A degree alone is not enough. Throughout university I have always known it was important to gain relevant industry experience but found it difficult to find appropriate work experience within this sector. Saying that, I have been fortunate enough to work for a national chain hotel, MacDonald Hotels, as well as volunteer one day a week with a sustainable tourism organisation and over summer 2014 I have obtained an 8 week paid internship with an international wholesale tour operator. Ultimately I hope that this mix of experience within the tourism industry will compliment my tourism degree and put me in good stead to find a graduate job in the industry.
At present I am studying a BA (Hons) in International Tourism Management at UCLAN, Preston. This degree has given me the academic knowledge to utilize in a real world working environment. As part of this degree students have the opportunity to undertake a 48 week paid placement which provides opportunities for students to gain experience in the UK and internationally. Throughout my second year at university I was keen to gain a placement, however unfortunately I was unable to find an appropriate placement opportunity after sending multiple emails, letters and attending interviews I was left disappointed. I had a particular vision of the kind of placement I wanted to undergo, particularly within tourism marketing and web design which I found were few and far between. I wanted to gain experience in an area of the tourism industry which was completely different from what I had previously learnt such as tourism marketing, airline or tour operator. Don’t get me wrong there were opportunities available however mostly in hotels and as I’ve had 3 years experience within a hotel and am studying a tourism degree rather than a hospitality degree I decided not to pursue these opportunities.
Fortunately I have a family member working in the tourism industry that has contacts and put me in touch with Miki Travel, who offered me an 8 week paid internship in London during summer 2014, which I was over the moon with. I had heard about MIKI Travel as the hotel I worked in had groups arriving through them therefore I knew the basics. Luckily for me I have grandparents living on the outskirts of London which could offer me accommodation for the whole two months; otherwise I would have struggled to accept the internship with accommodation in the city being expensive.
Miki Travel is one of the largest and most experienced wholesale tour operators in Europe. Offering leisure groups and individual travellers hotels, sightseeing tours, excursions and transfers across the world. MIKI Travel has offices all over the world; the London office has about 200 employees with nationalities from across the globe.
I had mixed feelings before starting including nerves, apprehension and excitement, on my first day everyone was really welcoming and friendly which made it easier. I knew my role would be as a travel consultant however I didn’t know much about the roles and responsibilities this held. The department I am working within is the Sales FIT department which stands for foreign individual travellers. MIKI Travel does not communicate directly with customers at all; they deal with the agents which are tour operators from countries all over the world. The role of my department is to deal with any queries from agents regarding hotels including booking, cancellations, remarks such as guests arriving late, needing a certain type of room including disabled or with children as well as visa invitation for foreign travellers arriving in Europe. This department is not responsible for booking the hotels, all those requests go to the Hotel FIT department.
In my first week I have learnt how to use the internal systems therefore I can input visa support details, hotel requests and chase bookings. Most of the work is via email and occasionally on the phone, most requests and communication is via a main email address which is then distributed across the team to deal with the requests. This role requires a lot of communication with the Hotel FIT department who are responsible for corresponding with the hotels.
I have been working on chasing hotel bookings, agents make booking via MikiNet a system used by Miki Travel Consultants as well as agents, and on this agents can make bookings, amendments and cancellations, both parties can see the statuses of pending hotel bookings. Agents chase these booking and ask us to provide a confirmation number from the hotel. We also deal with requests such as late arrivals, different room types, and disabled access or if it’s a special occasion for the clients we make the hotel aware.
The office is located right on the River Thames, on Upper Thames Street, close to London Bridge, I work office hours from 9am – 5.30pm. It takes approximately 40 minutes commute to and from my grandparent’s house, which means leaving the house at 8am and arriving home at 6.15pm so it’s a long day. Having regularly visited my grandparents in London throughout my life I am reasonably familiar with the city and the tube system. Having weekends off means I can explore the city. I have a lot of family and friends coming to visit me which will make for nice company.