The key to attracting talent

In recent times the travel industry has found its ability to attract new talent begin to wane. But why would people looking for a fun and challenging career turn their backs on the exciting vocation of travel? Adam Bishop investigates.

An outsider looking in would assume the notion of selling a career in travel to prospective jobseekers would be a relatively easy pursuit. The industry is renowned for being fun, exciting, and offers the chance to help people realise their dreams of exploring the world. However, in an increasingly competitive economic landscape, the travel sector in Australia has found itself struggling to attract and retain new talent at the rate required to sustain its lofty growth ambitions.

Some industry experts believe part of the problem is a misconception that the travel industry does not provide a viable long-term career path. According to Flight Centre’s National Recruitment Leader Dominique Pomario, one of the big challenges the travel industry currently faces is convincing younger people that a job in travel is more than simply a stepping-stone to another career.

“We attract younger talent quite easily, but they are not looking at the industry as a long-term viable career choice — that’s the part that we need to focus on,” Pomario said.

“Most people that come into the industry now view it as a short-term job… there is real fear around the future and relevance of the travel consultant role,” she added.

Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) Jayson Westbury shares the same concern, suggesting the travel sector has to some degree failed in its bid to advertise the longer professional journeys available to those mulling a possible career in travel.

“Something as an industry we have not been good at is telling young people ‘where you start isn’t where you finish’, and it isn’t a job you take while you’re on your way somewhere else,” Westbury explains.

“We have been stuck in this traditional perception and we haven’t as an industry, and AFTA has to take some responsibility in this, been able to break the mould on that and get the narrative out there,” he added.

However, according to C&M Travel Recruitment Australia Managing Director Melissa Schembri, the industry’s talent shortfall is not limited to a myopia in recruitment strategies, suggesting travel companies are also failing to do enough when it comes to retention.

“We are losing a lot of talent after their first one to two years as we are not engaging them enough,” Schembri contends.

“There is a need to give employees a clear path within organisations, as well as more training and support”.

Another myth hurting the recruitment prospects of travel has been a largely media-driven narrative that in the long term, the industry demonstrates little job security for school leavers. AFTA CEO Jayson Westbury believes disproportionate media coverage around digital disruptors for example, has created a skewed perception of the industry’s size and economic viability.

“If a kid is sitting around the dining room table with their parents and said to mum and dad ‘I want to go into the travel industry’, the general response is ‘that’s now all online –there are no jobs’,” Westbury said.

“We all know in the industry that there is nothing further from the truth, there are a stack of jobs in the travel industry, and so we do have a mindset challenge because respectfully some of the media out there just tell the story that everybody books online now — so there is definitely some myth busting that still needs to be done,” he added.

So how can the industry best rebuff these ill-founded perceptions and better position itself as an attractive long-term career prospect?

For TMS Talent NSW State Manager Ed Hewitt, one major weapon in the travel sector’s arsenal is its unique suite of incentives.

“TMS Talent has multiple clients offering free trips or discounted travel, famils and opportunities to participate in educational travel experiences — all in addition to what’s being offered to employees as part of their annual salary package,” he said.

C&M Travel Recruitment’s Melissa Schembri agrees that highlighting the travel sector’s unique selling points are an important step in rejuvenating the dwindling recruitment paradigm.

“New talent to the industry join for the excitement of what we have to offer… it may be to attend the NTIAs, access famils, ongoing product training, the ‘what’s in it for me’ question is very important to have a think about when looking at the attraction piece,” she said.

Another important piece of the recruitment puzzle Schembri believes is making better use of graduate programs.

“We are starting to see some travel companies promote graduate programs however this is still unused in many organisations,” she conceded.

“Some travel companies do this well in attending career fairs and school leaver expos, a suggestion I give my clients is to develop a good relationship with local colleges, so you get the cream of the crop graduates”.

TMS Talent’s Ed Hewitt believes that when it comes to garnering the attention of younger people through graduate programs, the travel sector would benefit from more of a multifaceted approach.

“We should be tapping into this market whilst they are still studying, targeting high schools and tertiary education institutions… graduate careers fairs, networking events, as well across social media channels,” Hewitt said.

