If you're looking for a dynamic role that involves customer interaction and use of your multi-tasking skills, this could be the job for you
Tourist information centre (TIC) managers oversee services that provide information and advice on what to see and do in a particular city, town, area or country.
Work involves booking accommodation, making reservations, selling related gifts and souvenirs, running special events and generating marketing opportunities. Management duties will also need to be covered, such as the daily running of the centre, networking and staff management and recruitment.
To be successful, you must have the ability to forward plan and predict what the public wants.
This can be a dynamic and rewarding area of work but it may also be very demanding and involve long hours for relatively low pay.
The type of work depends on the size and location of the TIC and its position within the local authority structure. However, tasks can include:
Salary levels vary between local authorities and depend on the employer and where the tourist information centre sits within the general tourism structure.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
Centres are usually open seven days a week during the summer and six days during the winter, although this varies across authorities. It's typical to work a 37-hour week over a five-day period, often including weekends.
Hours are often longer during the busier summer period than in winter.
Part-time or seasonal work is common. This is increasingly so at managerial level, especially in smaller centres. Self-employment and freelance work is rare as there's little scope for setting up and running a centre without considerable financial support.
You can become a TIC manager with a degree, HND or foundation degree in any subject. However, the following may increase your chances:
Entry without a degree, HND or foundation degree is possible as you could start as an assistant and work your way up with experience. You could also move across from another retail or customer-focused job.
A pre-entry postgraduate qualification is not usually required. Personal qualities and proven business skills are likely to carry just as much weight as academic qualifications and are seen as key for the development of the sector as a whole.
You will need to have:
Proficiency in foreign languages is useful. Some jobs may require knowledge of geography, history or archaeology.
Pre-entry experience is highly desirable, especially in:
Some tourism-related degrees include an optional work placement year which will provide relevant experience. Involvement with local groups or associations, either while at university or afterwards, can help you acquire the skills and knowledge relevant for this role.
Most TICs recruit staff locally, as a good knowledge of the area is essential. The main employers of TIC managers are local authorities, usually district, borough or city councils.
Other employers include:
Recently, a significant number of TICs closed as a result of funding cutbacks. Some have moved into the private sector, merging with local attractions, while others have merged with council one-stop shops, making tourist information only part of what they do.
In some cases, TICs have made staff redundant and instead use volunteers, supervised by one or two full-time managers. Due to these cut backs, competition for posts is likely to be high.
Look for job vacancies at:
Recruitment agencies rarely advertise vacancies, although positions are often advertised in job centres.
Training is generally done on the job. Regional tourist boards carry out induction training and run training days and courses on specific topics, such as:
You will also be required to familiarise yourself with local attractions and facilities.
You may consider taking a relevant qualification such as the Level 3 Award in the Principles of Supervising Customer Service Performance in Hospitality, Leisure, Travel and Tourism. This can help to make sure you have the skills required to deliver effective customer service.
Funding for training is usually available via the local authority. You're largely responsible for your own continuing professional development (CPD) and will need to identify your own training needs, e.g. in managing staff, and then look out for relevant training opportunities.
Membership of professional bodies may be useful for networking and professional development opportunities, and access to the latest industry news. Relevant organisations include:
A career in a TIC usually begins with a post as a TIC assistant. You can then move up to a supervisory position and on to manager level. There are occasional opportunities to go on to manage more than one centre, although this is becoming less likely as more centres are currently being closed than opened.
Career development may involve moving into other local government posts within tourism or marketing. Another possibility is to join one of the regional or national tourist boards, where the work may involve the development of the tourism strategy for the area and marketing the region to visitors.
The experience you gain as a TIC manager can also be used in information services, for example, in libraries and information management. However, for this type of move, a postgraduate qualification may be necessary. Alternatively, you could move into the retail sector or the service or hospitality industries.