When is a travel recruitment consultancy like the football transfer season?

No, it’s not the start of a bad joke. As a huge football fan, gearing up for the start of the new season this week, it struck me that the intrigues and discussions of football transfer season (in full swing until hours before the first kick-off) have a lot of parallels with the workings of a travel recruitment consultancy.

Think about a football manager or club official who talks about ‘getting recruitment right for the new season’. It’s a direct comparison to what we do here at Progressive Travel Recruitment. A football manager doesn’t want to waste millions on transfer fees for a player who isn’t suitable for their club. Likewise, a client – a travel company – wants to be sure they’re getting an excellent new employee for their investment.

If the football manager – or travel company hiring manager – is wise, they’ll spend a little to get the best result. But we also know that offering the highest price doesn’t necessarily secure the best candidate. We take time researching the companies we work with and the candidates we place, because for a successful match to take place, both sides need to be happy. They need to fit. We filter candidates and proactively source (scout, if you like) people to make sure our clients get their recruitment right.

How to secure successful new talent and avoid costly mistakes

It’s well publicised that Manchester United has spent hundreds of millions on players in the past few years who haven’t been successful. As a result, they’re talking about specifically hiring a Head of Recruitment or Director of Football to avoid those costly mistakes. This might take some pressure off the manager, which may prove a successful strategy. A good travel recruitment consultancy has that role for their travel company clients – taking the hiring stress away. There’s more to hiring the right candidate than poaching the best and most expensive from another company. You need to look for potential, good fit, a person’s motives. This is our area of expertise.

I’m reminded of when Man U were at their height, and they gave away a little-known French player – Paul Pogba – to Juventus. He went on to prove a brilliant freebie, and Manchester United ended up buying him back for £100 million. But he then didn’t perform as well for them as he had for Juventus. As we say, a good fit is very important.

Clubs also talk about finding players with the ‘right character’ – they don’t want a primadonna who might be disruptive. For example, Marko Arnautovic at West Ham United was a top scorer last season, but is being sold as he was such a negative influence within the club. Talented but tricky personalities are a difficult problem to deal with both in football and in recruitment. Someone may be charismatic and clever, but if they make everyone around them miserable, then it’s unlikely they’re a good hire. In our travel recruitment consultancy, we develop relationships with candidates throughout the process of finding them a suitable role, as well as having a database of people that we trust and a network of contacts within the travel industry. We don’t just nab someone who looks shiny and exciting without researching them further.

How to manage the managers

Football transfer season isn’t just about players – it’s a time for manager swaps, too. Likewise, we’re always ready and waiting to discuss executive level positions. At this level, executive search really kicks in – and our inside knowledge of how the whole field – sorry, travel industry – works, is critical.

Potential vs proven skills

Another dilemma all clubs have is whether to bring in a proven player or to concentrate on developing young talent. We’re advocates of both – it’s rare that only one route works for a whole team or business. Potential is as good a quality as a track record, in many cases. We can help companies get that balance by understanding their business and using our expertise to recommend what would work best in each case and what is realistic for them. Remember when Leicester won the Premiership with two previous unknowns as key players? Kanté and Mahrez became highly rated stars during Leicester’s brilliant season. They were both sold on for high sums to Chelsea and Manchester City, respectively.

But what about when things go awry? One big fail of this pre-season transfer window has been Gareth Bale. Until very recently, Bale was set to go and make mega bucks in China, disappointing fans who thought he was only moving for the cash when he was offered a million pounds a week. But at the last minute, Real Madrid has refused to release him as they’re not convinced the deal was going to work out profitably enough for them – and also an injury to a fellow striker may have left them in the lurch. The moral of this one isn’t yet clear, but it could be that greed is rarely a good motivator. Real Madrid hasn’t had a great relationship with Bale so far, so we shall see what this season brings.

Football recruitment is player driven – as travel recruitment is candidate driven. Every football club wants a striker who will guarantee 25 goals a season, or to find the next teenage prodigy destined to play for the top clubs. The same is true of travel companies that want candidates who will be outstanding in their new role, hitting the ground running, or to develop the next bright travel industry talent. The best place to start is with a reputable travel recruitment consultancy. We’re proven in sourcing the right candidates for companies of any size, nationally and internationally at every level. It’s all about experience.

Connect with Simon Hurst Grover on LinkedIn to debate the ins and outs of the footy season or to engage with him about travel recruitment.