Les Roches had the honor of hosting its inaugural International Forum in Madrid on 30th June 2016. Dedicated to the topic, “Trends and Talent for a More Competitive Spanish Tourism Economy,” the event invited international tourism experts and educational leaders to share their views on new tourism trends and the importance of innovation in hospitality education.
From the sharing economy and digital platforms to flexibility and personalization, the world of hospitality and tourism is in constant evolution. At the International Forum, a recurring theme was the impact of technology on tourism. “Information technology has revolutionized tourism,” said Marta Blanco Quesada, General Director of Turespaña. “Digital tourists have access to information before, during and after the trip, and now they also like to share their experiences.”
Social networks have become inextricably linked to how tourists plan their trips. “Today it’s unusual to make any kind of touristic purchase without interacting with social networks,” pointed out Les Roches Marbella CEO Carlos Díez de Lastra. In addition, digital travelers frequently make purchases on-the-go thanks to mobile technology, which is “the preferred channel for reserving complementary activities,” according to SEGITTUR president Antonio López de Ávila.
Technology has also created new ways of traveling. Many tech-savvy millennials are familiar with sharing-economy platforms like AirBnb and BlaBlaCar. As well as competitive pricing, these services offer tourists a feeling of authenticity. Chema González, strategic director of apartment rental platform BeMate, explained: [quote]We want to travel to places and live there in a way that’s as local as the locals.[/quote] And these new forms of travel often depend on trust, as pointed out by Jaime Rodriguez, BlaBlaCar Country Manager for Spain and Portugal: Trust is what is enabling sharing-economy companies to develop as fast as they are.
What does this mean for the future of hospitality — and hospitality education? World Tourism Organization Secretary General Taleb D. Rifai said he believes that entrepreneurship is fundamental, and education must focus on preparing future leaders: “We need to keep in mind that education and tourism are two forces that can make this world a better place.”
Truly innovative education can propel change in the tourism industry. As Díez de la Lastra stressed, [quote]The heart of the evolution of tourism lies in education. The transformation of the workforce is key to creating understanding between traditional hospitality businesses and new forms of tourism. Companies will only survive in the new digital era by managing with a sense of urgency.[/quote]
Given the rapidly changing landscape of hospitality, it’s clear that education needs to prepare students who can adapt quickly and thrive. [quote]In the next 10 years, the hospitality industry will need qualified professionals to fill 80 million new jobs, especially in emerging destinations,[/quote] said Les Roches Worldwide CEO Sonia Tatar, “New generations will have up to 14 job opportunities before the age of 35. Our goal is to train outstanding students who are prepared to act almost from day one in all areas, responding in this way to a sector that evolves incredibly fast.”
For hospitality students, it’s an exciting moment to be entering the industry. With the right preparation and an entrepreneurial mindset, those aspiring to a career in hospitality can look forward to a bright future.
Les Roches International Forum 2016 on the news:
– ‘Les Roches insiste en la formación para los directivos hoteleros’, El Mundo
– ‘La ‘nueva ola’ del turismo: experiencias personalizadas, más urbanas y más colaborativas’, 20 Minutos