9 Reasons why hiring in travel is a nightmare rn

Let's not beat around the bush right now, recruitment in the travel & hospitality industry is a nightmare currently. We've spoken to our competitors, who have years of experience on us and they've consistently said that it's the worst the market has ever been. Thankfully, we're smashing it due to our unique approach & incredibly high levels of candidate engagement, but that's not to say it's easy.

So let us give you our top 9 reasons why our beloved industry is a f*cking mess right now when it comes to recruitment, we'll even throw in some real life examples to leave you guessing who 'client X' and 'client XOXO' are...

#1 Travel & Hospitality salaries SUCK and our gender pay gap is real

It's a running joke that travel & hospitality salaries suck, but recently it has become too much of a joke to defend. I'm sure you all clocked lots of industry folk being schooled by the Gender Pay Gap Bot on International Womens day and although this wasn't just the travel industry with the problem and its more a societal problem at large (don't get us started on that), the travel industry also are well known underpayers and like to throw below average living wages with promises of huge OTE's - that sh*t doesn't fly given the panny D.

This annoyed us so much that we recently launched the 25K scheme where as proud Accredited Living Wage Employers we will only work on roles that have a starting salary of £25,000 PA and above, regardless of location. It's meant us turning business down with companies refusing to budge, but we've also had incredible clients up their wages. Just because you can pay someone less, does not mean you should - if we reward employees with better wages in line with increasing costs of living then not only will you get access to better talent, but they'll want to stay for longer.

Reminder for the industry: other industries, although not as sexy, pay SO much more than ours. Gone are the days of sweeping sh*t basic pay under the rug of champagne lunches and a few fam trips. You want to entice staff back to the industry? Pay more. Be better.

#2 Y'all are angry at having to pay for recruitment services - don't be bitter be better

Here's the thing - as much as you're angry about paying for a service that you've somehow got in your mind is a money making scheme and not worth the £££, you're here asking for our help and let us tell you, the only thing worse than coming to a recruiter already angry, is signing up for our services in good faith and then behaving badly. You have to be incredibly brave and incredibly stupid to p*ss off a recruiter....we'll let you into a secret: do so and we'll do everything in our power to headhunt your staff and then come back to you asking if you need the positions filled ;-)

Jokes aside, we are consistently baffled with client behaviour as we don't actually canvas for new biz. Everyone who asks to work with us has come to us directly via a recommendation or Google and we are transparent from the get go with our terms. We work at 20% and only exclusively, which for most industries is cheap, but for travel & hospitality is like asking some clients for their first born as downpayment.

Right now you aren't going to get the talent you want by sticking up a job ad on LinkedIn like you did during the Panny D - the best candidates are in jobs, or not actively applying and we do this for a living. If you're coming to a recruiter then we have the right to say no to working with you and will do happily - if you don't like the WHY behind our no then it's totally up to you to ignore our advice, but right now to get the talent you want if you've come to us for help we'd advise taking it as you know we kinda do this for a living and are pretty good at it. And no we won't change our rebate terms to 90% for the first 3 months.

#3 Your company benefits can't hide a toxic work culture #glassdoor

4 days a week - wooooo sounds great. Well until anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection does a quick google of your company and the first thing that comes up on Glassdoor is 'toxic upper management'. This happens WAY more than you'd think and we actively turn down business after doing our own research into companies that want to work with us. If you treat employees like sh*t then they have lots of means to speak out about it. Ironically one client we highlighted this to sent a company wide email to all current staff to give them 5* reviews, but in unshocking news, turns out you really can't polish a turd. 

#4 Your interview processes have too many deterrents

The best candidates will not jump through all the hoops, especially now. Competency based tasks are fine, but keep them short - if your interview process is more than 3 stages you have a problem, if it includes a 2 hour presentation you're also in trouble. The more perceived barriers to getting a job then the less likely you are to get people to apply. Just because you've always done it that way does not mean it needs to be done that way now.

#5 Candidate behaviour is shocking

As much as we like to poke organisations for their questionable actions, right now behaviour from candidates is erratic and consistently leaves even the most battle hardened recruiters in shock. In a one month period this year we had four seperate candidates who signed contracts to start new jobs, only to u-turn a few weeks afterwards for another role. This even happened to us internally, so nobody is safe. 

This behaviour is absolutely not acceptable, but also there's not really a way to stop it from happening as there has to be an element of trust that the candidate signing and accepting a job offer means they will turn up. Sadly it doesn't. Candidate ghosting is also at an all time high - we really would love for some black mirror sh*t where we were able to rate candidates as much as they are able to leave us reviews, as some would be a solid 1* right now. 

#6 The industry is not doing enough to entice diverse talent

There are more people from the BAME community than ever doing travel / tourism / hospitality courses, yet they aren't able to make the transition into full time work. Why? We've already touched upon pay, but to plus on that people from these communities are less likely to be able to afford internships (we think internships should be paid or banned imo) and companies are still very white cis-het male from the top down, so there are very few industry role models fighting for change, let alone travel & hospitality companies employing ED&I talent. It's up to individuals in the industry to help make a change and promote and hire diverse talent. Be the change you want to see.

#7 The ongoing game of office vs wfh chicken

As well as saying no to clients we also say no to representing candidates, and one of our biggest bug bears at the moment is this ongoing game of office vs work from home chicken. If everyone just met in the middle of hybrid then there wouldn't be such a problem when it comes to more jobs than candidates right now, but as it stands we still have clients demanding full time office and candidates demanding full time wfh. You're both wrong.

Candidates that come to us wanting one day a week in the office and the rest finishing at 3pm and also within easily commutable distance from a mainline central london location and absolutely no overtime or weekends y'all need to take a long hard look and think maybe are you asking too much from a new prospective employer? And employers you need to consider if your stance on being 100% office based (and said offices location) may be affecting talent wanting to apply.

Just because y'all moved to the country during the Panny D does not make it anyones problem but yours.

#8 The need for someone yesterday

Notice periods are not new, they weren't invented yesterday and we all know they're a safety net and deterrent for employers to try to stop their best talent leaving. Senior staff tend to be on 3 months notice and yet clients are just not willing to wait that long for the best talent. It's becoming a real issue and one where unless employees are brave enough to resign and roll the dice to run their notice period down, are stopping them from finding new employment. 

3 months is not that long to wait for the right person. Please don't rule people out for something that is legit out of their control. 

#9 Everyone wants the same person & nobody wants to pay for them #traveldesigners

We actually had to turn down a ton of new business a few weeks back as we had Londons top 5 travel agencies all ask us to recruit for travel designers. It would have literally meant playing them off against each other and playing musical chairs, so we had to politely decline the newest clients requests. Since then though everyone seems to want a travel designer and in the most unsurprising news can't get them as the best ones are all in jobs and nobody is willing to pay extra on the basic.

It's now time that y'all need to invest time to train people with skills up or pay more for the talent that has the experience. These are the only two options and we're so pleased our clients are listening (did I mention we have some of the best clients ever?!).

We hope you enjoyed our list 

If you'd like to discuss anything on here or learn more about how Lightning work then please email us on: office@lightningtravelrecruitment.com 




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Chris King

3rd April