Does the evolving state of the Hospitality, Travel and Tourism industry require a new set of skills? What can hospitality professionals do to be future-ready?
Two hundred twenty million jobs lost in 2020. In the hospitality and tourism sectors alone, one hundred million jobs were lost in 2020. (UN World Tourism Organization). The hospitality industry has hit the hardest, and many around the globe faced mass layoffs and furloughs. Many hospitality students who were to start internships during the summer were suddenly empty-handed, similarly to recent graduates losing an opportunity or postponing start dates. Even though demand probably won't return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023, the hospitality industry-relevant and performance are slowly improving. It will be one of the main drivers for the upturn in the global economy and recovery of the labour markets.
What can recently unemployed or graduating hospitality professionals do in the meantime?
The industry is changing; tourists' and guests' expectations are evolving. It means more people and new skills are needed. Whether it's soft, complex, and digital skills, the next generation of hoteliers must be equipped to utilize and adapt to innovative technologies when serving new and returning customers. Staff and skill shortages are becoming more acute, as well. During this pandemic, technology and digitalisation trends accelerated. From virtual reality, contactless solutions to robotisation, the overall digital customer experience is connected via smartphones. That said, Gen Z hoteliers, when they start their careers in the industry, will explore new opportunities and angles that go beyond the typical traditional models. As technology will continue to be an integral part of hospitality, a basic understanding of technology, data visualization, data analytics, and digital optimization will redesign the current hospitality management curriculum. These skill programs will prepare recent graduates for entry-level positions. Current management is up to speed for operational success. We will see new vocabulary and procedures like "clinically clean" and "sanitized cleaning" updated as part of health and safety programs. Social media will play a huge role once borders open and travel restrictions lifted. Interactions, recommendations, and digital advertising will help bring in tourists.
In addition to this, attending to customer needs and services will be more in demand. Hospitality leaders need to have interpersonal skills like empathy, leadership, adaptability, and flexibility other soft skills in the face of uncertainty. Today we see a hospitality educational curriculum focused on analytics, financial, digital, and sustainability skills.
What future jobs we see in the hospitality industry are AI, automation, robotics, and sustainability. We already know the automation and AI in groceries, call centres, and warehouses to reduce workplace density and cope with the surge of demand. We already see it in various hospitality avenues such as virtual live-streamed events, cloud kitchens, Connie (the Hilton Robot Concierge), chatbots, interactive hotel rooms (AR travel guides), and more.
Illustration of what skills are required for jobs in the hospitality industry
With the rising in fragility and changes in values are examined and measured to increase resilience. New skillsets requirements can be derived and incorporated into future curriculum. The hospitality programs will help the industry adapt, reimagine, and create a post-COVID-world solution.
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