Executive Travel Recruiter tips: What makes a good travel boss

As an executive travel recruiter, it’s often my job to seek out people who will make a good boss. So, what attributes does a successful boss need? Drawing from personal experience, and that of our executive travel recruiter team, here are 5 things that make a good travel boss:

1. Good communication and respect for staff

Earning respect as a boss or line manager is crucial. Mutual respect is even more important. You should show that you respect your staff, and when you then give constructive feedback, you know it will be taken on board. Without respect, criticism can feel like an attack, and will cause a defensive response in your staff. This will make your and their job less enjoyable. Here at Progressive Travel Recruitment, everyone’s thoughts and ideas are heard and considered, no matter the seniority of the person. Communication and respect are key – if you have the buy-in of the team you will be a great manager. They will always have your back if they know you have theirs.

2. Good at responding to a situation quickly

As a boss in an executive travel role, you will often need to react fast, as things can go wrong in a couple of seconds in this industry. Passengers could become stranded at airports, their visas denied, or transport diverted. And when people are on holiday, they get understandably upset when things go wrong.

During my travel career, I experienced many unavoidable dramas; it’s just part of the job. The best managers immediately recognised the seriousness of the situation, and dropped their own work to step in to help. (The worst managers leave their staff to pick up all the pieces.) And as a manager myself in those circumstances, I was always grateful for consultants under me who stayed late to assist and resolve travel delays for other colleagues’ passengers. It’s all about team work; a great manager will nurture a team spirit, and a great team can help make the manager be more successful, too.

3. Trusting staff and knowing how to be fair

In one of my earliest jobs I worked for a boss who wouldn’t let staff take personal calls at work at all. Obviously, no-one wants an employee sitting and chatting away, but we weren’t even allowed a quick call to say what time we’d be home, or to check if we needed milk. And if we took a sick day, we also lost our quarterly bonus because other people had to pick up the slack. The result of this was that the staff felt they weren’t trusted by the boss, and there was little feeling of respect. An executive travel recruiter may well assess how a company is operating before approching candidates within it. It’s our job to have our eyes open and our ears to the ground.

4. Having realistic expectations

I spoke with a candidate recently who said that the reason they were leaving their job was due to the boss, the main problem being her unrealistic expectations. The manager didn’t actually know what it was like to do the job because she had never done it herself. Consequently, she had unrealistic expectations of what hours she expected staff to work and the amount they had to fit in during their shifts.

As travel recruiters, we find that many travel candidates want to move jobs due to dissatisfaction with management. This can be anything from the boss having unrealistic expectations to micromanaging staff – which is a form of mistrust. In sales roles the pressure is already on to make targets so the added pressure of a boss who doesn’t support and understand their staff will cause unhappiness and staff will start to look elsewhere.

5. Accept when you need advice or training

I have done management training in the past, which was definitely useful. It taught me how to handle and identify different personalities, as some people need more attention than others. Other useful training sessions were learning how to help with time management and conflict resolution. Everyone is different; knowing how to work with all kinds of people is the most useful training you can get.

However, some personality traits are simply less suited to being a boss, regardless of training. In fact, those who think they don’t need training, are most likely to be the ones that do – and arrogance is a bad quality in a boss. Certain elements can be trained – I have worked with people who got better at managing with time, advice and training. However, it’s also hard to force yourself to be something you’re not. If you’re naturally a stress-head or control freak it is hard to let go and not micromanage. As an executive travel recruiter, it’s my job to spot those who will make good managers. Having been a manager myself makes this easier.


In this Business Insider article about what Google found were the traits of good bosses, the purpose of the survey was to gain useful material to use to train future bosses. This is the advantage of a large company, that they are likely to invest in training. But we have found as executive recruitment specialists in travel, that good bosses are just as often found in small companies as large ones.

So, if you’re on the lookout for a great travel boss, contact us to find you the right sort of person. And, if you’re looking to escape a bad boss in the travel industry, make us your first call.

Connect with Lee Van Staden on LinkedIn here >

For all executive travel appointments, contact the Progressive Travel Recruitment executive team:
Fiona Morrison-Arnthal for Leisure (Travel and Tech) and Hospitality (Hotels and Tech): fiona@progressivetravelrecruitment.com

Nicola Townsend for business travel: nicola@progressivetravelrecruitment.com
James Roberts for all other executive travel appointments: james@progressivetravelrecruitment.com