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OPINION


WORDS CLIVE WRAT TEN


HOW TO NAVIGATE CHANGING TIDES


Some ex-Thomas Cook employees will be excellent candidates for new careers in the business travel sector


T


HERE IS AN OLD SAYING that you only discover who your true friends are in times of trouble. It’s fair to say that every member


of the travel industry felt the ripple effect of the Thomas Cook collapse in September. And while it was a sobering event, I was heartened by the support of our travel colleagues. It’s


welcome news that Hays


Travel has bought some 500 shops of the shuttered travel agency and intends


to employ ex-Thomas Cook staff. Many other travel companies have invested in recruitment drives to give the ex-employees the opportunity to continue their careers. It’s great that talent and knowledge across the industry are retained and can flourish. Many of those companies showing such support are within the BTA family of members and partners. For ex-Thomas Cook employees, now may be the time to take stock of their career paths and consider a new direction into business travel. The industry, along with the wider UK economy, businesses and government, faces a time of uncertainty and challenge, including disruption across our own network. Remember the threatened drone action at Heathrow airport, to cite just one example. In all such


eventualities, business travel managers, buyers, suppliers, and business travellers themselves have proven to be flexible, agile, competent and robust enough to weather changing tides. Whether it be a change in


itinerary or navigating the complexities of new travel requirements because of Brexit, the industry proves once again how good it is in emergencies. Investment in people and in the future of corporate travel is a particular passion of mine,


IT’S GREAT THAT TALENT


AND KNOWLEDGE ACROSS THE INDUSTRY ARE RETAINED AND CAN FLOURISH


and much of the work of the BTA is focused on just that. It is essential to ensure that these qualities of flexibility, agility and a robust approach to change, as well as the skills and knowledge required to provide expert counsel on the development and fulfilment of travel programmes is harnessed. Testament to this is BTA’s endeavours to support and highlight the career options open to students in the business travel sector.


FOSTERING APPRENTICES In September we hosted our first People and Talent Sector Conference. The goal of this day-long event was to encourage further commitment from employees for apprenticeship schemes. Recently qualified apprentices addressed the audience to relay their own experiences, and there was a discussion on “Diversity & Inclusion” in the workplace. If we can discern new trends and challenges in recruitment, we will be geared to support members and partners in a better understanding of the opportunities available. While it is undeniably


shocking and upsetting when an established travel business goes to the wall, we can take comfort and encouragement that there is an unfailing commitment to invest in the travel industry. In particular, we want to ensure that corporate travel is available as a career for both our ex- Thomas Cook colleagues and the upcoming generation.


Clive Wratten is chief executive of BTA (formerly known as GTMC), which represents travel management companies (thebta.org.uk)


110 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2019 buyingbusinesstravel.com


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