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People plus – the Human Capital

Successfully training, motivating and retaining people is a task that need not be daunting or nerve-wracking.

Travel industry goes through swings in business cycles, seasonal and unforeseen. Products become obsolete, new destinations emerge as do fresh client categories. Unexpected deterrents like SARS, tsunami, volcanic ash and avian flu plays havoc with business projections and profit planning. However, through what seems like maddening uncertainties, there is a redeeming constant; good employees. This is the human capital, which forms the crux of our agency operations, the talent pool that we need to nurture and retain for the well being of our businesses. Through thick and thin.

Number crunching and profit projections are easier to handle, as they are inanimate. Successfully training, motivating and retaining people is a task that need not be daunting or nerve-wracking. In fact, great emphasis must be put on the criteria for recruitment in the first place. What is the purpose of recruiting the person you are interviewing ? Are her responsibilities and area of operation clearly defined ? If there is ambiguity, it sends signals to the new employee that she has no definite role envisaged for her and may have been brought in to act as a stop-gap functionary. Worse, there may not be accuracy in performance evaluation. This leads to insecurity and consequently job-hopping. Even if the hiring is done at a managerial level, cross disciplinary orientation and training should be properly structured to be optimally effective.  A psychological evaluation through very basic human resource testing processes, are a must. The ability to handle inbound, outbound, skills for ticketing, profile that can be comfortable with luxury clientele and their needs, or confidence and managerial capability to handle MICE business must be assessed carefully as then, the agency can devote its training resources for each new recruit in a streamlined manner for maximum efficacy.

Some of the areas that determine greater adaptability to change are,  a) new technology, where sophistication and efficiency will necessitate more complex business analytics and greater focus on virtual working, collaborative practices and innovation, b) impact of globalization, where emerging markets will catalyze the need to create new talent pools provided the educational capacity of that country allows for creation of required competencies and leadership capabilities,  will be in higher demand, c) social trends, where across the world there will be diminishing trust in bigger businesses and institutions and growing faith in medium-sized enterprises will cause more talented people to work in start-ups, joint ventures and partnerships, putting an emphasis on the ecosystem of talent.

It is crucial that companies prepare for the changes.  First, by continuously monitoring the areas they believe could impact their personnel development. Next, by looking at current capability of employees to match the emerging trends and changing needs. Out of all the areas that are imperative for ‘future proofing’, the most important are working across boundaries within the company, inter-generational cohesion, managing virtual teams and preparing for a low profit margin and higher profit volume future.

The infallible role of mentoring within the organization should be given due credence. The older and more experienced employees help nurture talent within their teams and build the human resource for greater responsibilities. Sharing of experiences and methodology used, however, orthodox or innovative, in trouble-shooting, can be pearls of wisdom for the emerging leaders within the organization. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs clearly demonstrates the need of the individual’s  motivation, for power and achievement. Incentives for performance and growth, need not be monetary, if the remuneration paid is at par with the industry norms. A birthday party, surprise gifts like a free weekend for her and spouse, special mention in company meetings and websites, responsibility to represent the company in seminars, trade meetings and events,  are a few ways in which you can make the employee feel special. While we look at growth and all it’s concomitant parameters, we should never forget that people make it happen. Only good people are constant, the rest is always variable.

Consultant Editor - TravelDailyNews Asia-Pacific | Website

Shekhar is a veteran journalist and destination marketing consultant. With over three decades of experience in covering MICE and all aspects of tourism, he continues to travel extensively and contribute news, analysis and commentary on trends in the industry, globally. Email: