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Understanding the post-pandemic expectations of travel’s workforce

As Covid-19 saw monthly passenger air travels fall by over 98% and accommodation and agency businesses saw a sharp 90%+ decline in turnover, the travel industry has had no alternative than to firefight, adapt and change. As tourists are now returning with a vengeance, bringing back capacity, streamlining and personalising the customer experience are going to be largely dependent on one thing: people.

Whilst many travel businesses have been working hard to put the wellbeing of their people first, those people may have also been undergoing a metamorphosis.


As people have struggled with lockdown, they discovered personal coping strategies; rituals if you like. People will want to create new rules for themselves around how home and work will coexist in new ways.

SO WHAT: People are going to find it difficult to give up their rituals and why should they? You may need to rethink the way flexible working, trust and freedom work within your organisation. If the job gets done, does it really matter when people do it? It’s all about outputs, not inputs.

Communication and compromise are key.


The pandemic has left many with battered egos, waning self-esteem and low self-reliance. Confidence is like a muscle, if you don’t exercise it, it becomes ‘a bit flabby’.

SO WHAT: This is a tricky time, many people won’t have the luxury of ‘easing back in’; it’s like accelerating from 0 to 60 in five seconds, a bit of a shock to the system and a feeling of being out of control. Again, communication is key. Make sure that people know you’re doing all you can to keep them safe and that you want to help them settle back in – find out what that means. 0-60 isn’t a great recipe for success and could even thrust some into reverse.

Stamina and mental agility:

Some, perhaps for the first time in years, have been provided with a unique opportunity to step out of the ‘rat race’, from dashing from one commitment to another with constant mental activity planning and managing ‘the next thing’.

SO WHAT: People are going to take a little time to build back up in terms of physical energy and strength, and mental agility. They might find it difficult to be productive when they’re feeling apprehensive and will need support as they learn to physically and emotionally re-navigate this new environment. Exercise a degree of tolerance, ensuring people are given the support they need to ease back in.

Skill levels:

Whereas some people might have lost their edge skills-wise, others have been taking advantage of the many learning opportunities out there and will have acquired skills and attributes that you’re unaware of.

SO WHAT: They’ve increased their employability. Apart from the fact that you should be interested in people’s lockdown achievements, it may be that the person who was furloughed a year ago is very different to the one today. This presents opportunities for both of you – don’t miss out on them.

Perspectives and expectations:

Many employees have taken stock of their pre-pandemic lifestyles and become more discerning around the choices they make. Many realise they’re not going to put up with poor working practices and lacklustre leadership.

SO WHAT: It’s important to understand how individual and collective perspectives have changed. You can only do that by asking your people, listening and acting. This is why, in a first for the travel sector, Purple Cubed and Gail Kenny Recruitment have teamed up to introduce Best Workplaces in Travel a unique, employee led survey, to identify and recognise the best employers in travel.

Travel has always been a people business, though a significant and permanent change has placed a heightened focus on people, purpose and culture. Now is the time for travel businesses to assess their status quo, pinpointing business improvements that will make them a travel employer of choice, boosting their employer brands and attracting the brightest and best. It seems Best Workplaces in Travel has come at exactly the right time…

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