Travel TrendsHow Asia's travel industry is turning the great resignation into the great renewal.

Travel is coming back — and so are the talent

Many industry members now view the current time as the “best time to have a front row seat to travel’s rebound and transformation”.
Many industry members now view the current time as the “best time to have a front row seat to travel’s rebound and transformation”. Photo Credit: Xinyi Liang-Pholsena

As the travel sector ramps up for recovery, there's a battle for talent across the globe – not only among the big travel brands but also startups that offer an alternative path that founders hope will entice with more meaning and purpose as well as an opportunity to participate in the upside of growth.

During the first episode of The Bridge Series by WiT and Phocuswright, “The Great Talent Crunch", the industry came together to share the trends driving change in the workplace and the changes taking place within organisations in their attempt to turn the Great Resignation into the Great Renewal.

Best time to have a front row seat to travel’s rebound and transformation”

Matthew Hulen, regional director of marketing, South-east Asia, Hilton, sharing his opinion on “What hospitality needs to do to attract non-traditional and tech talent”, said the hotel industry needed to play to its strengths – and one of these is the rebound to come and a mindset change to digitisation forced by Covid, calling it an exciting time for innovation.

Indeed, this was one of the key reasons that led journalist Xinyi Liang-Pholsena to rejoin Travel Weekly Asia as senior editor this year, after taking a break in 2021. Explaining her “boomerang” decision, she said, “To say the travel industry has been badly hit during the pandemic is an understatement, but at this juncture I also think it’s terribly exciting to witness the revival of the industry as we learn to live with Covid. I think I probably have a case of FOMO too. I’d hate not to be around, not to be part of the action, as travel comes back. I definitely want a front row seat to the travel industry’s transformation.”

She’s also drawn to the fact that “it’s a wonderful industry filled with lots of open-minded, passionate and fun-loving folks bonded by a strong sense of fraternity and solidarity”.

Indeed, this was a strength singled out by Louise Daley, former deputy CEO of Accor Asia Pacific, who spent 30 years in hospitality, and is now CEO of Future Now Capital, a venture capital fund.

“What I miss about the travel industry: The camaraderie of all people in it. Across airlines, hotels, travel and tour operators and more, even if we are competitors, everyone works with each other to better the industry. I have found it is unique to travel.

“What I don’t miss: The frustration that in many instances governments don’t support the industry as much as it should.

“If I knew what I know now: Young tech experts and starters are looking for more than just money – so I would emphasise the collegiate nature of the industry, the desire to share even amongst competitors and also the amount that the industry gives back to community.”

A sentiment echoed by Marissa Trew, formerly content lead at WiT and now working with TZ APAC, a blockchain and NFT company. “There’s a warmth and hospitality engrained within the collective culture of the travel industry that makes it such a great industry to work in. On top of that, it’s inherently diverse – you get exposure to people of so many different backgrounds, all bound by a common passion for travel. Lastly, it’s an industry that is inherently good for the world. Enabling freer and open travel will always be a positive endeavour and being a part of that mission is deeply rewarding.”

Other key takeaways from “The Great Talent Crunch"

1. The big rethink of the office

The pandemic has led online travel companies like Klook, Agoda and Wego to think about key points on talent and the physical workplace, including remaining flexible to the needs and safety of their staff while prioritising workplace flexibility and hybrid work arrangement moving forward.

2. The great remote

The fragmentation of the workplace and the liberalisation of talent means opportunities for travel companies to hire from anywhere, although of course it throws up all kinds of legal and taxation challenges for human resource departments.

3. Search for meaning and value, and focus on mental wellness

The pandemic has really put the search for meaning and value in one’s life top of mind, and travel companies are responding by helping their employees find value and meaning working with them. For Agoda, this means offering 30 days’ work from anywhere and flexible leave options.

4. Diversity and inclusion top of agenda

Every travel brand is making this a priority. Amadeus’ global talent director, Steven Carroll said working on diversity and inclusion was a top priority going forward, while Veitch said that an increasingly hybrid and remote workforce means “managing an increasingly diverse and remote team” which comes with its attendant challenges.

This story is the shortened version of the article which was first published on WiT.
Source: WiT

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