-Branding - when two or more brand name operations are located in the same retail space.

FSI - Direct/free standing inserts are paper advertisements that are mailed directly to a person's home, usually in the form of a packet of coupons (from many businesses including yours.

EGRESS - The ease of exit from the establishment.

FEASIBILITY STUDY - A study done testing the components of your business concept to see if it will work.

FIFO - First in, first out means use the products on the shelves before using the products that are newly arrived. All food products coming into your restaurant should be dated.

FIXED COSTS - Costs that do not vary with sales, instead they are necessary expenditures (rent, utilities, etc.)

Food contact surfaces - Surfaces of equipment and utensils that food comes in contact with and also the surfaces from which food may drain, drip or splash back onto surfaces that normally are in contact with food.

FRANCHISING - A system for expanding a business and distributing goods and services.

FRANCHISEE - Someone who owns a franchise.

Front of the house - The area of a restaurant that the customer visits, including the customer service area, bar and dining room.

FULL SERVICE - A type of restaurant emphasizing waiting on the customer hand and foot and providing high quality food and upscale ambience. The cost of a meal in a full-service restaurant is usually above $15.00.

GOODWILL - Defined by the Internal Revenue Service as any amount paid for a business that exceeds the fair market value of hard assets. The law allows goodwill to be apportioned to such items as trademarks, patents, copyrights, customer lists, name recognition, concept attributes, the community image, and public perception.

HACCP -( Hazard analysis control point system) It helps ensure food handling errors do not occur and that safe food is served to your customers.

HIGH-IMPRESSION AREA - A place in your restaurant that customers frequently see. In these areas, your customers get their impression about your restaurant's cleanliness.

HOLD TIME - The length of time you can hold a product before it must be discarded. If a product has a hold time of 10 minutes, then from the time it is cooked until it must stop being served is 10 minutes.

HQSC - Hospitality, quality, service, and cleanliness. These are the areas that all restaurant owners must strive to excel in regardless of the type of restaurant, sales volume, or size.

HVAC - Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning

IMAGE ADVERTISING - Highlighting the good aspects of your system or products. An example would be "Great Food at a Great Price."

INGRESS - The ease of entrance into a restaurant.

LEARNING ORGANIZATION - An organization where learning, growing, teaching, mentoring, and continued improvement and education are valued.

Kitchenware -multi use utensils other than tableware.

LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY (LLC) - A company that invests in a business but has no management responsibility and no liability for the business beyond the money the have invested.

LTO - A limited time offer. A new product or menu item, which is intended to bring in new customers or increase customer frequency.

MARGIN MARKUP - The markup above what the distributor paid for the item from the manufacturer. This number is important to know when selecting a distributor.

MARKET PENETRATION - Opening a new restaurant in an area where your restaurant concept and name have little to no recognition.

MARKET SATURATION - Building your restaurants in closer proximity to each other so that you gain customer recognition of your concept.

Meat Jobber - A distributor that specializes in portion-controlled meat supplies for restaurants.

MENU MIX - The percentage of sales volume each item in your restaurant represents in a given week. This number is calculated by determining the number of each menu item sold in a typical week and then multiplying that number by the menu price and then dividing that number by the total sales. For example, if you sold 868 sandwiches at $3.99 each, then sandwiches would account for $3,463.32 in sales. If you did $15,000 in sales that week, the sandwiches would account for 23.1% of your menu mix.

MYSTERY SHOPPER - Someone who is asked to visit a restaurant and evaluate its performance

NET SALES - This is the actual dollar amount of all items sold, excluding sales tax.

OPEN-DOOR POLICY - Refers to the boss' door always being open to employees to talk about any problems, concerns, suggestions, or questions that they may have.

OUTSOURCING - Paying someone who is not an employed by your restaurant to do a project.

PAID-OUTS - Money taken from the register to purchase items with cash for the restaurant.

PARTNERSHIP - A business relationship between two or more people who agree to share their resources, profits, and losses in specific portions.

PASS STATION - The area where food is passed from the back of the restaurant to the front of the restaurant. Often it includes a hot hold on one shelf and a cold hold on another shelf. This station provides a place for the kitchen staff to set prepared food until the wait staff picks it up.

Peel - A long-handled, shovel like implement used by bakers in moving bread, pizza, etc., about an oven.

PERCEIVED VALUE - A fair price as determined by the customers, based on a mixture of what they received in the way of products, services, and environment and what they paid for that overall feeling. If the customer is satisfied with the overall experience, then the perceived value is good.

