Travel & Tourism Management
There aren’t many careers that focus entirely on making people’s dreams come true. Working in the travel and tourism industry is one of them. No wonder the Travel and Tourism HND at Nescot College is gaining so much interest.
“The whole point of my job is to make people happy and that inevitably gives me a glow,” says Louisa Thompson, 20, who completed her HND last year and got a job as a cruise specialist with Royal Caribbean as a result. “Better still, it’s a career that enables me to turn my own passion for travel into work. I’ve already been told I can pick a cruise and go on it as part of my job.”
Many students who do the two-year, full-time HND at Nescot already work in the travel and tourism industry, whilst others know practically nothing about it, says Programme Leader Paul Banthorpe. “Our intake is really diverse, with ages ranging from 18-30. The one thing they all share is an affinity towards customer service and helping people.”
Whilst students need to have some academic competence, they don’t have to be high-flyers, he says. “In fact, some people haven’t done that well at school, but they excel on this course because, for the first time, they’re motivated by a topic they feel really passionate about.”
Sammy Hopkins, 19, who is currently studying for the HND, is among them. “I didn’t really enjoy doing A levels at school, but when I heard about this course, I loved the idea of bringing a luxury service to people. Nescot said they didn’t mind that my grades weren’t as high as I’d hoped for and I’m now in my second year and loving it. Already, it’s led to a part-time job with Kuoni, where I work as a travel agent in tailor-made holidays.”
Hopkins particularly likes the wide variety of subject areas of the course, which range from the cruise industry to Green Tourism to Heritage Tourism. “I love researching individual destinations too, like the Maldives, Madagascar and Dubai,” she adds.
Students even get to travel as part of the course. “Last year, we went to New York and this year we’re going to Venice,” says Banthorpe. “We visit national tourism hotspots too – many in London and others too such as Bath.”
Despite the recession, most graduates find jobs in the industry, he says. “Some areas, like cruises and long-haul holidays, are experiencing growth and airlines, airports and travel agents are still recruiting too,” he says.
Indeed, Kirsty Cronin, 20, secured a job as a passenger service agent at Heathrow Airport after finishing her travel & tourism management HNC after just one year. “I love the buzz of airports and my job is incredibly varied,” she says.
Around half of Nescot’s HND students decide to top-up their qualification to a BA (Hons) with an extra year’s study at university. For these students, career prospects are even brighter. “I’m currently doing a top-up year at Westminster University and am hopeful of getting a job with a big tour operator like Virgin afterwards,” says Tiana Meo, 20. “I’ve been amazed how fascinating the course has been. One of the most interesting areas was studying contemporary challenges to the industry, such as 9/11.”
Belinda Collins, 20, was all set to go to drama school when she heard about the HND at Nescot. “I couldn’t believe how many job opportunities there are in the travel industry. In airlines alone, you can do everything from product marketing to cabin crew. I also like the fact that the study groups at Nescot are small, which means classes are really interactive and you get a lot of personal tutor time. Plus, there are no exams, which suits me.”
Michael Welsh, 23, decided to do the HND course because his six-year career in the tourism industry hadn’t progressed as he had hoped.
“I was a seasonal worker at theme parks, but since studying at Nescot, I’ve got a job at Madame Tussauds. With the management skills I’m learning in college, helped by all the team work we do, I know my options are more open and I’m hoping I’ll travel as part of my job in future. I can’t imagine a more exciting sector.”
By Kate Hilpern
- Kim Catton
- Travel & Tourism
Why did you decide to take Travel and Tourism at Nescot College?
I had already spent a year doing a travel course but came to an open evening here as I’d heard the course was very good. The tutors were very helpful and friendly and I was impressed with their knowledge of the travel industry. The course looked ten times better than what I was doing so I switched.
How has the college lived up to your expectations?
Because it’s big here I expected it to be quite impersonal but it’s very different. Everyone I’ve met has been really nice and everyone talks to each other. It’s not at all cliquey, with people getting left out. There’s also a real mix of people. My class has a mix of age groups not just 16 and 17 year olds.
And your course?
One of my tutors used to work for Virgin as head of cabin crew. Having that experience in the classroom gives everyone a boost. All the lecturers have experience in different parts of the industry and it makes a very different atmosphere. Everyone listens and there’s no messing around or backchat because it’s so interesting.
It is very hard work though. Business in Travel involves a lot of research and writing but it helps you get more from the practical work as you have a deeper understanding. You will be challenged too. I found the idea of practical role play really hard but the tutors kept pushing me gently until I did it on a trip to Lanzarote to do our Holiday Rep qualification. The tutors are great and will really build you up to get things done.
