GUEST BLOG: Breaking into the travel industry

UoY Careers Balloon illy Guest blog written by David Wickers, co-founder of luxury travel operator, Bridge & Wickers.

As a Travel Journalist, David held the position of Chief Travel Correspondent of The Sunday Times for 17 years and was voted Travel Writer of the Year three times.

David Wickers

His extensive background in travel and invaluable experience in both travel journalism and tour operating make him the perfect go-to man for advice for anyone considering a career in travel.

Here, David shares some of his top tips:

Have a passion for the industry.

You need to have a passion for travel. Often, there is an illusion that a career in travel means a jet-set lifestyle travelling around from country to country from day one. This is not the case. If you are starting out working for a tour operator, more than likely you will be at a computer desk in an office arranging travel for other people, learning how the industry works.

Be a team player.

When looking for employees, it is important for me to get to know the person and see how they will fit into the team. I made sure the last person I employed spent some time with my team before I gave them the job. It’s important they get on as they have to work together on a daily basis.

Be a salesman, but most importantly provide a service.

There is an element of sales to the job, but ultimately you are providing a service.  We are consultants; it’s not a hard sell. It is a combination of listening to what the client wants and finding the right holiday to sell. You have to make sure you are selling the right holiday to the right individual. 

Understand the client relationship.

Booking a holiday is not as simple as a customer coming in and selecting a holiday on page 57. It’s an interactive process. We talk with our clients and ideas may be batted forward and back several times before any decisions are made. They may have a clear idea of where they want to go and what they want to do but we are there to help with the reality of it. We are the experts; we have to advise them of the best way to do the trip of their dreams. 

Know your stuff.

If you are selling a holiday, you need to know about the place. For example, in Australia it is scorching hot in the north during our UK winter time- so anyone selling Australia would need to know this.

This research and knowledge is also crucial to travel journalism. If you want to be a Travel Journalist you must read the travel sections in the newspapers and be up to date of what is in the news. Many years ago I was Travel Editor for a magazine called Honey and I got a letter from somebody saying ‘I would love to write for your magazine- please send me a copy so I know what you are looking for.’ The letter said they wanted to write for the magazine but they hadn’t even taken the time to look at the magazine. 

Be professional.

Ensure you are professional, listen to instructions and follow briefs. This can be carried over to both tour operating and travel journalism. You may be selling the client the holiday they want or sticking to the world limit for an article. For travel journalism, when pitching to an editor, propose a clear idea which is researched and has a detailed angle. Make it clear why the reader would benefit from reading your article.

Bridge & Wickers is now a part of The Ultimate Travel Company. Click here for more information about careers at The Ultimate Travel Company.

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