We all suffer in low pay culture
There is nothing to get the pulse rate of the average worker going faster than a salary survey.
Whether you are happy with what you are being paid or not, it is human nature to wonder how your salary stacks up against others in the industry or your peers in other sectors.
The findings, therefore, of a national salary poll by the Office of National Statistics make miserable reading for the travel sector.
Low pay is well understood by everyone in travel. You do not join this industry to retire by the age of 50.
But everything’s relative and the revelation this week that you can earn more street cleaning, working on a building site or driving a white van than working in a travel agency is hard to stomach.
The reasons this sector is so poorly paid are well rehearsed. Low margins and volatile trading, coupled with the perceived glamour of working within travel and the opportunity to travel cheaply, are the obstacles that lie in the way for anyone looking for a competitive pay rise.
But this culture of low pay causes long-term damage to the quality and calibre of person we attract to work in travel – and the ability we have to keep them.
Pay levels are driven from the multiples down. What Thomas Cook and Thomson are prepared to pay determines the salaries on offer in independents.
But remember, the multiples have the financial clout to offer commission schemes and other benefits on top of the basic salary. So their pay levels can be misleading.
The travel sector is often accused of being too insular with few senior management entrants from other industries. This is a worrying trend in itself as we are not getting the insights and understandings that would bring.
Those who assume people will continue to accept poor pay are playing a dangerous game. We have a duty to better understand the ways we run our businesses to see if we can give people a fairer wage.