How has your time at Nescot College changed you as a person?
Oh I’m so much more confident because I’m able to do a lot of things better. I had a phone interview for a receptionist job recently and things I’ve learned about customer service really helped me. I’ve got a second interview coming up and, before, I would have been really worried about it but the course has helped me so much I know I’ve got a good chance.
What advice would you have for someone thinking of doing your course?
This is a really good college. The tutors explain about different jobs, career options and companies in the industry. You will get to go on things like the Virgin training course and get extra qualifications like NCFE Rep course, which means you can earn money as a holiday rep before you’ve even finished college. It’s brilliant if you plan on travelling but want to be able to earn money at the same time. It also gives your CV a boost and a lot of the stuff you learn, like customer service and interview skills, will help you in any job.
What are your plans for the future?
Travel of course! I’m taking a gap year to travel with friends. We’re going to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and on to visit friends who live in Thailand.
As a career, I’d like to be running a customs and excise team in a major airport. That would be a fascinating job.
- Travel and Tourism
What made you decide to study Travel and Tourism at Nescot?
After school I had taken my education further in Health and Social care while working in retail. When that course came to an end I carried on with my job while looking after my young son but was then made redundant. It was an awful time for me and I found not studying or working to be extremely demotivating and frustrating. I considered going to uni but the cost and time commitments were off-putting. My cousin was at Nescot so I came to take a look and found myself intrigued by this course. I needed a change of direction and I’ve always been interested in immigration and customs so I thought it would be good to learn about the industry as a whole.
How has your experience of Nescot matched yourexpectations?
From the very beginning I knew I had made the right choice. Nescot is a great place to learn. You meet people from all different backgrounds and ages here and it really opens up your perspectives. The college is a peaceful but stimulating place and people here are very friendly and interested in getting on in life.
And your course?
Our assignments look at contemporary issues like the effects of the recession on the industry which give you an understanding of how all the separate parts, like tour operators and airports link together. I’ve found it fascinating and very useful. The tutors here are also extremely good. Their teaching style makes sure you understand what is expected before you undertake the work so you feel confident to push yourself and aim for top grades.
The class sizes here are quite small so you and your tutors get to know each other well. When I had some childcare issues which prevented me from getting to morning class on time, my tutor understood and took the time to bring me up to speed with what I missed. I really appreciated him doing that without making me feel bad for disrupting the class and causing him more work.
What advice would you have for anyone thinking of doing your course?
This is a good course to open your eyes to the employment possibilities in the travel industry. The staff here are very helpful and want to see you succeed so don’t be put off by worries. Courses here can fit around work and family life so come and talk to them and feel confident about what you can do with their help. There is nothing more tedious than doing nothing with your brain. It’s so good to be learning and feeling like you are going somewhere in life.
What do you plan to do after your course?
I’m determined to be financially comfortable by the time I’m 30! There is no way I’m going to be worrying about bills by that time. I’m applying for work in airports and am happy to start at checkout and work and study my way into security, customs and immigration.
What would be your dream job?
I’ve already told you! Customs and immigration. I love that every day would be different and the variety of people and problems you have to deal with. It’s always appealed to me and this course has given me the inspiration to go for it.
- Additional options to improve your employment prospects. These Certificates give you in-depth knowledge of more specific jobs and lead to recognised qualifications such as Cabin Crew and Resort Representatives.
- Innovative projects cater to all aspects of our industry and use expertise from other Nescot departments. Previous collaborations have involved a Ski Trip with Sport and a trip to Chessington World of Adventures for our students with learning difficulties. This year we are planning to work with Performing Arts on our Entertaining Holiday Makers project.
- Previous students have had work experience placements with companies such as Kuoni, Hilton Hotel Group, Travel Lodge, Royal Carribean and Thomas Cook.
- Enviable roster of speakers including travel agents, tour operators and cruise operators like EasyJet and Caribbean Cruises.
- Student led Conference to look at how we maintain and use our excellent industry relationships.
- Trips to UK and European resorts - in recent years we have taken groups to Lanzarote, Canterbury, Dublin, Barcelona and Venice!
- Academic aspects of your course are taught in large, well-equipped classrooms.
- Organisations staff have worked with range from EF Educational Tours and Tailored Travel, to The London Aquarium and The National Maritime Museum.
- Teaching on our Resort Reps course has been given a Grade 1 by the awarding body.