November 10, 2020
Given the change of course that has happened in the world, we wanted to provide expert opinions on what aspiring graduates can do to start off their careers in an uncertain economic climate. We wanted to know what skills will be more important, where the economy is doing relatively well, and if there will be any lasting effects on the job market.
Companies are looking for candidates that can handle the new responsibilities of the job market. Recent graduates actually have an advantage because they are comfortable using newer technologies and have been communicating virtually their whole lives. They can take what they've learned and apply it immediately.
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
The Travel Institute
The Travel Institute
Diane Petras: Agents should expect business to return when the pandemic passes. In fact, there is already significant, pent-up demand with consumers who want to travel. Short-term, this demand has translated into 1) greater interest in domestic travel as a more comfortable, familiar option for now, and 2) bookings for travel itineraries a year or more out. Longer-term and post-pandemic, the travel industry is expected to fully recover for both national and international travel bookings. Both short- and long-term, agents need to understand and communicate with travelers on new health-related travel protocols and, possibly, emerging health-related ratings for suppliers and destinations. In the meantime, given the fluidity of changes in travel restrictions and destinations, agents can also expect great professional camaraderie as agents are sharing dynamically-changing travel and destination details so that the industry can best serve all travelers.
Diane Petras: The good news for young graduates considering their career options is that anyone can become a travel agent. That said, the foundation for being a successful travel professional and trusted advisor is a combination of soft and hard skills. It's a combination of knowing market specifics and how to access and secure the best value for your travelers while also understanding personal needs, communicating value, being ethical, and building trusting relationships, all while taking the client through the decision process and finalizing the sale.
Diane Petras: Regardless of where a graduate lives, there is a great opportunity for those who possess an entrepreneurial spirit, a passion for travel, and a strong desire to curate travel experiences for others because travel can be sold from anywhere. We conducted a survey in 2018 that analyzed the changing face of travel agents over the past decade and identified a seismic shift from travel agents working in an agency office location to working from home as a self-employed agent.
Diane Petras: Absolutely! By and large, travelers will become quite comfortable exploring destinations near and far again. When that happens, travel insurance is most certainly going to become a more critical option they want to include as we all come to expect the unexpected. We also see new pandemic-initiated health protocols that are here to stay, from face masks to social distancing, hygiene practices, virus testing, and more. And, for travel suppliers, implementing these protocols may translate into health-related rankings that agents and travelers use to further determine an itinerary.