Gary Reichenberg Gary Reichenberg

View from across the ditch

The founder and director of Australian independently owned travel management company, Connections Group says weathering the storm of the past two years will mean nothing if the industry can’t attract a high calibre of employee to now help in what could be the sector’s busiest period on record.

Gary Reichenberg says this is the case on both sides of the Tasman. His own company has 100 staff around Australia servicing business, leisure, meetings, events and incentive travel. His team is fielding an almost unprecedented level of enquiries across the company’s brands of CT Connections, Executive Edge Travel and Totem Group.

He made the decision early when the impact of Covid was first realised that there would be no redundancies or stand downs on his watch. Despite pressure and stress, he is happy the right decision was made.

He lost some good people who transitioned to other industries that were deemed safe. However, he has been able to retain his senior leadership team and a vast majority of his pre-Covid-19 workforce.

‘I’ve since spoken to some of our past employees asking if they would like to come back and they’re just not ready to make that move in case there is another Covid strain,’ he says.

‘Now, with the volumes of enquiries we are experiencing, we need those people back.’

Reichenberg says the problem is two-fold: The first is the uncertainty about whether there could be a return once more to travel restrictions and lockdowns. Personally, he doesn’t believe that will happen.

The second is financial. The travel industry has never been big on remuneration.

‘People who have worked in the industry have known that and they’ve accepted that. But now some have had a taste of how much they can be paid working in other sectors and they’re making a conscious decision to continue to do that, even though they would prefer not to.’

Reichenberg says what Covid has done is reaffirmed the need for a ‘people first’ mantra.

‘We live by our purpose statement - that we enrich lives through human connection and the power of travel. Now we need more passionate people to help us achieve those goals.’

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