Allison Jungkurth graduated in 2018 with a MS in Tourism Management from the Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality. She is currently a Communications Coordinator at VisitBritain, the national tourism office for Great Britain.
What has your journey been like after graduating NYU?
I worked full time during my Master’s degree program, so when I graduated in spring of 2018 I was able to stay in New York and take some time to look for a new position that would really be a good fit. I knew I wanted to work for a DMO, and eventually there was an opening in the New York office for VisitBritain, which had always been one of the top places I’d dreamed of working for. I had met a few people from VisitBritain as speakers at NYU, so I reconnected with them and between my previous work experience, schoolwork at SPS, and product knowledge from having traveled around Britain before, I got the job and started here in spring of 2019.
Can you talk about your current role at VisitBritain?
I work as Communications Coordinator in the New York office of VisitBritain. Our job is to get US travelers to visit Great Britain, which includes England, Scotland, and Wales.
As part of the PR team, I connect with journalists in the US and share information and story ideas to help them write articles encouraging Americans to visit the UK. We read a lot of travel outlets to understand what media are writing about and what the current trends are, then reach out to pitch new openings or stories from Britain that we think people in the US will want to read about. Hopefully what they read will inspire them to plan a trip to Britain in the future!
This year we’ve had to adapt to COVID-19 restrictions and know that many people are not traveling internationally at the moment. Our goal is still the same, to support media in writing about Britain and inspiring US readers to travel there in the future, even if those future trips are a bit further away than we would all like.
My role in communications has expanded this year, too, in response to the pandemic. With travel restrictions changing all the time and the industry in the US and the UK working hard to adapt, VisitBritain plays a key role in communicating official guidance and regulations to our industry partners. I contribute by monitoring the news and sharing summaries and updates with journalists, travel trade, and my colleagues at VisitBritain so everyone has accurate and up-to-date information.
What are you passionate about in the work that you do?
My favorite part of my job is connecting with people in the UK and hearing what they’ve been working on. It’s difficult to keep up with all of the new events, attractions, hotel openings, etc. that come up across England, Scotland, and Wales, but it helps a lot to go visit and see what’s happening on the ground, or just to have a call and hear what they’re excited about sharing. It’s very inspiring to talk to them and be reminded of the real people – the business owners and smaller DMOs – that we’re working to support from over here.
In what ways has your NYU experience had an impact on your career and shaped who you are today?
The Tourism Management program was great because it covered a wide range of topics and helped me narrow down the part of the industry I wanted to work in. Destination management was always the most interesting to me, the idea of really knowing a place, evaluating its resources, and building tourism attractions in a way that is environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable. My classes helped me understand how the broader industry works and gave me the language to talk about it and interact with all kinds of colleagues and stakeholders.
What career advice would you give to NYU students?
Read about what other people in the industry are doing, and talk to people about their work when you get a chance. The tourism and hospitality industry is so wide and varied, and learning directly from other people is the best way to understand how everything is connected and what kinds of jobs are even out there to pursue. Personal connections are also very inspiring – people are usually really happy to tell you about their destination or the work they’re doing, and it’s energizing to see how you fit into that.
I would also say to stay open to the possibility of applying and taking a job that you aren’t 100% sure about. I didn’t really know what PR and communications involved when I took this position, I just knew I was excited to join VisitBritain and learn how it all worked. There are always opportunities to move or grow into something else, so don’t be afraid to give something really interesting a try.