Effective talent retention strategies: investing in essential soft skills

Effective talent retention strategies: investing in essential soft skills  Listing Image

It’s all well and good that your sales team has an encyclopaedic knowledge of Vietnam’s five-star resorts or your cruise expert is first in the loop about the new cruise line that’s launching – but how useful is excellent product knowledge without the soft skills needed to sell it to your customers?

What about the newly promoted sales manager who has proven themselves as a sales superstar but hasn’t received any people management training, or the product executive who is ready to progress to a product manager but has no clear progression path?

Employees in these situations are likely to become, at best, frustrated and, at worse jaded, and in both instances, will soon be looking to move on. Training soft skills is an essential part of your employee retention strategy.

Real-world example

At the end of 2022, I placed a candidate in a small start-up tour operator role. The role could have been considered a ‘demotion’ from her previous team leader role at a large, prestigious tailor-made tour operator. Her reason for leaving? She’d been given a promotion, a salary increase and not much else.  

She had received no support or team leadership training. The tour operator in question was frantically rebuilding its post-pandemic sales workforce, and this newly promoted employee was expected to train, coach, mentor and manage an ever-growing team of new starters whilst achieving the same profit margins. Her working hours had become unmanageable, and she had lost all sense of work-life balance. As the stress began to impact her health, the situation became unsustainable, and it was little surprise that she decided to leave.

How different the situation could have been if she had received some kind of support or training. She would have been better equipped to perform in her role, and her employer wouldn’t have had to invest more time and money into finding a replacement.

Training and retention: the relationship  

Quite rightly, travel industry employees are asking,

"How do we succeed whilst dealing with stressful situations like managing complaints that should have been escalated, exceeding sales targets whilst managing a team, training a brand new team, negotiating best rates, etc., if we’ve never received travel industry-specific training?"

In a survey conducted by The Harris Poll, a lack of career growth was listed as one of the main barriers to talent retention. It went on to say that 77% of employees feel they're 'on their own' in developing their career at the company, and a third of employees left their jobs because they didn't learn new skills to enhance their performance.

The numbers speak for themselves, and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence if what my candidates and fellow travel recruiters tell me is anything to go on. Yet, for some reason, investment in people fails to be a priority for many (not all) travel industry employers.

Making smart people development investments   

With the average cost of a one-day course at £500, training can be a big monetary (and time) investment. Also, when weekly and monthly sales targets are always looming, sending an employee on a training course is often shelved for a ‘quieter’ day. But everyone knows that those quieter days never arrive. And there are plenty more perceived negative impacts surrounding employee training.

Perceived negatives of investing in development:

  • Cost
  • Time away from the office
  • The employee may leave the business after training
  • Impact on current projects/deadlines/targets

Instead of considering the reasons not to invest in an individual’s development, employers should be thinking instead of the benefits of having a trained workforce.

Richard Branson famously said,

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to.”

Benefits of investing in development:

  • Greater employee satisfaction and morale produces higher retention and lower employee turnover
  • Creating a talent bank for future roles saves recruitment and training costs
  • Increased productivity and achievement mean that staff are more motivated to achieve and are trained to succeed
  • Ability to keep up or surpass the competition when ideas, strategies, and new ways of doing things are learnt from training, improving company performance

I know for some; I’m preaching to the converted. Many business leaders in travel understand the value of training, whilst others perceive that they cannot afford the time and money for their employees to attend training courses.

It was for this reason that I decided to leverage my many years of training and development experience and, create an online e-learning library of bitesize soft skill training courses written by travel industry experts click here to learn more 

Did you know?

  • E-learning requires 40-60% less time than classroom learning
  • E-learning courses have a 25-60% higher knowledge retention rate than face-to-face courses

Our courses are FREE, designed for leisure and business travel professionals and can be accessed anytime and anywhere on mobile, tablet or desktop devices.

Our e-learning platform provides:

  • Worldwide access for leisure and business travel professionals
  • Courses written by credible travel industry experts with genuine experience
  • Courses that are jam-packed with great skill development and learning points, helping you improve and flourish in your job
  • Responsive, interactive, and captivating lessons
  • The ability to learn at your own pace; you can dip in and out of the lessons whenever you choose
  • Access from tablet, mobile or desktop devices
  • An end-of-course test and certificate detailing the skills and knowledge gained

As passionate business partners of the travel industry, we’ll continue to design in-demand, value-for-money, e-learning courses to help plug the training gaps across travel and improve talent retention. Visit, see our library of travel courses and let us know what you think.

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