Hospitality's necessary job pivot creates surprising hiring opportunities for travel-tech
How hoteliers' desirable and transferable skill sets can support the recovery of the travel ecosystem
It's hardly a secret that the hospitality industry was one of the sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis.
With countless businesses on hold and millions of staff laid off, the challenges have been huge. But despite the situation seeming dire, there are opportunities waiting to be tapped.
Facts and figures: the impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality workforce
Statista reports that due to the COVID-19-related slowdown in global travel and the forced shutdowns in many countries, over 100 million jobs have been lost so far. With the second wave of COVID-19 in full swing in Europe and several other regions, this number is set to rise further.
McKinsey's research has found that as a result of COVID-19 proportionately more women have left the workforce than men. One of the main reasons is that many women felt compelled to take on more work around the home, especially tasks related to caring for children once schools and childcare facilities were temporarily closed.
While McKinsey looks at the labour market across various industries, the hospitality sector is no exception. Countless talented employees have been let go, furloughed or have left the hospitality industry workforce for another sector.
The result is the loss of many highly experienced people with desirable and transferable skill sets, many of whom may not return. This is a huge risk for the hospitality industry since the mass migration of skilled employees to other domains could mean a long-term brain- and talent-drain for the industry. Unsurprisingly this will add to the challenges hospitality will face during its recovery period.
A unique opportunity for travel tech organisations
But it doesn't all have to be doom and gloom. With so many hoteliers being let go, those looking to hire have a huge talent pool at their disposal. This creates two major opportunities for travel tech providers.
Chance to increase diversity in the workforce
By now, we've established that hoteliers from various backgrounds are looking for new job openings, possibly even outside of hotels.
Another recent change has been the shift to predominantly remote work and more flexible hours. This makes it easier to hire people who will work from home permanently or for a majority of the time. Now it will be less complicated for organisations to employ staff who live further away (maybe even in another country) or want to stay at home to care for family members. Especially the latter point can be an advantage for women since they still shoulder the majority of these responsibilities in many households.
Finally, larger numbers of applicants for job openings will increase the likelihood of getting qualified candidates from underrepresented groups. This, in turn, is a fantastic opportunity for travel tech companies to up their diversity levels and become more inclusive workplaces.
Why is that such a big deal? Having a more diverse team has many benefits for businesses. It can boost productivity rates by up to 25%, increase employee retention, lead to more innovation and a better understanding of the customer which in turn can lift revenues by up to 19%. Of course, the positive brand image this can create among clients, partners, staff and potential applicants is also valuable.
Access to an enormous talent pool with highly desirable skills
Today, many hoteliers are re-evaluating their careers. After years in the thick of operations, they are keen on a new challenge or are finding it necessary to pivot. For them, travel tech is a great sector to transition into and many have done so extremely successfully.
Gillian Tans, the chairwoman of Booking.com is the perfect example. After a career in hotels, she joined the OTA in its early days, a risky move, some thought. Since then, she has guided the business through growth phases and spearheaded key shifts within the organisation.
Ms Tans shows that hoteliers make for great leaders in the travel tech space. They understand the industry because they've worked in it. They get the target customer and their problems or challenges, because they have been this customer and have experienced the same challenges and issues.
"About ten years ago I moved to STR, a hotel data analytics company after having worked in operations for a few years. I have always been good with numbers, which is why I naturally gravitated towards revenue management. Give me an Excel spreadsheet and I am happy. Moving to STR was an ideal move for me, because I got to work with numbers everyday. I was able to take my experience from operations and apply it everyday," says Naureen Ahmed, Director of Marketing International at STR, about her transition.
Hoteliers also know how to treat a client and ensure they have the best possible experience - whether that's during a hotel stay or with a tech product doesn't make a difference to them.
Finally, hoteliers and people from the tourism industry are used to working with people from various backgrounds. They know how to overcome language barriers and they can encourage diverse teams to pool their many strengths for the best possible outcome.
Now that so many hospitality professionals are seeking new opportunities, travel tech companies have the rare chance to pick the best of these highly talented people and leverage their industry knowledge, customer focus and leadership to grow their own businesses.
Berengere Brohan, Founder of My O.C. sums up the above in her own experience: "Transitioning from hotel operations and strategy to tech and keeping on switching between the two has been so eye-opening! Not only do you get to have a 360-degree view of the environment, various markets, vendors, and more but it also keeps you on top of the game and what's new in the industry. And that's what's most needed to get better at your job!"
Bringing together candidates and opportunities
Despite the many candidates out there looking for new placements, it can still be challenging for organisations to find the perfect fit. This is why WHTT (Women in Hospitality and Travel Technology) created a unique and first-of-its-kind initiative to help businesses find, hire and train their best candidate.
Enter the Match & Mentor programme!
WHTT's program allows you to discover, recruit and mentor talent from the hospitality, travel and tourism sectors.
With years of expertise in industry, the WHTT talent pool are diverse, skilled and interested in new job opportunities. Take the chance to support industry professionals who have been negatively impacted by the current social climate. Your brand will be committed to society with real social impact by mentoring, training, motivating and encouraging new hires while increasing productivity and staff retention and integrate them into the company culture.
Match & Mentor allows you to gain exclusive access to WHTT's range of experienced candidates from the hospitality and travel tech industry. we supply and support talent from underrepresented backgrounds.
Availability is limited for this first round, so be quick and don't miss out!
Join the community at womenhoteltraveltech.com