Travel firms battle to keep talent in industry

Travel firms are fighting to keep workers in the industry with a set of tailored recruitment drives designed to prevent a loss of talent from the sector.

Tour operator Fred Holidays, temporary field sales business Flexi Reps and homeworking firm Holidaysplease have all taken on individuals recently made redundant.

Fred Holidays has recruited Jenny Wade, previously of Viking Cruises; Gemma Saunders, who worked at Fred Olsen Cruise Lines; Sally Hauser and Claire Webb, both formerly of Great Rail Journeys.

Managing director Steve Williams said a “huge amount of talent” was potentially leaving the industry.

He said the firm’s board of directors were “keen to explore and invest in opportunities and recruit some talented travel people that would enhance the business longer term”, adding: “We’ve been able to recruit people we were not able to recruit before.”

Eight more potential employees are on a list drawn up by Williams, who said he may recruit further during peaks.

Many of the 80 recruits to sign up with Flexi Reps were made redundant during the pandemic, said managing director Craig Davidson. He said suppliers which had focused resources on social media marketing during Covid “need boots on the ground” in January.

One Flexi Rep recruit, Danny Giles, said it was “panic stations” until he was approached by Davidson after being made redundant by Silversea just over a year ago.

Giles has shared vacancies with fellow jobseekers on a Facebook group, Travel Industry Recruitment Opportunities (TIRO), he set up last January. It now has more than 1,600 members.

Homeworking group Holidaysplease has hired 11 agents from travel retail backgrounds since it launched an initiative to ‘borrow’ staff from struggling firms in October. However, none have joined on ‘loan’ so far.

Almost half of the new recruits lost their jobs before joining, said director Richard Dixon, who said Holidaysplease has been “a little bit freer than some companies” because agents earn via a commission-only pay structure.

He said the firm had benefitted from a rise in online enquiries during the pandemic as people were “stuck at home”.

Image: Jack_the_sparow / Shutterstock

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