Be prepared to be quizzed by new recruits, Aito members told

Aito firms have been told to be ready to be quizzed by new recruits on their diversity, equality and inclusion policies at job interviews.

TravLaw partner Ami Naru told a panel at the Aito Overseas Conference 2023 that travel companies had to “reinvent themselves” because “the world of work is not the same as it was pre-Covid”.

She warned employers to be ready for the tables to be turned when taking on new recruits, with questions about their diversity, equality and inclusion policies.

“You should be ready to be interviewed,” she told Aito employers. “Young people are leading the way. This is part of the change in how recruitment is done; it’s much more about them interviewing the employer and asking what your policies are on diversity.”

She urged firms to ensure they had diversity, equality and inclusion policies in their businesses. “Embrace it or get left behind,” she said, adding that diverse workforces were more profitable.

Her comments came as travel firms said finding new staff remained a major challenge, particularly for experienced staff, as they tried to rebuild their businesses post-Covid.

Spear Travels managing director Peter Cookson told the panel he had hoped travel perks, such as fam trips, would attract staff.

But he admitted: “When we do lose staff is it nigh on impossible to replace them like for like. At one point this year we were about 12 staff light. It’s taken an awful lot of work to rebuild that.”

The company had 60 staff pre-Covid, and lost around six or seven during the pandemic. It now has 80 employees.

Cookson said the agency, which has 12 high street shops, had now introduced an apprenticeship scheme and broadened its recruitment to take on staff without travel sales experience.

“Apprentices are the way forward,” he said, adding: “We are taking on people who have travelled but not necessarily sold travel before. We have taken on someone who was a travel agent 15 years ago. We are having to be a lot more diverse and not so narrow minded.”

Fiona Charrington, chief executive of specialist tour operator Martin Randall Travel, said new graduates had different expectations of employers while recruiting staff from the European Union was especially challenging.

“I’ve tried and can’t do it despite the government saying they have made it easier. There is huge demand out there but we are constrained by trying to get staff,” she said.

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