In the second part of AA Appointments’ Salary Forecast 2008 we look at pay trends for back-up and auxiliary staff; groups, conferences and incentive workers; and tour operators’ reservation posts.

In some areas such as ski reservations, stagnation in pay levels will come as no surprise, due to the growing trend for skiers to arrange their own trips.

Equally, few eyebrows will be raised over the fact that cruise specialists’ pay during 2007 was on the up in the Midlands and south Wales, south of England and London – reflecting the increasing popularity of the seafaring holiday format and demand for expertise.

“Cruise experts are in high demand. If you are the person that converts that call into a sale, [employers] will want you,” said AA Appointments managing director John Tolmie.

Video: Salary Forecast analysis by John Tolmie

What is surprising is the return to favour of two functions which, until recently, had suffered from the effects of wholesale offshoring. The forecast shows UK call centre managers in London, the Midlands and south of Wales saw some decent uplifts in the salaries they can command.

This looks like proof that UK companies are no longer convinced it’s worth risking quality by outsourcing abroad. It’s a similar story for ticketers who saw salary increases of 10% in London.

Tolmie said: “A lot of operatives outsourced ticketing to India, and then found they needed people in the UK who can control things because the quality control was so bad. We’re getting a lot of requests for ticketers – it’s a diminishing pool.”

Of course, the travel business is not the only sector to have concluded that offshoring is a false economy, but the fact that salaries in the industry reflect the return of UK call centres and ticketers makes the study a useful barometer for wider trends in wages and employment.

The forecast, which is based on 3,472 jobs, has more practical value for employers attempting to balance profitability with the perennial problem of attracting and retaining high-quality staff – especially for jobs where demand from competitors is high – and employees looking to change their career direction or geographical location.

So what advice would Tolmie have for aspirational staff looking to improve their career prospects and boost their salaries?

“The strength will always be those specialising,” he said.

“Find your niche, find out what the market says is a good product to be involved in, and keep on top of your IT skills – anything you can do to improve that will help.”

Salary Forecasts by region: