The Future of the Hospitality Industry Post COVID

Future of learning

That the COVID pandemic has been the most challenging crisis since the Second World War is now long established. The world is still reeling from it, and it’s far from over. One of the worst-hit industries has been the hospitality industry – and its ancillaries like aviation and tourism. And while people are starting to travel, the ongoing restrictions have made it difficult for the industry to set up a prognosis for revival. In India alone, the tourism industry, valued at around $28 billion, has come to a screeching halt since the imposition of lockdown.

The UN World Tourism Organization estimates that during the lockdown, 75 million jobs were at risk worldwide, which corresponds to an expected 20-30% decline in international tourist flows. As per the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH), it was estimated that around 70 percent out of a total estimated workforce of 5.5 crores (direct and indirect) could get unemployed, nearing around 3.8 crores. For the domestic industry, the summers which are the key months for the hospitality industry were estimated to be completely wiped out to the extent of the losses cutting upwards of 40 percent.

Future of the hospitality industry post COVID

Coping with fear

For the industry, even after travel rules are relaxed, it is the lingering fear that will hinder its recovery. Hotels, for instance, will have to assuage that fear by making transparent policies about their hygiene and sanitation procedures. The nature of advertising and marketing in the hospitality industry post COVID will undergo a paradigm shift. Ocean-view or pool-side sounds great but consumers will also want to know how often are the employees tested and if there are temperature checks along with metal detectors at the entrance. In addition to disinfecting, a doctor on call and offering wellness programs could also help the industry cope with the fear.

Another sense of dread that is impeding the growth of the industry is the anxiety around finance. Stringent lockdown and social distancing measures threw a humongous spanner in the economy of nations at large and people’s spending patterns. With jobs being at stake and medical expenses on the rise, it is natural that people, especially from middle and lower income groups, will cut down on their travel budgets. At the moment, especially in countries like India where the pandemic is not completely under control, most of the industry has adopted a wait-and-see approach. But it has also sparked a discussion to figure out how the travel/ hospitality industry can adapt to this scenario and sustain themselves, despite the crunch. Each player will have to figure that a balance that takes into account both safety and the economic viability of their operations.

Lockdown fatigue

Besides the fear, mother set of emotions that might work to the advantage of the industry is lockdown fatigue. Most of us are tired of being cooped inside and are itching to get way, whether it is nearby shorter trips or longer vacations. In 2020, Preferred Hotels and Resorts conducted survey on global future travel. With over 4,000 participants, the outcome of the survey showed a clear positive attitude towards future travel plans.

  • 75% of respondents plan to travel with family, to make up for the time spent apart.
  • Over 50% of the respondents plan to book a trip as soon as restrictions are lifted.
  • More than 80% are willing to travel by air.
  • Over 40% want to travel to another continent.

This attitude is the hope for the industry. Low-cost, safe travel options will become  top priority. Most predictions point out that budget-friendly safe travel will pull the industry out of its current stagnation.

A career in hospitality

How to start a career in hospitality? While hiring in hotels and other travel-related business might have come down at the moment, the industry will bounce back, having modified itself to fit the needs of the post-pandemic world. This means that institutions that provide hotel management or other hospitality-centric curricula will have to adapt itself.

  • The need for soft-skills, listening skills, leadership, time management, research and analysis will be on the rise.
  • If you are considering it as a career choice, then you will have to prepare yourself to work under crisis modes.
  • Cleaning and sanitisation will become a core subject.
  • Any technology that can improve the efficiency of contact-less services will be grabbed by the hospitality industry, whether it is customer service or food preparation.
  • Any technology that can add to the safety of its customers will also be absorbed.
  • Besides the traditional options associated with the industry, innovation will become the core requirement when it bounces back. Ideally, you could use this time to update your skill-sets so that you can contribute something unique and meaningful when the doors of hotels and travel open again.
  • A certificate in disaster management or COVID protocols and management could make you stand apart among other candidates.
  • Adaptability and critical thinking will be more essential than ever.
  • You will need to ask yourself how you can contribute to responsible and sustainable travel practices.

Health, hygiene and safety

The hospitality industry is in the process of re-building itself around the core ideas of health, hygiene and safety. The changes in lifestyle seen in everyday life will also need to be reflected here. As new challenges are faced, graduates in the field will have more opportunities to pick up new skills, health and hygiene protocols, people skills and so on.  How the pandemic will change the face of the industry as we know it, we will have to wait and watch.

Read also our article about Jobs Landscape Post-COVID.

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