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Saturday,  July 13, 2024 12:12 PM 

TRAVELSAVERS Canada sees high agent demand, talent shortage

TRAVELSAVERS Canada sees high agent demand, talent shortage
Jane Clementino, senior vice president and general manager, TRAVELSAVERS Canada. (Pax Global Media)

TRAVELSAVERS Canada reports that an "overwhelming" number of agencies affiliated with it may be adding more advisors in the next year, with 25 per cent saying they’ll hire as many ‘good’ ones as they can.

In conjunction with Travel Advisor Day, a new survey of TRAVELSAVERS Canada consultants provides insights into one of the profession’s biggest current challenges: an advisor shortage.

Advisors from TRAVELSAVERS Canada and Affluent Traveler Collection affiliate agencies in Canada took the survey from March 21 to April 14, 2024.

High Demand

According to survey findings, while 89 per cent of agencies plan to or may hire advisors in the coming year, almost two-thirds say it’s not easy to find qualified applicants.

“The travel industry has definitely bounced back and we’re delighted to experience such momentum around leisure travel,” said Jane Clementino, senior vice president and general manager.

“Our concern is not having enough staff to support the increased clientele, and while our affiliate agencies are continuously searching for new employees, they tell us that candidates tend to lack in skill set. 

According to Clementino, "as an industry, we have an obligation to attract new talent to get ahead of the huge demand we face.”

Advisor Crunch

TRAVELSAVERS says the cause of the shortage is twofold. As more travellers seek the expertise of a consultant, the market for travel agency services is increasing and is expected to grow.

Simultaneously, experienced advisors are leaving the business. The Travel Institute says 36 per cent of agencies lost staff during the pandemic, and 56 per cent of those haven’t replaced them. 

Survey findings also reveal that two-thirds of advisors today are over 50, with retirement nearing. Only six per cent of advisors are under 35.

Survey data shows two-thirds of advisors are over 50, nearing retirement. (supplied)

Recruitment Methods

In their "often-challenging" search for advisors, agencies report using a variety of methods to locate candidates. 

The most common are referrals from others (56 per cent), job listings (47 per cent), social media posts (36 per cent), and networking (33 per cent).

Another issue hampering the quest for talent is lack of awareness. Twenty-three per cent of advisors surveyed say people don’t know the profession still exists.

Candidate Issues

Survey findings also indicate that when agencies do locate interested prospects, misconceptions about the field often deter candidates. 

Many underestimate the amount of work required to build a clientele while overestimating earnings. Some believe they will journey the world for free. Yet others lack the talent and background to be successful.

About 60 per cent of advisors surveyed say applicants don’t have the right combination of skills and abilities. 

They also say the pay isn’t high enough to attract qualified candidates, and 30 per cent say candidates aren’t willing to work hard to establish a book of business. Thirty-two per cent report applicants only want to travel for free.

“It’s really important to recognize that as a travel advisor, you’re running your own business,” said Clementino. “And this boils down to three key things – investing in building a network, getting the right training, and delivering excellence in client services – to be successful in this industry.”

The survey results are as follows:

Agencies planning to hire advisors over the next year

  • 53% yes
  • 36% maybe
  • 11% no

Number of advisor agencies plan to hire

  • 35% one
  • 35% two or three
  • 5% four or more
  • 25% as many good ones as we can find

Ease finding qualified candidates

  • 2% say it’s easy
  • 0% say it’s often easy
  • 31% say it’s sometimes easy
  • 33% say it’s rarely easy
  • 33% say it’s not easy

Problems with finding candidates

  • 59% don’t have the right combination of skills
  • 59% pay not high enough
  • 32% just want to travel for free
  • 30% are not willing to work hard to establish themselves
  • 23% of people don’t know the travel advisor profession still exists

Methods for finding candidates

  • 56% referrals
  • 47% job listings
  • 36% social media posts
  • 33% networking
  • 18% leads from consortium (TRAVELSAVERS Canada)

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