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How easy is travel recruitment amid a pandemic? Lindsay White, JIVARO

What does recruitment look like for the travel industry in the middle of a pandemic? And how easy or difficult is it? Lindsay White from JIVARO shares his personal insights from the last few months.

What does recruitment look like for the travel industry in the middle of a pandemic? And how easy or difficult is it? Lindsay White from JIVARO shares his personal insights from the last few months.

Recruitment“the process of actively seeking out, finding & hiring candidates for a specific position or job”. 

That’s the easy part – the definition. The reality is quite different these days. 

So, let’s try again.

Recruitment in the travel industry, amid a pandemic – that’s the question for many in this industry right now.

“How easy or difficult is this?” 

As we all know too readily, thousands of travel professionals, be they friends, or colleagues are no longer in this industry.

All, or most, being victims of the impact of the pandemic – have been either stood down, made redundant, or decided to change careers or industry types.

The question now is, “how many will continue in other industries, and for how long?” 

Many have gone into other industries because the salaries are higher or less risky. Still, I continue to ask the question, “how long will it be before they want to come back to the industry they are truly passionate about?” 

I think it’s fair to say that most of us are in ‘the travel industry’ because we love it. We love the industry, and we love the healthy rivalry between us all, and throughout every crisis, we endure and help each other where and when the chips are down.

I don’t know of any other industry where there’s a similar camaraderie.

This is a unique industry, and we shouldn’t lose sight of that. When have you ever spoken to someone in the banking industry (as an example), that has the same passion and loyalty?


This crisis that has hit us is by far the worst to affect our businesses and our livelihoods, (I for one, am only too aware). Still, I’m also hearing and seeing that business is bouncing back, as many of you are also experiencing.

Perhaps still slow, but with Q1-2022 looming fast, I think, and I hope, we’ll see the resurgence that we all wish for – and with that, we’ll be needing to ramp up our staff accordingly.

One factor that should be considered is that of salaries being pushed up across many roles. At this stage, these are mainly in other industries, where we’ve seen salaries inflate up to 30%, and in many cases offering sign-on incentives to attract and secure talent. 

Understandably, most owners/managers are searching for experienced staff, but remember, this industry was built on many of us coming in at grassroots level and learning as we went. This needs to continue to see the industry grow and bring in fresh new entrants.

Many students and school leavers could potentially be a great asset to your business if you can identify them early, employ them, train them, and mentor them as they go.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with TAFE Travel & Tourism Training recently. For example, suppose you were to employ one of these qualified or partially qualified students. In that case, there’s a government programme that will subsidise their salaries up to a maximum of 50% for the first year with scaling down in years 2 & 3. 

They are a separate source when you’re recruiting, so don’t overlook them as potential future stars.

travel advisor

In discussion with several agents, many tell me that it’s difficult to recruit experienced staff back into the business right now and that they’re not seeing many candidates applying for roles. 

This may well be the case, but perhaps there’s also a bit of a “Catch 22”?

Adverts are being placed for experienced staff. Experienced staff have left the industry in their droves and are now in other roles (so perhaps they’re not actively looking for a job right now), and if they are, where do they look? LinkedIn, SEEK, or the travel media platforms here in KarryOn? 

A recent exercise carried out by us in JIVARO highlighted that on a chosen day a couple of weeks ago, more than 830 travel professionals in NSW had updated their resumes within the previous 48 hours. Similar numbers in Victoria & Queensland at over 620 in each state.

This highlights the fact that these employees are either considering another role within the industry, or have exited the industry and are looking to re-join, or just updating their CVs to see what other roles may be available – I hope that it’s the former two. 

There’s been a lot of hype about The Great Resignation recently – this is something we can discuss in more depth in our next opinion column.

We all need to embrace change and have the flexibility to survive and flourish what’s necessary. Collectively it’s our responsibility to re-building this industry and sharing the great experiences that this business has given us over the years. 

Suppose we continue to position this profession in the way it rightly deserves? In that case, we can start to enjoy the career we’ve chosen, and by doing so, we can open opportunities for some newcomers.

If you’re interested in registering with JIVARO, either as a client or a potential candidate, email Lindsay White at [email protected], Neil Ager at [email protected] or Sally Suleyman at [email protected]