Across the travel industry, everyone is talking about the good news, the boom in bookings though travel agents. But as their business grows, travel agents find themselves scurrying more than ever to find and nurture and train new talent. That’s why ASTA chairman Jay Ellenby is making the training and recruitment of new travel agents one of his highest priorities for 2017.
At yesterday’s “The Top 5 Ways to Attract and Retain Great Talent” breakout session, Philip Banks, president of 12-agent Legacy Travel in Dallas, TX, said a focus on providing a lifestyle that attracts agents, and communicating a stable income growth path, has helped him achieve a remarkable record in retaining his staff. Since 2010, he has lost only five agents, including two who wanted to be stay-athome moms.
His agency has been recognized by the Dallas Business Journal as one of the Best Places to Work in Dallas for 2016.
“We aren’t necessarily looking for young people, but because our industry pays lower salaries, we see that younger people are more interested in becoming agents,” Banks said. So he makes up gaps in salary with at least one vacation each year, 401K matching, fun employee events, and other perks like massages and health club memberships.
To retain young talent, agencies “need to be set up to welcome new people,” Banks said, including a warm welcoming and a training program that sets them up to succeed and gives them the skills to earn a competitive salary. Training on travel technology in particular can be very intimidating.
“The training process can be very difficult, and that can lead to new hires leaving early,” Banks said. “My business won’t survive if we don’t nail those first few weeks and the training process.” Since their compensation is based on production, agents at Legacy Travel begin to earn a very competitive salary after 1824 months, Banks said.
“Our employees are pretty well paid. It’s a mathematical equation, so it is really obvious for someone to figure out what it takes to make a lot of money.”