Whether it’s a day on the Grand River white water rafting to learn about eco-tourism, meeting with the organizers of the 2015 Pan Am Games to discuss inbound tourism, visiting and evaluating resorts in Havana, Cuba or taking in the sights and sounds from 32 communities in Norway in one week, students in Sheridan’s Tourism and Travel diploma program take an experiential approach to learning how to sell a destination to consumers.
“Our students don’t have to be well-traveled coming into the program, but they definitely need the desire to travel,” said Roger Halfacre, Tourism and Travel program coordinator at Sheridan. “You can do a better job selling a destination to a client when you’ve seen it.” Through a combination of in-class learning, travel, field placements, and experiences shared by faculty, who have spent years in the industry as travel consultants, students learn to navigate this ever-changing industry.
Sheridan’s program is rooted in business rather than hospitality, which sets it apart from many others in the province. “Students learn the fundamentals of business and apply it to travel and tourism as a whole,” explained Faculty member Victoria Renton. “When you have a firm business grounding, you can launch into a wide range of areas in the industry.”
“Students learn the fundamentals of business and apply it to the travel and tourism as a whole” – Professor Victoria Renton
The program takes a holistic approach, exploring all facets of the industry that may be part of a traveler’s experience. Flights, car rentals, hotels, cruises, custom travel design and costing, regulations and legislation, world issues, inoculations, visas, insurance, group bookings, marketing. and event planning, are just a few of the areas in which students gain valuable experience.
Social media plays a large role in many of Sheridan’s Tourism and Travel courses. Using the hashtag #nichetourism, students Tweet about their research and work around specialized travel experiences. Blogging, Facebooking and Tweeting are becoming the norm for selling travel experiences in an increasingly interconnected, online world.
In an aging industry, tourism and travel grads are essential to fill the 228,000 jobs that will be unfilled by the year 2030 as projected by the Canadian Tourism Human Resources Council. A large number of people are retiring from the industry and there is a misconception that online travel sites are decreasing the demand for people in the field. “There’s a swing-back effect,” explained Halfacre. “Consumers are turning to professional travel consultants to help plan complex travel. Many retirees have a travel bucket list, and those trips are often more involved than just booking a flight and hotel.”
“The employment options for tourism and travel students with skills in business and sales are unlimited” – Roger Halfacre
“For hard-working students that are passionate about travel and have a curiosity for and acceptance of other cultures, the program is a great fit,” said Renton. Halfacre adds: “The employment options for tourism and travel students with skills in business and sales are unlimited. They are adaptable to changing markets and needs of today’s and tomorrow’s traveler.”
Pictured at top of page: Tourism and Travel s
Written by: Keiko Kataoka, Digital Communications Officer at Sheridan.