Digital talent matching service launched for travel professionals hit by pandemic

Digital talent matching service launched for travel professionals hit by pandemic

Former James Villas colleagues Tony Wheble and Andy Smith create ‘Tinder/LinkedIn for travel’

A “talent-matching” service for travel professionals described by its founders as “a cross between Tinder and LinkedIn” has been launched.

Travel Talent Direct has been created by Feefo chief executive Tony Wheble and Original Travel marketing director Andy Smith, who previously worked together at James Villas.

The co-founders and invstors said the service had been designed to help thousands of travel industry employees displaced during the pandemic to find new roles.

A team of senior travel executives brought together for the new venture were all either made redundant or furloughed during the pandemic.

Wheble and Smith said the service will use relevant data to ensure talent profiles are matched to suitable vacancies by sector and skills.

These profiles will be searchable by employers, initially on an anonymous basis, allowing candidates to accept or reject contact or interview requests from interested potential employers.

Sectors covered will range from airlines and tour operators to cruise specialists and OTAs, with vacancies in fields including sales, marketing, product, service and commercial.

Travel Talent Direct said it would also offer help and guidance on preparing for interviews, increasing chances of success and opportunities to upskill.

Wheble said he anticipated a gradual return to pre-pandemic staffing levels as demand grew. “We all know that the travel industry has been seriously impacted by the pandemic, especially the outbound sector, as much as and probably more so than any other industry,” he said.

“This has resulted in tens of thousands of redundancies and staff placed on furlough. Andy and I have worked in the travel industry for over 25 years and know first-hand how time-consuming and expensive it can be to source, identify and recruit new talent.

“We wanted to provide a service that will really help both employees and employers find the best possible match, quickly and for a lower cost than traditional recruitment channels.”

Wheble added: “Travel Talent Direct is keen to support the sector and see it spring back to full health as quickly as possible. We know recruitment costs can be significant so will be offering a ‘recruit now, pay in 2022’ incentive to all travel companies that sign up for the service in 2021.”

Wheble said he believed the pandemic could ultimately result in significant and positive change for the industry despite its devastating impact as career opportunities that did not previously exist became available and mainstream.

“Circumstances have forced change upon all businesses, with the necessity in the past year to adopt remote working technologies like Teams and Zoom, across all areas of a business,” he said.

“I’m certain this will result in more companies being willing to offer more remote and flexible working. The ability to work from home effectively and efficiently means employers are now more confident they can recruit candidates from outside their geographical catchment area.

“This is a real win-win for both employers and talent and will, I believe, benefit the sector and its customers.”

Wheble said homeworking in the sector had traditionally been the domain of a small number of specialist businesses but noted: “I now see opportunities for homeworking talent to be leveraged across any travel business throughout the UK, and not just in sales-oriented roles.

“I believe this is an opportunity for progressive, tech-savvy travel businesses to raise standards, reduce costs and deliver improved service experiences to their customers.

“The pandemic has been the catalyst for a digital acceleration for customers of all ages and demographic profiles, so it follows that the nature of employment and service delivery has had to change too.”

Smith added: “Travel Talent Direct is a modern, tech-centric response to these shifts in the sector. It is offering all travel talent candidates, whether based in the UK or overseas, the opportunity to build a detailed profile of their skills, experience and interests.

“The platform will be unique in the sector and is a resource we think is both relevant and long overdue. Travel Talent Direct’s own research amongst travel sector businesses suggests that most traditional recruitment services are far from perfect and the costs are too high – with the majority surveyed being worried about the costs in recruiting.

“Travel Talent Direct is an accessible and affordable alternative, or can be complementary, to those other traditional channels.”