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'We are fishing in a very small pond'

Schumm said while the most important contributor to Hays’ growth over the past 10 years had been its staff, the biggest challenge it now faced was recruiting high calibre agents to staff new stores.

 

“The pool of quality travel agents is very different to what it was 10 years ago,” said Schumm. “People have left the industry. We are fishing in a very small pond. We’ve had to change our recruitment [and] have faith in our recruitment team and shop managers.”

 

This faith has seen Hays stores turn to “bright, smiley and passionate” - often younger - applicants without previous experience but with a strong grasp of the digital world.

 

It has employed more than 300 young people through a government-approved apprenticeship scheme, and has 60 people on its travel academy programme.

 

“These people come from sales backgrounds,” said Schumm. “They have a passion for it. We put them on a six-month programme, give them all the tools they need and then place them in a shop with a strong manager and sales team.”

 

Schumm added Hays’ “multi-channel” approach to digital - embracing Facebook, developing new backend systems such as its iSell and Know Your Customer platforms and innovation by, and integration with, Hays Travel Tour Operating - put Hays “at the forefront” in terms of using new technology.

 

“John has a saying: ‘The web is our friend’,” said Schumm. “I think our growth is due, in part, to us using these tools. Hays Travel has the right mix of high street and digital.

 

“Our staff and head office have embraced tech - the digital world is really key for us. We’ve been able to combine that with personal service.”

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