PLATE SETUP - The design of how the product is served.

POINT OF DISTINCTION - What makes you different from your competitors (menu, decor, prices, etc.). Your restaurant should have something to make you stand out.

POINT OF PURCHASE - Marketing that is done right at the point where the customer purchases, I.e., in the drive through, at the register, etc. It is intended to persuade the customer to buy the items you're offering at the moment they intend to purchase.

POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE (PMA) RALLY - A quick floor meeting to improve your hospitality lasting two to three minutes. It should be held at the beginning of every peak revenue period.

PRESS RELEASE - The primary tool used to tell your story. It is a brief, concise story that is submitted to the media for possible publication. It should include the five W's -who, what, where, when and why.

PRIME INTEREST RATE - The interest rate charged to customers of a bank who have the best credit, and is a reference point for other loan rates given by the bank.

PRODUCTIVITY - A measure of scheduling efficiency.

QUICK SERVICE - A restaurant serving low-cost meals (under $7.00) through counter service. The emphasis is on speed of service and convenience.

REPRIMAND - A disciplinary discussion held in private, dealing with a performance issue.

Robusta beans - Supermarket-grade coffee beans that can be grown in any tropical or subtropical climate and are cultivated for their ease as opposed to their taste.

Safe materials - articles manufactured from or composed of materials that may not reasonably be expected to result, directly or indirectly in their becoming a component or affecting the characteristics of food.

SANITIZING - The process of removing bacteria and conditions conducive to infection and disease.

SEGMENT - The industry is broken into many segments. Fine dining, casual dining, fast food, etc. A segment is any business concepts that have like and comparable attributes.

Single Service Articles - Tableware, carry out utensils designed for one-time or one person use.

SLIDE DEPLOYMENT - A maneuver when staff move from their main responsibilities to help with a bottleneck. This maneuver shows the power of teamwork and training in helping a customer and a fellow employee in need.

SOLE PROPRIETORSHIP - A business owned and run by one person. This business structure is a common form for small businesses. This structure is the simplest and least expensive legal structure, but can have high costs in lost tax advantages and increased personal liability.

STAIR-STEPPING - Bringing people into and out of the shift at different intervals to ensure a smoother transition, higher productivity, and improved labor cost.

STREETFIGHTING - Marketing your store in your actual neighborhood (distributing flyers on car windshields, donating food to businesses, working with community based organizations, etc.

TABLE TURNS - The number of times a given table is occupied per hour. This number determines the average stay and is highly dependent upon your concept, your speed of service, and your service staff's ability to bus, clean, and reset a table. A fast-food establishment may average four table turns per hour, while a fine-dining restaurant may average less than one table turn per hour.

Tableware - eating, drinking and serving utensils for the table.

TARGET MARKET ANALYSIS - Profiling your main projected customers to determine their age, income level, and lifestyle. This information greatly affects site selection, the marketing plan and execution, menu design, and virtually every other aspect of your restaurant.

THEORETICAL FOOD COST - The food cost you should run based on your menu mix and item cost. It does not take into account waste, theft, or spoilage and is an ideal number that gives you an overall food cost in dollars and percentage points that you should achieve.

TRADE AREA - The area surrounding your business, which provides your major customer base.

TRAFFIC COUNTS - Figures that indicate the average daily number of cars or pedestrians passing a particular location within a 12 - 24 hour period. These numbers can be obtained from a traffic survey that has been conducted by any real estate firm, demographic firm, planning commission, highway department.

TRIPLE-NET LEASE - A lease in which the leasee pays expenses such as property taxes, insurance, and maintenance.

VIP PARTY - A private party often held the night before a restaurant opening. You invite community leaders, business associates, neighborhood business employees, family (yours and the employees), friends (yours and the employees), the mayor, and the local media to your restaurant. This builds momentum and a word-of-mouth buzz about your business. Fancy invitations, festive decorations, music, and trinkets with your restaurant's name are staples of this kind of party.

WASTE FACTOR - A percentage added to food cost percentages to account for small amount's of necessary waste. Some products exceed hold time need to be thrown away, and a small amount of spoilage and mistakes always occur.

YIELD - The amount of usable product a given item delivers. For example, a 16-ounce cut of meat may produce only 13 ounces of usable product after the fat has been trimmed.

Utensil - tableware and kitchenware used in the storage, preparation, conveying or serving of food.

VAIABLE COSTS - Costs that do vary in response to sales - as sales go up, so do your costs.