With opportunities to explore the world and become an expert in your favourite destination, the tourism industry offers a wealth of career options for anyone with a passion for travel, culture and customer service. So if you’re studying travel and tourism and want to go straight into work after college, Peter Jenkins, owner and managing director of Sun-hat Villas & Resorts, shares his knowledge to help you kick-start your career.
Understand the industry
Whatever your dream role, it’s important to understand wider industry challenges and opportunities. Take the time to find out about the contribution tourism makes to the economy, as well as broader issues such as sustainability, holiday trends and political events that could affect a destination.
Travel and tourism is a diverse sector, so always research the requirements of every job and think about how you’d handle each situation – from working unsociable hours as cabin crew or understanding sensitive global issues as a marketer for a holiday company.
Get to know the area
Whether you’ve been inspired by a family holiday or always wanted to work abroad, a good understanding of destinations is always helpful for holiday reps and travel marketing professionals. This isn’t just knowing the average temperature, local beaches and the quickest route to the water park – it’s about finding the hidden gems that will give holiday makers an authentic experience.
Wherever possible, take the time to visit and explore a destination, as well as the neighbouring towns and cities. Immerse yourself in the local culture and uncover all those restaurants and bars that nobody else knows about.
As with all jobs, a willingness to learn is a key factor for your personal and professional development. No matter how much previous experience you have, there will always be something new to learn, so don’t be afraid to chat to more experienced colleagues, either during any work experience you carry out, or once you’ve landed your first role.
Getting real-life training by either working or volunteering abroad is a good start, but part-time jobs and extra curricular activities also help you develop skills in team work, resilience and problem-solving – and can help your stand out during interviews.
Perfect your people skills
Since many roles in the tourism industry are customer-facing, it goes without saying that you’ll need strong people skills. Being able to talk to members of the public in a calm, confident and professional manner is essential – this is where a part-time work in a shop or café can really help. You soon get used to thinking on your feet and dealing with any problems before they can escalate.
Speak the language
No one is expecting you to speak the language of every country you visit fluently, but knowing the basics will give you more confidence when you need to communicate with the locals. If you are staying in another country for an extended period of time, it’s worth brushing up on the basics – even if it is only knowing how to order food in a café or tell someone you don’t speak the language well.
You can study travel and tourism here at Northampton College – https://www.northamptoncollege.ac.uk/courses/travel.html