10 jobs in travel and tourism that will be BIG in 2021 and beyond…

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(Last updated on: 16/12/2020)

There are plenty of jobs in travel and tourism to go around, after all, the tourism industry is the largest industry in the world! But the travel industry is changing. Consumers want different things nowadays compared to the past. Tourists want a sense of adventure. They want to experience something new. They want culture and authenticity.

Tourism industry stakeholders are more sustainability-conscious and people now travel more ethically than ever before. Technology is improving efficiency and is opening up a wealth of new opportunities; from virtual tourism to e-tickets to crowd management techniques.

And of course, COVID has changed the face of the industry like never before, wiping out millions of businesses and changing the way that the industry operates in terms of cleanliness standards, crowding and the use of technology.

So what does this mean for the jobs in travel and tourism? Well, it means that some jobs are not as prevalent anymore (think high street travel agent). But it also means that there are many new jobs in the industry too! Read on to find out what jobs in travel and tourism are going to be big in out post-COVID world.

Jobs in travel and tourism that are going to be BIG

faceless traveler with backpack admiring ocean from mount
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I have worked in and studied the tourism industry (to PhD level!) all of my adult life. And I have spent more then a decade teaching people the skills that they need for a career in the travel and tourism industry.

Whilst there are many travel bloggers out there who write articles about the different jobs in travel and tourism, very few have the experience and knowledge of the industry that I do. This is why I am one step ahead of them… because not only can I teach you about the jobs in travel and tourism that are big right now, but I can also tell you about the jobs in travel and tourism that will be big in the future.

We are all familiar with high street Travel Agents and Holiday Reps. But in a world where high street shops are closing and people are moving away from mass tourism and all-inclusive holidays, jobs like these are not the future jobs in travel and tourism. Future opportunities to work in the tourism industry lie with the likes of social media marketing, smart technologies, sustainability and ancillary revenue.

Want to know more about the jobs in travel and tourism that are predicted the biggest growth in the next decade? I have summarised the 10 biggest trends for jobs in travel and tourism in the coming years…

#1 Online Travel Agent

Potential income: £12,000-£40,000 per annum

close up of pictures
Photo by Leah Kelley on Pexels.com

Online travel agents are the future of travel. For the past few years there has been a progressive movement away from the traditional type of travel agent. Many high street stores have closed and major companies like Monarch and Thomas Cook have ceased trading. Instead, consumers have opted either to create their own dynamic packages DIY style or they have turned to big online players, such as Booking.com, Skyscanner and Expedia.

Between 2015-2021, countless tourism businesses went bust, either due to no longer being competitive enough in the marketplace or due to COVID. This meant that thousands of travellers were left in the lurch around the world. This has played a role in the reversal of the downward trend of people using travel agents. People do not want the uncertainty of making travel that could end up being cancelled, so they are once again consulting travel experts to help book and manage their travel plans.

However, rather than the big high street names, many people are now turning to independent travel agents who operate mostly online. These people are able to offer an intimate and personalised service to clients, which is reassuring during times of turbulence (Jacquie Cameron is a great example- she helped me search for flights back to China when it was almost impossible to book a seat!) .

I personally think that using independent travel agencies like this is great- it gives people the freedom to work for themselves and promotes working with small businesses.

Necessary qualifications: Becoming an Online Travel Agent is relatively easy. You will first need to invest some time to learn about GDS systems and inventory management, but once you have mastered that, you can run your businesses in a way that suits you. Many people choose to piggy back online travel agent operations off of a travel blog or from their social media accounts too, which can help to diversify income. Good customer service skills are important too.

#2 Travel insurance sales person

Potential income: £25,000-£100,000 per annum

man in black holding phone
Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

Following the upheaval of COVID-19, people are aware of the importance of travel insurance now more than they have ever been before.

Whilst many jobs in travel and tourism do not pay large sums of money, the financial sector is an area where money can be made! Many jobs are on a commission basis, so if you can ‘talk the talk’ then you are all set to go. With a little bit of training you could be well on your way to a health salary with this emerging job in travel….

There are many different travel insurance providers out there. I can personally recommend World Nomads due to their excellent reputation (to purchase insurance with or to work for).

