Travel industry targets 2022 takeoff despite talent shortages 

Mike Saul

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THE TRAVEL sector is no exception to the scramble for talent, reveals a new report published today. “Restarting travel”, a study from Barclays Corporate Banking, quizzed over 500 travel industry decision makers about their experiences of the past 12 months and expectations for the year ahead.

Recruiting and retaining staff and travel restrictions both impacted over a third (37%) of travel businesses, but a significant nine in ten (92%) of travel firms admitted to facing shortages over the past 12 months. Barclays’ analysis shows that prospective candidates have come to perceive the travel sector as lacking opportunity and an increasingly unstable career choice.

But as restrictions lift and confidence begins to return, so has optimism for growth around the future of the industry. Four in five businesses (84%) declared that confidence in recovery is high, thanks to the release of pent-up demand from customers keen to travel once more. The Barclays’ research reveals that, in a post-pandemic age, travel business leaders see their customers’ priorities as health and safety (38%) and cost/value for money (33%). Meanwhile, an encouraging 88% of respondents said they thought trust in the industry had either remained the same or grown. 

This climate of optimism has led businesses to pass increased costs on to the consumer; nearly one in two (47%) have upped costs to maintain profit levels in the short-term.

Mike Saul, Head of Hospitality and Leisure, Barclays Corporate Banking, commented: “Our findings suggest a bright future for the British travel sector. Despite facing stiff competition for talent and growing inflationary pressures, the industry is confident that the pent up demand created over the past two years will benefit the travel sector, certainly in the short-term, as the nation catches up on overdue vacations, re-energising its desire to get away for those much-needed holidays.”

However, the travel sector isn’t pursuing financial growth at all costs. Seven in 10 businesses now have a publicly available ESG strategy and the same proportion have ESG-led performance targets.  Operators are embedding policies around performance and standards, while giving customers transparency over the impact of their bookings via various methods, from carbon offsetting options to committing a portion of charges towards conservation or charity. These businesses are responding to the 62% of customers who have emerged from the pandemic more environmentally-aware.

Other findings from the report show how the travel sector is innovating to overcome the business challenges it has faced:

  • 39% of businesses have secured additional funding to manage shortfalls
  • 37% have renegotiated their contracts
  • 36% have considered alternative products and services
  • 33% have diversified suppliers

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