“It was by pure chance, but to this day absolutely the right step for me!”
Milena Schmidt, graduate of the Bachelor of Tourism Management (B.A.) at IUBH, about her career in Hospitality Travel Technology
Milena, you studied tourism management at IUBH in Bad Honnef. Yet now, you are not working at a classic hotel or travel agency. What are you doing?
Milena Schmidt: What I am doing does not reflect a traditional career in tourism. Since 2010 I have been working in Hospitality Travel Technology and even started my own business two years ago. I now represent international start-ups who offer software solutions to hotels, for example a revenue-management-system or solutions for personalising booking processes. I currently work for companies based in the USA and I serve their clients – namely hotels – that are located outside of the USA.
Schmidt: I am responsible for making sure that my customers’ software is properly installed and then functioning in the hotels. This is more than just technical tasks. I also give training courses and am quasi customer support and the contact person for the hotels. I pass on the feedback I get from the hotels about the software directly to the start-up so they can develop their product further. I also help them to ensure that their software is internationally compatible. Finally yet importantly, I support the international sales team, above all as a technical contact person. As you can see, I have a great variety of tasks and this is exactly what I like about the job: every day is different. I learn and experience a lot of new things and, in the long term, help to shape the companies themselves.
What gave you the idea of working in the technical services sector?
Schmidt: While studying, I did an internship that gave me initial insights about technical issues and I found it fascinating. In the end however, I found my first job via XING. My future employer contacted me on this platform because a start-up company, for which he worked as a consultant, was looking for someone for the Spanish speaking market for their European office. After an intriguing lunch and a chance to get to know each other, I applied for the job and was offered the position. This is how I ended up in the field of start-ups and travel technology. It was by pure chance, but to this day absolutely the right step for me!
Can you apply what you learned from your degree programme to your work?
Schmidt: In part, yes. The technical expertise that I need for my work was of course not a part of the degree programme. However, what I learned about business administration and hotel procedures was very useful for my first job. Familiarity with specialised words in English was also very helpful since over 90% of my communication and work is in English. And all the presentations we had to do during the degree programme were worthwhile. They taught me how to structure and prepare information, and to present it to a group.
Do you miss the tourism industry?
Schmidt: To be honest, I don’t miss it at all. I quickly realised that the technical aspects of the hotel industry are far more exciting for me than say the business of tour operators or destination management. I am still very involved with the hotel industry, just quasi on the other side, working with technology providers.
Is travel also a part of your work routine?
Schmidt: Yes, and that is important to me. A business trip always means getting to know your customer better. In a group when you sit together at the table, one is often more productive. In the last years, I have been on business trips to almost every continent. In many cultures, for example India or Asia, face-to-face meetings and building up a personal relationship are key to long-term successful collaborations. I also often fly to the USA to meet with my employer.
As a woman, are you a minority in this field of work?
Schmidt: There are definitely less women working in the field. However, it also depends on job responsibilities. Men primarily dominate software development, but there are some women in technical customer support, implementation and sales.
What are your professional plans?
Schmidt: I definitely plan to stay in this area of work because there is a lot going on in this industry and it never gets boring. I also enjoy my work. It not only has a lot of variety but I also work together with great people.