COMPANIES that embrace the web, employ flexible staff such as homeworkers and instil a sense of fun in the workplace will be at the forefront of growth in the travel industry.

That is the prediction from Hoseasons chief executive Richard Carrick, one of the speakers at the third annual Aspire conference for potential new recruits in travel.

The two-day conference on March 28 and 29 at Butlins in Bognor Regis will be the biggest yet with 460 delegates expected to attend.

Carrick, who will speak on the first day, said: “The web rules and if you look at other sectors it’s hugely affected the high street. There will be less travel agents around in their current form in the future.”

Employing homeworkers allows companies to operate more efficiently around the clock, he added. “For most it is difficult to achieve. They have call centres but don’t have technology to support remote operations.”

Meanwhile, Carrick said 10% of Hoseasons’ 220 staff have been with the company for 15 years or more. The majority are women, and many work flexible hours. It’s people who count. It’s a mantra we hold dear at Hoseasons but I’m not sure it’s something travel companies fully recognise.

“It’s about having fun and making sure everyone enjoys coming into work, then your customers get better service,” he said.

Other speakers at Aspire include Triton directors John McEwan, Andrew Botterill and chairman Colin Heal; Cosmos Holidays sales director Andy Washington, Lowcostbeds.com founder Paul Evans; ABTA head of finance Mike Monk and Ocean Village Holidays managing director Peter Shanks.

There will also be training sessions for gap-year students and a quiz, hosted by Travel Weekly editor Richard Siddle.