The travel and tourism industry one of the first industries that witnessed the immediate effects of the global recession last year,
is finally reviving. Not only is country back on the international traveler’s list of favorite holiday destinations, but inbound travel too has witnessed an upswing. Though the tourism department has tightened the visa norms in wake of the recent terrorist attacks in the country, inbound as well as corporate travel in the country has seen a positive uptrend recently. Thus, there is a demand for talent across the segment.
Though the global travel and tourism industry is one of the most sensitive industries to external issues ranging from economic downturns to natural disasters and terrorists attacks, it is also one of the most resilient industries. The long term potential of the Indian travel and tourism industry remains strong, and the short term outlook is positive.
Remunerations at the entry level have increased significantly over the past few years as the travel and tourism industry is competing against the equally fast growing BPO industry.
For those who plan to start their own travel agency initial earnings may not be much however once you carve a niche for yourself, the rewards start coming in. Hotels, airlines, tourism board offers travel agents a number of special incentives such as commissions.
One of the most traditional forms of employment in the travel industry travel agencies continue to rule the roost as far as inbound travel is concerned.
A travel agency’s operations can be divided into four to five key areas – domestic and international ticketing, travel documentation like passports visas, health certifications and foreign exchange, tour arrangements like hotels sightseeing, transport activities and attractions, MICE i.e. meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions and administrations and accounting. In addition to the operational work, there is a need for professionals in sales and marketing and websites maintenance.
This segment offers huge opportunities for entrepreneurship as well. However this, like any other business, takes its time to get established and bring in profits. Setting up a travel agency may seem simple but when a customer intends to invest a large amount of money on a holiday he /she would look at the credibility of the agency. Opening up a franchisee of a reputed travel company could prove to be a better option. That way you get readymade credibility, back office support, deals and discounts that and be passed on to customers thereby increase business.
Firms dealing in tour operations usually organize tours for their clients from start to finish, that is they conduct the entire tour right from designing a package depending on the client’s budget to managing his / her travel and stay at the holiday destination. Tour operating firms employ graduates across levels right from customer relations executives to finance departments and from experts in the operations area to human recourses personnel. The choice of the department a person would work in would depend on his /her preferences and capabilities. However, the most popular and lucrative stream among fresher seems to be ticketing as most customers prefer to, speak to someone while finalizing their holiday plans. Another popular and exciting option is that of becoming an itinerary planner. Executives dealing in this segment prepare the perfect package for holiday goers. Itinerary planners get the opportunity to travel to the destination that they are allotted to most often as part of a familiarization group of tour operators organized by tourism boards.
Though 2009-2010 saw India’s airline segment register a loss, the industry is expected to recover strongly during the FY 2011 on account of an increase in passenger traffic and steady crude oil prices. A number of private airlines, that are looking to upgrade their domestic as well as international operations, are currently hiring pilots, cabin crew members, and customer service agents among other professionals across levels. The airline industry is an excellent option for those who aspire to earn big bucks while traveling. Those who are not too keen on traveling could opt for opportunities at the ground staff level.
India would need 150,000 hotel rooms over the next three years in keeping with the recovery of the travel industry. This need has further been transformed into opportunities for those wanting to pursue a career in this segment with a number of international hotel chains, such as Marriot, Peninsula, Star wood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc, and Hyatt Hotels Corp, already announcing their plans to expand their presence in the country in the coming years. Students with a qualification in hotel management would find employment at the managerial and supervisory positions in the front office, marketing, sales, housekeeping, and food and beverage departments.
The travel and tourism industry is a consumer driven industry and requires a professional to directly deal with customers at all levels. Thus, apart from the academic qualifications that are crucial for entry into the industry one must also possess the key people friendly skills. Another quality one must possess in order to succeed in this industry is the willingness to upgrade one’s knowledge from time to time. The ability to manage different time zones, good communication skills and patience play a major role for the success in the chosen field. As an entrepreneur you need to put in a lot of hard work in the initial year or two before reaping tangible rewards; the key to a successful travel business is networking and specialization. You need to constantly refresh your knowledge and anticipate needs and trends to maintain the relevance of your business according to changing times. Be patient, you’re dealing with people. Make the internet your friend, not your competitor. Define your specialty and refine it constantly.
The travel and tourism industry holds great potential as this sector has not yet reached its zenith as experts predict a radical change in the holiday scenario in India. The short term prospects are bright with a number of tourists expected to visit the country for the 2010 Common wealth games slated to be held in Delhi later this year and the 2010 budget increasing the tax exemption limit there by leading to an increased disposable income and inevitably a rise in the number of Indians spending on holidays. The travel industry is certain to witness more positive changes as Indians will in a couple of years from now, start viewing holiday as a necessity rather than a luxury or a discretionary activity just like it is in parts of Europe, UK, USA, etc.