Travel consultant Sonal Acharya talks about pleasures and peeves of a career in tourism:
“Travel industry has two aspects to it: inbound and outbound tourism. While inbound tourism caters to all foreigners coming to India, outbound deals with Indians travelling abroad. Many companies offer travel packages to individual and group travellers. Individuals book hotels, airlines, and tickets for places of attraction as per their preference and budget. Group travel is like `one size fits all` and is more for people with tight budgets or food restrictions or those who want to be taken care of.
“Group travel is a big industry and includes premium and budget tours. In the Indian context, there is a very fine line between premium and budget tours as the Indian consumer wants premium at the budget price. Also, competition makes it difficult to convince customers who have no awareness about the product they are buying. It is a fad now to do many countries in as many days.
“Our reward, we get free trips, an opportunity to design peoples’ travel plans creatively, and of course interaction with people. The career has its own share of hardship. Odd times, lack of personal space and holidays take toll on you. You may opt for an office job and work either in sales or operations. You start as an executive and work your way up. You have to be a graduate and should also possess qualifications relevant to the travel industry. There are also ancillary fields like technology and marketing etc. As a tour manager you start with either domestic or foreign sectors, and end up as a tour manager. There is no growth upward.
“You ought to have good knowledge of destinations you visit. Knowledge of a language is a huge plus point. I do group tourism and also meetings, incentives and conferences. I prefer both as with group tourism I can be creative, and in meetings and conferences, my management ability comes to the fore. Both are challenging in their own right.”