Attracting and retaining the right staff

Attracting and retaining the right staff has emerged as a key issue for tourism operators due to the high staff turnover rate in comparison to other industries. While those working in the industry understand the scope and diversity of tourism career pathways, there's an incorrect perception that the tourism industry offers only transitional employment with little opportunity for career progression.

Tourism operators and employers have a role to play in breaking that perception by fostering talented tourism professionals and providing clear career paths for those working in the industry.

Recruiting new team members is an exciting but time-consuming task. Not taking the time to do it properly however, can result in even more downtime going through the whole process again. Staff turnover in the industry is estimated to be about 50 percent and it can cost up to 20 percent of payroll.

There are a range of programs and services in Victoria to help you find the right staff for your tourism business:

  • People Excellence is one of the modules under Tourism Excellence that provides tourism operators with advice and information about human resource management. One of the myths attached to keeping staff happy is that it's all about money. Study after study has proven that while remuneration is important, other factors such as job satisfaction, a positive working environment and work/life balance are actually more important to employees. People Excellence has a whole section dedicated to staff retention and developing career paths.
  • Job Services Australia (JSA) provides access to free recruitment advice and support through your local JSA provider. There are more than 2000 JSA providers in Australia that can connect you with staff in your local area to meet your recruitment needs. You may also be eligible to claim Government wage and training subsidies.
  • The Victorian Training Guarantee (VTG) provides government subsidised training for your staff to help meet the skills shortages within your business. The VTG is available for businesses looking to train staff into supervisory or management roles to take their business to the next level.
  • The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) is closely aligned with the Victorian Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) and delivers an extensive range of human resources courses to help businesses build, motivate and retain an effective workforce.
  • The Australian Tourism Accreditation Program (ATAP) offers online modules in human resources and staff development to help you provide rewarding career pathways for your employees.
  • Victoria has a network of Learn Local organisations offering a range of training options that can reward your employees with a nationally recognised qualification. Training can be tailored to your workplace skills requirements, and government subsidies are available.

Building local networks

Building local networks is a great way to share ideas and get insights from other tourism operators in your region who understand the local industry and issues faced with staff recruitment and retention.

  • The Melbourne Tourism Leadership Program is delivered in some Victorian regions and aims to give people with a demonstrated interest in tourism the opportunity to grow as leaders. The program is delivered by local destination marketing agencies, and is an excellent opportunity for tourism operators to network with other operators in the region.

Business mentoring

While no one knows your business better than you do, an external business mentor can be a valuable asset. Mentoring will help you to get on the right track so you can take your business forward in a clear direction. Mentors offer pragmatic, real-world and totally independent suggestions which are detailed in an Action Plan following each meeting.

Mentors can:

  • identify business issues that may impact overall performance
  • assist you with applications for financing
  • determine the strength and viability of a business proposal
  • review pricing and costing
  • build sales and help you to find new customers

The Victorian Government offers a number of programs that provide practical advice, guidance and support to small business operators:

  • Operated by Small Business Victoria, the Small Business Bus visits Melbourne and regional Victoria as a 'travelling office on wheels' offering friendly, professional assistance from an information officer, and expert advice from an experienced business mentor. Visit the Small Business Events Calendar to book your session.
  • Improve your business or new business proposal using a mentor from the Small Business Mentoring Service who've helped thousands of Victorian's achieve their business goals.

Programs and awards

Tourism Excellence Program

The Tourism Excellence Program has been designed to help tourism businesses and destinations:

  • get the best from their workforce
  • deliver the best possible visitor experience
  • grow tourism by working together
  • ensure a sustainable industry

The program offers Victoria's tourism industry an opportunity to distinguish itself by focusing on seven key areas that collectively contribute to the complete tourism experience.

The Victorian Tourism Awards 

The Victorian Tourism Awards are held annually to recognise the achievements and contributions of Victorian tourism businesses.