Returning to work in hospitality, travel and leisure

ComebacktoHTL is a collaboration across the hospitality, travel and leisure industry aimed at helping returners back to work.

woman looking at office buildings


ComebacktoHTL is a new initiative to bring people who have taken a career break back into the hospitality, travel and leisure. spoke to Tea Colaianni, founder and chair of WiH2020, the organisation behind it.

How did the returner programme come about and why is it needed?

Tea Colaianni: ComebacktoHTL is an initiative led by WiH2020 with the support of a number of well known employers across hospitality, travel and leisure. Our industry attracts incredibly high numbers of female employees at entry level. However, we seem to be losing talented, passionate female leaders, in particular after they take a career break, typically to look after their family. WiH2020 was created to increase female representation and diversity as a whole at senior level across the sector and launching the first ever cross-industry returners programme is a key initiative to start attracting women who have experience in the industry and are passionate about working in hospitality, travel and leisure back into our sector.

What challenges have you faced in putting it together?

TC: Resources to fund diversity programmes in our industry are very limited. We applied for government funds to help us put together what we consider to be a ground-breaking collaboration initiative across the sector. Although we were shortlisted, unfortunately we did not receive a grant. That has slowed us down a little, but WiH2020, a number of highly committed employers, our key partners and have worked collaboratively together with the support of UKHospitality, the hospitality trade association, to create the first ever cross-industry returners programme that will start with two workshops, one on the 25th of June and one on the 2nd of October.

In addition to the challenge of having to raise funds to make this programme happen, we are working incredibly hard to reach people who might be interested to come back to work in hospitality, travel and leisure. We are using a variety of different channels to spread the word about the programme and are learning every day about what works and what doesn’t.

Have you learnt from the experience of other similar returner programmes?

TC: Returner programmes are being launched in various sectors with a varying degree of success. We are talking to similar organisations and sharing learnings. We are fully aware it will take time to make sure we pitch the programme at the right level and we provide a great experience for all who participate. We have partnered with a number of leading organisations like PwC, My Family Care and the Springboard Consultancy. They all have great experience to share with us and are supporting us on our journey.

How many people will take part in the June workshop?

TC: We expect around 30 people to participate in the 25th of June workshop and, hopefully, more in the 2nd of October one.

Who are you looking to attract?

TC: We are looking for people who might have had experience in hospitality, travel and leisure or a related sector, who might have had a career break for whatever reason, they might be carers, or mums who have been looking after their family, or they might be more experienced individuals who are finding it hard (because of their age) to get back into work after a break. They all have one thing in common and that is they are keen to get back into the industry. We are also focusing on women who might be on maternity leave and might be considering whether they should return to their job or staying in the industry as well as women who might be about to go on maternity leave as we can support them as they prepare for their life’s change and seek to identify ways of balancing work and life.

What can they expect from the day?

TC: The day is packed with interactive sessions with speakers who are all experts in their field. In addition to understanding how returner programmes work, they will receive expert advice on building confidence and a positive image, how to prepare for an interview, coaching on how to have conversations with partners and line managers when help is required and how to negotiate flexible working arrangements. We will have experts on digital skills for those who might have been away from the workforce for a long period of time; a professional photographer will be there to take headshots to add to their LinkedIn profile and we have just secured the participation of an expert who will provide financial advice.

A key component of the programme is the participation of employers who are very supportive of the programme and will be looking to discuss permanent job roles with the returners. Hilton, IHG, easyJet, Compass, Travelodge, Virgin Atlantic, the Casual Dining Group and the Rank Group are some of the employers who will attend the workshop on the 25th of June. It is an incredible line-up of well known organisations with a variety of interesting permanent roles they are making available to returners. These are ‘real’ jobs with support provided for the first six months.

I am very excited about the programme we have put together and believe participants will benefit hugely from attending.

You have another workshop coming up later in the year. Do you plan to make this a regular event?

TC: Subject to demand, we are planning to run at least two workshops per year and we are considering running one outside of London.

Do you plan to create an alumni network?

TC: We are hoping to create a talent pool of returners and to be the place to go to for anybody interested in returning to hospitality, travel and leisure. We have a network of over 50 employers across the sector representing over 1.2 million employees. Once the programme is well established, the opportunities we can offer to returners are really significant.

Will you track the participants’ progress and keep in touch?

TC: We will add anybody who registers with us to our talent pool and share that with our network companies. Anybody who is able to secure a role with one of the WiH2020 employer companies as a result of their participation in one of our workshops will be supported by us for the following six months and will attend our insightful masterclasses. We will measure their engagement throughout that crucial period of time when they return to work and provide coaching through one of our partner companies as well as a peer support network. It is an opportunity not to be missed for anybody who has a passion for hospitality, travel and leisure.

For more information and to apply, click here.

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your Franchise Selection

Click the button below to register your interest with all the franchises in your selection

Request FREE Information Now

Your Franchise Selection

This franchise opportunity has been added to your franchise selection



Click the button below to register your interest with all the franchises in your selection

Request FREE Information Now

You may be interested in these similar franchises