How to get a job in travel and hospitality, as told by recruiters

Ever looked at the travel and hospitality industries and thought, “I’d like me some of that”? Yeah, we don’t blame you.

From high-end travel designer roles – including product manager jobs, curated experience manager jobs, and destination expert roles – whose responsibility it is to uncover the most unspoilt, awe-inspiring destinations around the world (often in person, btw). To sales roles – including sales director, sales team leaders, and sales executive positions – where you connect with clients from across the globe. To travel marketing jobs – including community manager jobs, content roles, and CRM roles – where you get to tell stories and dream up campaigns about possibly the most exciting, enriching product ever.

As Catrina Pengelley (she/her) from Mandarin Oriental told us in her interview, travel and hospitality is “the industry of 100 industries” – “Whether you’re a recent graduate unsure of where to start, or a professional in your 40s making a career change, the industry has something for you.”

So, how do you get a job in travel and hospitality? The Lightning team is on hand to help.

  1. Big up your transferable skills 

Travel and hospitality is fast-moving and dynamic, so your time-management and organisation needs to be on-point. Ours is an industry that revolves around people, so next-level communication is an absolute must – as Sarah explains, an ability to build relationships with businesses and clients will get you brownie points (and it helps if you love being around people!). 

When it comes to creating and selling experiences, creativity will get you far – as will meticulous attention to detail. (We’ve found that former lawyers, estate agents, production and events people make excellent travel agents – who knew?) Remember, says Thea : “Marketing is a universal language!” If you can market another product, chances are you can probably market travel.

When you’re dealing with humans and global travel, things are bound to be a little tricky or not go according to plan every now and then. Showing you have resilience and excellent problem-solving skills will make your application stand out.

For goodness sake, people, tailor your CV to the job description.

  1. Demonstrate why your experience is relevant

So you haven’t had a role in travel and hospitality before… But you might have had roles in other industries? Or even work experience and internship placements? Perhaps you worked in customer relations or account management; sales or marketing; or even events and project management

Whatever your previous positions, you need to show recruiters and hiring managers why your professional experience equips you to take on a particular role. Maybe you bossed a rebrand, or got a rep for being a tough client-whisperer. Perhaps your Q2 sales were legendary, or your Gantt charts were off the… ahem, chart. Maybe your internal procedures overhaul made a lot of people’s lives easier, or you’re just a really epic team player. 

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Show, don’t tell. What were your proudest achievements in previous roles – and why should we care? Most importantly: why does your experience make you the best person for (not just any job but) this job?

If you want to make your CV extra shiny, you could take on extra learning to help you transition into the travel and hospitality industry. The Institute of Hospitality has accredited online courses, as does PRINCE2. Aside from giving you vocational knowledge, the fact you’ve put time and effort into your development will demonstrate your dedication.

  1. Showcase your personality and travel interests

“Personality is a big sell in travel and hospitality – clients buy people as much as they do experiences!” says Caolan. If you want to stand out, make sure your CV gives hiring managers and recruiters a taste of who you really are, beyond a list of job titles and achievements. Need inspiration? Check out our tips on how to level up your personal brand.

Maybe it should go without saying, but travel and hospitality people are obsessed with travel. Love it, pursue it, can’t get enough of it. We’re guessing you are, too, and that’s why you want a job in an industry where your work is your passion – right? 

So show us. Where have you been? Have you lived overseas? What did you love most about each place? How have your travels influenced you – have you written about them, or photographed them, or vlogged them? Where are your favourite emerging destinations – and why? You might like to create a separate travel profile to go with your CV: this could be in any format, but we recommend making it fun, colourful and visual. “If you want to get into travel designing,” suggests Jack , “why not make a mock itinerary of your dream trip?”

It’s worth mentioning that in travel and hospitality, language skills are worth their weight in gold. Whether you’re multilingual or just dabble when you’re on holiday, as well as being incredibly practical when working in an international industry, explains Jack, “making the effort to learn a language shows a passion for culture in a meaningful way.’

Ready to make the leap into travel and hospitality? Check out our current jobs. 

Maybe you’re looking for advice from someone who knows the industry inside out? Book a free, one-to-one Lightning Lounge session to chat about your career options, go through your CV, and find out what travel and hospitality roles could be perfect for you.

Whilst you're at it, you can also check out our Thunder & CEO and one of LinkedIn's top 10 LGBTQ+ creators, Thea Bardot, on an amazing panel discussing the future of Queer travel, below: 

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Thea Bardot

24th July

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