Review Article, J Tourism Res Hospitality Vol: 12 Issue: 1
Antecedents and Contemporary Trends in Tourism and Hotel Management
Rahul Gupta Choudhury*
Department of Business, International Management Institute (IMI), Odisha, India
Received date: 11 August, 2022, Manuscript No. JTRH-22-71687; Editor assigned date: 15 August, 2022, PreQC No. JTRH-22-71687 (PQ); Reviewed date: 29 August, 2022, QC No. JTRH- 22-71687; Revised date: 04 January, 2023, Manuscript No. JTRH-22-71687 (R); Published date: 18 January, 2023, DOI: 10.4172/2324-8807.10001005
Citation: Choudhury RG (2023) Antecedents and Contemporary Trends in Tourism and Hotel Management. J Tourism Res Hospitality 12:1.
The chapter discusses different cases across the world which gives the reader an understanding of how these destinations overcame their challenges and succeeded in establishing themselves as major tourist destinations. It then goes on to discuss the top current trends in the tourism and hospitality industry which started in the pre pandemic days. The choices and taste and preferences of the customer have changed and hence the entire hospitality and tourism industry has to adapt to the changes in the nature of the market demand. The chapter also gives suggestions of how the industry should adapt, change and gear up collectively in order to satisfy the changing customer demands and trends. The strategic actions taken by the industry will determine how well and how fast the industry will be back on its feet once the pandemic recedes.
Hospitality; Tourism; Management; Current trends; Response of the industry; Pandemic
WTO (1993) has defined tourism as: “Tourism encompasses the activities of persons travelling and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year of leisure, business and other purposes”. The UNWTO defines tourists as ‘people who travel to and stay in place outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes not related to the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited’. Some of the most important forms of tourism are ecotourism, cultural tourism, heritage tourism, sustainable tourism, adventure tourism, sports tourism, medical tourism, wild life tourism, religious tourism, etc. According to The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), ecotourism can be defined as ‘responsible travel to natural areas that conserve the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people and involves interpretation and education’. There are other definitions and other names attached, but the common aspect is that the entire travel industry should observe environment friendly practices, support the local communities and protect the natural and cultural heritage of a destination. So, sustainable tourism is all about being sensitive to the requirements of the local people and environment and helping to conserve them for the future. Destructive behavior of tourists and also too many tourists than what the infrastructure of the destination can take only ends up polluting and degrading the place thus preventing future generations from enjoying the beauty of the destination. Cultural tourism is defined as ‘a type of tourism activity in which the visitor’s essential motivation is to learn, discover, experience and consume the tangible and intangible cultural attractions/products in a tourist destination. The elements of cultural tourism may be expanded to include traditions, customs, religion, ceremonies, rituals, the arts, crafts, language, dress, food, architecture and landscaping. Cultural tourism is a part of heritage tourism which is defined by the national trust for historic preservation in the United States as ‘travelling to experience the places, artifacts and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past’. Examples of heritage tourism activities may be like visiting a museum or historic home, eating local food or taking part in a local festival. Heritage sites are meaningful sources of identity and inspiration for communities across the country. Sometimes, they are so popular across the globe that they are able to provide additional financial resources to the government for example, Taj Mahal in India.
The hospitality and travel industry is dominated by business travel and leisure travel or tourism. The nuances of both these two types of travel is obviously different. While the business traveler looks for comfort and efficiencies, the tourist is more interested in the overall experience of his trip. Some of the motivations of these kinds of travelers are escape, relaxation, strengthening family togetherness, wish and self fulfillment, prestige, shopping and social interaction. There are of course many other factors why people travel, but these are the dominant ones. The expectations of the business traveler is quite well known and has been fairly consistent over a period of time. So, the changes required for the business traveler is comparatively easily understood and is also relatively easily implementable. The issue gets complicated when only tourists are considered. They have to be considered as they are the major spenders and also forms a large part of the travel industry today. It must be noted that the physical space of the hotel is one of the most important factors contributing to the overall brand equity of the hotel. The physical space assumes significance because it is the center piece of all imagery used in the visual marketing of the hotel and hence this is mostly the source from which the potential customer makes his assessment of whether the offerings of the hotel are likely to meet his expectations.
