Do you have a deep-rooted passion for travelling and all things travel-related? If so, then why not consider turning your enthusiasm for travel into a career? After all, what could be better than pursuing a career in something that truly inspires you?
Furthermore, the travel industry as a whole seems to be booming, despite the economic turmoil and political instability in some parts of the world. In fact, just two days ago, the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) reported via a press release that international tourist arrivals grew by 4.6% in the first half of this year.
This growth spurt isn’t the result of a few extra people taking a holiday either – far from it. Destinations worldwide greeted some 517 million international visitors in the first six months of this year. That’s 22 million more than the same period in 2013. Moreover, a recent study commissioned by Amadeus and written by Oxford Economics, forecasts that the travel industry will grow by 5.4% per annum over the next 10 years – outpacing global GDP!
Therefore, it’s safe to say that a career in the travel industry isn’t just going to be rewarding, but will also afford great job security too. But while a career in travel is very easy to dream about, how do you go about securing one?
Here are our top 5 tips for starting your career in travel:
1. Do your research
Obviously, a career in travel is a very broad term and encompasses all manner of job positions and potential niches. That’s why it’s important to conduct industry-specific research to discover exactly what type of travel career you want to embark on (pardon the pun!).
A great place to start is with people who are already working in the travel industry. Pick their brains about their job roles, previous experience and anything else you can think of. Few things are better than first-hand knowledge.
The National Careers Service is another great resource and has a wealth of information on travel agent jobs, for example. Of course, this is just one travel-related career but the advice in the link above will be beneficial and definitely worth reading, regardless of your individual career preference.
Some very encouraging statistics are offered by the National Careers Service in relation to the Leisure and Travel sector as a whole. The following diagram shows that vacancies within the travel industry are 9% higher than all other charted industries due to skills shortages.
The same diagram also shows projected exponential growth across the Leisure and Travel industry over the next six years – something that should provide reassurance to anyone interested in a travel career.
2. Get qualified
With your research conducted you can now start tailoring your educational choices to better suit a career in the travel industry. This will allow you to undertake specific courses that relate to the industry and inevitably boost your chances of securing your dream career going forward.
However, there are a lot of things to consider before you rush in and start applying for courses at local colleges or universities near you. You need to consider, for example, whether you’re going to focus entirely on attaining a travel-related qualification and, therefore, study full-time, or if you’d like to mix studying with real-life experience.
It is often the case that a new employer will provide a full induction programme and then offer on-the-job training. While this may involve learning from your peers, there is a strong possibility that your employer will also want you to work towards a recognised qualification.
The UCAS website is a great place to search the various courses offered by universities and colleges in the UK. You can look for courses using lots of different criteria and there is even a foundation degree search facility, which means you can find a course that combines academic study with work place learning.
3. Gain some experience
You may be wondering how you can gain experience without first securing a job? Well, the answer is that you can gain experience working in other roles that require similar skills to travel-related posts. For example, any role that involves a lot of customer service or sales and indirectly offers experience in these areas will be ultimately beneficial for a career in travel.
Also, why not start thinking outside of the box in terms of experience? Foreign language skills will undoubtedly be useful in a travel-related career. Plus, you can start learning a new foreign language from the comfort of your own home and at your own pace. This will also show potential employers that you are serious about the role and willing to work hard.
4. Review and refine your CV
Your CV, or curriculum vitae, is your chance to sell yourself and really shine in the eyes of a potential employer. People often say that you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression and your CV is no different.
Tailor it for whatever travel-related job you are applying for and make sure that any relevant qualifications and experience are clearly outlined. It’s also a good idea to be as verbose as possible with your career history in terms of pertinent duties.
For example, if you previously worked in a leisure centre as a receptionist and your job involved answering the phone, taking bookings and daily use of a computer, is that not all fantastic experience that would be applicable to a job as a travel agent? You bet it is!
CareerScope is the career-focussed arm of the hospitality, leisure and tourism charity Springboard. Their website is a one-stop-shop for everything you could want to know about a career in travel and even includes a variety of career tools designed to help you.
5. Get online and start applying
Finally, with your research done, relevant qualifications and experience in-hand and a killer CV in your armoury, you can start applying for your dream travel job and hopefully take the first steps on your new career path.
The fantastic thing about the internet is that it allows you to come into contact with huge corporations and organisations that are already established in the travel industry. You can browse the websites of some of the leading brands and enquire about any vacancies that they may have.
As Kay Dixon, General Manager of travel website Holiday Hypermarket, points out, qualifications are not always completely necessary for travel industry candidates. “Candidates with experience at a sales level are incredibly valuable. They learn good customer service skills, what customers like, how they like to book and what they want out of a holiday”.
Just be sure that if you send them your CV it is accompanied by a professionally-worded covering letter that further outlines your abilities and passion for travel. Employers often receive a lot of correspondence in relation to jobs and careers, so you need to make sure that yours sticks out. That doesn’t mean you should go over the top in terms of quirkiness but that it highlights your positive attitude and amiable disposition.