TARGETjobs black logo

Tour operators: area of work

An interest in travel is a must for graduate tour operators.

A tour operator buys accommodation, transport and leisure activities to combine as a package holiday. In general these packages will then be sold to the public by travel agents; however, some operators will also deal with this part of the process as well. Tour operators sometimes specialise in a particular area or target age group: for example, there are backpacking, sightseeing and cruise specialists as well as holiday organisers for tourists aged 18 to 30.

Some tour operators put together packages to other countries, while inbound operators cater for tourists coming to the UK. Management roles with tour operators involve researching and planning new packages, negotiating rates for services, dealing with reservations and keeping an eye on the whole process to ensure that the number of holidays offered is in line with demand. There are also opportunities available in HR, PR and marketing.

This article was last updated before the start of the pandemic in 2020. As a result of Covid-19 and the restrictions to travelling it has brought about, it's likely that finding work or experience in this area of work will be difficult for the time being. Rest assured, however, that future employers won't look unfavourably on your application as a result of this – as our article on filling a coronavirus-shaped gap on your CV makes clear. For guidance on finding work under the current circumstances, take a look at our advice on job hunting during the coronavirus pandemic.

Working environment

Don’t expect working for a tour operator to be one big holiday. While holiday reps work with tourists throughout the world, those in management-level positions tend to be office-based. However, in some roles you may need to travel to holiday destinations to check out the standards (eg the quality of accommodation in a particular hotel).

Getting in and getting on

Travel experience and an interest in travelling are important for anyone hoping to work as a tour operator. Excellent interpersonal skills are essential and knowledge of foreign languages is extremely useful. Qualifications in leisure, travel or tourism are also beneficial. For office-based roles, qualifications in business or management will also be useful.

Supported by

This describes editorially independent and objective content, written and edited by the GTI content team, with which the organisation would like to be associated and has provided some funding in order to be so. Any external contributors featuring in the article are independent from the supporter organisation and contributions are in line with our non-advertorial policy.

Advertising feature by

This describes content that has been written and edited in close collaboration with the organisation, who has funded the feature; it is advertising. We are committed to upholding our ethical values of transparency and honesty when dealing with students and feel that this is the best way not to deceive consumers of our content. The content will be written by GTI editors, but the organisation will have had input into the messaging, provided knowledge and contributors and approved the content.

In Partnership

This content has been written or sourced by AGCAS, the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, and edited by TARGETjobs as part of a content partnership. AGCAS provides impartial information and guidance resources for higher education student career development and graduate employment professionals.