Hospitality and travel/tourism are a huge industry and serves as a barometer of the world’s economy. Looking at it from a different perspective, the industry does well when the state of the world economy is healthy and of course, vice versa. A few years back, the economy was booming and so was the hospitality and tourism industry. The industry had crossed the much anticipated trillion dollar mark and everybody thought that there is no looking back from here on. Everything changed quite suddenly, one must add, with the advent of COVID-19 a couple of years back. Along with the deadly disease came restrictions on travel etc. imposed by the government who had no other measure at that point in time to contain the spread of the disease. As a result of this, not only did business travel come down but also leisure travel or tourism related travel. Virtually everybody got affected the entire economy of the world went for a tailspin. In many countries, the question was of lives vs livelihoods. The hospitality and the travel/tourism sector was the worst hit in 2020. International airlines and in many countries, domestic airlines were virtually grounded. Reports (STR, March 2021; CoStar’s hospitality analytics firm) indicate that hotel occupancy rates declined by more than 33% in 2020 and the average daily rate fell by more than 20%. This resulted in decline in revenue per available room going down by more than 50% compared to that of 2019. Hotel profitability, hence, declined by more than 85%. However, the decline has not been uniform across the industry. The hotels operating in the economy range pricing has been affected less compared to the luxury brand of hotels which has been really badly hit. Again, the hotels and places which are more dependent on international visitors for their profitability has been very badly hit, whereas the hotels which has been traditionally dependent on more of domestic or even local travel has not been hit so badly. The economy is likely to take a couple of years to rebound completely hoping that the vaccination programs underway around the world will be able to put a stop to this pandemic and life will be back to normal again. However, it must be remembered that tourism provides many economic and social benefits to the country and it also has social and economic costs. The discussion of this aspect of the tourism industry is beyond the scope of this chapter.
It has to be kept in mind that distressing times are the hotbed of innovation a creative surge not only to find a way out but also to virtually make a new start which will again provide succor and sustenance for a long time to come. Before the pandemic set in, certain trends were already visible in the economy, especially in the hospitality and travel/tourism industry. Some of these trends have solid staying power and is going to influence the industry for a long time to come. All the four segments of the hospitality industry, i.e. food and beverages, travel and tourism, lodging and recreation are going to be affected deeply.
Objectives of the study
The COVID pandemic has no doubt played havoc with the industry in the last couple of years. Although the overall situation seems to have improved, there is no certainty yet as to when life will become normal and as a corollary, when will tourism and travel return to at least the pre pandemic level. Given this situation, this chapter will not venture in to the uncharted waters of the post pandemic situation. According to the author, making predictions about post pandemic situation is not at all worthwhile in this current situation. So, what the author is doing instead is to have a discussion on the observed trends and practices in the tourism and hospitality industry pre pandemic and what is the strategic direction in which the industry is responding to meet the challenge. The strategic actions taken by the various segments of the industry may or may not yield results in the post pandemic era, but it will definitely show the industry the way forward and guide the industry in terms of the strategic direction it should take. Then, before the discussion on current trends and the consequent strategic response of the industry, the chapter aims to gain a perspective on what has happened around the world and how countries or geographic areas have and are continuing to develop as major tourist attractions and destinations for travelers around the world. The different countries across the globe have encountered various challenges in their life cycle, including the pandemic. This discussion will provide the reader with a bird’ eye view of developments in the tourism and hospitality industry and how countries and geographical areas have successfully metamorphosed as a major attraction and destination for international travelers.
This chapter is primarily based on qualitative research. The case has been gleaned from travel and tourism literature over the past couple of decades. The current trends and the strategic response of the industry have been developed by the author by combining materials from current literature and by discussions with knowledgeable experts from the industry. The discussions were unstructured and no structured questionnaire was administered to the experts. This helped the author to have a free flowing discussion where the experts felt free to suggest the strategic responses that the industry should undertake and not necessarily what the industry is currently doing or thinking. However, the author is reasonably certain that these thought processes have a convergence among the experts across the globe.
Cros was one of the first researchers to point out that there exists a natural link between tourism and cultural heritage management . At that stage, the sustainability of cultural heritage tourism was in question and that was more because there was an absence of an established process where elements of both areas can be brought together to identify and actualize the tourism potential of cultural heritage places . Opines that there are no doubts that COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the entire meta market of hospitality and travel/tourism industry. She, however, simultaneously also points out that the travel and tourism industry is also responsible for the spread of the virus across the globe. So, she raises the issue that the role of tourism in modern societies should be reflected upon and discussed . Carried out a book review of “the globalization of tourism and hospitality: A strategic perspective” . The book elucidates that external pressures are bringing in the globalization and the consequent changes in the tourism and hospitality industry. External pressures for globalization are marketing, tourism industry, communication, sustainability, institutional and investment pressures and strategic pressures. The book talks about TALC (Tourism Area Life Cycle) theory. The TALC is a valuable conceptual framework to analyze the evolution and current status of mass tourist resorts. It also highlights some of the trends in this area such as, emerging economic conditions leading to relocation or more expansion in Asia Pacific region. Technology with cashless modes of payment and high touch resonance of personal relationship. Demographics discuss the changing trends in the age profits with elderly population growing at the fastest levels. It also highlights the issue of