Strengthening the Travel & Tourism Workforce: 3 Takeaways from DCI’s Report on Helping Workers Enter and Stay in the Industry

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<span>Strengthening the Travel & Tourism Workforce:  3 Takeaways from DCI’s Report on Helping Workers Enter and Stay in the Industry</span>
Bottom Line:

Careers in the global travel and tourism industry are in high demand, but the industry’s success continues to be threatened by ongoing staffing shortages, which never fully recovered after the pandemic. Informed by research, DCI’s "Strengthening the Travel & Tourism Workforce” report outlines three key takeaways to help workers enter and stay in the industry.  

As destination marketing professionals, we know that the benefits of travel and tourism extend far beyond the number of room nights booked or events attended. From growing global economies to creating purposeful careers and even improving people's emotional and physical well-being worldwide, the impact of travel is indisputable. 

Travel has certainly rebounded, with nearly 85% of American adults planning to travel during the summer of 2023 and more than 50% during the 2023 winter holidays, according to studies from the Vacationer. While in high demand, the industry’s success continues to be threatened by ongoing staffing shortages, which never fully recovered after the pandemic. There are simply not enough workers to support the influx of visitors. 

DMOs and destination partners are now asking the question: How can we build and retain the travel and tourism workforce? 

To better understand the workforce, DCI surveyed more than 500 people across the United States (ages 20-60) who work in the lodging & accommodations, food & beverage, retail & attractions, entertainment, tour operator & outfitter and destination marketing sectors, as part of the inaugural “Strengthening the Travel and Tourism Workforce” study. This research is an extension of DCI’s national research study on the behaviors and preferences of relocating talent, “Talent Wars,” now in its seventh edition. Below, we dive into three key takeaways from the research:

1. Personalize Recruitment Efforts. 

Personal connections strongly drive awareness and positive sentiment among the travel and tourism workforce. More than half of respondents noted that they first learned about the industry through friends and family. With that in mind, potential workers often want to see that people who look like and think like them are happy and prosperous in a role before applying. Spotlighting your existing workforce to promote careers in the sector allows DMOs to celebrate existing workers and show the diversity of ages, identities, career paths and cultures that make the industry so unique. This can be done through video testimonials, like this series from Visit Baltimore, or testimonial quotes similar to those displayed on Marriott’s website

2. Promote and Get Creative with Training. 

The travel and tourism workforce is hungry for training and upskilling, but many lack awareness of the opportunities available to them. Of the respondents, 69% indicated that they are interested in additional training, particularly in refining their management and supervisory skills. Salary is, of course, important to your workforce, but they also want to know that your organization offers upskilling opportunities or could connect them with these opportunities if they’re interested. Share these opportunities on your website, including ways to learn more about benefits on each job posting, and educate any hiring managers on how to speak to these training opportunities.  

3. Be A Connector. 

As the industry continues to recover from the pandemic, personal connections are crucial to fostering an inclusive and meaningful work environment to retain your workforce. Among those who have been working in the industry for less than two years, only 57% report that they enjoy “personal interactions with customers/colleagues,” while 66% of those with more than 10 years of experience in the industry report that this is what they enjoy most about working in the industry. Due to pandemic-related safety measures, newer workers likely had less opportunity to interact with their new coworkers and customers. To retain this workforce, make a concerted effort to connect your regional workforce through industry happy hours, networking events, and training opportunities that show your investment in your staff. 

While sentiments are positive among the current workforce, continue to nurture and invest in your staff to not only retain the workforce but also grow tomorrow's tourism workforce. 

Download the full report here

About The Author

Patience Fairbrother

Vice President, Talent Attraction
Development Counsellors International

Patience Fairbrother is Vice President, Talent Attraction at Development Counsellors International (DCI), where she oversees the place-marketing agency’s Talent Attraction practice area, helping cities, regions, states and countries to attract the workforce of the future through custom research and targeted marketing campaigns. Patience’s work has been recognized in the Summit Creative Awards, AVA Digital Awards, Horizon Interactive Awards, International Economic Development Council (IEDC) Excellence in Economic Development Awards, and MarCom Awards.

She has been a featured speaker on place marketing research and best practices at conferences including Young Smart & Local, Destinations International, ECONOMIX, and the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) Annual Conference, and in communities from Buffalo to Birmingham. Based in Brooklyn, Patience is a graduate of Kenyon College and a native of the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts. 

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