Necessary qualifications: To prepare yourself for a job in travel insurance I recommend that you take some courses in sales. Generally the more you sell, the more you earn- so paying for a short course is well worth the investment!

#3 New age Cabin Crew

Potential income: £12,000-£40,000 per annum

woman in black jacket sitting on white couch
Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Cabin Crew jobs have been around since the first commercial flight, and the job role has remained much the same throughout the history of aviation. However, securing a job as Cabin Crew is more competitive and more challenging than it has ever been before.

COVID hit the aviation industry harder than any other and thousands of Cabin Crew were made redundant around the world. Experts suggest that it will take many years for the aviation industry to fully recover, if it ever does at all.

Alongside this, the airline industry has bee slowly changing. Airlines have been reducing base-line pricing and instead making money through ancillary services. They have also cut many services such as catering and cleaning.

This has resulted in a change in what a Cabin Crew job entails. Yes, many airlines still require crew to look glamorous and offer excellent customer service. But there is now also a requirement by many airlines for Cabin Crew to double up as cleaners, cooks and security officers!

For the highest paying Cabin Crew jobs, avoid the big airlines and apply instead to work for private companies. Working on private jets often pays more and offers a better work-life balance.

Necessary qualifications: If you have your heart set on working as Cabin Crew, you need to make sure that you have the right skills before applying for a job. Taking an online course, like this one, is invaluable. Courses like this will help to develop your skills and prepare you for the challenging assessment day process.

#4 Influencer marketer

Potential income: £0-£500,000 per annum

woman in white sleeveless shirt and blue denim skirt holding black smartphone jobs in travel and tourism
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Marketing has changed significantly in recent years. Traditional newspaper adverts and posters at the bus shelter no longer cut it. It’s all about influencer marketing.

The best kind of marketing is bottom-up. This means that we trust the people down at grass roots level, more than we do the people at the top of the chain. Consumers are more likely to book a holiday that their friend recommended from their personal experiences than one that was advertised on the tube, for example.

Influencer marketing has been revolutionary for the tourism industry. And it comes in many different shapes and forms. There is money to be made as a blogger (I found that some people earn as much as £30,000 a month in this research project that I completed!), as a YouTuber or Instagram star, for example. Big names such as Nomadic Matt and Lexie Limitless are an inspiration!

However, getting into this business isn’t as easy you many people make it out to be. Many areas of the market are saturated and competition is high. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible- you just need to find an appropriate niche and have a lot of determination. Courses such as the Superstar Blogging course and Ready Set Blog for Traffic are invaluable in helping you set up a successful influencer business.

Influencer marketing, however, is not limited just to being an influencer. There is actually an entire industry in influencer marketing! There are countless jobs that you could get into in this field, without putting yourself ‘out there’ on the public stage. There is lots of money to be made in ghost writing, social media management and working as a virtual assistant, for example. There are also marketing agencies such as Monumetric (these are the people who place the ads on my website) or Fat Joe who have plenty of jobs. Lastly, you could work for an organisation directly on their social media campaigns, such as a tourist board or tourist attraction.

Necessary qualifications: Influencer marketing is big business and there will be more and more jobs in travel and tourism in this area in the coming years. If you are interested in studying, a marketing degree would be beneficial for a career in this area. You can also learn from the best and take a course written by a successful influencer. I have taken the Superstar Blogging course by Nomadic Matt and Ready Set Blog for Traffic by Elna Caine and can highly recommend both.

Lexie Alford became the youngest person to travel every country in the world in 2019 and has since become an influential Intsagram and YouTube star.

#5 Smart technology developer

Potential income: £12,000-£80,000

engineers developing robotic arm jobs in travel and tourism
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Smart tourism is the future.

Smart tourism is all about working in a ‘smart way’ to improve the efficiency of resource management, maximise competitiveness and to enhance sustainability through the use of technological innovations and practices. Smart tourism helps to make tourism more sustainable and to make more money from tourism- which is the aim for most businesses in the tourism industry!