time, the value of life style and service . Had an interesting discussion on various aspects of the tourism industry. So far, celebrating differences or diversity was important as a reaction to the global forces of standardization sweeping across the world. However, now we are entering an era of radically different world views coming to sharp conflict between each other. Added to this are the internationally mobile student community traversing different countries for higher education. So, the nature of hospitality and tourism is changing in an environment where standardization of globalization is giving way to a celebration of diversity. Consequently, the expectations of the tourists also is changing quite noticeably . Brings in and discusses the interrelationship between hospitality industry and sustainable development. This relationship is very important as the basic resource of tourism is the various components of natural environment and environment has to be protected and preserved. Tourism affects these components of the natural environment both, negatively and positively . Is of the opinion that cultural conservation and heritage tourism has to be balanced as tourism without conservation will be an ecological disaster, whereas only conservation will lead loss of potential business and economic benefits necessary for the country. In a study carried out in Olympia, Greece it was found that service operators almost always underestimated the satisfaction of tourists about the destination and the services provided . However, tourists rated the following factors lower than the providers attraction, prompt service delivery by personnel, food variety, competitive price, tourism trade, product variety and friendliness of shop personnel. Over the past two decades the tourism and hospitality industry has moved in a particular direction which is the exact opposite of current trends . There has been a consolidation of providers and a standardization of service offerings. There was also a movement away from personalized marketing and selling through a network of agents to electronic direct sell. There was also the phenomenon of very high mobility within the tourism and hospitality workforce. Tourism is seen as an activity which generates economic development. However, conventional mass tourism is also associated with negative effects like destruction of ecological systems and loss of cultural heritage. From these circumstances emanates the term sustainable tourism . There is enough skepticism expressed on whether this sustainable tourism or “eco” tourism is just another marketing gimmick and is used more often to hoodwink gullible travelers and tourists. As things stand today, government/corporations and other stakeholders are in a position to appreciate the complexity of the issue at hand. So, it is seen that many countries and corporations are quite responsive to preservation of cultural heritage and ecological systems. Climate change is also taking its toll and the writing on the wall is clear. This movement has all the support from UN and the other related agencies. So denigration and destruction of cultural heritage and ecological systems are being taken quite seriously. Over the past decade or so, we have seen this trend grow and hopefully, sustainable tourism will become a reality everywhere.
In respect of cultural heritage, brings in the notion of cultural appropriation which is very important because there is a thin line between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation . Many tourist areas are affected by this phenomenon. Many a time cultural appropriation takes place in full knowledge of the affected parties and there is very little that they can do about it. So, appropriate safeguards has to be put in place to ensure that cultural heritage is well preserved and does not get appropriated. In an article on tourism education, observed that tourism is not only an economic activity but also has social, political, cultural and environmental impact. So, education on tourism has to be carefully calibrated such that individuals are able to cope with the complex background in which they work .
Now, let us look into and discuss some of the experiences of tourist spots across the world. These cases will help the reader understand and appreciate how they overcame their challenges and went on to become major tourist attractions and a destination for domestic as well as international travelers.
Hungary, Europe: Zoltan Guller, CEO of the Hungarian Tourism Agency (MTU) recently talked to Budapest business journal (2020) on the effect of COVID-19 on tourism business. According to him, the tourism sector in Hungary has been doing excellently, setting new records every year since 2010. This sector accounts for 13% of GDP of Hungary and provides a livelihood for 400,000 people. Tourism is typically a field of small and medium sized enterprises, with around 175,000 businesses operating in the sector accounting for a tenth of the national economy. Then the coronavirus broke out in Hungary. In two months the entire scenario changed completely. It was as if the entire hospitality and tourism industry were on way to extinction. A large number of hotels and spas were temporarily closed, visits to most attractions were suspended and travel arrangement services basically stopped. Very few restaurants were open some of them were open but had to make serious adjustments to their operations. Air traffic also stopped, the borders were closed. The time period and the situation was unprecedented for them and even survival was becoming difficult. So the livelihoods of many families were at stake. A lot of changes in terms of consumer behavior are taking place. The industry is looking up again however, cautiously as the pandemic has not yet receded completely.
Budapest, Europe: Teodora Ban, the head of Budapest's open air theater and the organizer of numerous cultural events tells the Budapest Business journal (2018) how cultural tourism can support local art and reveals how Hungary's image has evolved in the past decades. She believes that Budapest is a cultural metropolis where all generations with all kinds of tastes can find quality programs throughout the four seasons. In 2017, the nights spent by guests at commercial accommodation stepped over 10 million and 80% of the guests were foreigners. The Spring Festival was created four decades ago in order to fill the off season. Now, there is no offseason here. Also, huge events like the FINA world championships, the red bull air race or the programs around August 20 (St. Stephan’s Day) make it sure that the image of Budapest as a center of cultural tourism is recognized internationally. Fortunately, it is not only the hotel developments that are in focus, as happened in the 90’s, but there is an increasing emphasis on the content. Making Hungary attractive is handled at ministry level. Ban highlights the point that The Margitsziget open air theater is 80 years old and there will be celebrations by giving culture to a wider audience. They also planned to create KultPont (culture points) at several spots in the city, including the outer districts, where their plays will be screened on huge monitors. It was being visualized that people can take off their shoes, sit down in the grass and enjoy culture all day long without being interrupted by advertisements, news or actual politics.