While schools certainly represent fertile ground for travel recruitment, AFTA’s Jayson Westbury cautions that rolling out standardised programs can be often be a “complex mire of regulatory patrols”.

“Schools are a challenge because schools are predominantly managed at the grassroots level by state governments, and so rolling out national programs are really difficult,” he said.

“There has been some rallying of this process over the past year or so through the previous government and we are keen to see what the new government decides to do wrangle around how the vocational education is better marketed,” an optimistic Westbury added.

AFTA also seeks to put a spotlight on young agents who are doing an exceptional job early in their travel industry careers, through the National Travel Industry Awards (NTIA) category of Young Agent of the Year and the Emirates Travel Scholarship. The agents that are profiled below are all nominees for one of these categories at this year’s NTIAs.

 

Annabel Edgecombe — Flight Centre Indooroopilly 

Why the travel industry?

What attracted me to the industry is a love of people and the planet. I am very passionate about making a conscious difference to the world through tourism.

Do you have any formal training?

I didn’t have any travel industry experience before taking on the role of travel consultant. I studied science at university and travelled throughout and I think that my passion for travel permeates everything I do day-to-day.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I’d love to be making an impact on the way Australians travel — perhaps working with a not-for-profit focused on mindful tourism. Whether it be with Flight Centre, or anywhere else in the industry, I want to pursue a career giving back to the global community.

What’s your favourite destination?

I absolutely love Greece.

What do you love about your job?

I love that I work in an industry surrounded by opportunity and powerful women.

 

Jade Ashton – Cruise Travel Centre Green Hills

Why the travel industry?

I have always been an adventurous person who loves to travel. That, mixed with my love for sales and networking, makes me great at a career I love.

Do you have any formal training?

Before I started working in the travel industry I completed my Statement of Attainment into Travel Agency work to help me understand what working in a travel agency entailed. Since then I have completed my diploma in Travel and Tourism Management. I plan to complete my advanced diploma in the coming year.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

My 5 year ambition is to become one of the leading travel consultants in the industry and develop my future skills and knowledge to progress into a management role.

What’s your favourite destination?

Switzerland would have to be the most incredible place I have ever travelled to. From the beautiful natural scenery of the Alps to the friendly citizens whom speak multiple languages it’s extraordinary.

What do you love about your job?

I love everything about my job but the most satisfying and rewarding part is when I make my clients dreams come true and help them create everlasting memories through their holidays whether it is locally or abroad.

 

Laura Jago – Helloworld Travel Kotara

Why the travel industry?

Being a travel advisor was a no-brainer for me as it combined my two strengths and passions for travel and customer service. The chances to travel for educational purposes also excited me, as well as the opportunities for growth and progression into areas such as leadership, business development and marketing. The opportunities are endless within the travel industry.

Do you have any formal training?

As part of my HSC I studied travel. After leaving school I started a degree in Law and International Studies but realised it wasn’t for me so I took a gap year to travel Europe. After I returned I went back to university and graduated with a Bachelor of Business.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

My five year goal involves working towards a leadership position within Hunter Travel Group, in which I can apply skills of management and my desire for training and development.

What’s your favourite destination?

I absolutely love the Netherlands.

What do you love about your job?

There is nothing quite like seeing the happy, refreshed and energised faces of clients as they walk back into the store, excited to tell you all about their trips.

 

Patrick Hull – Orbit World Travel

Why the travel industry?

I had done a lot of travelling as a child, so I was naturally interested in joining this industry. I also wanted to know how all the systems worked and operated, like the GDS.

Do you have any formal training?

I did Flight Centre Travel Academy training. Through there I got a dual Diploma in Travel/Tourism and Events.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

This is always the tough question… Five years’ time, I still see myself in the travel industry however I don’t know to what extent. I work well on computers, so perhaps something on the technology side of things.

What’s your favourite destination?

I had the opportunity to travel to Los Angeles last year, and that has easily shot up to the top of my list! However because there is so much more of the world to see, that could very well change.

What do you love about your job?

The fact that every single day is different, and there are constantly new challenges to tackle — I love the fact that each day brings something new.

