How can travel agencies invest in their teams for better sustainability
Many travel business owners feel they don’t find enough time to sit and talk with their teams and take feedback. If you value your team and aim to be a sustainable long-term organisation, you must invest in your people with time and money as required.
Travel businesses are primarily focused on servicing their customer travel related requirements and many of these organisations invest substantially in technology and systems. While manpower is the major expense area for a travel-based business, it is noticeable that only a very tiny share of the expense is towards training.
Most travel companies use on-the-job training or probation period, so new employees can be inducted within their existing systems while they monitor the performance during this period. An employee in a travel agency is today expected to learn while at work and be up to date with the latest products, packages or destinations that are being promoted by the company. Very often, travel and tourism product providers conduct training on new products or product updates for the staff working at travel agencies, wholesalers and other travel distribution partners. This works in the direct interest of the company as they can productively convert queries for these specific products and destinations to revenues for them.
However, not much investment is made in training and facilitating the team in other areas that would help to retain them while being more efficient and productive at their job. Depending on the organisation’s business activities and culture, there could be ample opportunities to invest in the team across different levels and not all of them need money.
Here are 4 areas which a travel company can consider and focus to get long term benefits.
1. Understanding the company’s mission and vision :
"Make your team feel respected, empowered and genuinely excited about the company’s mission" - Tim Westergren
A mission statement helps the organisation to steer in the right direction, while the vision shares your long-term goals and aspirations. It is not enough that your team just reads and knows the mission and vision statements, you must ensure that they understand and relate with it. This gives purpose to their job and role within the organisation and improves sincerity.
To write a good vision and mission statement, I recommend visiting these links below
Share a copy of the mission and vision statements with your team and encourage discussions to make sure everyone understands them. Speak with them on how their role and department contributes to achieving the company goals.
2. Improving business communication :
While training in telephone and email communication skills are generally provided in most agencies, there are other areas of business and inter-personal communication that can be enhanced to get better results. Examples are introductory emails to suppliers, contract and rate negotiations on phone, emails and chat, handling difficult customers, inter-departmental messages and interpreting terms and conditions to customers.
Regular training and brushing up on these areas of business communication helps to establish standards and improvise on them over time. A travel agency can benefit with significant savings in time and cost by investing in communication.
3. Feedback mechanism :
Gathering feedback from a customer has become a norm in all travel agencies whether it is on phone or via online forms. But do you gather feedback from your team? What kind of feedback do you gather?
Feedback are an important channel of communication between the employer and the employee and between different levels in the organisation. A well-structured mechanism means that the team can share honestly with the leaders who will listen, use the feedback proactively and respond credibly. This is an effective technique to reduce unnecessary gossip and prevent negative rumour related to the organisation. Feedback can be suggestions, comments or experiences based on the work environment, practices, systems, competition, products or services and anything that is relevant to the organisation, its customers and the industry.
4. Personality development :
Employees keep looking for professional growth and they are regularly evaluated year over year for their contribution to the organisation. People working at travel companies get opportunity to enhance their technical skills through training or on-the-job, but as they grow or get promoted they require support in non-technical skills and attributes such as managing a team, time management, work-life balance, handling temper at work, prioritisation of tasks, building confidence, etc. Not everyone is good at everything, but with some help we can all manage and perform better.
Organisations need to incorporate productive personality development sessions conducted by certified professionals to support their team in these areas.
For travel businesses, human resources are the major component of their costs. By consciously investing in strengthening this resource through proper recruitment process, regular training programmes, efficient communication &, feedback methods and putting sincere efforts to retain team there can be significant growth in the profits and longevity of the company. Taking care of your people will definitely secure better sustainability of your travel business.