People with careers in tourism and hospitality management provide valuable services to travelers while potentially earning significant discounts on travel and lodging themselves. Such careers are popular, in part, because education and experience can be applied to many different types of facilities and roles, making it easy to change jobs.
Travel agents represent one of the most well-known tourism careers and still hold an important role in today’s increasingly online society. Travel agents book accommodations, tours, car rentals and flights for clients and provide information on local customs and exhibitions. Travel agents also provide details on required passports, visas and certificates of vaccination and intercede on a client’s behalf in the event of complications. (Reference 3) Beyond preparing for a career in travel, individuals interested in tourism may also gear their education towards careers in food service, management, accounting or other areas of expertise needed by tourism companies. Many individuals with tourism degrees find work for destination resorts or cruise lines. (Reference 1)
The hospitality management field offers diverse career opportunities. Individuals may work for or manage a resort, hotel, motel, spa or restaurant. (Reference 2) Due to the broad range of businesses needing hospitality expertise a person does not have to live in a big city, tropical destination or other high-tourism area in order to find work. Career opportunities will, however, be greater at larger facilities. Individuals in hospitality management often pursue careers as general managers or assistant managers. Job duties may include hiring staff, setting rates, marketing, overseeing security, ensuring appropriate maintenance and setting schedules. Overall, managers must maintain profitability and effectively resolve any issues. (Reference 4)
Smaller locations may accept candidates with relevant experience. However, a degree will provide the greatest chance for employment and mobility over time. Common degrees in the field of tourism and hospitality management include an associate’s or bachelor’s of science in travel and tourism or hospitality management. (Reference 1) Vocational schools also offer programs specific to travel jobs, such as a travel agent training program. Public adult education programs and community colleges may offer certificates or associate’s degrees in tourism with curriculums focused on geography, marketing, and common procedures related to ticketing, reservations and problem resolution. Additional education in foreign languages, history and business enhances an individual’s marketability. (Reference 3) A tourism or hospitality management degree is common on the hospitality side of the business. However, a degree in business or even a liberal arts degree may qualify an individual for certain jobs. (Reference 4)
Travel agent jobs have become less prevalent over time as a greater number of people turn to online booking for vacations. As well, tourism jobs will be less prevalent during times of recession due to consumer cutbacks in discretionary spending. (Reference 3) Careers in hospitality management will include long hours, weekend and evening shifts and a great deal of time on one’s feet. A keen focus on customer service and profitability can make such a career extremely stressful at times. (Reference 4)
Individuals working in travel will likely receive extensive discounts on personal travel and may even have the opportunity to travel for free if they scout locations for a company or guide a tour. Those in hospitality management may receive employee discounts or–depending on the level in the company–free perks such as spa treatments or hotel rooms. Other tourism careers–such as work on a cruise ship or at a resort–may provide excitement and the opportunity to experience much of the world relatively affordably. (Reference 3, 4)