TUI Group’s Employer Brand Journey

WRITTEN BY: Jörgen Sundberg

For companies with diverse global footprints, attracting and retaining the right kind of talent at each location can be a tricky problem to tackle.

Imagine trying to strategically plan and execute an employer brand for the world’s largest travel and tourism company with 67,000 employees and 1,600 travel agencies around the world. How do you keep a consistent employer brand in so many locations?

We speak to Sybille Reiß, Head of HR at TUI Deutschland, to understand the employer branding tactics her team has put in place to elevate TUI as an attractive business to work for, and a market leader in the industry.

Have a listen to the interview below, keep reading for a summary and be sure to subscribe to the Employer Branding Podcast.

What’s TUI Group?

TUI is the world’s biggest tourism company, and we thought that this brand is big enough to cover everything that is TUI-like in the world of tourism. It was previously known as Thomson in the UK.

So whenever you think about going on a holiday, you do this with TUI.

  • We have our own sites
  • We have our own shops
  • We have 1,600 travel agencies for instance
  • We have more than 300 hotels in our assets
  • We have 16 cruise ships
  • We have six touristic airlines with around 150 aircraft

This is pretty unique. So whatever you do for your holidays, you can do so within our value chain.

What impact does this have on culture?

The corporate culture is based on the TUI values. The T stands for Trusted, the U stands for Unique, and I stands for Inspired.

  • So what we do is trusted. The customers trust in us that the journey they can get with us is safe. We want to have trust because, otherwise, we can’t reflect it to our customers
  • Unique is what you can get from TUI, you can’t get anywhere else because we have own assets. We want to be unique, so we are not only a one-off
  • Inspired come from selling to our customers the best time of the year. This needs to be inspiring, otherwise, you would probably stay at home. We want to get the people working for us to inspire the customers.

We are a diverse group of people working across different groups, 67,000 people working in different fields of tourism. We are a diverse group, but we are all trusted, unique and inspiring. This is how we want to attract new people working for TUI.

What are your talent attraction challenges?

Our market is changing fast. So the cloud systems, artificial intelligence, blockchain and mobile our CEO is talking about is absolutely real. The job I was given to come up with one consistent employer brand is such a challenge because we need to reflect the dynamic changes he wants to make.

We need to make it clear we’re looking for people that probably haven’t thought of entering a tourism company to work for and to offer a clear benefit.

So to answer the question, why should I work for TUI? This is a challenge because some people have in their mind working for TUI is in a travel agency or at a destination. But this is not how it is working for TUI, so there are a lot of very appealing jobs in the background people haven’t thought about. That was the biggest talent challenge I was faced with, and to come up with only one campaign for all these different and diverse people.

What is your best source of hire?

The careers website we have is very well-known, so most people thinking of joining us use that. But what we have also noticed that word-of-mouth is another channel that is very successful, so talking about how it is working at TUI and how interesting and different it is.

On top of that, because we’re now facing the challenge of identifying new potentials from the IT technical, analytical, and digital side, active sourcing is becoming much more important to us.

We do active sourcing on different channels whether this is LinkedIn or Facebook. We approach our potential applicants. We don’t wait because we know those generations X, Y and Z are more passive, they are not looking for the next job. They’re quite demanding so why should they change or come to TUI? And this is something we have noticed, and that’s why we do much more active sourcing than we used to do in the past.

What is the EVP of TUI?

  • So we’re number one.
  • We’re defining the future of travel.
  • We would never copy the competition. We can prove that because we’re the global market leader.
  • We have top products, we have a groundbreaking sustainability strategy, “Better holiday, better world,” and we’re constantly in the process of change.
  • We have an international network of job opportunities and a vast variety of jobs. So from IT in the headquarters to a wrap on site in the destination.

So there is a lot you can get that you can’t get anywhere else.

What are your EVP pillars?

We have three pillars,; define the future, do whatever you can, and then develop because you have the opportunity to.

  1. So firstly it is defining the future of travel.
  2. So that you have the opportunity to create whatever you do that is the number one in the tourism sector, and that you have the opportunity to develop your role because we are so fastly changing.
  3. Which means that you can move on and have the opportunity to develop into different international jobs if you want to.

So we know whatever we do, it is of course, the product as well as the people. So the people makes us number one.

How do you communicate and activate this?

The new employer branding campaign was first rolled out in the German market. We don’t start with one employer branding campaign at once, we look where we can pilot it. So we started with the German market and we focused on digital communication. We have different social media channels where we started with LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, websites, etc… and it was accompanied by classic marketing communication and public relation activities.

