Travel is back. Despite that hackneyed phrase floating around everywhere, these globetrotter-friendly careers fly under the radar. Meet four people with off-the-beaten-track tourism-driven jobs ahead of time. All of this offers unique employment opportunities that may very well inspire you to reconsider your own journey.
Head of Mindfulness Programs
At the leafy Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY, charge your battery with Dr. Nina Smiley, a Princeton-trained psychologist and co-author of The Three Minute Meditator (Mind’s I Press) and Mindfulness in Nature. (Hatherleigh Press.)
“Sharing the simplicity and power of mindfulness meditation in this spectacular space is a perfect fit as I coach people on how to use mindfulness in real-time and in real life to reduce stress and increase well-being,” said Smiley.
Vacations can allow people to be more open to exploring new skills, explained Smiley, 70, who invites guests to discover mindfulness during wellness weekends and private sessions, many of which take place along rugged forest trails above pristine Lake Mohonk.
Smiley believes that entering this niche is about cultivating your own practice and then training yourself to share mindfulness. “A lot of programs have wonderful teachers who provide training, and since COVID-19, a lot of that is available online,” she said.
Smiley has been studying and practicing mindfulness since the 1980s, and when Mohonk Mountain House opened its spa in 2005, she became Director of Marketing. “I saw an opportunity to bring mindfulness into my workplace and developed a vision of how to do it, creating courses that I incorporated into existing programs and new proposals over the course of several years,” she said.
Director of Species Conservation
Vaman Ramlall, 46, is passionate about wildlife conservation and committed to making a difference. So accepting this once-in-a-lifetime career opportunity on Richard Branson’s Necker Island and Moskito in the British Virgin Islands was a no-brainer.
“To work in the tourism industry and to be able to say that your work is actively saving species from extinction is indeed a privilege and an honor,” he said.
Working with endangered species on a daily basis, Ramlall educates guests, school children and locals alike about nature.
His main advice? “It obviously takes hard work, diligence, care and resilience, but the real need for this particular specialty is a genuine passion and love for animals and their welfare. It’s a requirement and without it it’s impossible to succeed in the role,” he said.
To date, Ramlall and his colleagues have had some major successes on Necker Island, from restoring the flamingo colony in the mid-2000s that had been extensively hunted and disappeared from the British Virgin Islands, to recently capturing the first baby giant tortoises.
“We believe these are the first Aldabra giant tortoises to be naturally bred anywhere in the world outside of Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles, so they are very special,” he said.
Ramlall believes the tourism industry will increasingly be at the forefront of wildlife conservation. So if you’re curious about becoming a part of this movement, jump in now.
“We must work together to ensure we are making a positive contribution to tackling climate change, biodiversity loss and the health of the planet,” Ramlall said. “I’m very proud of our little sanctuary for endangered species that I get to call work.”
West Village resident Anthony Berklich, 37, typically clocks up 200,000 miles a year and shares some of that joy with his clients by booking luxury trips for them through his consulting firm.
Berklich, a travel writer and marketing consultant for luxury hotel brands, entered the field after working in television and earning a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. He decided to start his blog, Inspired Citizen, which features in-depth stories about life-changing travel experiences.
“Throughout this process, while learning the ins and outs of the travel industry and what guests are looking for, I have incorporated this into advising luxury travel brands who need help improving their guest experience, marketing efforts and driving sales guests are on the property,” he said. “My goal is to share these experiences with people and help them understand how they can experience it too.”
Berklich recommends that aspiring brand consultants create a brand or service that fills a gap. “While the travel world has come a long way in modernizing bookings and the way they communicate with travelers, there is still work to be done and much to be done to make travel easier, more seamless and a better experience for travelers,” he said. “Don’t wait for someone to offer you the perfect job. Get the job done and let people understand why they need you.”
Guest Experience Manager
In the six years that Daniel Brigano, 38, was at the Plaza Hotel in Midtown East, no two days were the same, he said. His job is to ensure that the guest’s journey runs smoothly, from room amenities to answering questions.
“Our guests not only make my job unique, but also fulfilling,” he explains. “The Plaza welcomes guests from all over the world, from royalty, executives and CEOs to those who have always dreamed of spending a magical night at the legendary hotel. My job is to bring that magic to life by creating unforgettable experiences for all of our guests.”
To keep his high-pressure job in line, he strives to live by Maya Angelou’s quote: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how.” you made them feel,” he emphasizes the importance of cultivating traits like being kind to others in order to shine in the hospitality industry.
“Anyone can be taught the logistics of day-to-day operations; However, empathy and compassion cannot be taught. It just comes from the heart,” he said.