Every now and again, I get wanderlust.  I feel the need to travel and explore new places.  But it becomes apparent if you are lucky enough to travel far away from your home that no matter where you go these days, there are a lot of people out of work.  Worldwide, the unemployment figures are staggeringly high.  Financials sectors across the globe are in turmoil, and because people have less disposable income, the manufacturing of goods, and the providing of services are in decline.  For those who can afford to travel, domestically or internationally, the people who work in the hospitality and related industries are very glad to see you, but they are trying to provide the same quality of services with fewer staff, because the businesses they represent are not secure in the number of people they hope to serve.
Yet interestingly enough, enrollment in hospitality programs at universities around the globe is on the rise.   As a frequent traveler I am constantly running into students who are hoping to pursue careers in tourism, hotel, and food and beverage management.   Considering the present insecurity in these areas of employment this is a bit surprising.  Of course the application of the knowledge gained from these courses of study is much broader than hotel and restaurant careers.   Facilities management, convention coordination, along with food and beverage, airline jobs, cruise ships, travel bookings, and corporate travel planners, private hospitality and corporate concierge services are among the job sectors that can be pursued.
Even in this down economy, the concierge sectors are showing strong growth, particularly in luxury residential markets.  Among the high end high-rise condo set – a growth area in major metropolitan centers – first class problem solvers with huge and qualitative contact/resource lists are in demand to satisfy the whims and needs of occupants too busy to make their own arrangements for child care, dry cleaning, food delivery, procuring show tickets, and connecting residents with a myriad of other services and service providers.
Some hospitality majors choose to go beyond providing services and become involved in the analysis and marketing within these industries.   And others are using their knowledge and educations to become travel writers and commentators for industry-specific, business and general interest publications and websites.   There appears to be lots of options within the industry.
Those who choose to pursue these areas of study and employment do so, at least in part, with a curiosity about people, culture, history, and a desire to explore their world.  They should have an interest in learning to recognize the differences and the commonalities among people around the globe.   Being attentive to detail is imperative, as is having or developing a sensitivity to individual preferences.  These are important and valuable skills no matter what your career choice.
An understanding of world economics can come in handy.   And skills in a second language are also helpful, and possibly even required, depending on the job.   Also keep in mind that the international nature of a few of these positions presents opportunities to live and work in other countries, temporarily and some even permanently.
Careers and jobs in the travel and tourism industries can be exciting, but they can also be as challenging as any other avocation.  Constant travel can wreak havoc on your diet, sleep patterns, exercise routines and other personal areas that may take some getting used to, as well as continuous adjustment.  It can keep you away from home and family for extended periods and expose you to cultural and some times political issues that may not be easily overcome.  But with research and networking, along with some detailed planning, a new world of opportunities can be opened up and experienced in wonderfully positive and unexpected ways.
Even if you don’t want to pursue a career in the broad hospitality industry, travel is good for the soul. It makes you appreciate how good your life is at home.  Sure, sometimes the grass appears to be greener on the other side, but inevitably no matter how strong your wanderlust, there’s no place like home.
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