Travel industry employees who find themselves furloughed should use this time to hone their skills ready for the bounce back.

A Travel Weekly COVID-19 webcast this week heard from former Saga head of tour operations Jeanette Linfoot, who said staff being laid off must use the time to prepare for business returning.

Many travel firms are furloughing the majority of their staff as bookings have dried up due to the severe travel restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Furloughed staff remain on the pay roll with the government offering 80% of wages up to £2,500 a month. They cannot provide any service for their employer, but can undertake training.

Linfoot said: “If you are someone who has been furloughed or, worst case, in a redundancy scenario while you are at home take that opportunity to keep yourself current, educate yourself and broaden your skills as much as possible.

“There’s lots of free online content in all areas today and that is an advantage. The more you can upskill, even if you’re not doing your day to day job for the company will stand you in the best position possible going back into a role or may be a new business going forward.

Chris Photi, partner at White Hart Associates, agreed. “If you are a travel employee who has been furloughed use the time to upskill yourself, maybe in touch typing or Excel.

“There’s loads of things you can do that will benefit you as individuals and also the businesses that you work for.”

Linfoot said firms that can retain talent in their businesses will also be primed to take advantage of the bounce back when it comes.

“Training talent is a really high priority, so while you have to make those tough choices as a business owner you also want to make sure you have those good people who are there when you need them.

“Those businesses that treat their customers well and manage to retain talent in their business, or bring talent in quickly when they can afford to do so again, will be the winners.”