 

Abby Thomas – italktravel & cruise Blue Mountains

Why the travel industry?

I chose a career in travel because I want to inspire people the way my travels have inspired me.

Do you have any formal training?

I have a Bachelor of Business in Hotel Management and a Certificate III in Travel in Tourism. Whilst my bachelor is not industry specific, it has certainly helped build a foundation of great customer service and the accounting and marketing side of my degree have definitely helped me look at business in a holistic way.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I plan to complete social media marketing training and would like to move to a more online-based role. My long term plan is to establish my own travel business in a health and wellness niche that would allow me to work any time of day from anywhere around the world. I have two young children and flexible working arrangements are so important to me.

What’s your favourite destination?

Spain is my absolute favourite place in the world. I love how varied the country is.

What do you love about your job?

I love that I help people unlock new parts of the world and learn about themselves as well as those around them. My favourite part is putting together really complex itineraries tailored to my clients to make sure they are getting exactly the experience they want and making all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. It is so rewarding to hear all about my clients trips when they return.

 

Libby Moore – Flight Centre

What attracted you to the travel industry?

I wanted to work in the travel industry because I wanted to do work that means something to people, that makes them happy. This way I can take the stress out of something that can be extremely daunting and make it easy, fun and memorable.

Did/do you have any formal training? If so, what did you do?

I had no formal training when I started in the industry, but I have completed my certificate 3 in Travel since starting my job and am about to complete my certificate 4 in Travel.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

It’s hard to say, I have so many ideas! Ideally I would love to work abroad in the United States. I am able to transfer within my company so this could be my next stepping stone.

What’s your favourite destination?

Mexico! Specifically San Cristobal De Las Casas and Merida.

What do you love about your job?

I love learning new things about different destinations either through my own research or through customer stories. Through this job, I get paid to do that!

 

Jacinta Lane – Tewantin Travel

What attracted you to the travel industry?

My passion for travel absolutely attracted me to the industry. I wanted to spend my days doing something I loved and I absolutely love everything about travel. Especially learning about new and exciting places and tours that are available in our big world.

Did/do you have any formal training? If so, what did you do?

I do. I have a diploma in tourism and travel, as well as a diploma in events – both of which I obtained through the Flight Centre Academy in Brisbane. Most of my training was online, which made it very flexible.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

It’s hard to know what the future will hold, but if I’m not owning a sustainable business by then, I would like to be managing one at the very least. I still feel like I have a lot to learn and a long way to go before I reach this step though, so in the meantime I am going to be like a sponge and soak up as much information as I possibly can.

What’s your favourite destination?

I always get asked this question and it’s SO hard to answer!! I have been to 20 countries so far and I loved them all! London was my first destination as a solo traveller when I was 18, so this city holds a very special place in my heart.

What do you love about your job?

There is so much to love. I love helping create itineraries for clients and the excitement we both feel in anticipation to their trip. I love getting holiday snaps and hearing all about their holidays when they get back.

 

Sarty Steel, Travel Focus Group

What attracted you to the travel industry?

My love for working with people and my strong sense of adventure! I love being able to help people and i have always worked in customer service, but being able to tie in my sense of adventure is what really drew me in. I feel like this is an industry that suits my bubbly personality and i thrive on being able to help people especially if it is about helping them bring a dream holiday to fruition!

Did/do you have any formal training? If so, what did you do?

The only formal training I have is for Galileo and CrossCheck.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I have set myself a goal that in 5yrs time i will be on the path to broadening my skill set even further and become a tour leader- it encompasses my love for working with people and showcasing my sense of adventure and passion for travel! Plus I have been told my sense of organisational skills make me a good leader!

What’s your favourite destination?

Jamaica! Couldn’t get enough of this beautiful country- the people, the food, the atmosphere, it really had it all!

What do you love about your job?

The obvious answer would be the travel perks – but I really can’t harp on enough about the satisfaction I get out of helping clients enjoy their holiday. It’s the little things that matter – a surprise bottle of wine on their birthday at the hotel on us, a banner saying ‘Happy Anniversary’ in their room on a cruise..it’s rewarding when people return and appreciate all of the little things.

loader