UK Travel Retail ‘Faces Worst Staff Shortage on Record’

Travel firms are being urged to “beef up” benefits to attract staff in the face of the industry’s “worst staffing shortage”.

As demand rises, many agencies and tour operators are offering jobs, but recruitment firms say companies must improve offers amid a staffing crisis across the UK retail sector.

Hybrid home and office working have become “essential”, while personal development opportunities, strong company cultures and a fun working environment can help attract talent, said C&M Travel Recruitment director Barbara Kolosinska.

Salaries were “inching up a little”, she said, but noted pay rises were unlikely. “It’s not just about pay,” said Kolosinska. “Candidates want a good work-life balance.”

She accepted it was harder for high street agencies to offer hybrid working, but suggested job shares and agents taking virtual appointments at their homes.

Marie Moore, director of MBM Travel Executives, advised firms wanting to take on staff in the first quarter of 2022 to recruit now. She said: “We’re facing the worst staffing shortage on record. If you cannot offer more money, start recruitment earlier and beef up your benefits package. Ask for staff referrals.”

Hays Travel, which has 500 roles to fill, launched a recommend-a- friend scheme in August. People director Becky Robson said it had “really helped” but accepted recruitment remained “a challenge”.

Althams Travel, whose workforce has reduced by 15% since Covid, may review pay but “not until the new year”. Managing director Sandra McAllister said: “Travel has not always been a high-paid industry; however, the benefits usually made up for that. At the moment, there is little in the way of benefits, so it’s understandable we’re fighting to attract staff to our industry.”

Advantage Travel Partnership leisure director Kelly Cookes agreed, adding: “Most members are not in a position to pay higher wages.”

Kuoni is recruiting for up to 20 staff as it looks to open its 14 remaining shops by the end of November.

Protected Trust Services has used the government’s Kickstart Scheme to fund a full-time content writing role. Head of business development Jacqui Cleaver said: “We wanted to invest in younger people.”

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