Smart tourism comes in many different forms. It could be implementing QR code menus in restaurants, using technology to manage crowds and queuing (like a smart motorway) or using technology in practical ways (e.g. guided tours accessed on your phone, facial recognition instead of paper tickets, virtual tourism etc).

China is leading the way with smart tourism development. Since I moved to China I have seen robot vending machines, virtual tickets, digital museum plaques, virtual tours and much more. We even went to an extremely life-life dinosaur attarction in Chengdu, so much so that people were messaging me on al! Instagram to ask if they were real!! I expect the rest of the world will follow suit shortly (with smart tourism, not dinosaurs), so watch this space…

Necessary qualifications: Smart tourism is going to be big business in travel. If this is an area that you are interested in working in then I recommend brushing up on your ICT skills.

#6 Sustainability consultant

Potential income: £15,000-£60,000

man and woman lying on hammock jobs in travel and tourism
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We have seen a big push on sustainable tourism in recent years and this trend is set to continue. Eco tourism, rural tourism, ethical tourism, volunteer tourism, mountain climbing, outdoor activities, glamping and slow travel are all areas that we can expect to see growth in in the coming years.

You could work as a consultant giving advice to companies on how to be more sustainable or you could work in the implementation of sustainable tourism, or anywhere in between. This industry is set to continue to grow and there are countless opportunities for jobs in travel and tourism in this field.

There are top-down positions, whereby you may be required to undertake research for major organisations such as the United Nations World Tourism Organisation or the World Travel and Tourism Council. Or there are grass roots positions working for tourist attractions or tour operators specialising in sustainable tourism.

Necessary qualifications: There are degrees that specialise in sustainable tourism or there are more generic courses on environmentalism, for example, that you could take to prepare you for a career ion this area. Research positions may require a PhD.

#7 Chinese outbound tourism expert

china town jobs in travel and tourism
Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

Potential income: £25,000-£100,000

The Chinese outbound tourism market is the biggest in the world and it is growing FAST. Countries such as Thailand and Indonesia, which had very few visitors from China just a few years ago, now rely on the Chinese outbound market. The Chinese travel more than any other population in the world AND they spend more. So, it’s a no brainer- tourism stakeholders should be targeting Chinese tourists to enhance their business prospects.

There will be more opportunities for Chinese outbound tourism specialists in the coming years. These jobs in travel and tourism could be advertised by public organisations, such as tourist boards, or private companies such as hotel chains or tourist attractions. Follow the Chinese Outbound Tourism Institute (COTRI) for up to date data on Chinese tourists.

Necessary qualifications: You will likely need some knowledge of China to secure a position in this field. Learning to speak Chinese may help. Experience of living in working in China is also beneficial.

You can see the rapid growth of Chinese outbound tourism in this graph.

#8 Ancillary revenue manager

Potential income: £30,000-£60,000 per annum

condor airplane on grey concrete airport jobs in travel and tourism
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Ancillary products have been around throughout the history of tourism, but it is only in the past couple of decades that they have really gained traction. This is largely down to the growth of low cost airlines and the ‘no frills’ concept.

People like to spend less and they love to feel like they are getting good value for money. Low cost airlines have been revolutionary in this regard, disrupting the aviation industry and changing the way that we fly forever. But if these airlines charge less, how comes they are making more profit than the other airlines with higher ticket prices?

The answer is ancillary products. It’s actually quite clever. These airlines reel customers in with their seemingly cheap flights. Once the customer commits, they encourage them to purchase various ancillary products, such as insurance, in-flight meals and baggage. In the end, the customer may pay more than they would have paid with a competing airline, but were reeled in by the initial low price.

This business model is used in other areas of the tourism industry too. Ever seen a pillow menu in a hotel room? How about a fast pass at a theme park or additional insurance for your hire car? All of these things are ancillary products and services, and there is BIG money to be made here.

Companies can also sell ancillary products and services to other companies too. For example, budget airlines allow companies to place advertisements in their in-flight magazines, on their paper cups and before a film on their IFE system. This generates further money for the airline.

There are lots of opportunities to work in ancillary revenue management both in aviation and in the wider tourism industry. From being a sales person to inventory management, there is money to be made in lots of different ways. Want to learn more? I have written all about it in my ancillary revenue management articles.

