Are you offering candidates a real living wage, and is it enough to attract the talent you’re looking for?

Are you offering candidates a real living wage, and is it enough to attract the talent you’re looking for? Listing Image

At Ambitions Travel Recruitment, our primary function is to act as a business partner for our clients. From entry-level to senior management and beyond, we aim to match the perfect candidates with the roles that are seemingly made for them. This match-making process involves analysing a lot of variables on both sides, including skillsets, personality fit, expectations, benefits, experience, reputation and so on. But as discussed in a previous article, an attractive salary offering that meets the real living wage supersedes just about all other considerations.


The reality of travel industry salaries 

Thankfully, most of our clients have increased base salaries in line with inflation, and as expected, their people, productivity and profits are thriving. However, we are unfortunately receiving calls from prospective clients who would like assistance with their recruitment, but we simply cannot help them because of their salary offering. 

As recruiters, we are acutely aware of the salary thresholds that will attract very little talent. We’ve had requests from high-end tailor-made tour operators looking for experienced sales specialists and offering a base salary of £23,000. And to make it worse, these roles are full-time office-based and include weekends. Of course, there’s the commission to consider, but those of us with experience know that ‘on-target earnings’ are rarely achieved in the first year as the sales specialist builds up their pipeline, gets to grips with the role, attends fam trips and training etc. 

And it’s not just sales roles. We’ve been asked to recruit experienced product managers for £21,000 with a commission structure. And those are just the tip of the iceberg.


Counter-intuitive cost cutting 

We understand that in a post-pandemic world, cash flow is still tough. Although 2023 is set to be a record-breaking year for travel sales, many of those trips booked in peaks won’t be paying their final balances for a while. 

However, if you are looking to rebuild a solid, sustainable business, low-balling candidates with below-living-wage salary offers is not the way forward. Even if you do manage to attract a few new recruits, it won’t be long before they realise that they can get paid more for the same role elsewhere. This is why it’s vital that you know how to leverage a higher salary to attract the best talents.


The Real Living Wage 


The ‘Real Living Wage’ is the rate set by the Living Wage Foundation and independently calculated based on what people need to survive. Being paid less than this is likely to leave people in financial difficulty. On their website, the organisation states:

“The real Living Wage is the only UK wage rate that is voluntarily paid by over 12,000 UK businesses who believe their staff deserve a wage which meets everyday needs - like the weekly shop, or a surprise trip to the dentist.”


The 2022/23 national Real Living Wage has been calculated at £10.90 per hour and £11.95 per hour in London. Based on a 40-hour work week, this works out at just under £23,000 outside of London and just under £25,000 in London. If you are paying your employees less than this as a basic rate (commission is not guaranteed income), you are paying them less than they need to live. And that’s the bare minimum. If you want to show your employees, customers, and the rest of the industry that you respect your staff and that you value their skills, your offering should be well above this. 


Expectations in 2023  

Employers must also remember that travel industry employees don’t live in a bubble. Even less so since the pandemic struck. They know what their counterparts in other industries get paid. Many of their colleagues have left the industry for better-paying roles and are no doubt tempting their ex-workmates to do the same. The charade is over. People are more aware of their options – and their worth – than ever before. More than this, many simply cannot afford to live on a salary that falls below a liveable wage. It’s just not an option. 

We’re seeing business development managers on £35,000 reaching out for better-paid roles. Product managers are demanding no less than £40,000 in new positions, and business travel consultants won’t be tempted to jump ship for less than £35,000. 

Part of our job as recruiters is to help clients benchmark roles. And whilst most appreciate the insight, others are just not ready to deal with the reality. Those unwilling to listen will, more often than not, have roles lying vacant for months on end.


How do I provide a liveable wage? 

We understand the restraints that come from limited cash flow, and we certainly don’t recommend picking a number out of thin air. There are some real-world considerations to take into account before finalising your offer: 

  •       As a minimum, make sure your offering covers the real cost of living. Inflation increased over 10% last year; does your pay offering reflect that?
  •       Either provide extra payment or allowances for overtime or don’t encourage unpaid overtime. This is a particularly prevalent issue within the travel industry.
  •       Offer home-based or hybrid working to help with commuting costs. If you insist on a full-time office presence, provide some kind of travel cost and/or childcare cost assistance.
  •       Give reasonable notice for opening hour or shift changes (the Living Wage Foundation recommends four weeks).
  •       Employees should feel able to decline extra leads or shifts without fear of missing out in the future.
  •       Offer occupational sick pay to allow people to recover from illness without having to worry about their livelihood. 

If you would like to have an honest, open conversation about benchmarking and salary offerings specific to the travel industry, contact us at Ambitions Travel Recruitment. We can work with you to determine a fair offer that will ensure that you attract and retain quality talent whilst also boosting your reputation as a responsible and kind employer. 

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