The travel and tourism industry is the largest single industry in the world, making more money than any other for many countries around the globe. It's not surprising, as vacations are a universal family activity across nearly all cultures. With a hospitality management degree, you can have a successful career in the travel and tourism industry.
"The Big Three" are Travel, Tourism and Hospitality. There are really three branches to the industry, with each focusing on particular areas of the tourism industry as a whole. A hospitality management degree will give you an excellent overview of what you need for each of these, or you can choose to focus on one in particular by choosing elective courses that concentrate on one area.
The Travel Industry includes airlines, railways, cruise lines and motor coach lines. Flight attendants, cruise directors, booking agents and others who assist passengers are all part of the travel industry. Some of these individuals pursue specialized training through particular training programs offered by employers, although promotions are generally offered first to those who also have an Associate's or Bachelor's degree in hospitality management or tourism.
Those working in the Tourism industry are most often working for a travel agency or tour booking company. They will be expected to be familiar with the geography, weather, history, customs and culture of locations around the world. They will also need to be aware of customs procedures, regulations, required paperwork and other necessities for anyone traveling to foreign countries. Some individuals will also work privately for large corporations to coordinate travel plans for company executives, or work for Human Resources departments to make travel arrangements for employees and their families during relocations.
The largest by far is the Hospitality industry itself, which includes hotels, resorts, casinos, restaurants, golf clubs and convention centers. You could manage any of these facilities, coordinate events such as golf outings or fundraisers, or be the food and beverage director for fashion shows and special events such as political campaigns.
Becoming a bridal consultant is another option that is rapidly gaining popularity. Today's couples are planning larger, more elaborate weddings that require intensive planning down to the last detail. Destination weddings also require the specialized talents of an event planner with travel experience.
Event planners are also in high demand for conferences and conventions for professional associations and lobbying groups. These types of positions are ideal if you prefer a fast-paced environment and a change in your routine rather than a 9-to-5 job behind a desk, since you will be expected to be on-site at each venue to oversee the set-up and organization of every event.
Positions in the travel industry require business, finance and customer service skills. You will need to provide excellent customer service, enjoy working closely with individuals from diverse backgrounds, and be able to cope with a variety of unexpected emergencies with grace and calm. You will also be working on a daily basis with complex schedules, rates and financial data in most travel careers. The coursework for a Hospitality Management degree should prepare you for all of these scenarios.
Typical coursework might include hotel management, food & beverage management, conference & seminar management, tourism management, and human resource management. Staff training & development in the hospitality industry is a popular program, as are programs in guest services oversight & analysis, hospitality accounting & oversight, marketing & merchandising, food service design & staffing, and purchase and cost control. Each school will offer variations on these courses and may offer concentrations on particular areas, so compare them to find the one that offers the courses that are best suited the type of career you are looking for.