Comment: It’s time to shout about the merits of working in travel

Invest in the people that make our industry what it is, says If Only’s Gordon McCreadie

I want to start off by taking this opportunity to thank all our agent partners for voting for If Only as the Best Luxury Operator at this year’s Travel Weekly Globe Travel Awards.

It’s hard to put into words just how much it means to us all to win this award for the first time in our 20-year history, especially after the challenges of the past two years.

At If Only we will continue to invest in our staff and business as we strive to continue to be the best trade luxury operator for our agent partners.

Industry goal

The pandemic forced many experienced employees out of the industry in all sectors, but it is time we attract them back, along with a young talent pool to become the new generation of the industry.

For the past few years, travel has been arguably one of the hardest industries to be in, with the lockdowns and ever-changing restrictions wreaking havoc on companies’ bottom lines. But now this has all begun to stabilise it’s crucial we as a sector bounce back and encourage people old and new to join this amazing and unique industry that we all love.

Recruitment is proving harder than ever, though. Candidates are asking not only about their potential salaries but also about hybrid working, sustainability, CSR policies and all the other things potential employees have now come to expect in a post-pandemic world.

Together, we need to be shouting with one voice about the perks that make travel the best industry to be in, whether that be the fantastic travel opportunities, the diversity each day brings, events and networking, or the experience gained and training available.

We need to capitalise on the new world of hybrid working, flexibility and the variety of roles available across our sector. I’m really interested to see if the intriguing initiative Althams Travel has launched – reducing working days from five to four with staff still being paid for five – impacts its staff recruitment and retention. It is essential that as an industry we move with the times and tap into the benefits of the changes to work-life balance triggered by the pandemic.

Staff wellness

The long-term effect of lockdown on people’s mental health is yet to be fully understood. However, it’s safe to assume that the number of people suffering from mental health in the UK has increased because of the pandemic, which is why as a business we have invested heavily in our team in terms of training and wellness.

Like other businesses, we have put many initiatives into practice. These include a bimonthly wellness newsletter, with focuses ranging from mental health, finance and budgeting to physical fitness and tips on how to get the best from your sleep.

We are also trialling a hybrid working model for the next three months. If successful, it will remain in place for any staff member who wishes to continue working both in the office and at home after the pandemic, hopefully ensuring a better work-life balance for our staff and their families.

Another initiative we have offered our staff is the option to buy a week’s worth of annual leave to give them more time to spend with their family and friends.

We have also launched a cycle-to-work scheme, offering employees the opportunity to apply for a grant of up to £1,000 to buy a bike or accessories to enable them to cycle to work, as exercise plays a key role in mental and physical health and aligns with the company’s sustainability values.

If there are any businesses that haven’t looked at how to improve the wellness of their employees, I’d suggest they need to start doing so. While we all still have a lot of work to do across the sector before the travel industry returns to its former glory, it’s clear that now is the time to invest in the people that make our industry what it is: the best bar none.

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