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How to get into the Travel Industry

How to get into the Travel Industry

Kashmir to Kanyakumari or Bombay to Goa, India’s tourism has a fair share of attractions. Globally popular destinations like the Taj Mahal or the banks of Varanasi bring in the internationally curious traveler to its shores every year.

A spiritual and historical destination, the travel and tourism sector in India makes over $200 billion contribution to its GDP. Educated estimates suggest that this number will reach close to $500 billion by 2028.  

A large source of Foreign Exchange, foreign travelers contribute $28.59 billion (in 2018) in foreign exchange earnings.

The scope of employment, in the travel and tourism sector, spans far more than travel agents, tour guides, or hoteliers.

It includes varied occupations from transportation, promotion and marketing, retail, recreation and entertainment, ecotourism, to even high-tech positions utilizing sophisticated coding which recognizes traveler behavior to help make business decisions, such as using artificial intelligence to determine customer travel preferences.

Breaking into the tourism industry could thus be made as Jack, the one who has a good grasp of all the trades within or as Jill who has chosen to specialize in one niche category.

Regardless, your passion for the industry will be the driving force. Future employers may expect an expression of the same in some form. Here’s how you can enhance your resume for a career in adventure.

How to get into the Travel and Tourism Industry

It begins fairly early, with a taste in travel. Listening to the Dora in you can be especially fruitful to get an insider understanding of tourism. As they say, you need to be one to know one.

Whether you are coming into this industry from outside or following a more streamline path of a formal education in the area, being an avid traveler helps to understand what are the various kinds of travel modes, what kind of comfort does what demography seek – from economical tourism to luxury vacations, what kind of problems may arise in case of domestic or international travel, what kind of food or recreation activities do tourists expect, and all your basic tourist demands.

And when you start running out of free passport pages, you can try some of these other tips to boost your credibility in the industry.

Get all hands, and feet, wet and splashing

This is a vast industry as we have established before. Find out how you can get an entry position, even if it is a small-time role, such as a tour guide, host at a restaurant, or say event management responsibilities in your locality.

This is another way of finding out what part of the industry attracts you the most – the service, management, or any other tech positions.

You might even get an initiation of sorts to explore your own start-up such as an event management company like these guys did, travel agency, vacation tour package and planners, or more.

Some experts suggest collaborating with established travel related companies, like AirBnB, to host guests and get hands on training on how to manage hospitality roles.

Real time experiences will also give you the opportunity to interact with customers. Communication and people skills are a big part of this industry, being a customer oriented field.

Such entry level attempts may fill you in on your capabilities and shortcomings before you take on bigger roles.

Hiking, rafting excursion, anyone?

If your daily job chores are a buzzkill and you are looking for an excuse to shift your career focus, think about collaborating with event organizers at your job.

Organize corporate excursions and be the man with a whistle tied around his neck and counting heads for tea and sandwich.

Perhaps your organization skills will help you land a position when you decide to jump ship. You will certainly have enough evidence of having been there done that.

Networking’s good

Yes, it is…Not stalking, simply networking and making connections with existing employees in the tourism industry.

The usual route is to get active in relevant groups, sharing posts, blogs, and generally establishing your knowledge whilst expanding links within the inner circle.

For instance, many seasoned travelers choose to maintain websites with pictures and stories narrating their escapades. A travelogue of sorts with information that may be useful to other travelers.

If you manage to market such a website over various channels such as social media, you may get decent traffic from fellow travelers as well as possible recruiters within the travel industry.

Tech expertise

If you have a tech bend of mind, you can even explore data mining type roles. Such a specialization is used by travel companies to collect information on traveler behaviors and preferences, and tailor their searches accordingly.

Data is usually collected from their website – based on the information entered – social media updates, questionnaires, and even GPS activity.

Such an expertise is highly desirable in the current environment, especially since travelers these days prefer planning/exploring their trips themselves rather than relying on agents.

Thus, these techies can use their programming skills to help them decide the best travel options, destinations, and more, keeping their budget and interest in mind.

Marketing expertise

You can obtain expertise in the business aspect of the travel industry by getting involved in the analytics of running hotels, restaurants, etc.

Marketing experts associated with this sector have a thorough understanding of market research – following investment patterns, sales, and more.

Formal education

If you wish to approach the industry with a specific expertise, you may be able to find a degree or certification catering to it. Hospitality degrees are available to individuals interested in entering the hotel, and service, sector in the management level.

Check out this article on Master’s Degree in Tourism and Hospitality Management.

Some of the best Hotel Management schools in the world are at Cornell University, Michigan State University, University of Houston, to name a few, in USA. Switzerland’s Glion Institute, Ecole Hoteliere Lausanne and Les Roches Global Hospitality Education are also up there with the stars.

In India, some of the leading schools are International Institute of Hotel Management, Symbiosis, Jamia Milia Islamia, BITS Mesra, BHU Varanasi, and more.

These programs also cover the business side of the industry – accounting, marketing, etc. – organizational behavior, communication and public relations, talent management, to name a few.

Job prospects in the Travel Industry

Hospitality services is one of India’s largest employers. In 2017-18, about 81.1 million people were employed in tourism, about 13% of its total employment.

According to, the growth of employment in the leisure and hospitality sector is predicted to grow by up to 10% until 2024, in USA alone.

Though starting salaries are generally low, especially in the service side of the industry, employees can have a pretty steep growth curve with competitive compensation in senior positions.

Salaries are certainly far better if you choose a specialist role rather than a generalist one.

For instance, a Bachelor’s degree holder in Hotel, Travel and Tourism Management can make upwards of INR 8 lakhs as an Operations Manager overseeing a hotel, restaurant, or any other organization in the leisure industry.

While a Guest Services Agent, say at a hotel front office, can make about INR 2 lakhs per year.
So, if you have been bit by the travel bug and the itch is bad enough to make you want to promote this hobby to a career, research your map and get on the road.

Vroom vroom…

Read these next:
Event Management Careers in India
Careers in Wildlife Film-making
Sources: 1, 2, 3

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Rakhi Acharyya
About Rakhi Acharyya
Rakhi is a freelance writer, a Physics PhD from Michigan State University, an ex-teacher and a former employee of Corporate America. Follow her on Twitter.

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