One of the largest and ever-changing industries to work in is the travel and tourism sector. It is expected to grow over the coming years and currently accounts for a third of the total global services trade. With so much growth, it’s no wonder that many people are starting to explore their options within this industry. So, how do you get involved, and what are the skills you need to land a role in this sector? We look at the various ways to enter the travel and tourism industry; the work you can expect to be doing once you’re hired; and where the industry can take you.
Find your place in the industry
What jobs are available?
The industry is quite wide and varied, so there are plenty of options depending on what kind of job you’re looking for. Whether you like working outdoors, travelling the globe, or sitting in an office, there is something for everyone. There are seven major areas of the travel and tourism industry and they are:
- Arts and culture
- Hotels, food and beverage
- Conferences and conventions
- Outdoor recreation
- Ancillary services
Exploring your options, what the role involves and the kinds of skills and requirements for the roles are one of the first steps you need to take in order to get your foot in the door. You may even know some friends and family in the industry who would be happy to talk about their job and the other roles in their industry that might be of interest to you.
Consider your skills and interests
You may enjoy booking flights and hotels for your family and friends who otherwise wouldn’t know where to start. Therefore, you may want to explore your options as a travel agent. You might enjoy travelling and helping others, so working as an air host may be a great option to explore. Consider what skills you already have and how they may help you in the travel and tourism industry. For example, you may be fluent in a second language, which would help you to work as a translator for tourists on guided tours. Analyse your existing skills, find the things you are passionate about and search for a job that marries your passion with your skill set.
Not all jobs in the travel and tourism industry require a qualification. You may, however, find that having a qualification under your belt will help with potential job prospects – it shows you are interested and committed to pursuing a career, even if you have little to no professional experience. You don’t have to attend a university, in fact there are plenty of online providers who offer suitable courses in the tourism field to help you get ahead. If the ultimate role you’re interested in requires many years of experience and qualifications, you may want to consider an entry-level role that will help you get started in the industry where you can start to learn the ropes, start on some training and work your way up the ranks.
Intern or volunteer
Taking an internship or volunteering for a firm or company that you’d like to work for not only builds the ‘Experience’ section of your resume – it also puts your face in the mind of that company when it comes to hiring. Work experience will also give you a feel for the industry and show you if it’s really a profession in which you’d like to work. Great places to volunteer include a local tourist attraction or information centre.
What skills/traits should I have?
Depending on the role you’re interested, the personality traits and skills you have will vary greatly. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses and they all come into play when working for various roles. Some of the skills you may need for the travel and tourism industry are:
You should be fairly organised who can work with set systems and processes to complete jobs on time. A travel agent cannot be sloppy with timing or details, as clients may miss vital flights needed for special occasions or miss out on that sale price because you didn’t book it in time. Depending on the role you choose, being organised is a great trait to have to work in this field.
No matter, if it’s the travel and tourism industry or a different sector altogether, being a great networker, will always benefit you. Whether it’s new employment opportunities, new clients or better relationships with suppliers and other businesses, having great contacts will not only benefit you but also the people you work with. If you’re a little lost in the dark and don’t have many connections, there may be a local group in your area for the industry or a small business meetup which will help you to get connected with other local employees and companies.
No matter what industry you work in, technology is certainly playing its role in making jobs easier for everyone. You don’t have to be completely computer savvy, but having the flexibility and openness to learn new skills and systems will help you throughout your job.
Commitment to customer service
Whether you’re a travel agent, a hotel manager or a luggage handler, there is a strong need to be customer oriented. You will be working with plenty of clients who will require your help, so being able to cater to their needs is a must. If you love helping others and have a friendly, enthusiastic and warm personality, this industry is a great choice.
What are the benefits of working in tourism?
Apart from the obvious reason of being able to work in your dream role, there are other benefits to working in this industry, no matter which avenue you choose.
Ease of access to the industry
This industry is one of the easiest to become involved in. There are plenty of ways to get started in the industry and – if you show enough enthusiasm and drive – you’ll find you’ll advance through the ranks and climb the ladder successfully to the job you desire.
With the industry being as large as it, there are plenty of career choices to choose from. Whether you want to be working on flights, in a travel agency, hotel, cruise ship or major tourist attraction, the choices are almost endless.
Depending on the role you choose, you may find that you’ll be getting paid to travel the world. Even if travelling isn’t directly part of your day job, you’ll find you can receive some great travel discounts if you’re in the industry and decide to take a holiday. You’ll also get to learn about parts of the world that many others won’t get to see.
Learning and discovering
Whether it’s learning about the job, about other cultures, countries or a new language, you’ll find that there is plenty to discover and find out about when working in the travel and tourism industry.