The travel industry must showcase itself as an employer more broadly to attract a wider array of talent.
That was the view of a panel of experts who discussed the challenges the sector faces in the battle to recruit staff at this week’s ITT conference in Istanbul.
Bhav Taylor, head of sales for travel CRM [Customer Relationship Management] technology platform developer TProfile, said the industry needs to target school leavers.
She said there is a perception among Gen Z that travel only provides travel agent, cabin crew or tour rep roles and that this must be addressed to plug skills gaps.
“We need to showcase our industry in a much broader way. There are no hard and fast rules, if you have the talent, and commitment and the ability the world is your oyster.”
Taylor said once students are at university they have usually decided on their career path so travel should showcase to school age leavers what the opportunities are in the sector.
Kristina Seed, programme quality manager for the Northern Training Academy, said: “You can be a legal professional, in IT or training, you can do all of that in travel. We don’t shout about that enough.”
Seed added it was important to help staff not get stuck in roles and to help their career development with learning and qualifications.
And she said the industry has to combat perceptions about apprenticeships as just being for the young and entry-level roles.
“Until we get away from the stigma of apprenticeships…we have a problem,” she said.
Gail Kenny, co-founder of Best Workplaces in Travel, said companies have to ditch a rigid approach to employment and adapt their value proposition for staff.
She said the sector had lost people to other industries like fintech and health care because they were growing during the pandemic.
However, a survey for Best Workplaces in Travel found only 7% of existing employees were looking to move, compared to over 40% for the national average.
“There are probably a few reasons for that,” she said. “Potentially it could be companies treated their employees really well during the pandemic and looked after them.
“There is probably also an element of cautiousness and nervousness about moving. Is the grass greener?
“And actually we have outridden the pandemic, so let’s stay in the industry we have worked so hard to keep up and running and reap the rewards.”
Kenny said the survey found work-life balance is the number one factor for people when assessing who to work for.
“If people are sticking to that rigid nine to five, five days a week then people will leave. People don’t want to go back into the office five days a week.
“Also, recognition and being valued is important. They want to be consulted, want to make decisions and want to be in control, so I think some good has come out of the pandemic.”