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Travel companies are being forced to offer higher salaries to attract new staff and work harder to retain existing employees, according to an industry recruitment specialist.

New Frontiers said the improved economic outlook meant travel companies were expanding but, with the jobless rate down to 6.2%, fewer “quality” candidates were available in the market to recruit.

Between May and July this year there were 2.02 million people unemployed in Britain, a drop of almost half a million on last year.

Speaking at a human resources seminar organised by the recruitment company and travel law specialists Hill Dickinson, New Frontiers general manager Jose Cofone said: “There are fewer people actively looking [for jobs] and that means travel companies are having to offer better salaries to attract people.”

He added that many companies preferred not to advertise a salary when recruiting, which suggested they were prepared to offer more money to new staff than they were paying existing employees.

Research by New Frontiers also showed money had become the main driver for candidates seeking new jobs instead of career prospects.

In a survey of 200 candidates placed in jobs by New Frontiers this year, 40% switched jobs to earn more money, followed by 38% because of a lack of career prospects at their previous job.

This is a change compared to the last two years in which the same survey has shown the top reason for moving job has been a lack of career prospects, followed by a desire for more money. In 2013, 51% moved because of career prospects and 36% for more money, and in 2012, 66% moved for career reasons and 37% for money.

According to research by Oxford Economics earlier this year, the cost of replacing a member of staff costs businesses around £30,614 per employee, which includes the cost of lost output while a new employee gets up to speed and the cost of recruiting and absorbing a new worker.

Cofone added that travel firms could reduce staff turnover in a number of ways.

To reduce staff leaving for salary reasons, companies in the trade could conduct regular salary surveys and  ensure staff are paid the going rate, implement bonus schemes, and improve perks and benefits.

To ensure employees don’t leave to improve their career prospects elsewhere, he suggested firms ask staff in their appraisals about what direction they want to take, offer mentoring schemes, create an environment where good work is rewarded and invest in staff training.