UAE travel agencies are hiring, ups salaries for experience – Gulf News

An experienced travel agent can pull in Dh18k given the current demand
Dubai: UAE’s traditional travel agencies are back to hiring for entry- to mid-level roles as the sector recovers in full from a two-year pandemic. Candidates who also have had experience with online travel portals are also valued in the new demand cycle.
While there is enough demand in the market, many of the experienced staff have moved on to other careers after the initial job cuts of 2020.
ATS Travel, which mostly focuses on corporate travel, had to slash its workforce to around 80 from 250 during the pandemic. The company, which has offices in UAE and Saudi Arabia, is now struggling to build back its staff numbers.
Unfortunately, we have not been able to get them back because most of them have gone into other industries – we had to let go of some really good staff and finding it challenging to get the right talent from the market
– Saleem Sharif, Deputy Managing Director at ATS Travel
ATS is looking to fill a range of roles, right from travel consultants to C-level executives. “We signed with a recruitment firm which is helping us source talent, mostly from the Subcontinent,” said Sharif. “We are looking for travel consultants, who will be client-facing, as well as some c-level executives to drive our business verticals.”
Salaries are a “little” better than 2019 levels and ATS has considered giving a hike to employees, said Sharif, who adds the firm, which has a niche client base, already offers salaries on the higher end of industry expectations. A ticketing staff starts with around Dh9,000 and can earn up to Dh17,000.
For some travel firms, offering higher pay scales is not an option yet because profit margins have not returned closer to 2019 levels yet. Abu Dhabi-based Omeir Travel agency is hiring freshers and training them from scratch. “We are bringing in new blood into the industry, but training can be time-consuming,” said Mohammed Halabi, Executive Director at Omeir Travel Agency. “As training goes on, there’s a lot of pressure on our existing staff as we continue to serve the same number of clients.”
Another UAE-based travel management firm said it plans to take in around 4-6 consultants every month, without specifying a time period. One of the agents told Gulf News that the company is poaching senior-level staff from rival firms by offering a better pay package.
The company’s entry-level consultants have a basic pay of Dh7,000 and, including incentives, employees can draw around Dh12,000-Dh13,000. Even the training period has been slashed from six months to just a month, said the source, adding that companies expect consultants to take up more work for around the same pay. “They have less staff, so they expect you to do a lot of work, and there wouldn’t be much of a hike since businesses are not profitable yet.”
For those looking to enter the industry, knowledge of airline global distribution systems (GDS) – used to book and sell tickets for various airlines – is essential. “Every travel management firm has its own tools and platforms, but GDS knowledge is the key factor,” said a travel agent. “They should know some background on airlines too, like their codes.”
Industry sources also said knowing the latest Covid protocols helps on the job. Although restrictions have been relaxed to a great extent, there are some markets that are still fully or partially closed. “When a customer is making plans to fly to another country, there’s a certain degree of uncertainty and that’s where the travel agent jumps in with their knowledge of the market,” said another travel agent.

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