NewsHow key are tech savvy employees to a travel company's success?This article was originally published onBy Viewpoints | September 15, 2016 It is often the case today that a tour operator of less than ten people feels like it simply does not have the capacity to hire someone to manage its technology system.The truth of it is there is an “all hands on deck” need for the entire team to be focused on selling product and therefore senior players don’t see, or have the time to explore, the value in hiring someone based on their technical skills.The truth of it is there is an “all hands on deck” need for the entire team to be focused on selling product and therefore senior players don’t see, or have the time to explore, the value in hiring someone based on their technical skills.NB: This a viewpoint from Carl Morgan, managing director of Tigerbay.I am concerned that this is not only an outdated approach, but also a costly mistake, and one which will become more so, as other travel players and new kids on the block do make investments in tech-savvy teams.Fresh thinking is needed when hiring new talent in 2016 and beyond. If high performing websites and apps are crucial to the success of a business, then how can it afford not to embrace those people who best understand how to make the most of the technology?In an age when a niche operator’s website and digital presence has to be at least as good as the biggest tour operator – easy to find, visually impactful, simple to navigate and to make bookings on – it has to stay a step ahead of the pack.‘Digital literacy’ (internet enabled device knowledge) and ‘technology literacy’ (how to work with suppliers of technology) are crucial. Understanding the digital universe, keeping up with audience browsing and buying trends, following Google and SEO changes, design aesthetic and more is key.Therefore hiring someone with ‘literacy’ is every bit as important as hiring for their tour operator know-how.Smaller businesses can no longer afford to think that by outsourcing their technology they don’t have to worry about its upkeep. They need to think more broadly about the sort of person they are looking to hire; someone who, on the one hand, is tech savvy and understands how tour operator product sells online but, on the other hand, also understands the tour operating business and its traditions.There is no doubt that this is a new breed of employee; a person who has not traditionally been seen to fit into the tour operator mould. Quite often they are more expensive to employ. However, tour operators need to seek out these hybrid team players if they are going to embrace and maximise all the benefits tech suppliers offer. They need to understand that just because someone is not necessarily a natural fit it doesn’t mean they are not the right fit.I think tour operators should be going out of their way to find individuals they might not normally consider; individuals who are far more at home behind a screen than they are in front of a customer, who understand User Acceptance Testing (UAT), and apps and even gamification…Because when they do they will reap financial reward. Hiring these people is not just about looking after technology; it is about adding significant sales and significant revenue opportunities. And these benefits come without any real change to a tour operators business other than using its technology platform more smartly and more to the benefit of the business.I estimate that a small tour operator needs to spend, as a minimum, 10% of its time on managing its tech strategy – pushing it harder, selling via mobile and apps – each week. Time dedicated to technology by someone who totally understands what they are doing.Very few small operators are doing that at the moment. This is a shame. I have personal evidence that businesses which do manage and push their technology see real conversions in sales and efficiencies which easily realise an uplift in revenue of 35%.So, just imagine how quickly a niche player could find themselves ahead of the pack if they were to be more tech minded in their hiring. That could be the difference between surviving or not, and in an increasingly competitive market, I think that is a pretty compelling reason to look outside the norm!NB: This a viewpoint from Carl Morgan, managing director of Tigerbay.NB2: Tech recruitment image via Rawpixel.com for BigStockPhoto.