Hong Kong, Asia: Li and Raymond observed that The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), formerly Hong kong tourist association, has promoted hong kong as ‘a sophisticated city of skyscrapers and neon lights’ to the global tourism market ever since its first establishment in 1957. Such a marketing strategy mainly focuses on shopping, entertainment, events and modern and westernized attractions. This has been criticized for neglecting the scenic natural beauty and ‘things Chinese’. Heritage tourism, nonetheless, is becoming increasingly popular along with the city’s ever changing cultural landscape. Since the British returned sovereignty to China in 1997, more aspects of the city, ranging from traditional Chinese architecture and colonial style buildings to modern cultural practices, have been marketed to the global community. Such a practice intends to strengthen Hong Kong’s tourist image of ‘east meets west’ and reputation as a ‘city of life’. The major factor contributing to this rise of heritage tourism is the search for nostalgia. During the political and economic turmoil the city experienced after 1997, nostalgia may serve as a major motivating factor for heritage tourism. There are opportunities and constraints for heritage tourism development in Hong Kong. The city’s ever changing cultural landscape highlights the urgent need for heritage conservation. 19 heritage assets has been identified in the Kam Tin area of the new territories. The results suggest there is an increasing interest from both the government and general public in cultivating the city’s heritage resources for tourism. Such an interest offers tremendous opportunities for the industry. To appreciate the opportunities fully, however, appropriate strategies must be adopted in order to reduce the constraints.
Puerto Rico: According to Frances Ryan, The caribbean business plan for the economic development of puerto rico porta caribe, facing the blue caribbean sea, has great tourism development potential. it is part of the objective to diversify the industry beyond San Juan. Many people know San Juan, Puerto Rico's capital and one of the Caribbean's most vibrant cities. The reason why the tourism industry must develop beyond the San Juan metropolitan area Porta Caribe, the island's South region, offers great development potential. About an hour and a half drive south of San Juan, Porta Caribe's natural beauty without the crowds of the larger cities and virgin Caribbean beaches are among the island's best kept secrets. Rich in culture and history. Porta Caribe, featuring 15 municipalities, is perhaps one of the regions’ most representative of Puerto Rico's Latin heritage. Its beauty and historic colonial architecture take visitors back in time. Vast coffee plantations dispersed throughout the region allow visitors the opportunity to experience another dimension of the growing tourism industry. Throughout the southern region. Porta Caribe offers world class fishing excursions, fine dining, golf by the sea at spectacular golf courses and diversified accommodations. Ponce, the region's largest city, is one of Puerto Rico's premier cultural centers and includes many places of interest to visit. Porta del Sol, the south region also needs a strategic tourism plan not only to give a much needed boost to the local economy, but also to leverage all its historical and natural attributes on behalf of the island's overall tourism development. A tourism development plan for Porta Caribe should include spreading the wealth from San Juan to other regions of Puerto Rico.
Jammu and Kashmir, India: Discusses about tourism in India with special reference to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The author is of the opinion that India embraces a particular place in the international hospitality world . Changing trends and demands have led to innovative approaches in hospitality sector. Moreover a blended or a contemporary approach can be seen even at the Luxury heritage hotels that are intent on serving on the traditional and cultural basis. India is renowned for its traditional hospitality services that encompass the whole process from welcoming to seeing off the visitor. Emerging trends in hospitality elaborate some of the traditional services that need to be served with zero defects since the guest experience cannot be undone. In today’s scenario accommodation concept throughout India have become extremely assorted, from cozy stays and peculiar huts to astonishing Luxury heritage villas and maharaja palaces. Travelers are able to visit to Luxury heritage hotels as these properties continues to live out traditional ways, weaving the finer details of historical honor, service and cuisine embedded with the modern demands of comfort like Wi-Fi and air conditioning. Hotels are adapting to innovative operating models by developing contemporary styles of ambiences, décor and service etiquettes that soothes the guests especially foreigners.
Hong Kong and Singapore: Way back in 2003, Yiping Li of University of Hong Kong talked about the contradictions between conservation and change in heritage tourism. He compares the cities of Singapore and Hong Kong which are two geographically small economic powerhouses in Asia. In recent years both cities have been attempting to develop their tourism economies by communicating their unique cultural heritages to global tourists. While heritage culture based tourism practice may help conserve a destination’s cultural heritage, its development accelerates the change of the local society and in the process the authenticity of the cultural heritage of the destination may be lost. Some researchers believe that heritage tourism may help conserve the cultural heritage of a destination, depending on a variety of factors among which government policy and guidance are primary. Arguably, a destination that dedicates maximum efforts to conserving its unique cultural heritage instead of exploiting it for tourism would fail in business terms. On the contrary, a destination with few strategies for cultural heritage conservation but maximum business goals of developing tourism based on its cultural heritage would see the loss of its culture and tradition in the development process. Those scenarios indicate that any efforts to develop heritage tourism will have to deal with a series of challenging issues involving these inherent contradictions. Both Singapore and Hong Kong have recently been attempting to communicate their unique cultural heritages through tourism, in order to attract more inbound travelers. When comparing Singapore and Hong Kong, the parallels between the two are striking. They share a British colonial past and both are geographically small economic powerhouses that represent the finest examples of what a developed Asian economy can achieve. A comparison of the tourism developments of the two cities shows that they both adapted two different paths but arrived at very similar end results.
