The Secret Life of a Travel Director

A Look at the Event Industry’s “On-Demand” Workforce

Have you ever wished that you had a job that would pay you to travel around the world?

There is a seemingly secret society of professionals who do just that. They’re called Travel Directors.

If I had known about this job when I was in high school, I might not have gone to college, definitely not graduate school (says the person who is still paying off student loans). Traveling the world for work has been my dream for as long as I can remember.

Digital nomad is the trending title for a job like this. Although being a Travel Director (TD) is a part of the gig economy, and you’re providing a professional service while traveling just like many typical digital nomads—it’s not quite the same thing. Instead, as a TD you might seek a home-base or headquarters closer to a major airport hub with easy (and preferably inexpensive) flights to a variety of destinations. Remember, in this position, the client chooses the destination for you. Luckily, you often can extend your stay on your own dime to enjoy a couple of leisure days before or after your gig.

So what is a Travel Director?

The term “Travel Director” has become something of a misnomer. Decades ago, the title referred to tour guides who directed groups of tourists on leisure trips. The role has since evolved considerably.

TDs are logisticians, concierges, and event coordinators all rolled into one. They are experts in managing and directing groups of people (i.e., at events) around the world for their clients, whether those gatherings are conferences, festivals, leisure or educational tours, tradeshows, incentive trips, concerts, sporting events, or roadshows. They are not brand ambassadors or temp event staff, but instead are highly skilled and experienced professionals who need no supervision. Some work directly with corporations, associations, or non-profits. Others work with an event and marketing agency. Some do a mix of both. They manage their own schedules and travel as far and wide or as little as they please. They control when, where, and for whom they provide these services.

What knowledge and skills do they need?

Other than a necessary comfort level with regular air travel, TDs need general event management expertise and possibly a specialization in a specific role such as transportation, meeting space or facility management, or catering, just to name a few. They need to be quick on their feet and ready to run the moment they get onsite, because they are typically handed someone else’s event plan and are expected to execute it flawlessly. It’s important that a TD is savvy with the latest technologies or has advanced mastery of digital tools such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. They need to have an exceptionally high level of emotional intelligence to dexterously navigate the myriad personalities, questions, and reactions posed to them by anxious event attendees.

Opus and Travel Directors

Not all projects need a TD, but when the support is needed, Opus Agency prides itself in partnering with the best in the business. We ensure their personalities and communication styles are a good fit with our internal teams and, more importantly, with our clients. They function as an extension of our team who we trust to do an excellent job and represent our agency onsite.

Need a TD for your next event? Let Opus know!

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