How does one get a start in the tourism / travel consultant business?
August 25, 2008 12:09 PM   Subscribe

How does one get a start in the tourism / travel consultant business? Education or work experience? What kinds? More questions than answers, inside...

Me: 26 years old, Business / Marketing Bachelor's degree, variety of business experience, love of traveling / writing about traveling (active blog about South Korea with thousands of hits), currently overseas in Seoul (see username), and trying to figure out how to get into a career of travel or tourism consulting. Currently working as an English teacher and trying to break free of teaching 6-year-olds in favor of something much more interesting. I find traveling fascinating, and often wonder why more people don't try it or do it on a more regular basis. Some other ideas include writing / reviewing about places I've visited (which doesn't seem like a feasible career, though it makes a hell of a blog)

Instead of helping people to get from point A to point B (as a travel agent might), I could see myself working with a local population for a given time (6 months, 1 year, 2 years) with the goal of creating tourism opportunities, easier time getting around / finding things, and so on. This may be done as part of a consulting firm, on my own, or simply on a contractual basis. Another term for this dream position might be a creative marketing consultant in the travel / tourism field.

While there are plenty of Master's degree programs available in Travel / Tourism Management (both online and physical schools), I'd rather not spend the money / time doing something considered irrelevant by having the work experience instead.

How does one get their foot in the door? Anecdotal stories are welcome, as are specific companies that work in this way. If anyone can help narrow down this seemingly broad field to a better title / career goal, your advice is appreciated as well.
posted by chrisinseoul to Work & Money (1 answer total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I come from a similar background having spent time teaching in Asia and working in other countries, primarily volunteer basis in the tourism sector. I eventually decided I wanted to go back to school which translated to an internship which converted to a FT position at a CVB. That said, we have consultants and other staff who didn't do an MSc or other degree.

I think the key is to determine what you want to do for said local population to create tourism opportunities. I thought there was one job working in this field but when I joined the CVB (admittedly in a large city) I realised how many positions there were. Do you wan to market the destination? Do you want to help them devise content for someone else to market? Do you want to create and promote a web strategy that brings attention? Also, do you want to work in a known tourism market such as Seoul or a less well-known destination?

All are important to consider and preparing for that path, or a variety will help you to make the right connections. While school and the internship did give me some connections (adjunct professors were employed in the field), I also recommend your favorite online networking group. LinkedIn, which I prefer, has a number of hospitality and tourism groups which I find valuable.

All that said, John Q. Public who you talk to about your work will still assume you're a travel agent and ask you to help him find a deal from A to B. I don't know why. Feel free to contact me if you have more questions, I'm happy to help.
posted by TravellingCari at 8:06 PM on August 25, 2008

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