In recent months this has changed. Email has been coming in from start-ups and younger companies desperate for talent and advice on where to find new hires/recruits. I think this says an interesting thing about the state of the online travel industry. In 2006 there were companies to build and ideas to finance. Now there are small sites moving from beta to full launch, gaining traffic and scale, and big sites fighting for growth and pressing for market expansion. Both need people, good people, lots of good people to fire up the furnaces and keep the engines roaring.
Let me give you an example. I was talking by email with Marcus Cent from ibooking , a small (but he tells me) profitable online reservation technology provider. I don't know much about ibooking but Marcus wrote asking me the following
"[Dear Tim, I am] trying to find a resource where I may be able to find an experienced director level person who may have the right experience to help us with future growth. I was wondering if there was something online that would allow a company like us to find someone that may have had previous experience of high level travel/tourism and have good industry contacts that may be looking for a new challenge."This is typical of the "help wanted" email that I am receiving. Here is an edited (and updated) version of what I said in return
"Everyone is short of people and looking for them. I don't know specifics about the your market but imagine it is similar to this trend. If you are looking for targeted recruitment sites you can and should try some of the recruitment networks like Linkedin and the hospitality specific WIWIH (though WIWIH has not yet achieved sufficient scale to be a big difference maker). If you want to go people hunting I suggest trawling for names in Linkedin and cold calling or attending every conference you can find with a stack of business cards and plenty of beer money.Unfortunately this is not silver bullet advice. It is does not provide an easy to follow guide to finding staff. I predict that talent hunting is going to become the number on growth constraint for online travel in 2008 despite what idiot government ministers in Australia might say.
If you are looking for board level or advisor help (not full time operational staff) then this level of support is best provided for my an investment company (ie alongside cash!). Firstly because they have a significant interest in the success of the company and secondly because their network is wider in hunting for talent for you. If you are not looking to tie this board level person to a capital injection (or need this person to help with the capital raising) then things become complicated (but not impossible). In this case the perfect candidate for you is someone who has already made their killing in online travel but is too young or invigorated to stop working. You should build a list of all of the ex-Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, Priceline, Lastminute, Bookings/Activehotels, Yahoo Travel, Opodo etc execs you can think of (or track down on Linkedin) and start "stalking" them - finding out what they are up to and interested in. Then pitch at them."
thanks to "Darth Dragon" for the photo care of Flickr
UPDATE: if I needed any further proof about this story, it arrived moments ago. Exactly 2 minutes after pressing the "Publish Post" button on this story I received an email from a high profile online company I wont name asking for help in the search for a European MD. Maybe I need to set up a BOOT Job Board...?