Career Coach: Travel
I caught up with travel blogger Stuart Lewis of Travelscoop for a bit of career advice.
You’ve said that your passion for travel was triggered by the travel section of a bookshop where you worked. What led you to making the move to embrace travel as a career?
Mostly the fact that I was travelling a lot more, seeing more of the world, and wanting to write about it. Expressing personal feelings about the places I was visiting was quite a cathartic experience, and I was getting positive feedback from contacts I’d made in the travel industry.
The move was a fairly incremental and calculated one, as I came to realise I had the passion and some of the skills to make a proper go of it. The love for travel and writing eventually far outweighed the motivation I had for my nine-to-five job, and I saw loads of opportunities in the social media and digital side of the industry.
Is working in the travel sector something that you need training or qualifications for, or is it something that you can learn on the job?
It depends on the type of travel career you’re looking to get into. The travel landscape is ever-evolving, and there are so many brilliant opportunities for young and enthusiastic people right now – really, anyone who is particularly adept with social media and video has a great advantage.
For travel writing and content creation, I’d say that you definitely need a lot of passion and interest in travel, and to keep on top of what’s happening in the changing environment. I really think that the more experience of travelling you have, the easier it becomes – it’s equipping yourself with the necessary tools to do your job well. A good grasp of English helps, but so much can be learnt on the job as the industry evolves – it’s a sector where there’s always something new to learn or potential new avenues to explore.
Was the reality of working in the travel sector like what you had expected?
Yes and no. As a travel writer, I started out thinking that everything had to be beautifully written and fascinating to read. But I’ve quickly learned that it’s very much about identifying your audience and writing for them – and particularly online. People’s demands and expectations are changing, along with what they digest and how they do it. It’s about responding to what’s happening in the industry and the world right now. Seasonality is probably the only thing that can be relied upon, but even this is changing as things like advancements in flight technology, eco-tourism, and health factors alter the travel environment.
What are some of the skills or attributes that you need in order to build a successful career in the travel sector?
Again, it depends on the type of career. But a lot of enthusiasm is essential, along with an ability to learn and adapt quickly. Reading about travel and keeping up to speed with what’s happening helps you to stay relevant. It’s also important to not be shy about self-promotion – get to know companies and people in your industry, and let them know about you and your work – and use social media for your own benefit.
If you’re travel writing, listen to criticism but don’t be put off by it. Maintaining a thick skin is helpful – social media, in particular, has given everyone a voice and an ability to give feedback, positive and negative. Being able to step back from your work can really give you some perspective.
If someone was thinking about exploring a career in the travel sector, what advice or guidance would you give them?
It’s a great time to do it – technology is changing the way we travel and therefore the way we approach it. So, there are loads of opportunities as everyone tries to grapple with the fast-paced, evolving landscape.
Do plenty of research and find out as much as you can about what you want to do, as well as which companies are already doing it and who you can approach. For travel writing, identify some websites or blogs you enjoy reading and can get ideas from – and read them often.
Travel as much as you can – the experiences will always prove beneficial, whether in your career or even just your life in general.
If you want to be a writer, you’ll probably need to start fairly small and maybe write for free to begin with – it’s the best way of learning on the job and also getting your name out there. There are plenty of websites looking for content, but make sure that you have an online presence of your own to link back to. Travelscoop are actually looking for writers and bloggers to write for us and would welcome contributions – check out our website for more information.
What are some of your goals and ambitions for the months ahead?
Travelscoop continues to go from strength to strength, and this year we’re expanding by opening up internationally. I’m also going to be spending a month travelling and writing in Italy, testing out my ultimate dream of working from my laptop wherever I am in the world.