USA China tourism: Found that there is a rapid growth of tourism in the world's emerging regions led by Asia. So they decided to study the Chinese outbound tourists' service expectations in the United States from the perspective of hospitality and tourism experts. On February 29, 2016, former U.S. President Barack Obama and President Jinping Xi of China launched the 2016 U.S.‐China tourism year, an initiative that aimed to increase travel and tourism between the two countries. Following the 2014 announcement by the United States and China to extend reciprocal visa validity to 10 years, the goals of the Tourism Year were to enhance tourists' experiences and improve intercultural understanding through concerted bilateral and joint marketing efforts (U.S. Department of Commerce, 2016). In 2015, the United States ranked second in the world for international arrivals with 78 million visitors and ranked first for international tourism receipts with a record US$205 billion, up to 6.9% from the previous year. Of those arrivals to the United States, 2.59 million were Chinese, an increase of 18% over 2014, accounting for 3.3% of all international arrivals. In addition, Chinese tourists spent US$30.2 billion while visiting the United States in 2015, making China the number one source market, contributing almost US $83 million per day to the U.S. economy. This spending increased 15% over 2014 and has increased 25% per year since 2004. Although the visitation and expenditure of Chinese tourists in the United States rapidly accelerated over the last decade, the United States received only 2% of the 127.9 million outbound tourist departures from China in 2015 and 10.3% of their US$292 billion global expenditure. Other source markets ahead of the United States attracting Chinese travelers in 2016 consisted of nearby Asian nations for reasons related to time, cost and perceived safety, including Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia. As the Chinese outbound tourism market continues to soar, evidenced in a growing middle class a wider availability and frequency of long haul flights and the emergence of modular online bookings numerous destinations are competing for market share. Independent Chinese travelers increasingly can afford frequent international trips and consider the pursuit of experiences and memories to be of value. With constantly improving English and technology skills, they prefer to design their own itineraries. Given that increasingly sophisticated independent and semi‐independent Chinese travelers are becoming more selective in a destination's offerings and service levels, it is incumbent upon regional service providers and destination marketers to not only understand, but to also operationalize key service and product strategies to meet and exceed Chinese tourists' expectations. Chinese tourists do not seem to show completely contrasting behavior when compared with their Western counterparts, however they do possess characteristics driven by their cultural and socioeconomic roots that were not necessarily captured in previous measurements developed from Western ideologies and philosophies .
Taupo, New Zealand: Geraldine McManus profiles this highly attractive region thus adding fresh life to heritage Taupo which is now the fourth busiest destination for conferences in New Zealand. Tourism is the key driver to the Taupo region's economic development, with 20% of jobs attributable to the industry. Taupo, traditionally a major holiday destination for New Zealanders, has a portfolio of landscape icons steeped in "Kiwi" heritage. Added to the advantage of location in the prime center of the North Island there is the bonus of both summer and winter attractions to draw visitors plus mature tourism investment. Taupo's visitor mix is 80% domestic and 20% international which sets the parameters for marketing. Some newer destinations seeking to attract visitors are working hard to gain the sort of infrastructure that is well developed in Taupo. However competition always drives existing businesses to stay in front, "Competition adds to the vibrancy an edge with a mix of new businesses in town and older operators reinventing with new products and new packaging," says Lee. "Several larger scale developments include the new Kinloch Golf Resort with four world class golf courses and the centennial park raceway development," adding to the solid base of facilities are new and exciting things to do, places to stay and the huge portfolio of events. Catering for business Taupo is now the fourth busiest destination for conferences in New Zealand.
Zulu, South Africa: James Ruggia explored the Zulu Heritage. Then the Zulu story in South Africa becomes a rich, untapped dimension to sell. according to james, nothing is more overlooked by american travelers to south africa than the country's zulu heritage. the sovereign Zulu kingdom is within the South African state of Kwazulu Natal and features culture, beaches, mountains, historic battlefields and game parks. this is the land of shaka zulu, the zulu wars with great britain and the Boer wars it commands a special place in the national legacy of South Africa. "We want to brand Kwazulu Natal as the Zulu Kingdom," says Nomasanto Ndlovu, general manager of marketing. Tom-ism KwaZulu Natal. "It's a brand we believe in because it encloses our very proud heritage. After Nelson Mandela, we believe the Zulus are the biggest icon of South Africa." Much of Zulu legend stems from great battles fought between the Zulus and the Afrikaans Dutch and later with British. Local operators offer tours of many of these battlefields and the Talana Museum at Dimdee is dedicated to the area's history. The coast features seven of the country's 14 blue flag beaches, great surfing off of durban and private game reserves where lions, leopards, water buffalo, elephant and cheetah can be seen in the comfort of top notch game lodges. the drakensbergs, towering basalt cliff faces, are the backdrop for such adventure activities as hiking, horseback riding, trout fishing and mountain biking. Rock paintings by the San people date back 8.000 years and battle cave features some 750 paintings. Because of the phenomenon of apartheid, there's a tendency to see South African history in two parts, but the culture of the Zulu is a strand that runs through South Africa since before the country was born. Says Ndlovu, "There's a strong Zuluness in the story we tell as a people. Many people have died to hand us down this heritage, so we will protect it. We have no choice. It's the fabric of who we are."