Necessary qualifications: Depending on the specific job that you are interested in, courses in financial management, accounting and economics might come in handy. Generic business management and tourism degrees are beneficial too.

#9 Niche tourism provider

Potential income: £30,000-£50,000 per annum

bag bus car cart jobs in travel and tourism
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As I mentioned earlier, the tourism industry is changing. People are no longer interested in the traditional sun, sea and sand holidays that they used to be. People want adventure, excitement and the unknown. This move away from the mass tourism industry has seen the rise of many smaller and more unique types of tourism, known as niche tourism.

Niche tourism products are wide-ranging and diverse. You could work for/start up your own LGBT cruise company, an art tour provider or a Hello Kitty themed hotel chain, for example. The possibilities are endless!

Necessary qualifications: There are many possible opportunities to be successful I the niche tourism sector. However, as no two businesses are the same, I suggest that you seek advice from an expert. As well as studying general business or tourism management courses, consultation with a tourism expert can help to ensure that your businesses will be successful. I offer services such as these- you can learn more here.

#10 Airbnb host

Potential income: £5000-£50,000 per annum

photo of house near beach jobs in travel and tourism
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Airbnb has been big for some years now and it is here to stay. The sharing economy has become a prominent part of our society and Airbnb is one of the biggest players.

Renting out your property to tourists has become one of the most trendy jobs in travel and tourism- it’s relatively easy and brings in a passive income…. and we all want to earn money while we sleep, right?

Whilst it has been criticised for its negative economic impacts and gentrification in local areas, there is no denying that Airbnb has been successful. It has changed the face of the accommodation sector, with many people moving away from traditional hotels and instead opting for Airbnb properties.

Many people have turned renting out their spare room into a fully-fledged business. Using Airbnb as a platform, some people rent our dozens of properties at any one time to tourists. The average rental yield on Airbnb properties is pretty high- so there is a lot of potential here!

Necessary qualifications: Learning how to be a successful Airbnb host isn’t difficult, but you do need to understand how it works and what tourists are looking for in their accommodation choices. You can read a comprehensive guide on this in my article entitled Airbnb explained. There are also some really handy books that are worth reading including Airbnb Listing Hacks – The Complete Guide To Maximizing Your Bookings And Profits and The Airbnb Story: How Three Guys Disrupted an Industry, Made Billions of Dollars … and Plenty of Enemies.

The future jobs in travel and tourism

The travel industry is changing and so are the jobs in travel and tourism. If we want to plan for the future in a sustainable and efficient way, we must prepare young people for the jobs of the future, not the jobs of today. In this article, I have outlined the 10 future jobs in travel and tourism that are going to be big in the coming years. Are there any other jobs that you think will be prominent in the future? Please let me know in the comments box below!

Want to learn more? Here are some other articles that you may be interested in:

4 Comments
  1. Adnan

    I totaly agree with you.
    as online travel agent and online travel advisors since 2010 . the more you go online the more you got job one of that you came throw .
    costless ,profitable,flixbale and sustainable .
    The keys of succeed.
    *qualified
    *tehnology friendly
    *experience
    *customers realtion and friendly
    *problem solving
    * business plan
    *building audience
    * building partnership

    regards

    Reply
  2. M La Voyageuse

    Really helpful and informative post, thanks! As someone looking to transition into niche tourism as a later-in-life career change, are there any first steps you would recommend apart from formal study, or any articles/links you’d recommend?

    Reply
    • Dr Hayley Stainton

      That really depends on what type of job/business you are looking for?

      Reply
      • M La Voyageuse

        Thanks for replying. I’m at the planning stage but it would be running small-scale food & wine tours/events showcasing local producers and regional products, potentially ‘field to fork’ concept. (UK-based at present.) Thanks in advance for any tips or links! I’ve been looking at your other pages on recommended reading and types of tourism, all really helpful and interesting.

        Reply

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ABOUT

Hi, am Dr Hayley Stainton

I’ve been travelling, studying and teaching travel and tourism since I was 16. Through Tourism Teacher I share my knowledge on the principles and practice of travel and tourism management from both an academic and practical perspective.

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