HR Tech Vertical Zoom-In: The demand for talent in tourism

Workathlon - creating a digital frontline experience to rebuild the hospitality workforce.


Tourism is the economic sector with the most significant potential to generate future growth and employment in the EU. According to Statista, in 2019 the total number of jobs contributed by travel and tourism in Europe reached roughly 38.5 million, and decreased to 35 million in 2020, due to the pandemic.

The latest research from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) shows Europe’s Travel & Tourism sector’s year-on-year recovery may achieve a growth of 23.9% this year. The data also reveals that the sector's contribution to the European economy could see a further year-on-year rise of 38%, representing an increase of €439 billion.

The pandemic has offered a unique opportunity for change, providing a chance for tourism industry stakeholders and popular destinations to reassess their priorities and create a transformative and regenerative vision for the sector.

Technology can play a big role in improving the experience of employers, a mindset that is at the heart of the Workathlon platform. 30% of organizations are expected to adopt AI-based solutions for HR, a jump from 17% in 2020. According to a recent PwC survey, 74% of companies will increase their spending on HR technology, with a clear focus on talent acquisition tools.

2021 has seen as much VC investment as 2018, 2019, and 2020 combined.

In 2021, investors have poured €1.9 billion into European HR tech startups, surpassing last year’s heights of €711.4 million by 144%, according to PitchBook data. HR tech has been in the spotlight as the global shift to remote or hybrid working has transformed the way HR operates—be it hiring, training, or building corporate cultures.

Key HRTech Vertical Trends

  • Learning: Fast-changing tech and consumerized user demands have been a challenge for companies, with a focus on the need to upskill and reskill talents. Some interesting emerging learning tech providers funded in 2021: 360Learning ($200M), Degreed ($153M), Codeboxx ($2M), Sirius Education ($1M).
  • Talent tech marketplaces: two-sided marketplaces have led the market in industry and job-type specialization, the closest thing to consumer tech in the space. They’re usually the first to focus on new work models (e.g., freelance / vertical /contingent) and, they are looked to first to expand recruiting reach and deliver more diverse candidate pools. With the adoption of new techs like AI and matching, some interesting emerging job marketplaces funded in 2021: jobandtalent ($718M), Andela ($200M), Mom Project ($80M), Multiverse ($44M).
  • Benefits & Payroll: Benefits and the closely aligned subcategory of payroll have seen significant innovation and growth capital to support them this year. Mental wellbeing as a benefit garnered significant interest from corporates, investors and tech providers. In payroll, innovations abound in global payroll data management, PEO as a platform, API as a product, on-demand pay, and more. Some emerging payroll and benefits providers funded in 2021: Remote ($150M), Oyster ($70M), Lyra Health ($380M), Sorbet ($21M).

Active HRTech Opportunity: Workathlon****

As a talent tech marketplace, with €220.000 in Annual Revenue in 2021, Workathlon is creating a digital frontline experience to rebuild the hospitality workforce. The HRTech SaaS platform counts over 390 hospitality players (mainly from Greece and Cyprus), engaging with over 60,000 candidates.

"There is a multitude of reasons why we’re betting on Workathlon and the team is definitely among the important ones. We’ve met Workathlon founder Katerina Santikou at a startups event more than half a year ago and we’ve had countless meetings since. She has an excellent education and the perfect background (second-generation hotelier) for this job.

Apart from the founding team, we strongly believe in their business model and the potential of the markets where they intend to expand. Workathlon is a solid startup, certified by the due diligence we’ve made, and shown by the analysis of a bigger VC fund that we want to have onboard for the next financing round." said Liviu Munteanu, Partner Founders Bridge, lead-investor in Workathlon's current campaign.

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By Bianca Iulia Simion

PublishedJanuary 17, 2022

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