lunes, 28 de octubre de 2013

Designing the Next Decade of Hospitality Industry - Odette Romero (3rd Semester Bachelor´s Degree in Hotel Management)

Odette Romero
3rd Semester Bachelor´s Degree in Hotel Management

Where’s tourism headed during the following decade? During the past decade tourism grew in an impressive way, it’s one of the most important economic sectors in the world today. It has been estimated that tourism itself grew by 5% during the first eight months of 2013, compared to the same period of 2012, reaching 747 million, at this rate by 2030 the projection is a 3.8% increase per year. “While global economic growth is in low gear, international tourism continues to produce above average results in most world regions, offering vital opportunities for employment and local economies,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai at the Opening of the European Tourism Forum in Vilnius However a decade is a small short span for a big change to be made. Some changes are happening in the way tourists travel. Be it in the form of arriving to their final destinations, their motives or by the benefits offered by hotels in activities and luxury. The tourism industry is also taking action, to create awareness in the need of being sustainable, offering their customers different options to fill their needs. Last of all people nowadays expect more for their money’s worth, they are looking for long lasting experiences. As we may notice, being part of the industry today is more of a challenge than what it was before, and that challenge will only continue to rise, demanding an improvement.

Countries have noticed the benefits of tourism in their GDP’s and in their employment percentage. Also investors look for locations where they may create a place similar to paradise, this is shown by a trend which has marked the sector for many years, were tourism is growing by a 6% in emerging economy destinations, while advanced economies have grown by 4%. 20 years ago only the people who had money had the chance to go on vacations to another country. Today with the creation of cheap airlines, they offer customers low cost flights, giving families a chance to go away for weekend getaways. China and Russia increased their tourism expenditure, China has ranked top of the list since they are a growing economy and they have fewer restrictions on foreign travel, the other countries which remain in the list show an increase in their tourism expenditure, except for France and Italy whom showed a decrease. Their growth in the tourism demand, make people to expect quality in the service and location, for them being surprised is more than just a simple meal.

Due to noticeable climate changes, people are aware that a change in their lifestyles has to be made, in order to continue enjoying of the world we live in. Just as the people see it, the tourism industry is taking part of the change, focusing on sustainability, creating design and service options offered to the customers, giving them a reason to feel good about themselves while enjoying their trip. They ensure that the destination retains and enhances the distinctive attributes that makes it attractive to tourism, by offering an emotionally intelligent approach to service that begins with empathy. Hotels take careful consideration of the effects that operating systems, materials, and purchasing policies have on the environment, therefore they are continually developing new initiatives and procedures to minimize the ecological impact. They try to make a difference by using programs in place to conserve energy, re-use water and re-cycle waste materials produced by resorts. Although it might generate a greater cost for the hotels, therefore increasing the final bill, people are willing to pay for the service to help out the environment.

As the industry continues to grow, expectations rise, people are looking for experiences rather than simply getting to know the place. The industry is conscious of that, therefore hotels to keep up, without investing a lot of money, renovate their decoration, offer a better service for free, whatever small change that makes a huge difference. Also the motives to travel have changed, generating segmentation in tourism. Who would’ve imagined that going on a Safari to Africa, would become as one of the must live experiences one has to encounter, or flying across the globe simply to race in a sports event. Hotels are signing contracts with famous chefs, just to hold exclusivity of the brand inside their premises. Food has also brought tourism along the way, be it for gastronomical excursions or simply to take cooking classes from your favorite chef. Design is the economic power in Italy, and people travel all the way to Milan, pay off the rack prices to stay at hotels during fashion week and settimana del mobile, the same happens in France. Architecture has always played a strong role in tourism, that’s why people go to Egypt, to see the pyramids, to Dubai, to see amazing constructions, such as the Burj Khalifa and the Burj Al Arab, to Malaysia to see the Petronas, to France to see the Eiffel Tower, Italy to the Coliseum, the duomos and Vatican City. Therefore hotels know that they play an important role, to host the guests, so to retain their customers for future visits they have to go the extra mile. That way they also create loyalty since they know that a happy customer is a returning customer.

Tourism is for sure changing and it’s changing for good. Demand has made the industry try harder, creating new experiences, offering better services, new locations to explore, better installations, all to satisfy the customer. Some parts of the world suffer an economic crisis; however they know that to maintain themselves afloat, tourism has to be taken care of. It’s where their countries receive money from; luckily tourism will continue to grow. Transportation has made it easier for people to travel and technology shows them what is out there, what they have to live and experience. However with changes comes, a higher competitiveness. Being students right now may be seen as an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on how we see the market. It’s an advantage since we are living the changes, we are noticing the growing demands and where we may stand out in the outer world. However it´s a disadvantage because we have to work harder, to keep up and go ahead of what the industry is expecting of us, surprise them. That´s why I believe that doing the internships we are required and working in our free extra time gives us an advantage and gives us the tools to practice what we’ve learned in school. Therefore when we finish this journey and we graduate, we may graduate as the best, because we have seen what is expected in a future and we know we have to anticipate to future demands.