Now that we have got an understanding of how tourist spots have in the recent past and are currently gearing them up and preparing to attract tourists from all over the world, let us have a look at the current trends in some detail. This is very important as it will determine the success or failure of tourist spots including the hotels and restaurants in the area. The key to success for any business is to understand the needs of the customers and what is it that they want.
Now, let us have a look at the latest developments that has taken place and is still currently underway in the hospitality industry. There is a rich array of discussions that has been taking place on this subject. The principal sources, among a large number of sources, on which this discussion is based on are retrieved. According to literature, following are the top ten trends:
• Digitalized guest experiences and contactless technology.
• Experience economy and essentialism.
• New hospitality skills and asset management.
• Solo travellers.
• Generations X and Y.
• Virtual and augmented reality.
• Automation and technology.
There are, of course, other important trends taking place all over the world. However, one must remember that these factors are, to a certain extent, geography and demographics dependent. The ten factors listed above are very relevant for the developed world, but the issues and trends in the developing countries may be quite different. For example, some countries in Africa may be dependent on cultural tourism or tourism revolving along nature and natural parks (Masai Mari in Kenya or Zulu culture tourism). At the same time European countries, especially East European countries, may stress more on Heritage tourism. Tourists more interested in cultural tourism may be quite different from tourists more interested in heritage tourism or art tourism etc. The profiles, motivations, consumption patterns, behavioral patterns and expectations of these two different segments of consumers are also diametrically different. As discussed earlier, the hospitality industry then has to customize their offerings according to the needs and demands of their potential and existing customer base. All these issues along the top ten trends listed above will be discussed in detail at a later stage of this chapter.
Staycation is becoming more and more popular over the last few years and it really came of age last year when the pandemic hit. Staycation is a holiday spent in one’s home country rather than abroad or one spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions. Now, staycations also include staying overnight in a nearby place. As has been discussed earlier, the global tourism was booming before the pandemic hit. Travel restrictions and other safety regulations put a dampener to most of the global travel industry. As most activities came to a standstill, people looked for an escape from the claustrophobic environment. Staycation became a good alternative as it was much cheaper than long distance or global travel. One unexpected fallout is the boost to local tourism and many owners refurbished their properties and marketed it through their social media network. The response they received was quite encouraging and it seems that this trend is going to stay now for a long time to come. In some ways, this diversion from global to local is beneficial to the economy for the short term as well as the long term.
Digitalized guest experiences and contactless technology is becoming the norm. Now, there is widespread use of technology assisted options like mobile check in, contactless payments, voice control and biometrics. Technology drives the world today and it is no surprise that it will impact upon the tourism industry as well. As customers become savvier with their laptops and mobile phones, hotels and other areas of the hospitality and tourism industry will have to keep pace with it. This is applicable for the entire guest cycle and experience from finding the right hotel to booking the room and then the nitty gritties of the overall experience fulfilling and satisfying what the customer is looking for.
Along with technology, comes the expectation of personalized services. Personalization, at its core, means recognition and treatment of the guests as an individual. This also means understanding and appreciating the taste and preferences of the individual guest and trying everything to satisfy those. The service provider, in this case, needs to have a comprehensive database which will store all the relevant data about the individual. Not only that data has to be retrievable and put to appropriate use at the moment it is required. Communication must be tailored to the individual and offers targeted to the individual based on past behavioral patterns.
This is now the era of experience economy and essentialism. Independent travelers are more the norm. Tourists are now looking for unique experiences. The travel agent is slowly losing its relevance. The tourist now do not want to spend lavishly especially on the basics. They would rather spend money judiciously and that too on items they are particularly interested in, like adventure etc. Minimalism, where less is more, is the motto of most of these travelers. The local flavor is of essence now and the traveler wants to contribute to the local community in their minds, that is the contribution they are making to the development of the world. That is why the independent traveler is looking out more for niche properties or properties that gives them scope for adventure and/or relaxation.
In this changed situation of rapidly shifting environmental conditions, the tourism and hospitality industry has to learn new hospitality skills and asset management. The management of the property and the management of the operations of a large hotel are now getting separated. So, on the one hand, the benefit of this kind of an arrangement is that the core team can now concentrate on operational efficiencies and really work towards fully satisfying the customer needs and demands. On the other hand, there is generation of a large of new jobs which requires a lot of new skills and competencies for example, the job of the asset manager. The industry is becoming structurally complicated and hence there will be requirements of data and analytics, planning and budgeting, forecasting etc.
Solo travelers are continuously increasing in number. Many travelers want to travel alone as this gives them a sense of getting in touch with oneself. In this journey of finding oneself and spending time with oneself, which is not possible in their local environment, they want to feel unencumbered and free from any interference from companionship. So, hotels and their staff has to make the traveler feel at home such that the barriers and the distance between them are brought down. The ambience and the facilities to interact more with the locals has to be organized so that the solo traveler do not feel alienated and becomes a part of the local environment. In the end the traveler gets a feeling of mindfulness.
