Making a Career in Travel and Tourism

I attended the Destinations International Annual Convention recently and talked to several members of the travel, tourism, and hospitality industry. I wanted to know what they would tell future tourism professionals about working in the industry. What they shared is what many of us already know: the travel, tourism, and hospitality industry is vibrant and ever-evolving and offers a unique blend of rewards and challenges. It’s an industry where professionals play a pivotal role in shaping the experiences of travelers while contributing to the economic growth and well-being of their communities. Here are five key themes that emerged from my conversations around making a career in travel and tourism.

a woman in a suit sits at a desk with a computer, in the background is a large whiteboard with writing on it

1. Reward and Fulfillment

One of the most compelling aspects of travel and tourism careers and hospitality careers is the sense of reward and fulfillment they bring. Those who work in this field often find deep satisfaction in their roles. Why? Because they get to create memorable experiences for travelers, leaving a lasting impact.

Imagine working in a destination management organization or a hotel, where your efforts directly contribute to the enjoyment and satisfaction of tourists. Whether it’s helping visitors discover hidden gems in your city, or ensuring their stay is comfortable and memorable, there’s a sense of pride in knowing that your work enhances the quality of someone’s trip.

Furthermore, tourism professionals frequently underscore the importance of giving back to the community. Tourism isn’t just about attracting visitors – it’s about contributing to local economies and improving residents’ lives. Professionals in this industry have a unique opportunity to make their communities better places to live, work and visit.

2. Evolution and Change

The travel and tourism industry is far from static. It’s a dynamic sector that constantly evolves in response to changing trends, technologies, and global events.

Aspiring tourism professionals must be prepared to embrace change. The industry isn’t confined to traditional roles – it’s open to innovation and new approaches. For instance, some destinations have shifted from conventional marketing to more community-focused strategies. They recognize the importance of sustainability and responsible tourism, reflecting the evolving values of travelers.

The ability to adapt and thrive in an ever-changing environment is a hallmark of successful tourism professionals. Embracing new technologies, responding to shifting consumer preferences, and staying informed about industry trends are essential steps to navigate the evolving landscape effectively.

3. Relationships and Networking

At its core, the travel and tourism industry is a relationship-driven field. Building and maintaining relationships is crucial to success. Whether it’s fostering connections with colleagues, peers, or travelers, the ability to create meaningful relationships is a valuable skill.

Networking is not just about exchanging business cards at travel industry conferences and trade shows; it’s about creating connections that can lead to collaborative opportunities. Those who excel in this industry understand the importance of collaboration. For instance, destinations often cooperate with nearby regions to promote a broader travel experience.

In the digital age, social media and online platforms also play a significant role in building relationships with travelers. Engaging with customers through social channels, responding to their inquiries promptly, and addressing their concerns help establish trust and loyalty.

4. Community and Economic Development

Tourism isn’t solely about attracting visitors; it’s about economic development and community enhancement. Professionals in this field often find themselves as ambassadors for their destinations, advocating for their communities and contributing to their growth.

For example, a destination marketing organization may work tirelessly to promote its region as a tourist destination. By doing so, they create job opportunities, stimulate local businesses, and ultimately improve the quality of life for residents.

Tourism is also about giving back. Many destinations engage in sustainable tourism practices to protect their natural and cultural heritage. They recognize the importance of responsible tourism, which benefits both the environment and the local communities.

5. Foundation and Analysis

Underlying the dynamic and relationship-driven nature of the industry is a foundation of data analysis and decision-making. To thrive in this field, professionals must rely on substantive analysis to make informed choices.

This is especially relevant in destination marketing. Marketing professionals need to understand market trends, consumer behaviors, and the effectiveness of their strategies. Data-driven insights are essential for crafting successful campaigns and ensuring a positive return on investment.

Start A Career in the Travel, Tourism & Hospitality Industry

Organizations across the country are helping to share the news that there are many opportunities for professionals interested in building careers in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry. Here are a few to help spark your interest:

Tourism: Your Career Destination! A video crated by The New York State Tourism Industry Association in partnership with Paperkite to capture why NYS tourism and hospitality professionals love working in tourism.

Visit Baltimore established an entire campaign around jobs in hospitality complete with hiring events, a job board, and landing page touting all the reasons to start a career in travel and tourism.