Who are the best people to hire for travel industry executive jobs

I was interested to read an article in Travel Weekly from AITO chairperson Gemma Antrobus, urging travel industry leaders to remind themselves to remain familiar with jobs lower down their companies.

Gemma goes as far to suggest that senior executives and managers should swap roles with their frontline staff for a day, after she found herself dealing with customers while her travel sales staff were on a training day. She said, ‘One key element I took away from that day, above all else, was that getting back to the floor and selling holidays reminded me what I love about this industry, which can sometimes be forgotten among all the spreadsheets and reports.’

Travel industry executives should know the business from top to bottom

I’m a firm believer that those in travel industry executive jobs shouldn’t generate a sense of superiority. Yes, you may have worked your way up to that role – but if you’ve got a good team, you should respect them, from junior sales staff to fellow managers.

Most of us are in the travel industry because we love travel. It’s a unique industry, with many different aspects. We should always keep in touch with that core love for the product: travel. Here at Progressive Travel Recruitment, we recruit across travel and hospitality for roles from specialist tour operators and agents to airline staff and technology jobs in hospitality companies. Each sector needs to fill executive travel roles, too. These often take special skill and specialist headhunting to get the placement right.

Of course, one of the main things to do before you hire your executive travel director or CEO-level role is to define the job. Once you’ve got that clearly set out, and a specialist executive travel recruiter has provided you with good executive candidates, you need to interview. To gauge the sort of person you’re interviewing, ask what the candidate did in certain situations – rather than what they would do in imaginary situations. This way, you can find out if they’re willing to step up in difficult times. Another good idea is to ask the executive candidate to describe how they had to change their behaviour to get something done in a previous job. This could be winning round the board, or getting their hands dirty on the shop floor.

Of course, you don’t want senior staff continually jumping in every time there’s a problem. But if you’re seeking candidates for travel industry executive jobs, understanding if they’re a team player who gets the workings of the whole business is key.

Don’t be swayed by charm when hiring for travel industry executive jobs

It’s also worth knowing that according to an article in the Harvard Business Review, there is a large disconnect between what boards think makes the perfect CEO and what qualities actually lead to high performance. The unhelpful stereotype which assumes that a successful CEO is a tall, white, charming man with an impressive degree, at the top of his career, often leads to poor hires.

For this reason, leadership advisors at US company ghSmart plus a group of academic analysts and economists have set up the CEO Genome Project, to discover what attributes actually make the best CEOs. You can even take their short quiz to see if you’re a leader made of the right material to be successful.

Successful CEOs in travel and elsewhere show 4 key attributes

What their study of 17,000 CEOs found was that there are 4 key characteristics that make a good business leader. The findings smashed a few stereotypes, for example that it’s extroverts who make good leaders. Instead, introverts are slightly more likely to impress boards and investors with the best results. They also learned that nearly all CEO candidates had made major career-changing mistakes: 45% had been so serious it had ended their job or cost the business significantly. Yet, more than 78% of that 45% actually went on to win another top job. The other big shocker was that education didn’t correlate with success at CEO level at all. And another surprise – confidence didn’t lead to success for the company, yet was more likely to result in being given the job.

The big find was that 4 key attributes are the key indicators of executive level success.

These are:

1 Making decisions with speed and conviction – fast decisions often lead to more success than those pondered for a long time.
2 The ability to engage well with key stakeholders and keep them onside with decisions meant less friction.
3 Adaptability – adjusting when things in the business change and spending more time considering the future than the present.
4 Delivering reliably

There’s no one-size-fits-all for a good CEO, however. And attributes such as integrity and a good work ethic are obviously important, too. But they’re not the most important indicators of success. However, they will lead to the team around them being happier at work. And that team is important – another key part of being a good senior manager is putting the right team in place quickly.

So, if you’re hiring for travel industry executive jobs, don’t get too swayed by qualifications and charm. Make sure you dig down to find out how the candidate has performed in previous management roles, and how well they understand the travel business they are entering from top to bottom.

To select the very best top-tier candidates for travel industry executive jobs, connect with Progressive Travel Recruitment Owner-Director James Roberts on LinkedIn here >

For more details on the 4 attributes of good CEOs read the Harvard Business Article here >