Why work in the UK travel industry?

Challenging roles, endless networking events, huge variety and overseas travel.No wonder careers in the UK travel industry are popular when these are just some of the experiences available to those who join.The good news is that there are plenty of roles on offer.

It’s a huge industry because so many of us like to travel.

In 2015, UK residents made over 65 million visits abroad, which represented a growth of 9.4%. Additionally, there was a 10.7% increase in the number of nights spent abroad.

However travel jobs, from junior consultant to experienced travel manager, are hotly contested.

So, it pays to know something about the major players, the jobs in travel and how to find them.




Travel Agents


Many years ago, the UK travel industry was a fairly simple beast.

People went into a high street travel agent and bought a package holiday to a popular resort from a tour operator. It was called a package because it included your flight, accommodation and transfer to resort.

Although this transaction still continues, the industry is now much more complex.

Many companies offer a huge and varied range of trips all over the world, online players sell some or all elements of a holiday and many customers organise their own travel.

Two of the biggest travel companies are Thomas Cook and TUI, which owns Thomson.Meanwhile, Dubai-based Dnata is a giant that owns The Global Travel Group franchise of travel agents, Gold Medal and Travel Republic. Dnata itself is owned by airline giant Emirates.Cruising has become increasingly popular, with around 2 million people expected to take a cruise this year. The two main players are Carnival UK and Royal Caribbean Cruises, while Norwegian Cruise Lines is also popular.

A huge number of airlines operate from the UK, with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic among the best known.

High street travel agents such as Hays Travel are still popular, while travel companies specialising in particular niches include iglu.com and Kuoni.

Cruise Ship




Jobs in Travel


There are a range of jobs in travel, and it helps to be open-minded about what you want to do.

The most obvious jobs are holiday reps and travel agents, but there are plenty of other roles in this diverse industry, from IT app developer through to marketing expert, operations manager and more.

Over 30,000 people are employed in the UK travel industry, and there is also scope to specialise in a specific area of interest, such as cruising, active holidays, skiing or spa breaks.

Becoming a holiday rep is a good way to get into the travel industry. It allows you to get paid for working around the world and gives you a broad overview into how everything works. It’s also relatively easy to get into, as there are so many companies crying out for good staff. It can be hard work, but there’s plenty of fun to be had. Holiday reps are responsible for ensuring that customers have the best possible holiday, representing the company and delivering superb customer service at all times. There are different routes to take and reps can work in children’s clubs, as lifeguards, entertainers or nursery nurses, among other roles.

Don’t rule out contact centres as a great starting point – the atmosphere is lively and fast-paced, and there are plenty of opportunities to learn the job as a reservations agent, travel consultant or travel sales manager. These roles can often lead to more senior management roles.




If this has whetted your appetite for a job in the UK travel industry, here’s some advice for landing that dream role.

  • Sign up to travel industry jobs bulletins and follow social media feeds for travel-related roles.
  • Read industry publications and network wherever possible, ensuring your pitch, CV, covering letter and social media profile are employer-friendly.
  • Start conversations, seek out secondments and look for roles that will offer you a route in.
  • Don’t rule out temping as a way into your chosen company.