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Your Transferable Skills in the Tourism Industry Might Qualify You for These Other Roles

From canals void of gondolas in Venice, Italy to an eerily quiet Times Square to images of the vacant streets in Paris, top travel destinations have been hollowed out by the coronavirus. For the travel agents, tour guides and guest relations specialists who thrive on the global tourism industry, this has also meant that employment in their industry has been gutted.

The impact COVID-19 has had on the tourism industry is undeniable. In the United States, top tourist destinations like Nevada and Florida are the states expected to take the biggest hit economically. Nevada, which is heavily reliant on the casino-hotel sector in Las Vegas, will see an employment drop of 9.8 percent. The Sunshine State, another tourist hotspot thanks to theme parks in Orlando, will decline by 7.8 percent.

The U.S. Travel Association estimates the slump caused by the pandemic will cost the U.S. economy $910 billion — seven times the impact of 9/11. This doesn't look good for the 7.8 million workers in the travel and tourism sector.

However, those with tourism experience, including tour guides, travel agents and customer service reps, have skills that are sought-after across industries. And, while this may seem like an inopportune moment to look, the search will only get more difficult if you wait. To maximize your chances of landing a great job, you should start your search now.

Here are some tips on how to write a resume that showcases your work experience and skill set in a way that will appeal to employers everywhere.

Transferable skills and training to emphasize on your resume

From cruise ship directors to booking agents, the skills you have fine-tuned over the course of your tourism career have qualified you for jobs in other industries. Workers looking to jump to another field can make a seamless transition to a new profession by highlighting their transferable skills.

There are three types of transferable skills: hard skills, technical skills and soft skills. Hard and technical skills can be measured and are either learned on the job or taught in a classroom. Technical skills, in particular, involve specialized knowledge, such as how to use software and tools. Soft skills, on the other hand, are harder to teach. These are characteristics and talents, like compassion and strong communications skills, that make you a great employee.

Let's look at a few examples of transferable skills in each category for people with travel and tourism industry experience, as well as the education and certification you may have under your belt.

Hard and technical skills: Hard skills include presentation skills, proficiency in a foreign language, knowledge of travel regulations and laws. Technical skills include knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite, accounting software, and scheduling software.

Soft skills: Verbal communication, flexibility, time management, teamwork, customer service, conflict-resolution, problem-solving

Certifications and training: International Tour Management Institute (ITMI) Certified Tour Guide, Certified Travel Associate (CTA), Accredited Cruise Counselor (ACC)

Education: While a bachelor's degree is not required for a job at a travel agency, those who went to college should always list it on a resume, especially when transitioning to a new industry. If you don't have a degree, but have done coursework related to tourism or another area, list that under Education, too. Industry certifications and professional trainings belong in a different section.

These industries are hiring people with your skills

If you were a tour guide, you might be qualified for the following roles:

  • Sales associate (for example, at a grocery store, like Kroger)
  • Caregiver (for example, at a nursing home)
  • Receptionist (for example, at a hospital)
  • Bank teller (for example, at a financial institution, like Bank of America)
  • Delivery driver (for example, using a delivery app, like Uber Eats)
  • Security guard (for example, at an essential retail store, like Walmart)
  • Stocker (for example, at a grocery store, like Whole Foods)
  • Warehouse associate (for example, at an ecommerce company, like Shipt)
  • Shopper (for example, for a delivery app, like Instacart)

If you were a travel agent, travel consultant or travel manager, you might be qualified for the following roles:

  • Sales manager (for example, at an auto shop, like AutoZone)
  • Shift supervisor (for example, at a pharmacy, like CVS Health)
  • Inventory manager (for example, at a logistics company)

If you were a customer service representative, you might be qualified for the following roles:

  • Customer service associate (for example, at a hospital)
  • Sales associate (for example, at a grocery store, like Giant Eagle)
  • Receptionist (for example, at a logistics company)
  • Bank teller (for example, at a financial institution, like Chase)
  • Driver (for example, at a delivery company, like UPS)

How to apply for these roles and what you'll need

If you are applying in person, you will need a current email address and phone number, a resume and identification, such as a driver's license or passport.

Many jobs, especially higher-level roles, will require an online application. To apply online, you will need a current email address and phone number, and a resume.

How to find these jobs in your community

How to create a resume that will capture an employer's attention

Your resume will be an important factor in getting your career back on track. The hiring manager will give you a second look only if the resume appeals directly to an employer's needs. To understand what the employer needs, read the job description. In the section labeled "job duties," you will find specific keywords and language. Incorporate the language into your resume.

Your cover letter is important, too. In our cover letter, explain why you're making a transition to an industry you're passionate about. Elaborate on the career highlights briefly mentioned in your resume. Keep it short, but don't be shy. This is a chance to show off your communication skills.

Now, before you begin your search, here's a resume example to review. Written by a certified resume writer, use this document as inspiration for your next resume

Text resume example: A travel manager applying for a sales manager role

Name: Maddie Engman
Address: Orlando, FL
Phone: (555) 555-5555
E-Mail: example@example.com

Professional Summary

Sales-oriented travel expert with excellent administrative skills looking for a sales manager position. Proven expertise in customer service and in resolving conflicts. Provide exceptional service and quality obtained from years of hands-on experience in corporate travel industry.


  • Travel research
  • Hotel accommodations
  • Team management
  • Organization
  • Customer service
  • Sales
  • Client amenities
  • Conflict resolution

Work History

Travel Manager  
Loves Travel Stops
Orlando, FL
April 2018 to March 2020

  • Organized memorable and exquisite travel itineraries and vacations for high-level clients, celebrities, politicians, and business executives.
  • Communicated benefits and information regarding international travel insurance with clients and obtained best rates, increasing repeat business 30 percent.
  • Managed a team of seven travel agents, resolved complaints, and implemented appropriate solutions to ensure customer satisfaction.

Travel Agent   
BW Travel Agency
Orlando, FL
August 2015 to March 2018

  • Provided exemplary customer service to over 100 new and existing clients, which helped build lasting relationships and secure new travel assignments.
  • Developed loyal clientele base due to excellent listening and research skills and keen understanding of travel budgets.
  • Maintained operational proficiency in coordinating both international and domestic travel accommodations for customers, arranging for airfare as well as hotel and rental car reservations.

Customer Service Associate   
Rite Aid
Orlando, FL
September 2013 to July 2015

  • Reported to work early, checked low inventory, learned sales or special offerings, and became aware of store issues.
  • Maintained clean sales floor and straightened and faced merchandise.
  • Provided primary customer support to internal and external customers in fast-paced environment.

Education & Training

Bachelor of Arts Tourism Management, May 2015
University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL

Leadership Training Program, May 2017
Sandler Training, Orlando, FL

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resume for a travel manager applying for a sales manager role

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