To mark National Careers Week, we take a look at how travel professionals can supplement their income through lecturing or teaching
The economic impact of the pandemic has left many in the travel industry wondering how they can supplement their income until travel resurges.
Lecturing about the travel industry at universities or teaching at colleges part-time are both good options, also enabling travel professionals to add another string to their bow.
Here we speak to three people with experience of lecturing and teaching students to hear their stories, and share their advice with others in the travel industry considering doing the same.
Danny Waine, head of membership at Abta and co-founder of the ITT talent and careers initiative Future You, has been lecturing at universities for 15 years and finds the experience hugely rewarding.
“I love it. I enjoy inspiring people to join the industry but also the feedback you get from the students and their ideas and enthusiasm are equally inspiring,” he says.
After studying Travel and Tourism at Northumbria University and co-founding specialist operator Perfect Weddings Abroad, Waine got back in touch with his university to offer his services as a guest lecturer.
“If you’ve studied at university or college, there’s a good opportunity to go back as an alumnus and say, ‘would you be interested in me coming in and sharing my experience?’ It’s a really simple way to start out, and they’re normally really appreciative.”
Waine adds that initially he offered to guest lecture for free to gain experience for his CV, but is now often paid a day rate or expenses for his expertise.
Not only did guest lecturing help supplement Waine’s income while he was setting up Perfect Weddings Abroad, it also helped him raise brand awareness, and even became a source for recruitment.
“I did a talk at University College Birmingham and a student introduced himself at the end. He was very polite and told me his family had a wedding dress business in Romania. He ended up working at Perfect Weddings and was a great staff member,” says Waine.
Qualification requirements to become a guest lecturer vary depending on the university or college, says Waine. “Usually they want a PGCE but if you have travel industry experience they’ll often pay to put you through the training programme themselves. Other universities might need a degree or masters.
Generally speaking though, they want people with an industry background as that really adds to the theory of what they’re teaching.”
Once you’ve secured your first gig, make sure you leave plenty of time for preparation and practice, taking into consideration the age and experience of the students.
“University students are often confident – some have masters and could have more experience than you, if you’re just starting out. Some of best questions I’ve ever been asked were from students.
“My advice is to go armed with a specific topic. Spend around 15 minutes introducing yourself, detailing your experience and giving context of the wider travel industry, and then 45 minutes on a topic you’re very comfortable with so you know that if you get a question, you’ll be comfortable answering it.”
Waine also recommends creating a visual presentation on PowerPoint or similar, with bullet points to keep students engaged.
“I always try to get the students onside early on by cracking a few jokes to lighten the mood too. It’s also important to talk about your personal experience and struggles relating to when you were first starting out, as it brings you all on the same level,” he adds.
Ben Rogers, group sales manager at Best Western Hotels, started guest lecturing at Manchester Metropolitan University last year after speaking at ITT Future You events there, and has talked about everything from marketing segmentation to product and customer experience.
Rogers suggests travel professionals keen to offer guest lecturing reach out to universities. “They can struggle to find speakers with experience, and especially in the current climate, where things are delivered virtually, lecturers are looking for something different and ways to keep students engaged.”
As well as helping to inspire the next generation, Rogers says travel professionals can gain valuable feedback and insights from students.
“I also do some mentoring at the university and I talk to them about projects we’re doing at Best Western. It becomes like a focus group, and some of the honest feedback they’ve given has been invaluable – we’d have had to pay a marketing agency thousands of pounds for it.”
Wendy Haines, now a homeworker with The Holiday Village, studied part-time to obtain various teaching qualifications over the years while working in travel.
That certification has come in useful during the coronavirus crisis, as she has been able to find part-time work teaching at a local secondary school in Rolleston-on-Dove, earning enough money to keep her homeworking business afloat.
“I recently signed back up with a teaching agency as travel is quiet – that’s the beauty of having the teaching qualification, you can pick it up when you need to,” says Haines, who also took up teaching positions after being made redundant by Thomas Cook as part of their retail manager restructure in 2013.
Haines, who has taught subjects including Travel and Tourism and Business Studies, says one of the best parts of teaching is seeing children grow in confidence. “One girl was so scared about doing her welcome meeting role play, then at the end of the year, watching her do it, I got a great sense of achievement.
“Another time I was on a plane to Germany and one of my ex-students was cabin crew. She came up and thanked me for everything I’d done, which was so nice. It’s great to see the ones with passion who go on to make it.”
Haines believes many of the skills needed to be a good teacher are similar to those required to work in travel. “You need to be confident and able to deliver. You also need to be organised and good at planning – your time, content, et cetera,” she says.
Being a people person is also important, according to Haines. “You need to be able to deal with a range of people, from shy and nervous kids to confident ones or children with ADHD, for example.”
With part-time or cover teaching roles paying around £20 an hour, Haines believes having a teaching qualification can be a “blessing” when times are hard in travel.
“Plus, once you have those skills, they can’t be taken away. I believe everyone can improve themselves by learning, and it might help you go in a direction you hadn’t even thought of.”