The travel, tourism and leisure sector faces a number of people-based challenges this year – from high job vacancy rates and changing recruitment demographics to inclusivity and talent retention. Sue Ledgard reviews the latest talent trends in travel.

In November, leaders from across the travel industry – from Jet2, Royal Caribbean, ABTA, TUI and more – came together to discuss the key people trends affecting the travel and tourism industry. Many are struggling with talent attraction and retention in a highly competitive jobs market with nearly 130,000 jobs needing to be filled in 2022, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council. At the same time, the travel workforce has changed and needs to adapt further to meet ever-changing demands.

Understanding the people trends behind these issues will be key to finding solutions and planning your talent strategy this year.

A future-fit travel workforce

Travel sector needs to showcase its career variety

Encouraging a new generation into the industry starts with demonstrating the breadth of roles available. Public perception may be of travel consultants but legal, risk, audit, maintenance, marketing, finance and nearly every other job role is needed by the travel sector today. Highlighting this variety can help attract new talent.

Recruitment has changed

Candidates expect more from companies. When recruiting millennials and Generation Z, you should expect to be interviewed back. Company values, inclusion and diversity (I&D), environmental, social and governance (ESG), perks and flexible working are all top priorities for the new generation of workers. If you haven’t got a policy statement on each of them, you’re out of the game.

Why apprentices are key to the future

Digital channels, such as social, are crucial for the travel industry in hiring the next generation of young people. Hays Travel has hired hundreds of apprentices – and provides over 500 apprenticeships annually – because young apprentices are often the closest to emerging platforms and can pick them up quickly. They’re also the generation of future customers, which provides a voice they can relate to.

People move for money but stay for love

Culture trumps strategy, as the adage goes – and culture is what makes people loyal to a company. In an 'Each Person' employee reward scheme survey, 48% of respondents said that a simple thank you would make them feel appreciated. People also want praise quickly when they’ve worked hard. Bonuses are the best way to remunerate people; the industry can’t rely on giving big salary increases while working in a volatile market.

Attracting and retaining travel talent

Struggle for talent remains

Candidates are asking for more and it’s a highly competitive market. Vacancies remain at a high rate which, while showing the growth of the industry, makes recruitment difficult. Companies need to showcase their culture and why they’re a good place to work to attract talent.

Alternative attraction and retention strategies

Businesses are having to explore other ways of attracting talent and keeping staff without increasing salaries. While head office vacancies can sell the company culture, this is harder to control in retail shops and so those roles are typically harder to fill. Being innovative in areas such as working hours, employee benefits or moving staff around shops can help make agent roles more attractive.

Invest more in employer brand

The travel and tourism industry has heavily focused on consumer brands leading to underinvestment in the employer brand. Candidates research companies on job platforms and social media so your presence there will play a major role in how quickly you can fill vacancies. In fact, eight in 10 respondents to a TotalJobs survey said they consider employer brand before applying for a job, and 61% reconsider it before accepting an offer.

Inclusion and diversity challenges

You must do it consciously

While many businesses have built a diverse workforce organically (and inadvertently), to ensure you have an inclusive culture you must be strategic and intentional with your I&D approach. You might not be doing anything wrong, for example, but you could be doing more right. Take stock of what’s happening in your organisation now and find out how you can support the progression of people from different backgrounds.

Pandemic boosted inclusion but more needs to be done

The rise of remote working has helped a wider pool of people get into work. For example, those with mobility issues or childcare responsibilities can now work in a way better suited to them.

Progress is also being made in the travel sector with gender equality and LGBTQ+ representation. Ethnic diversity remains an issue with only one in 33 leaders in travel, hospitality and leisure identifying as being from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background, according to a 2019 industry report. However. I&D shouldn’t be a tickbox exercise. It must align with your company goals and strategy in order for it to work and to get employee buy-in.

Importance of allyship

Allyship is an important part of being a diverse and inclusive workplace. Visible allies can transform a workplace. It’s about creating a culture of being open to other people’s ideas, hearing how you can help and knowing how you can better support other people – that’s where you’ll see the strongest shift.

Maximising apprenticeships in talent strategies

Apprenticeships are changing

Apprenticeship standards offer a more formal framework of the knowledge, skills and behaviours that a person needs to excel in a specific job role. Criteria for these standards are currently being developed and designed by employer groups known as 'trailblazers', and consist of specialist industry experts from many different organisations and sectors. Find out more on

Misconceptions around apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are no longer the tickbox exercise they used to be. Many now include an industry-recognised qualification and a rigorous assessment process at the end of the programme. Misconceptions linger, however, and can lead to some employers using apprenticeships to hire staff on an apprentice minimum wage. These vacancies are difficult to fill as many apprentices are earning graduate-level salaries or higher.

Benefits for every business and function

From travel consultants through to human resources (HR), finance, marketing and data – all parts of your organisation can be upskilled and reskilled using your apprenticeship levy funds. The levy doesn’t just benefit levy payers: small businesses only pay 5% of the cost of an apprenticeship as the government contributes the remaining 95%.

To develop a talent strategy that attracts top candidates and retains your brightest people, contact Justin Rix.