David Wickers, Director of Bridge & Wickers shares his top tips and advice for people looking to break into the travel industry.
How did you get in to the industry?
I got in to travel journalism from my love and enthusiasm of travelling. Eight years ago I set up Bridge & Wickers with Jerry Bridge, a director of the company. We originally set up as a specialist Australia/New Zealand tour operator and gradually expanded into Canada and then the South Sea Islands.
What is the biggest challenge of your role?
Making sure the clients have the holiday they want. We’re not selling what we want to sell – we very much listen to what they tell us and that’s the achievement, making sure they have the right holiday. The challenge is fulfilling their expectations.
What’s your advice for a person looking for a career in travel?
It is important that you enjoy the industry you’re in and have passion for what you do.
What qualities do you look for in an employee?
Most importantly to us they are providing a service so it’s a combination of listening and talking, it’s making sure they are selling the right thing to the right person.
Secondly, they have to be a team player. The company is broken into teams and they work very closely with one another so it’s important they can work as part of a team.
Apart from this the one thing I’d be looking for is passion. If they are going to sell Australia I’d expect them to know the Australian seasons, which areas are best at the different times of year and if they don’t know that they know nothing about Australia.
What are your top three tips to be a successful travel journalist?
Firstly, read the travel sections in the newspapers. Take the time to read each travel magazine and publication, know their audience and their style so when you start writing for a publication you already know their style and target consumer.
Secondly, do a professionals job – if a newspaper only ever has 1000 word articles maximum, don’t submit 2000 words.
Lastly, if you are new and are proposing an idea to the travel editor, know your story and your angle and be specific. The editor wants to know why it matters and how it will affect the visitor.
Has your education and degree helped you to get where you are today? How important do you think they are to success?
Nobody has ever directly asked me if I have a degree in my entire life but education is something in its own right. When you have achieved a degree you feel like you can achieve the world.
University degree gives life experience something which you might not get if you were to go straight into work or in to an internship.
David Wickers is the co-founder of luxury tour operator Bridge & Wickers, who are currently ranked as the best tour operator to Australia and New Zealand. David was Chief Travel Correspondent of The Sunday Times for 17 years and on three occasions was voted Travel Writer of the Year. As Travel Editor of Good Housekeeping, travel journalism is still a part of his life but tour operating is currently his main focus.