The Dirty Truth About Travel-Industry Jobs
Looking for a job? The U.S. leisure and hospitality industry is projected to contain as many as 15 million of them by 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And with good reason: Tourism is a $165 billion-a-year industry, and travel itself is educational, entertaining and trailblazing to boot.
But don't assume the industry is all glamour. While you may have fantasized about roaming the world as a jet-setting travel writer or cruise-ship director, you may be missing a potential ugly side to your dream position.
We rounded up some of the most stressful jobs in travel that, even with incredible benefits, can have some irksome disadvantages. As some insiders will attest, it's never a vacation when you work in the travel industry.
"There are an unfortunate few who demand everything for free, don't respect the staff, don't tip, complain about the weather (which we all know we don't control) and often make the entire trip miserable for all." Furthermore, the client can be very demanding regarding story placement, and many publicists have more than one client to juggle (and in different time zones to boot). No wonder Careercast.com rated public relations as the seventh most-stressful job (out of 10) in 2012.
Think that's not a tough job? While some hotels use a "pool" of butlers (guests aren’t assigned one particular person), each is still constantly "on." One butler may have up to 10 guests at a time, with few opportunities to take a personal break. Butlers also have to be highly intuitive, catering to a guest’s expressed – and unexpressed – needs. And butlers are common at high-end hotels and resorts, so highbrow guests with high-maintenance needs naturally come with the job.
Brian David Bruns, author of Cruise Confidential and the only American in the history of Carnival Cruise Lines to endure a full contract in the ships’ restaurants, says: “I worked 12 to15 hours a day, 7 days a week, 10 months straight. There were no days off but a free lunch once or maybe twice a week.” Those who have the hardest roles to fill are front of house: waitstaff, porters, casino staff and butlers. And all those tips that cruise guests leave for crew? They comprise upward of 90 percent of the staff’s income. No wonder their parties are notoriously wild; even after a 12-hour day, no one can refuse that open bar! That said, the job is best for young, single recent college grads who want to see the world and have no qualms about not delaying that 401K or sleep.
Notable travel writer Adam Graham says, "Being a good travel writer means constantly being elsewhere and giving up just about everything else in your personal life: weddings, funerals, births, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, friendships, relationships and normal everyday routines like watching TV and doing laundry, which might sound mundane but you crave them when you're on the road so much." While Adam was on his last assignment, a three-week trip around the world, two friends gave birth, one found out she was pregnant, another had a break-up and there was the death of a friend’s parent. "If that's not enough," he humorously adds, "being gone for 3 weeks means you'll miss 3 episodes of Downton Abbey!”
Hotel Front-Desk Clerk
From guests bringing in their mistresses to drunk guests behaving badly, entertainment is guaranteed. But working behind the front desk is not a party, as the duties are endless (from administrative tasks to customer service). Furthermore, the front desk is the first place guests go when they have complaints. Who’s the employee with the shortest end of the stick? It’s the clerk working the graveyard shift.