Getting ahead: Talent in Travel technology — cultural transformation or outsourcing?
The fact that there is a skills shortage in IT is indisputable, with an estimated 800,000 digital vacancies expected to go unfilled by 2020 in the UK alone. Indeed companies are saying that lack of talent is the number one obstacle to achieving their digital goals.
Given that the travel and hospitality industry is behind the curve, generally, in terms of technology, how can we hope to attract and retain the kind of talent that will transform it? And how do we develop inviting and exciting career paths to compliment the right salaries? Certainly some roles will inevitably require outsourcing, but how can we ensure we have the right digital talent onsite?
Changing the overall culture to a digital one is a great start. All employees need to understand and be comfortable with modern digital strategies. This needs to become part of the hiring process across the board, not just the IT department. If tech talent feels that digital culture is at the centre of everything you do, it will be much easier to get them on board.
Usable digital platforms
Digital platforms and technology systems are now becoming easier to use, gone are the old static interfaces as systems begin designing interfaces with a similar usability as facebook or apple. Business systems providers have recognised that to increase adoption and usage they need to provide intuitive experiences that are similar to those used by staffers during their personal time.
Most new property management systems are structured to help users figure out how to use them without lots of training. This has been the stumbling block for the success of many systems and the retention of talented staff and has led to companies being locked on legacy products. New providers, such as, Mews and Apaleo, recognise they need to drastically reduce the training burden.
This means front of house staff only need the digital initiative to use the tools, and the intuition to optimise their performance utilizing the data and connections provided. While for your IT and development team, this is a different story.
Learning and development
IT people need to be challenged and feel they have the room to grow and develop. Give them something important, new and ambitious to work on that engages their creativity and pushes their skills. Just dealing with daily operational issues is soon going to wear thin. But if you are pushing ahead with a digital strategy, this should fit together nicely with giving your tech people exciting new development projects.
According to a LaSalle Network survey, learning, growth and development were the most important aspects of a company’s culture to technologists. So offering ongoing training and development is essential. Career progression needs to be open and discussed often, keeping in touch with employees’ aspirations and how they can achieve those within the organisation.
All of which sounds great, but we need to be realistic and recognise that it is not always possible for a firm in the travel and hospitality industry to transform its entire culture overnight, swap over from a wholesale to digital strategy AND put in the kind of lifestyle and development packages that would attract top tech talent away from established tech giants or exciting digital start-ups.
Furthermore, the travel and hospitality industry is particularly close-knit and well-connected and can be a daunting prospect for those new to the sector, especially to understand the intricacies of the technology and the terminology so specific to the travel market. As a domain, it has evolved with its own technologies and is only now beginning to look to other industries for inspiration.
If this is your situation, what can you do? One word — outsource. With ready-made pools of top talent who are already ahead of the curve when it comes to the latest technology, the headache of hiring, retaining and motivating full-time staff is taken out of your hands.
Outsourcing is also more cost effective. In fact, the cost of employing an in-house developer could be 2.7 times more than using an external consultant, according to research by MIT. And that’s assuming their base cost is the same, which it probably isn’t if you’re outsourcing offshore, which makes it cheaper still. Not only that, but the efficiencies gained by using off-the-shelf experts, so to speak, also reduces your costs, your timeframes and ultimately your headaches.
Add to this the fact that outsourced tech support is more flexible, more focused, and likely to be more up-to-date in terms of security and compliance, and now you have quite a compelling case.
So while inner transformation to a digital culture is of course crucial in the long-term, the most practical, realistic and effective strategy for the short-term will be to look outside your own four walls. Perhaps in the direction of Sciant, the specialists in travel and hospitality, transport and logistics.