5 opportunities to maintain momentum in the Colleague Experience in 2021 and beyond

Katherine - 19 th May 2021

2020 and 2021 have been some of the most challenging times for both employers and colleagues in recent years, faced with worries over both Brexit and Covid-19.

The travel and tourism industry has been devastated, hopefully only temporarily, leaving customers frustrated, worried, often out of pocket and low on sunshine-induced Vitamin D. But what about the all important colleagues who were facilitating travel and tourism pre-Covid-19 pandemic? Where are the opportunities to maintain momentum in 2021 and beyond? Let’s explore the 5 RE-s…


This is where employers will benefit hugely from engaging with their colleagues across the business to help them see the journey they are on; where they are now and where they are trying to get to. With that, they need to know the right behaviours and actions to get there. The quotation, “If you take care of your people, your people will take care of your customers, and your business will take care of itself” from JW Marriott has never been more appropriate, especially for the travel and tourism industry. Marriott International have an initiative called TakeCare which is the commitment to making colleagues’ workplaces environments where emotional, physical and financial needs matter. To support this, they have a Playbook full of ‘actionable ideas to help build an inspired and aligned team.'[1]


The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that brands, colleagues and customers in every sector have become physically and emotionally disconnected. It is time now to re-connect the all-important dots; internal departments must work collaboratively once more with the aim of better connecting colleagues to customers and to the critical brand touchpoints. This won’t always be easy and it may require a big internal change but brands that do will reap the rewards. Travel and tourism brands could look to McDonald’s restaurants who ensure collaboration and empathy for others by training staff in multiple roles across the business and by encouraging management to conduct mystery shops in other stores. This helps colleagues put themselves in the shoes of the customer, thus helping them to analyse their own performances from an external perspective.


Teams of colleagues who have been disengaged from customers may be suffering from the latest Covid-19 buzzword, ‘languishing’ (i.e. a failure to make progress and be successful) and who can blame them? …But a hopeful return to some sort of normality means now is the time to put the spark back into business and get everyone realigned behind the brand vision and show them the progress towards its delivery, making them proud once again to be part of the team. The now all too familiar Zoom brand, whose vision is ‘Video communications empowering people to accomplish more’ defines its culture as ‘delivering happiness.’[2] In alignment with this, it ‘deploys a 100-strong “happiness crew,” formed of volunteers from within its business, to bring together 2,000 employees spread across eight countries. The crew hosts digital social events, celebrates employees and introduces distributed departments and offices to one another on a regular basis, with face-to-face video chats and themed meetings.[3] These people keep colleagues’ motivation up and keep them inspired by the brand and their day to day delivery of it to remote customers.


All good colleagues need to be adequately enabled with tools, techniques and training in order to feel empowered over the customer experience they deliver. Brands ignore front of house teams at their peril. By upskilling these colleagues, brands maximise their knowledge to improve the customer experience. We have recently introduced semiotics training to help our front of house clients at Parkdean Resorts to not only look, but to see, smell, feel, hear and taste what the customer experiences at their holiday parks. By truly putting yourself in your customer’s shoes at every stage of the customer experience in such detail, brands will be able to identify pain points and allow those critical front of house teams to be part of the team that builds effective solutions.


And finally, brands must never forget what made them famous. This is easy to do in uncertain and tough times but by staying true to your brand and aligning it consistently across both colleague and customer experiences, will reap benefits both financially and emotionally.

Travel and Tourism has been one of the worst affected industries during this pandemic and the words of American writer and philosopher Maya Angelou ring out: “People will forget what you said, they will forget what you did but they will never forget how you made them feel.” When the world starts moving again, those brands that have invested in, cared for, engaged and inspired their people, will surely bounce back quicker than those who have not.

[1]Marriott. 2021
[2] Zoom. 2021
[3] Forbes. 2019

As a Senior CX Strategist, Katherine enjoys moderating research and facilitating collaborative workshops to provide clients with essential insight for the development of their brands. Previous management roles at McDonald’s and Marks & Spencer mean that Katherine’s passion and expertise is rooted in retail and hospitality. 
Find out more about Katherine