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Hays Travel, which bought Thomas Cook after it collapsed, has announced plans to hire an extra 1,500 staff.

The travel agent has already taken on 2,330 former Thomas Cook employees.

But now Hays plans to hire another 200 people at its head office in Sunderland, an extra 500 to handle foreign exchange, and an apprentice at each of its 737 branches.

The move has been seen as a vote of confidence in the package holiday market.

Hays took on all of Thomas Cook’s 555 shops in October after the travel agent spectacularly collapsed earlier this year.

Since then it has reopened 450 of those stores and hired a lot of its old staff.

But now it is expanding further.

John Hays, who runs the travel agent with his wife Irene, said: “We’re further increasing staffing to ensure we have the highest customer service levels across all of our stores and our head office functions.”

He said applicants didn’t need experience in the sector “just an enthusiasm for travel”.

The hiring spree will take Hays’ workforce to 5,700 people.

“The former Thomas Cook managers have said the biggest difference for them is being empowered and valued – as an independent travel agent they are not tied to certain products or scripts and they feel trusted,” Mr Hays said.

“This is a key principle of our business.”

It is the latest sign of renewed confidence in the package holiday business.

Earlier this week, EasyJet announced plans to relaunch its own package holiday operation in a bid to fill the gap in the market left by Thomas Cook.

About 20 million people fly with EasyJet to Europe annually but only 500,000 book accommodation through it.

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