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Ultimate career Guide for travel and tourism industry

The travel and tourism industry in the UK is a steady contributor to the economy. In 2018 it accounted for 7.2% of the total GDP at a staggering £145.9 Billion according to Tourism Alliance UK. With such a massive industry it’s not surprising that many people look to involve themselves in the industry. Although in a pandemic situation such as now the industry has shrunk it is expected to grow rapidly as the world begins to normalise. 

The tourism industry can be considered as an umbrella that houses several smaller industries underneath. We’ll get to that in a bit, but first let’s look at what you need to start a career in travel and tourism. It’s obvious that many of you will approach the industry from different standpoints. In order to cover everything we’ve put this blog together as a general guide. If you want more specific guidelines we’d suggest you to do a bit more research. For instance we’ve got a blog on How to become a tour manager – Explore jobs and career pathscheck it out if you’re focused on becoming a tour manager.

Requirements

The tourism industry encompasses many career options. Each of these options has its own specific requirements and recruitment systems. However you need some general credentials to qualify for any of these positions. To summarise,

  1. 1) High school Diploma
  2. 2) Experience in Customer service or travel opportunities
  3. 3) Additional Skills specific to the career path you are interested in

 

We will expand on these requirements in the step-by-step guide section of the blog.

Varying backgrounds

Before we get started on building a career in travel and tourism we need to get one thing out of the way. You don’t need to be a graduate from travel and tourism discipline to find a career in the industry. Here are a couple of examples for other backgrounds that can find work in travel and tourism,

travel and tourism guidelines

Tech expertise

If you are tech-savvy, data mining type roles can be a great opportunity. Travel companies depend on data mining to collect information on traveller preferences and behaviours. The information is used to tailor search results and content accordingly. The data is collected via social media updates, questionnaires, and even GPS activity. 

According to Google’s VP of Engineering for Travel and Shopping, Oliver Heckmann, nearly 60% of consumers believe that their travel experience should deploy the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to tailor search results to past behaviours or personal preferences.  It’s no news that travellers these days prefer planning and exploring their trips on their own rather than relying on agents. Such an expertise in data mining is highly desirable in the current environment. 

If you think you can extrapolate information efficiently from these sources a job in the tourism industry will not be hard to land. Moreover, if you can maintain and run these systems the prospects become even more lucrative.

Marketing expertise

Marketing is an important part for any customer oriented industry and tourism is no different. 

Experts in marketing are valued in this sector for their thorough understanding of market research i.e. expenditure patterns, peak seasons, and more. The business aspect of the travel industry involves the analytics of running hotels, restaurants, charter tours and even cruise trips. The travel agencies also depend on marketing knowledge to create attractive commercials and tour packages that attract the most attention.

Step-by-step guide for career in tourism

With that out of the way now we can start looking at the general steps you can follow to kickstart your career in the tourism industry. The steps themselves aren’t small so you’ll need to invest a lot of time in preparing. Don’t be disheartened because there is no success without proper investment, whether it be time, effort or cash. So without further adieu let’s start the ultimate guide for getting into the travel and tourism industry. 

Having an overall enthusiasm for travelling is a definite plus for starting a career in tourism. If you already have a ton of experience in travelling to popular destinations, that is great. If not, then you should put in sometime to explore the travel spots that are around you or the ones you can access easily. 

Traveling has a lot of unpredictable factors in it. To be honest it’s one of the main reasons for traveling in the first place. However, no one wants to handle unpleasant or awkward situations on vacation. You can learn about these unpredictable elements only when you put yourself in the travelers shoes. Start with small trips and learn about the places you visit as thoroughly as you can. Consider these trips as work rather than holidays.

Step 2: Complete High School

The reality is there aren’t many jobs in the tourism industry without requiring high school diplomas. If you haven’t graduated yet, consider taking classes in geography, history and foreign language. This may provide you with background information on travel destinations and cultures. 

Foreign language clubs are also very common in high schools that provide students with cultural events featuring the language and its country of origin. You could even join travel clubs for high school students that organize trips for student groups. If you’ve made up your mind about getting into tourism, the experiences you’ll gather from these extracurricular opportunities will prove to be  invaluable. 

Step 3: Consider Degree Programs

Although higher studies aren’t considered mandatory in the tourism industry,  employers do prefer individuals with some travel-related training. Universities, vocational schools and community colleges that offer bachelor’s, associate’s or certificate degree programs in travel, hospitality or related fields are the prime targets if you want to expand your career opportunities. In the UK these programs include coursework on world geography, hospitality law and principles of tourism. You can also enrol in specific courses, such as ecotourism, which by the way is in vogue.

