In the dynamic world of the tourism industry, the challenge of attracting and retaining employees—not only the top talent—stands as a persistent hurdle. This sector demands a workforce that is skilled, committed, adaptable, and ready to invest in customers as their own personas. Employer branding could be used as a strategy to address these employment challenges.

Author: Johanna Heinonen

Employer Branding in Tourism

The tourism industry is a significant employer in Finland, yet it struggles with workforce recruitment and retention. Challenges stem from irregular working hours due to the sector’s seasonality and low wages that prompt experienced employees to seek better-paying jobs in other sectors (Palm 2017). Furthermore, MaRa ry (2023) notes that the transition of over 10,000 workers to other industries after the pandemic highlights the critical role of compensation. The industry also increasingly requires more skilled and educated workers, indicating the need to develop training programs. Enhancing employer branding could be a strategic response to these challenges, helping attract and retain the necessary talent by improving the industry’s appeal as a workplace.

Employer branding is a strategic approach where a company promotes itself as the employer of choice to attract and retain employees. This strategy emphasises creating a positive company image that aligns with its values, culture, and the benefits it offers, aiming to make the company an exceptional place to work (Backhaus & Tikoo 2016). In the tourism industry, employer branding plays several critical roles. It not only helps attract talent by emphasising unique employee benefits like travel discounts and flexible working arrangements, which are particularly appealing given the industry’s seasonal peaks, but it also enhances employee retention by fostering a workplace culture that promotes employee engagement and satisfaction (Wilden, Gudergan & Lings 2010). This is crucial in an industry known for high turnover rates.

A strong employer brand also provides a competitive edge, distinguishing a company from its competitors by highlighting unique aspects such as supportive work environments and professional growth opportunities. This differentiation is vital in the competitive tourism sector. Moreover, a well-crafted employer brand helps build trust and loyalty, not just internally among employees but also externally in the broader market, enhancing customer experiences and fostering brand loyalty through direct interactions between employees and customers (Foster, Punjaisri & Cheng 2010).

Effective strategies for employer branding in tourism include developing a clear value proposition that articulates what makes the company unique as an employer and ensuring this message is consistently communicated (Lievens & Highhouse 2003). Engagement through social media allows companies to showcase their culture and environment, which helps attract potential employees. Emphasising employee development through training and career progression opportunities attracts those eager to grow. Promoting a diverse and inclusive culture enhances the company’s appeal to a broader range of job candidates, enriching the organisational culture. These efforts collectively strengthen the employer brand, turning employment challenges into opportunities for growth and competitive advantage in the tourism industry.

Education to support branding

Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS), like LAB, are vital players in bolstering the employer branding of the tourism industry. This sector faces significant challenges in attracting and retaining skilled professionals. By closely aligning their educational offerings with the needs of the tourism industry, these institutions are perfectly poised to enhance the sector’s appeal to potential employees. Integrating technical skills with essential soft skills, such as adaptability, cultural sensitivity, and customer service excellence, are crucial for success in tourism. Through partnerships with tourism companies, specialised programs could be developed to meet industry standards and offer students valuable internship opportunities, embedding them within the culture of potential employers and thereby strengthening employer branding (e.g. Fernandes & Amante 2022).

Further, enhancing its role, LAB could (if not already doing so) offer continuing education and professional development courses tailored to the latest trends in the tourism industry, including digital marketing, sustainable practices, and leadership skills. These opportunities foster an environment of continuous learning and professional growth, making tourism companies more attractive to existing and prospective employees by promoting them as leaders in professional development and innovation (Dwyer et al. 2019).

Moreover, UASs help promote the employer brands of their industry partners through collaborative projects and joint research, as well as public seminars that showcase innovative practices within the tourism sector. These activities highlight the companies’ commitment to cutting-edge practices and sustainability and position them as desirable employers within an industry valued for its dynamic and progressive opportunities.

Through ongoing dialogue and collaboration between academia and industry, Finnish universities of applied sciences ensure that the tourism sector is perceived as an exciting and rewarding field. This strategic educational support helps transform recruitment challenges into opportunities for growth, enhancing the overall attractiveness of the industry as a career destination and contributing positively to the broader economy.


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Johanna Heinonen is a Senior Lecturer at LAB University of Applied Sciences. She is particularly passionate about studying how digital tools and applications could be used more efficiently. She is also very interested in different ways of communication, leadership, and motivational factors. Her PhD about co-creational elements of caring in chat-based customer service encounters will be published in September 2024.

Illustration: (StockSnap, Pixabay License)

Published 24.5.2024

Reference to this article

Heinonen, J. 2024. Elevating Employer Branding as a Solution for the Tourism Industry. LAB Pro. Cited and the date of citation. Available at