The travel and tourism industry offers many exciting and rewarding career options, though these opportunities are often undervalued and misunderstood by college students. A recently published Human Capital Research Report by the World Travel & Tourism Council concluded that negative misperceptions about skills and career information and options are causing the travel and tourism industry to miss out on the best new talent among college graduates. As the leading technology provider to the global travel and tourism industry, Sabre may be better positioned than any other company to help correct these misperceptions – by simply providing a window into the many cool, inspiring and meaningful jobs that our team is doing every day. To illustrate this, we asked Vance Weintraub, Senior Product Manager for TripCase (our mobile travel app) at Sabre headquarters in Southlake, Texas, to share his perspective on his first 18 months working in the travel and tourism industry:
Why did you decide to pursue a career in the Travel and Tourism industry? I’ve always been interested in travel because it’s an excellent opportunity to grow both culturally and personally. It is an industry with ample opportunity for improvements in efficiency and organization. Sabre is at the forefront of solving many of the toughest challenges faced by airlines, hotels, travelers, travel agents and whole host of other companies within the travel and tourism industry, and I wanted to help tackle those challenges.
What has been the most fulfilling aspect of your Travel and Tourism career so far? While I didn’t know this as a college student, travel and tourism is actually a pretty ideal industry for both personal and professional growth. Because I collaborate with software developer colleagues in cool places like Krakow, Poland on a daily basis, I’ve been lucky enough to travel there a couple of times. Being able to work with teams from an entirely different culture has opened my eyes to the global nature of the travel and tourism industry.
Who has been most influential in your Travel and Tourism career? One of my travel mates on both trips to Poland was my manager and Director of Products for TripCase, Ben Newell. I didn’t have much experience with Product Management when I joined Sabre, and Ben has been an incredible teacher and mentor in providing me with an accelerated primer on what it takes to be a successful product manager. He’s taught me that a good product manager can validate his decisions and carry out his vision by getting buy-in from the rest of the team: marketing, design, business development, and most importantly, our technical teams. Ben leads by example in all these areas and is a valuable resource for someone like myself, just beginning their career.
Why would you recommend a career in Travel and Tourism to someone? I was shocked by the large number of companies within our industry. As a student, it seemed to me that ‘travel’ meant just getting on a plane and staying at a hotel. It’s not until you are inside the world of travel that you realize that there are thousands of companies that power the entire global travel ecosystem. These include airlines, technology companies, travel agents, airport staff, hospitality companies, car rental companies, rail companies, government entities, cruise lines, start-up firms, and global trade associations. Not to mention the tourism businesses one finds at their destination like Convention & Visitors bureaus, theme parks, resorts, and…well…you get the point. Because of the depth and variety of career choices that travel and tourism provides, it’s easy to find an appropriate fit for your professional goals. From a product manager’s perspective, the decisions we make are immensely rewarding when you know your work has improved the travel experience for millions of people. It can be challenging for sure, but it’s rewarding and never boring.
How has a career in Travel and Tourism changed your life? I get to work with brilliant, driven, and creative people every day. Being able to keep up with them has pushed me to develop new skills like learning how to speak “technology” with software developers, prioritizing a list of 100 good ideas down to the one that really matters; and collaborating with specialists in areas like graphic design and marketing. Acquiring these new skills has made me a stronger contributor – and hopefully a better manager in the future.
What has been the most interesting/challenging part of your career? One thing I’ve found most interesting and challenging has been the task of understanding the daily routine of a travel agent – which is one of the major influencers for both TripCase and our B2B solution, TripCase Connect. To clearly understand how we can further help travel agents, we need to understand their ‘pain points,’ so I spent a day interviewing travel agency managers and shadowing an agent at a major corporate travel agency in Dallas, Texas. Having only entry-level knowledge of the role of a travel agent and having never personally used one before, I was quickly lost in the ‘code’ they use to make and edit bookings for clients. What’s a Cross Lorraine? ( it’s a symbol used to open and close commands within travel agent databases) On top of that, I didn’t realize how difficult it is for travel agents to market themselves, to manage customers, and to keep up with constant technology changes. The experience really opened my eyes to the world of one of our most important customers.
What’s your advice to college students about the travel and tourism industry? As a recent college grad myself, I want young people to know that a career in the travel and tourism industry has endless and prosperous possibilities. When you think of working in this industry, don’t limit your view to pilots, flight attendants or hotel managers. While those are also great career roles, I would encourage students to really take a look at all the many interesting companies that help to power the travel and tourism industry. The people “behind the scenes” in the travel industry truly make the world go around. In other words, #TourismMatters.