This is what is most important. Whatever we do externally, we also bring to life internally. So whatever we do on the outside, whatever we shout out, we do so to our people’s environment.

For example, if you have a length of service with us, whether this is 10 or 20 years, we have a letter we sent to them via the board, and we do this in the new employer branding communication template.

I personally speak to people, when people have their anniversary or birthday. We sent, of course, little notes in this campaign format. So whatever we do in attracting others, we try to attract and to raise the engagement level with our internal people even by the little things like a birthday card.

What hard lessons can you share with us?

A hard lesson is to be given such a project to do for 67,000 people and think it is quite easy or quick to come up with one consensus. So what I’ve learned throughout that period of time is to ask all the experts.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not only HR who are experts in recruitment or employer brand, it’s our management team and our people working for us to identify, A, what are our needs, where we want to be in the future, but where we are today. I thought we’re much quicker so I came up with a timeline that was much shorter than this.

But if I have to give some tips to employer brand managers, I would say to them:

“Be brave to get started, be different, be unique, have greater days. But at the same time, listen carefully, and not only to HR experts but to the business. And then be determined.”

For example, we had an external company work with us, who are experts in market research. So we gave the job to them and said, “Please research a diverse group candidates from at least three European countries and one abroad.” So they got this tested in the UK, in Germany, in Sweden, and in America, based on different target groups, so young people just graduating, young professionals and people who think about changing their jobs after 10 or even more years of service with their current company.

How do you track ROI on employer brand?

We thought a very long time about how to measure the return on investment. We came up with what is so important for us on the product side, and that is conversion. So we measure the clicks from a job ad and who really applied for this job. So conversion right from clicks and the job ad that leads to an application.

Secondly, we measure visitors at our career site, and at the same time followers at media sites.

If I look into the future, what I would like to do more is to measure the success also internally in terms of engagement levels.

How often do you conduct employee surveys?

We just decided to do our annual survey on a bi-yearly basis. So every second year, we ask a full survey questionnaire to our people worldwide.

In the year in between, we thought we’d have just a pulse survey. So to understand, “Okay, where are you today?” and do this over the cycle of the year, measuring what people are thinking of, our strategies and where we are with the engagement activities.

We also look at employer review sites, Kununu is quite big. We like that people who fill out the Kununu or Glassdoor questionnaires are quite happy on the one side and critical on the other side. But what is most important to me as an HR person is that they don’t seem to be attracted from the external market, because entering the company is a totally different experience.

What other companies inspire you in terms of employer brand?

So what I look at the most is the mobility sector, what I mean with that is the automotive industry of the past. So if I look at Tesla but also Mercedes-Benz, they focus on mobility and what they could do differently to make people more mobile, not only selling their own cars. This shows me, they are also like TUI as a market leader thinking totally differently, so not only how to attract people, but also how to be future-oriented.

This is a challenge for us, the demands of our customers change rapidly, people not dreaming of one hotel, one destination, and a one week holiday:

  • They would like to go 10 days.
  • They would like to do an excursion, which is absolutely unique, then entering a very little boutique hotel before they’re going home, but this time not by flight, by our aircraft.
  • They would like to go home by our cruise ship, so totally different.

This is what TUI also can get to the customers, it’s not only the commodity, it’s having a unique experience with us during their best time of the year.

What’s next for employer brand in general and specifically for TUI?

I think the most important aspect of future employer branding activities is to predict the future. So what I see is employer branding can’t be local. Even though we are talking sometimes not about the global player, but to attract people from not only the one source market but internationally is so important.

So the global aspect of employer branding to measure the correct KPIs as I say. If you have a good employer branding campaign that is good outside, measure whether this is also good from an internal perspective.

What I felt, because my history also is in recruitment, that we need to embrace candidate personas, it’s no longer only a skillset that you need to hire or you want to hire, it’s much more about the cultural fits to find out whether good people have the right mindset and if they fit to the company they should work for. Not about looking at surveys, identifying gaps or experts, it’s much more about the characteristics of a persona, of people, which definitely will play a more important role. And then bringing employer branding to life also internally, and have a good onboarding process so that people are not disappointed when they enter our company within the first days and weeks.

Connect with Sybille on LinkedIn.


Our newsletter is exclusively curated by our CEO, Jörgen Sundberg, for leaders who make decisions about talent. Subscribe for updates on The Employer Branding Podcast, new articles, eBooks, research and events we’re working on.


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