The choices and taste and preferences of generation X and Y are quite different from the earlier generations. So, the industry has to gear up to the requirements of this new generation as well. There are different types of choices for the new generati Uber instead of car rentals or Airbnb instead of traditional hotel rooms. In some domains, Airbnb is getting into the hotel type of arrangements while some hotels are trying to get to the other side. It is quite natural that choices, taste and preferences will be differ from generation to generation and the service provider has to adjust themselves to the needs of their new customers. Sometimes it is the customers who usher in change in the industry, other times it is the introduction of new products or new concepts that bring in the desired changes.
Sustainability in terms of environmental and social awareness is of paramount interest now. A guest is now more inclined to patronize hotels and restaurants which show or demonstrates their commitment towards social and environmental issues. Even energy saving gadgets go a long way in convincing potential customers about the hotels’ commitment towards sustainability. Customers are also aware that there is a lot of window dressing that goes along with the green movement in the hospitality industry. So, the circumspect customer needs to be convinced about the genuineness of the claims made by the hotel or in general, by the entire tourism effort of a place or country.
Virtual and augmented reality is the gift of technology which enables the traveler to decide on his plans based on the experiences provided to him by the hotel or the tourist spot, including places and items of interest to the traveler. Videos providing 360 degree views and virtual tours of the place and the items of attraction to the tourist has become a big help for the tourist to make up his mind. Once there, different apps will provide him all the data and information required to enjoy his stay and optimize his returns to the degree sought. So, marketing of the hospitality industry has taken on a new dimension altogether and each provider now has the choice of influencing his potential customer much before he makes the final decision.
Automation and technology are fundamentally changing the way we work or play. All industries including hospitality and tourism are impacted upon by them. A lot of repetitive tasks are being given to robots now. Chabot’s are an asset to customer service and are helping customers from their pre booking time to the time they leave the place. They are also helping the establishment to increase their efficiencies by the use [15,16] of modern management systems. Things like predictive analysis and customer profiling help the hosts to formulate their strategies more accurately and well in advance. Mobile, cloud based and integrated solutions are being used and are getting popular by the day.
Strategic response from hospitality industry
Now, let us have a look at the results of some discussions and qualitative surveys gleaned from the sources already mentioned earlier. The results point out the strategic actions that hotels must take in order to remain relevant in the market. The top ten action points are:
• Standardization can no longer be the norm.
• To create value, focus on niche markets.
• Exploit technology as an accelerator for business.
• Social responsibility is a moral and an economic obligation.
• Develop more responsive and resilient business models.
• Manage talents actively.
• Sustainability is the future according to millennial.
• Think global, act local.
• New inspirations from the old/existing threats.
• Demand will keep growing and the peak is yet to come temporary declines notwithstanding.
Some experts have taken an extreme view and are of the opinion that the large tech companies will be indirectly running the hospitality industry in the near future. Only very big brands will survive and the tech companies will be the controller of flow of traffic (tourists) to the hotels of their choice. So, it will be the tech companies which will be making most of the money and the hospitality industry as we know it [17,18] today will cease to exist. However, this is an extreme view and hopefully, the truth or the reality will be somewhere in between. There is, however, no doubt in anybody’s mind that the hospitality industry is in for major changes both, in the macro as well as in the micro sense of the term.
Based on the above discussions, the future course of action for the hospitality industry is fairly cut out it is simple yet complex at the same time. While the suggested actions do not take much to be understood, implementing these action points on the ground may not always be as simple and straight forward as it sounds . However, no matter how difficult or easy the game plan is, the industry has to change according to the needs as well as changing taste and preferences of the customer. It emanates from Darwin’s theory that those who will change and adapt will survive and those who will not, may have to make way for others. So, let us now have a look at some of the suggested steps for the industry.
Standardization can no longer be the norm. The last few decades has been the era of standardization across the world. Things are changing now and marketing is driving the forces of personalization in all categories of products and services including the hospitality industry. The “one size fits all” approach and the traditional sales and marketing methods of segmentation and targeting is going out of use. Recognizing, respecting and targeting the individual is of paramount importance now especially in the tourism and hospitality industry. So, products and services has to be aimed at the individual and this will make things much more difficult for the service provider. However, now that the wheels of change are under progress, there is no going back.
To create value, focus on niche markets . The customization of services must be real in terms of content. It cannot be just another marketing gimmick. The specialization must be done to create value and focus on niche markets. As discussed earlier, every customer will make their own choices and hence the one size fits all concept must give way to creation of segments and sub segments of customers that they are willing to and capable of servicing. So, the value proposition must be thought through in detail in such a way that it is able to attract the relevant targeted customers and are able to satisfy this segment fully.
The industry has to view and exploit technology as an accelerator for business. Technology has to be ingrained at every step in the process from searching and booking by customers till the time the tourist leaves the property. So, the tourism industry has to view technology as an enabler which will continuously innovate to help them satisfy the modern demanding customers. Using robots and catboats, data analytics and AI, the tourism industry will be able to cater to the taste and preferences of all segments of customers.
