Thos. Cook Agency Gives U.K. Schoolchildren Hands-On Experience
Seventh graders got an inside look at running a travel agency through a school tourism project that included a visit to a Thomas Cook branch in Irvine, a town in southwestern Scotland.
Prior to the visit, Karen Cameron, manager of Thomas Cook, Irvine Bridgegate, and colleague Zoe Gibson, met with the students at Irvine’s Woodlands School, where they helped them set up a mock travel agency in their classroom. The students acted as both travel agents and customers and used the Internet to research vacation options.
Sense of achievement
Cameron and Gibson also visited two other local schools involved in similar projects and spoke with students there about the travel agency business.
“All of the pupils we’ve met have been enthusiastic and full of questions,” Cameron said.
At Thomas Cook, the students got further insight into such areas as airport codes, travel insurance, budgeting, booking, planning and finances. They also created a window display for the agency.
“I think the visit was incredibly helpful for them to see how their skills and knowledge could be translated into a real job,” Cameron said.
Travel itself was not a new concept for the students. “Almost all of the pupils had traveled abroad with their families, and some had been with their mums and dad when they went into the travel agency to book their holiday.”
A learning tool
The Woodlands School travel and tourism project included learning about other jobs in the travel industry, including airline pilots and cabin crew and tour operators.
The students also examined the differences between tourism in Scotland and the rest of the world, as well as looking into different currencies and cultures.
Cameron considers the travel and tourism project to be a valuable learning tool.
Agents urged to reach out
She also recommended that travel agencies reach out to local schools.
“I think it’s essential for companies generally to offer pupils the opportunity to see how the skills and knowledge they learn at school can translate to a real job,” she said. “It might give them an extra special insight into careers they might not have otherwise considered.”
For travel agencies, it’s also a chance to encourage a new generation to consider travel careers, she added.
“I hope that the pupils will be inspired to study tourism further and perhaps consider a job in the travel business someday.”