Travel agencies continue to prioritise recruitment despite fears of slowdown

Travel agencies say staff recruitment remains a priority for businesses in the sector despite the forecast of a recession.

Firms said they were forging ahead with hiring plans in contrast with other industries as the cost-of-living crisis has failed to dent travel bookings and in anticipation of a busy January sales period.

In contrast, technology and finance firms have revealed plans to put recruitment on hold as global economic growth slows.

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The Travel Network Group chief commercial officer Vim Vithaldas was among those to remain bullish.

He said: “Recruitment has been such a challenge in 2022 that members are not going to pause in their drive to staff their shops to the correct levels. They are continuing with recruitment plans, especially as there has been, as yet, no noticeable slowdown in booking patterns.”

Barrhead Travel is also pressing ahead with recruitment ahead of the peak season and taking on modern apprentices.

President Jacqueline Dobson stressed: “Recruitment still must be a priority for the industry, particularly bringing in new talent and targeting young people. There are headwinds on the horizon for travel but, if we’ve learnt anything over the last few years, it’s the importance of securing and retaining talent to drive recovery.”

Hays Travel and Althams Travel said they had no plans to pause recruitment, while Premier Travel managing director Paul Waters said he saw “no reason to stop recruiting where we currently need staff” due to “continued growth”.

Similarly, Spear Travels is “actively recruiting to fill gaps prior to 2023” to be fully-staffed for the peak sales period. The agency chain also plans its first “big push” on apprenticeships.

Advantage Travel Partnership chief executive Julia Lo Bue-Said said travel firms had to guard against making short-term decisions that might affect long-term growth.

“Businesses are still rebuilding out of Covid and there is a shortage of talent. It’s easy to say ‘I’m going to stop everything’ but is that the right decision?” she said.

Travel recruitment specialist C&M Travel Recruitment reported a 21% increase in new travel vacancies since the start of June compared with 2021. Vacancies are 3% up on 2019, suggesting 2022 will be a “record year” for travel recruitment activity.

Managing director Barbara Kolosinska said: “There is a real battle for talent in the travel industry.”

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