Social responsibility is a moral and an economic obligation. The customer wants to patronize establishments which very clearly demonstrate their inclination for social responsibility. Giving back to society is something that this new age customer is very particular about. It is expected not only from the moral standpoint; abiding by and implementing social responsibility measures makes good business sense in the long run. Product companies doing business all over the world has already demonstrated this and thus it makes eminent sense for the hospitality and tourism industry as well.
The tourism and hospitality industry has to develop more responsive and resilient business models. In some tourist places like Venice and Barcelona, the number of tourists are so high that the city administration is struggling to accommodate them properly. So, they are thinking of restricting the number of tourists that can come to visit these cities in one given single year. During the pandemic, many hotels/restaurants have geared up to provide door step delivery and yet some hotels have turned in their rooms for medical quarantine purposes. All these efforts will surely give them an edge in the mind space of their prospective customers.
The tourism and hotel industry has to learn to manage talents actively. With all the changes taking place at such a fast pace, the industry needs talented people to drive and control it. Professionalization of the industry to a much higher degree is absolutely immediately required and it is only possible through the induction of talented people in to the industry. The old management style must give way to a new innovative work culture with the customer as the focal point of all activities.
The trends are quite clear and visible. According to the millennials sustainability is the future. There is a new generation of travelers or the millennials who are driving the change in the industry. For all practical purposes, everyone understands and appreciates sustainability because everybody feels the importance of climate change and other changes in the environment. So, the huge tourism industry has an obligation to the citizens of the world in a way such that they do not contribute any further to the deterioration of the environment. Customers of today are very conscious about this and hence the hospitality and tourism industry has to be sensitive to this issue. This will also help them to avoid losses from their properties in the long run.
Think global, act local is the new mantra of business the world over. There is a change taking place in the sense that travelers are now looking at destinations which the earlier generations did not even consider. The demand for international travel, pre pandemic, was rising continuously and is expected to grow at a fast pace, post pandemic. Just like huge corporates has done, the tourism and hospitality industry will have to adapt the process of appointing local managements in different countries and places, with a centralized oversight headquarters drawing up the international strategy. Many tourist spots will benefit from conferences, exhibitions and seminars etc. which are and will be held in international destinations.
New inspirations from the old/existing threats are very common nowadays in every industry. Airbnb came as a big threat to the established hotel systems. The hotel industry responded by offering some unique properties which are different from the traditional hotel experience. The hotel industry also started going in to the real estate business. So, home sharing is here to stay, but the hotel industry is still ahead in terms of certain parameters like cleanliness, safety etc. So, hotel industry will find a solution to the challenge by Airbnb which will only make it stronger it’s more about collaboration than competition.
Demand will keep growing and the peak is yet to come temporary declines notwithstanding. Before the pandemic set in, the industry was experiencing rapid growth and the growth forecast for the long term was very positive. The pandemic has put the brakes on the growth of the industry now. However, experts are of the opinion that the industry will bounce back once the pandemic eases out and then the comeback will be very robust. It is almost a certainty that the industry will bounce back and, sooner than later, will be well on its way to an era of strong growth. Interesting times ahead.
Managers in the tourism and hospitality industry were looking forward to a boom time economy when the pandemic struck. Now they are facing the challenges thrown up by the pandemic and of course hoping against hope that the pandemic goes off as early as possible. Managers will be able to learn from the cases in the chapter about how tourist destinations in different parts of the world has developed over the years and how they have solved the challenges they have faced in their life cycle.
Most of the managers will also agree with the top trends in the industry which started much before the pandemic came in. Once the pandemic recedes and the world goes back to normal, the managers will have to tailor make their responses more or less in the line of the top ten strategic responses of the industry outlined in the chapter. Even though facing the challenges of the pandemic is top priority now, the managers will do well to start preparing themselves for the post pandemic scenario which, in all likelihood, will be even better than pre pandemic levels. The current trends and the strategic responses discussed earlier in the chapter will be a very useful guide for the managers then and now.
Tourism and hospitality industry is one of the most vibrant and important industry in the world. The industry was growing rapidly in the pre pandemic era. However, brakes were applied as the pandemic struck and various elements of the industry like international travel came to a virtual standstill. Various tourist spots across the world are trying out different measures to counter balance the negative effects of the pandemic. Some have succeeded while others are still struggling with the hope that normal times are just round the corner. Other than the pandemic, there is anyway a lot of changes in the choices and taste and preferences of the customers. New trends are emerging and the industry is very much aware of that. So, the hospitality and tourism industry now has to think of a strategic response which will take care of the new customers’ demands and will be able to satisfy them fully. Some areas of the strategic response like technology etc. are already in the implementation stage in most parts of the world and the rest will have to follow. These changes taking place in the industry will not only improve the quality of service, but also give birth to innovative and creative ideas which will be able to add a lot of value to the experiences of the guest. So, interesting times ahead for the industry.
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