Although higher studies aren’t considered mandatory in the tourism industry,  employers do prefer individuals with some travel-related training. Universities, vocational schools and community colleges that offer bachelor’s, associate’s or certificate degree programs in travel, hospitality or related fields are the prime targets if you want to expand your career opportunities. In the UK these programs include coursework on world geography, hospitality law and principles of tourism. You can also enrol in specific courses, such as ecotourism, which by the way is in vogue.

Besides tourism and hospitality-based courses, the courses may also include basics of marketing, customer service and computer skills.

Step 4: Find Work

Travel agents may look for work with travel arrangement and reservation services businesses, corporate travel departments and insurance carriers. Aside from planning and booking trips, these professionals may provide information on transportation, food and other services for travel destinations.

Other travel-based professions, such as lodging managers and tour guides, may better job outlook predictions. Individuals knowledgeable about popular destinations or with previous tourism industry experience will have better opportunities at finding work. Duties may include answering lodging inquiries phones, presenting site information and advising travelers on places to see.

Step 5: Networking

As a fair bit of warning, networking is not the same as stalking. Rather it’s making connections and exchanging information with existing employees in the tourism industry. The usual place to start is to join relevant groups. Once you are a member you should share posts, blogs, and generally establish your depth of knowledge. This will bring you in full view of tourism experts and prospective employers, expanding your reach into the inner circle.

 

Seasoned travelers usually maintain websites and channels featuring pictures and stories that narrate their vibrant escapades. If you manage to get involved with such an arrangement through various channels such as social media, you could manage decent traffic from fellow travelers as well as prospective employers.

Step 6: Start as a Host or Guide in Your Current City

Beyond what we’ve already stated there is the other possibility where you may start your own business in tourism. If you think you’ve got the connections but don’t have the capital on hand the fear not. Because starting as a Host or guide yourself is a very achievable goal.

If you think you have a knack for remembering cultural/historical facts, an outgoing personality and are comfortable leading others, being a tour guide can be a fun part-time job. If you live near a tourist destination then with a bit of research you could work as a tour guide with ease.

This opportunity is a low-risk way of gaining experience in the tourism industry. You’ll work with travelers, understanding their perspectives and needs while developing communication and client handling skills.

You may also work as a host planning around your schedule without compromising your full-time job or going to school. However, it’s not all fun and games in this path. You will need some ingenuity to develop experience that is worth something and hard work to make it a permanent thing.

Step 7: Consider Career Options

Travel and tourism encompasses a large number of businesses that coordinate among each other to make modern travelling possible. For the most part these businesses can employ any number of individuals with differing responsibilities. It’s important that you find the proper place for yourself within these possibilities. For instance, a small travel agency might employ travel agents and tour guides besides the administrative and financial employees. 

On the other hand a large corporation may hire its very own travel coordinator to manage and facilitate large business gatherings and trips. While the work may be similar the scale of these jobs vary and so does the pay. It’s a good idea to pick out your options carefully when considering career options. 

If you want a laid back job managing family holidays then a small travel agency or a cruise liner service will suffice. Conversely, if you are highly ambitious and want to be involved in conglomerate trips then you could either apply to large travel agencies or apply directly to corporations in need of travel coordinators. The possibilities are endless, you just have to pick the one that’s right for you. 

Step 8: Specialize in a Career Path

One simple yet promising tact is to specialize in a particular role, instead of approaching the industry with a bottom up strategy. Technological advances are shaping the tourism industry anew. Specifically, if you have relevant skills in IT, development, or programming there are countless opportunities available for you. 

The other alternative could be you are familiar with specific business aspects not related to client management of travelling. In that case you may directly apply for work for example as accountant, tour manager, immigration consultant etc. 

Prospects within the Travel and Tourism Industry

The tourism industry is booming with prospects, especially for young professionals. The UK has a steady flow of travelers that visit abroad. In 2018 15.62 million UK residents visited Spain, while 8.56 million visited France. According to Finder these are the two most visited countries by UK citizens. According to Tourism Alliance UK the tourism industry in the United Kingdom employs 3.3 million people in 2019

To cater to this vast number of travelers, the scope of employment spans far more than travel agents, tour guides, or hoteliers. Transportation, retail, promotion and marketing, recreation and entertainment, ecotourism are just the prominent scopes of employment. Lesser known high-tech positions that utilise sophisticated programs to recognise traveler behavior to help make business decisions are also becoming mainstream. 

