June 15, 2024

Business travel missing from tourism courses

Business travel is failing to make it on to travel and tourism courses due to the lack of placements available for students.

Speaking at the Focus Travel Partnership Conference in Belfast, Dr Peter Bolan, Senior Lecturer and Course Director for Ulster University, said it used to be part of the university’s travel and tourism syllabus but is now only touched upon.

Instead the course is geared towards other areas of travel and tourism where more work placements are offered.

“Sadly it’s evolved that way. Business travel used to be a module and then it became part of MICE, and gradually over time we’ve reshaped the course now it’s only a very small part,” he told TMCs and business travel suppliers.

“There is a real disconnect because there are very few companies offering placement opportunities, and we need to cater to areas of the sector which are going to help our students with their employability.”

He also urged business travel companies to connect with their local colleges and universities, offering to speak to students – either in person or virtually – to help raise awareness of the sector.

“It’s been 14 years since we had a business travel company come in,” he said.

Four travel and tourism students joined Bolan on a panel at the Focus Conference and admitted that although they knew people travelled for business, they hadn’t realised there was a whole industry built around it.

They said for their own personal travel, decisions about where to go and what to do are based on searches on TikTok, not Google. They also prefer visual aids, such as video, to understand a company’s products and services.

The students said they are happy to talk to ChatBots rather than humans, because it allows them to communicate 24/7, and also like to engage with companies using Apps. For their job searches, they use LinkedIn.