Career opportunities for women in travel and hospitality business

 Travel and hospitality businesses in India have traditionally hired women in various positions. Each year India receives more than 3.5 million foreign tourists, and the government has set an ambitious goal of taking this number to 5 million. The domestic tourism in India is also on the rise, with over 35 million Indians travelling within the country every year. To meet the needs of the growing number of foreign and local tourists, the demand for trained manpower in the travel and hospitality industry has gone up substantially in recent years (1).

A 2010 FICCI-EvalueServe Survey and World Travel and Tourism Council Report predicts that the travel and tourism industry in India will grow at a much faster rate than other tourist destinations in the world. The industry is likely to create 40 million jobs by 2019. With the government’s investments and emphasis on infrastructure development, abundant career opportunities in the travel and hospitality sector are expected in the coming years (2).

For many decades, women in the travel and hospitality industry in India occupied the frontline positions such as receptionists, telephone operators, air hostesses, travel assistants, and public relations personnel. But this is changing now, and women are increasingly occupying managerial level positions in the industry, as well as setting up their own travel and hospitality enterprises. According to 2009 report of TravelBiz Monitor, women are increasingly creating a niche for themselves in the industry. Women professionals are occupying decision making positions, and also proving their leadership qualities by successfully running companies (3).

As an illustration of how far the Indian women have arrived in the travel and hospitality sector, one may look at the career of Ragini Chopra, Vice President, Corporate Communications and Public Relations, Jet Airways. Three decades ago, she was the only girl student in the management graduate class of 40 students at the Oberoi School of Hotel Management. Today she ranks among the top executives in the industry. According to Chopra, three important things that can help to create a niche for yourself in the industry are: proving yourself that you are good in your job, being passionate about what you are doing, and thirdly being innovative to enhance your contribution to the organization (4).

There are also various tough challenges for women in the travel, tourism and hospitality sector in India. The working hours can be odd and irregular, including night duties and working on weekends and holidays. Some of these jobs may also involve extensive travel to different destinations. However, women are meeting these challenges successfully, and the employers are also increasingly considerate towards their welfare.

For instance, Vasudha Sondhi, M.D. of a premier Indian travel firm Outbound Marketing says, “I have a lot of women working in my team and completely understand the whole concept of balancing between work and home. With certain circumstances, we allow our team members to work from home like in case of maternity or other such genuine reasons. Also the concept of working three days from home and three days from office is fast emerging in the Indian market.”

There are nearly 150 recognized colleges and universities offering bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in the hospitality sector. Additionally, there are many private institutes offering professional training for travel and tourism industry. Women who wish to make a career in this sector should have the drive and the capacity for hard work, and must be willing to deal with people. This is a totally service-oriented business which requires excellent people management skills (5).


- Vikas Vij (views expressed in the article are that of the author)