Growing your travel business always includes challenges. And in a
job market flush with candidates, all clamoring for attention, one
of the most difficult can be finding and hiring the best for your
Taking a strategic approach and seeking professional help can
make the hiring process easier and more effective.
Finding The Person
First, start with a clearly defined, detailed job
“Know what you want before you interview,” advises Laurie Dea
Owyang, a human resources expert with Los Angeles-based
Humanasaurus. The basic format is simple: job title, reporting
relationships, job summary and specific responsibilities. Also,
quantify the minimum experience and qualifications that candidates
would need for the job, as well as the credentials that you would
prefer them to have.
Now you’re ready to start searching. The best way: target your
Place ads in trade publications and on industry-related Web
sites to attract people already working in the industry or
interested in it. Ask other travel professionals for referrals and
attend events to scout for prospective employees.
This mix of recruitment methods allows you to create a broad
pool of likely candidates.
(A reminder: As you’re narrowing the field, remember to hang
onto information about people who impress or interest you. They may
not be the right hire this time but, next time around, you can try
to recruit them.)
The Correct Questions
Interviews allow you to evaluate the applicant’s qualifications
and potential fit in the agency. And you will improve your chances
of selecting the right employee if you ask the right questions.
“Go beyond questions that can be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no,’
” Owyang says. She suggests such fundamental questions as: Why do
you want to work here? What can you contribute? What do you hope to
learn here? Tell me about a challenge you faced at your last job
and how you handled it.
“Let the applicant do most of the talking while you do most of
the listening,” Owyang continues. Be sure to give the candidate an
opportunity to answer fully, she said, adding, “Most people
including/especially interviewers are not comfortable with silence
and therefore rush to fill in the void.”
However, be aware that some questions are illegal. In general,
state and federal laws bar questions about race, religion,
disabilities, marital status or sexual orientation.
Nor can you approach the topic of national origin cavalierly. If
you’re concerned about immigration status, routinely ask applicants
if they are legally authorized to work in the country on a
full-time basis. Do not ask if he or she is a native-born
To be sure you’re staying within the law, you can run questions
by your attorney or seek professional help before beginning the
Checking Them Out
One you’ve identified a couple of solid prospects, it’s time to
check them out with other people.
“Past performance is the best indicator of future success,”
Owyang says. Of course, a candidate’s listed references probably
won’t have anything negative to say or may be bound by company
policy to do little more than verify employment.
If you obtain the proper release beforehand, your background
checks may include criminal, credit and DMV records, although
Owyang recommends a professional source like Infolink if you want
to be thorough.
The Final Step
If your prospect checks out, it’s time to make the offer. At
this point you can be as formal or informal as you like, but most
attorneys and human resource experts suggest a written offer that
clearly outlines the terms.
You do not need a written employment contract, though they can
be used to establish such details as grounds for termination or
A word to the wise: Any time you put a deal in writing, it’s
best to check with your attorney to make sure you’re not promising
things you can’t deliver.
Following these steps and using your lawyer’s advice will make
hiring the best and brightest easier.
" Making promises you can’t keep: Don’t do it. Be as honest as
possible about a job.
A court may consider inflated descriptions of job
responsibilities or a promise of future advancement to be a
contract and try to hold you to it. And in any event, you want to
avoid the hassle and expense of court proceedings if at all
" Judging an applicant unfairly: You should judge applicants
only on characteristics directly related to the job. If you don’t,
you may find yourself on the wrong end of a discrimination
" Asking about disabilities or medical conditions: Depending on
what you ask and how you ask it, you could be treading on shaky
The best guideline is the simplest: Ask about abilities, not
" Getting too personal: Remember, you only need limited
information, if any, about an applicant’s private life. Don’t
forget that you’re conducting an interview, not a social
conversation with a neighbor or friend.