Talent, product and preparation are key, says Barbara Kolosinska, director at C&M Travel Recruitment and C&M Executive Recruitment

Hope is such a powerful thing. There can’t be many stories in the last few years that were greeted with as much cheer and united optimism as the recent news that a vaccine will potentially be with us in the coming months. It feels like we’ve been starved of hope for much of the year, with the continual setbacks of lockdowns, travel restrictions, government inaction and further lockdowns. But now there truly is something to be positive about.

Unfortunately, it appears clear that this hope has come too late for some. More travel companies may struggle to survive the coming months, with further job losses and business closures appearing inevitable.

However, those companies that do manage to get through this incredibly challenging period will be in prime position and are likely to thrive from a sharp uptick in pent-up demand once a potential vaccine is made available. So how can we capitalise?

Talent – recruit the best now if you can

Many excellent travel professionals have found themselves out of work through absolutely no fault of their own, but this won’t be the case forever. Great talent doesn’t stay available for long. We all know how keen the population is to get away from their same four walls and travel again, so as soon as we get a sense we can safely return to holidaying, these great candidates will already be snapped up and working hard.

The best will be hired extremely quickly, so if you have the means to invest in great talent, then there simply has never been a better time to do so than right now. It’s hard to overestimate the level of talent, knowledge, skill and years of experience that is currently available and looking for work in our industry. There really has never been a time like it.

Compare – look at great candidates for free

Of course, many travel companies simply won’t be anywhere near ready to invest in improving their team at the moment, but there could be a solution for that. For those companies that aren’t in the position to recruit yet, some recruitment companies can create a pipeline of candidates for when you are able to take on new staff again – whether that is January, April or later.

This doesn’t cost a thing, so why not compare the level of talent on a recruiter’s database against your direct applications?

Ultimately it comes down to a judgement call about when you think things will pick up and how stable your business currently is. Those that do choose to improve their talent will instantly be in a far stronger position to cope with the demand when it returns. After all, the last thing any of us would want is to have to turn away business because we haven’t got enough hands to cope.

Prepare – be ready to capitalise

While we battle through the next few months, we need to do all we can to ensure our brand is as positive and well respected as can be, and that we have the right team in place to benefit when the time comes.

We’ve all been forced to learn many things this year – do we need a physical office? Can our top performers work as well from home? Do we have the correct product offering? Are we targeting the right people? Do we have the right skill sets in place?

At C&M, we’ve seen a 94.8% fall in the number of roles we’ve been recruiting for since March (while applications per role have jumped up by 60.6%), so we’ve spent the time being as positive and proactive as we could be in order to get ready for when things bounce back – and they most definitely will bounce back.

Once this is all over, many of us will remember how companies acted and treated their clients throughout the worst of the pandemic. Now is the time to ensure that we will be looked at positively – and that we’re ideally placed to make sure all this hard work wasn’t wasted.