A recent breakfast event, organised by Travolution and held during WTM, discussed the changing role of leadership and management skills within a millennial workforce in the age of digital disruption. During the event, attendees were told that travel is one of the world’s top-three sectors for digital talent due to the impact of technology and the internet. Senior industry figures discussed how management and leadership have faced an extraordinary transformation in the digital age.
One of the topics of discussion was the necessity for travel businesses to base themselves in central London in order to attract the best talent. Grant Duncan, a consultant at global headhunting and leadership consultant SpencerStuart, said that London remains one of the key hubs for digital talent globally after strongholds like Silicon Valley in the US. However, Duncan added: “One of the challenges, is that there is definitely the need to be at the heart of things, so in the hub of a city.
“For young talented employees today, it’s about having a city centre existence and that brings about all sorts of ancillary pressures to do with the cost of living. I think in the end market forces will take over and actually we will start to see a move to other cities and urban locations in the UK.”
Cressida Sergeant, Chief Commercial Officer for Traveltek, said that this shift is already becoming apparent within the industry, stating that the regeneration going on in hubs and cities like Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow is quite phenomenal.
Headquartered near Glasgow, Traveltek currently works with local universities within Scotland to ensure it attracts the brightest young talent. Running annual intern programmes, Traveltek selects candidates based on their academic background, personality and passion for technology. Sergeant also added that Traveltek is currently looking at restructuring its technology teams to give them a greater understanding of how the business works as a whole in a bit to better retain staff who come into the business.
The conversation then moved on to how the traditional risk-averse mentality jars with the modern attitude of young employees who, according the Gunjan Verma, chief technology officer at The Travel Corporation, wish to “test ideas, celebrate failure and learn from that failure.”
Sergeant acknowledged that in the field of technology it is important to take risks to continue to innovate but highlighted that in a client-facing role, failure is not an option.
“It’s OK to fail, but it’s not OK when you’re dealing with a client. Testing and learning in a live environment are always challenges in a client-facing business.”
One of the final topics for analysis surrounded businesses’ expectations of their workforce. Sergeant commented: “The nature of flexibility [in our business] is something that’s client driven, its 24/7, you have to be available to clients but I think you have to set the expectations of your team too.
“If I send an email at the weekend, I don’t expect an immediate response, it’s simply because it’s popped into my head, Monday is absolutely fine.
“We don’t expect people to work weekends unless we’ve got serious client issues and then it’s an all hands on deck situation. We have a very passionate tech team who are committed to doing that.”