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New occupational standards for travel prepare workforce for changed environment beyond Covid-19

17 September 2021

As the travel industry adapts its operations as it enters recovery mode, employers have led a full review of occupational standards to reflect current and emerging practices, helping to secure a resilient post pandemic workforce.

Representatives from high street and online travel agents, tour operators, B2B operators, corporate travel and leisure travel joined forces to review the occupational standards, redefining the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed by front line employees, helping to further professionalise the travel industry.

Led by the Travel Skills & Quality Board and facilitated by People 1st International, organisations including Hays Travel, dnata, Clarity Business Travel, BCD Travel, and ABTA have been working together to bring the standards in line with today’s practices.

Julia Assock, Head of People Development, dnata and Chair of the Travel Skills & Quality Board comments:

“The new occupational standards take into account the greater need for pre-trip travel information.  Covid-19 has changed the level of research and scope of information that needs to be collected and relayed to the traveller to make informed choices. Greater awareness of sustainability in travel is also a key focus area.”

Sandra Kelly, UK Director of People 1st International comments:

“Occupational standards are particularly important as they form the foundation for vocational qualifications, certification and apprenticeships used across the industry in each for the four nations of the UK. 

“The standards provide businesses with tools for a variety of workforce design, management, succession planning and quality control activities and offer a means to manage performance, increase productivity, identify and fill skills gaps. They can also act as a framework for recruitment, selection and induction.”

Seven new occupational standards have been developed to cover:

  • Monitoring travel alerts and other related information which has the potential to impact customers whilst travelling for business or leisure
  • Advising customers on the implications of information which impacts on their travel arrangements
  • Reviewing and improving the customer experience
  • Demonstrating professional organisational brand and values
  • Operating in a sustainable way in your workplace
  • Promoting sustainable travel and tourism options
  • Using social media to communicate with customers

A number of new themes have also been added to or strengthened with existing occupational standards, including:

  • Modernisation of payment methods
  • Maximising sales, promoting business incentives and sales campaigns
  • Maintaining security of information and data
  • Improving customer confidence, brand loyalty and instilling brand values
  • Applying digital skills including using operating systems, apps, monitoring online reviews, conducting virtual meetings or promotions
  • Providing sustainable and accessible travel and tourism options
  • Promoting health and wellbeing

Other changes have been made to standards to ensure that those selling travel-related products and services and processing bookings are multi-skilled. Sustainability was also raised as a key area to incorporate.

Vicki Wolf, Education Manager, ABTA – The Travel Association comments:

“Sustainability in the travel and tourism industry and how to manage social and environmental impacts are critical areas of knowledge many working in the travel industry should hold.

“Knowledge of more sustainable travel and tourism options therefore has been added to existing sales related standards to ensure this important area is understood and knowledge can be applied when discussing customers’ needs and matching suitable products and services to their requirements.”

Two new standards were also developed to cover day-to-day sustainable working practices and the promotion of sustainable travel and tourism options for those who specialise in this area.

For more information on the review of occupational standards for travel contact info@people1st.co.uk

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