Pinpoint Travel puts together exciting holiday packages and sends its employees all over the world – sounds like the perfect place to work. Janette Davie, the company's General Manager, talks about her job and why interns from Southern Cross University are there to stay.
Pinpoint Travel is a travel wholesaler so we contract worldwide products. We turn them into holiday programs that are then sold to travel agents. I'm in charge of a small team of people who put these programs together.
I work with really, really nice people who have very positive attitudes.
Because there's a large operational side to this business, there are always things that must be done in a short space of time. This means it can be very stressful.
I think there has been a misconception that jobs in this industry aren't well paid, but my feeling right now is that they do pay a reasonable salary for what you do. Junior levels are still quite low, as they are in most places, but because of the skills shortage, if you're a team leader or manager, you're likely to be paid quite well, as employers want to encourage you to stay at the company.
We don't have a high staff turnover. Most of our staff members stay five, six or seven years. However, because we're a very flat organisation, there aren't a lot of growth opportunities, so people move on at that time.
I think we retain our staff because we're very good at pastoral care. We've got people who've left and come back to us as many as three times over the course of their careers, because we take an interest in each individual employee. That's a really important part of management. I think that most managers are very focused on the bottom line and stakeholder interests, but one of the most important considerations is staff you have to give them as much consideration and time as the financial parts of the business.
I was invited to join the Southern Cross University Advisory Board, and as part of that I became familiar with their tertiary program and the availability of interns. I'd also taken students from TAFE and other colleges who had approached us. I have developed a relationship with a couple of colleges, so I go out and lecture at those places and, in turn, some of their students say they'd like to work with us. I've always had an interest in the educational side of our industry because there's not enough of a bridge between what students are taught in tertiary institutions and the skills employers like them to have.
Sadly, I don't take interns on every year, because some years we don't have enough growth. The Southern Cross program means that you can take several students on at the same time, so you have to be confident enough of good growth to do so. We're not a very big company, but one year I took seven interns and the next year I took five. The year after that, the Bali bombings happened and I wasn't in a position to take on growth. But since then I have easily taken on another 12 or 15 as they become available from various organisations.
The Southern Cross interns are people who need to work in the industry to complete their degrees, so their application to the work is very good. They come from a regional university so they have a good work ethic. The students are also very grateful to have an opportunity to work in the city. Good workers are crucial to running a good business. When a student comes to work with us for six months, we pay them a normal, junior level salary and our expectation of them is that they'll learn quickly and contribute to the organisation.
I hope they get an idea of what's it's like to work for people who are good managers, managers who care about their staff, who encourage and motivate them, and try to get the best out of them. We're able to get so much back out of staff who feel they are treated well. Hopefully they perpetuate this when they become team leaders and managers.
So far, we have offered permanent employment to all but one of them. That's the whole idea; you spend six months training students and they like working for you, and so you keep them on as permanent employees.
We try to match the interns' skills to different duties. People who are gregarious and have good multitasking skills go on the phones, doing straightforward reservations. We look for a couple with good attention to detail and put them into operations, and we always look for a few who go into our product area, where they need good concentration skills and need to be very accurate. We try to put the interns in the places they fit best.
I've had two that are great. One of them is now a junior product manager for Hawaii and the other is a team leader in our reservations team. I would consider them two really important members of our team. They succeeded because they stayed long enough to pick up the relevant skills, and because they had a university background – they had the application to learn and get used to the job quite quickly.
I don't take a lot of holidays but I do get to travel for work all the time. I'm very lucky; I've been to Fiji three times this year, and I've also been to Hawaii this year. I travel all over. Tomorrow I'm going to Fiji because we're contracting. We'll speak to 60 of the hoteliers there. Another one of our team members is heading to North America tomorrow, someone else is in Canada at the moment and another employee will go to Thailand in two weeks for a travel show to meet all the Thai hoteliers. Everybody's on the move, we're very fortunate.