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How to build a successful career in tourism and hospitality

How to build a successful career in tourism and hospitality

Tourism and hospitality are both huge industries that can take you all over the world in a wide variety of roles.

Ultimately, that means that there is no single jobs market. If you’re looking to work in tourist attractions like museums and art galleries, competition is particularly fierce and you’ll need a different level of knowledge compared to working in theme parks or cinemas.

What is the job market like?

There are relatively few graduate training schemes, although many of the biggest names like Marriott Hotels and Whitbread do offer them.

However, the sheer size of the industry – it employs nearly two million people in the UK – means there are opportunities available in many different roles, including common functions like sales, marketing, legal and HR.

What qualifications do I need?

People go into the hospitality and tourism industries from all manner of backgrounds. Not all of them have degrees, but the number of people in management roles with higher qualifications is rising. A background in any subject can stand you in good stead as long as you have the right skills to succeed, but many senior hospitality managers work their way up from very junior roles.

Again, specialist areas might require specific qualifications, so always do your research. If you are interested in progressing in the sector, you could consider courses like the Foundation Programme in Travel and Tourism or HND in Hospitality Management. Graduates looking for higher-level skills could also look at options like an Online Global MBA (Hospitality, Sport and Tourism Management).

Is work experience essential?

This depends on the role you’re looking for. Because so many senior figures work their way up from the most junior positions, it is definitely an advantage to have at least some experience. Fortunately, this is also one of the areas where it is easiest to find part-time work – some experience in as a waiter or working in a hotel, for example, can go a long way.

Aside from this, to show that you can handle the responsibility of managerial roles, it can also really help to make sure you have some awareness of how businesses work. Administration or finance experience could help prepare you in this respect.

In the end, because the industry is so customer-oriented and fast-paced, what’s most important is that you can demonstrate excellent communication skills, plenty of enthusiasm, organisation and adaptability.

Top tips to stand out from the crowd

Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty: Variety is one of the best perks of working in this sector, which means you won’t be stuck in an office all day. As well as dealing directly with customers, be prepared to get involved with simple tasks like moving chairs, laying tables and serving drinks. Not only will this help build relationships with colleagues, it will give you a better perspective for your managerial duties.

Be flexible and adaptable: Long and unsociable hours are part and parcel of many roles in the sector, though this isn’t usually the case every day. Be prepared to hang around if you’re needed for a while (within reason). Because people and communities can change so quickly, you’ll also have to be able to adapt.


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