Here we’ve put together a list of possible sectors you may find employment in the travel and tourism industry. Where you choose depends on both your passion and your abilities.

1. Adventure tourism

Adventure tourism is all about the thrill. Featuring extravagant locations and challenging outdoor activities adventure tourism attracts a niche of adrenaline enthusiasts.

2. Bars, clubs and pubs

Travelers need a place to unwind after a busy day of sightseeing. Bars, clubs and pubs provide the ideal setting for this requirement. They also provide a place for people from all around the world to mingle and explore different cultures.

3. Conferences and events

Almost every business holds conferences and private events, sometimes abroad and sometimes within the country. These events require excellent management for the smooth conduct.

4. Cruise liners

Cruise liners are meant for a silent escapade across the ocean. Passengers get to travel in state of the art ships designed for utmost comfort and relaxation. Equipped with on-board pools and professional sound systems the experience is hard to compare to anything else.

5. Entertainment and leisure

Entertainment is an important part of tourism. Travelers don’t want to spend all of their time in crowded tourist destinations. Some would rather enjoy theatres or opera’s and even museums. Art enthusiasts are one of the most prominent types of tourists all across europe.

6. Food service management

Food services provide package meals for outings, closed events and even dine in hotels. The business is catered to the needs of visitors rather than residents.

7. Health and fitness

Spas and massage parlours are  popular among tourists looking to revive from their busy work lives. The services are exquisite and unique.

8. Heritage

Many tourists aim to cover national or natural heritage sites. In the UK Stonehenge is one of the most popular national heritage sites coming second only to Buckingham Palace.

9. Hospitality services

Hospitality services consist of a variety of services catering to the needs of tourist and professional travelers.

10. Hotels

The purpose of hotels in the tourism industry needs no explanation. Think of it as the spoon for having your grandma’s pudding.

11. Public sector

The public tourism sector is involved in introducing policies and regulations for travelers and tourism businesses alike.

12. Quick-service retail

Duty free shopping is the best kind of shopping. Many shops near tourist destinations specialise in this type of retail with fast paced sales lines and unique products.

13. Restaurants

Wherever you may come from wherever you are going, food is always important. Many travellers are food enthusiasts and travel to experience different cuisines across the world. The restaurants can feature traditional foods for explorers as well as comfort food for those who’d rather stick to eating what they know.

14. Tour planners

Tour planners simply do what they are called. They plan tours for a variety of different clients. Tours can range from small family vacations to large company excursions.

15. Travel agencies

Travel agencies facilitate the smooth handling of travel formalities such as, accommodation, plane tickets, visa’s and more. Tourists prefer travel agencies to provide a hassle free experience where they can lay back and relax.

What are the salaries like in travel and tourism industry?

While graduate starting wages vary, career progression is often rapid and brings with it a significant increase in earnings. As your career develops, your salary will primarily depend on the type of establishment you work for and your role in it. 

For comparison, the general manager of a small hotel might earn roughly £20,000 a year, whereas the manager of a large five-star hotel could receive up to £90,000. Junior managers receive anything between £18,000 and £28,000. Leisure club managers on the other hand could earn up to £50,000. Restaurant or convention hall managers can earn anything from £19,000 to £60,000 a year.

Like every profession there are skills that you will need besides your technical capabilities to reach to the top. Tourism is managing people, and the more efficiently you do it the better. Here are 6 essential skills that you need to have a successful career in tourism.

Interesting facts about tourism in the UK

The leisure industry accounts for 10% of the UK’s working population. 614,000 people are employed in the UK restaurant industry which is worth over £40 billion. As many as 45,000 hotels and guest houses, 226,000 eating out outlets and 49,400 pubs are registered in the UK, although the pandemic situation has caused a slight decline in these numbers. The data was published by TargetJobs.

Ending Notes

Travel and Tourism in the UK is one of the largest contributors of income and employment. While technological advances like, google maps are making jobs of tour guides redundant other jobs are being created simultaneously. Humans have been traveling the world for thousands of years, and the modern era has made it easier than ever before. As the number of people choosing to travel increases each year the need for experienced professionals will rise with it. So if you are sure about joining the travel and tourism industry, success may just be a booking away. 

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August 31, 2020

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