TOURISM STRATEGY FOR THE NEW EXPERIENTIAL ERA
Around a third of international tourists come to the Mediterranean. That makes us the most visited region in the world. This week the 12th edition of the Mediterranean Week of Economic Leaders (MedaWeek 2018) was held in Barcelona, under the theme “One sea, three continents: sharing common goals”.
MedaWeek is a platform for dialogue and debate in which the leading experts and leaders of the Mediterranean area share their knowledge in the service of economic and social development. Organized by the Chamber of Commerce of Barcelona, Ascame, the Union for the Mediterranean, IEMed and the Barcelona Consortium, MedaWeek 2018 has been organized in eight interesting forums in which business development, innovation and digitalization, human capital has been discussed. , blue growth and, of course, about hospitality and tourism.
I have had the honor of participating in the inaugural panel of experts of the III Hospitality Forum of MedaWeek 2018, a panel in which I have been accompanied by Reto Wittwer (President, Smart Hospitality Solutions, Former President and CEO of Kempinski Hotels), Eduard De Gispert (Director, Barceló Hotels & Resorts) and Geoffrey Lipman (Director, TraNexus Limited, Former Director General of IATA, UNWTO). Moderated by Ghassan Aidi (President, International Hotel & Restaurant Association and Mediterranean Hotel and Restaurant Association), the panel discussed “Mediterranean Hotel’s Status – Sustainable Development, Security and Classification & Standardization” (Situation of the Mediterranean hotel sector: sustainable development, security , classification and standardization).
Throughout my speech, I have launched and answered two fundamental questions on tourism, and hospitality in the Mediterranean area, applicable to a global context:
What trends are affecting the region and what is the perspective for the consolidated and emerging destinations in it?
What challenges and opportunities do these destinations face in the long term and how can they adapt to changing market conditions?
The five steps of the Tourism Strategy for the New Experiential & Digital Era
Involve as many interested parties as possible, public or private, with all their objectives and strategies. Offer society a better explanation and understanding of the positive economic, cultural and social impact of sustainable tourism.
Identify opportunities and resources and promote competitiveness plans of destinations with international projection, for their specialized offers, oriented towards the deseasonalization and the social and territorial rebalancing.
Define objectives and actions to achieve different and qualified competitive advantages. That is, to seek and achieve the “unique”, which allows differentiation with respect to the main competitors.
Reevaluate the intangible and emotional attributes and work in detail the corporate culture together with efficiency, to achieve a tangible and significant improvement in customer satisfaction and establish new competitive advantages based on the relationship with the market.
Communicate with enthusiasm the objectives and strategies, both externally and internally in the companies, to achieve the maximum motivation of the sector and society.
Product, planet, people
Sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility, environmental awareness … these are great concepts that the hospitality industry has been slow to adopt but that are already part of it and of the reinvention of its economic and business models, of relations with those who work in it and with the people who use it. These great concepts are translated into the three “P’s”: Product, Planet, People. In working to achieve more sustainable products that allow a care of the planet and of the people who live in it, in order to also achieve a good economic performance in a cycle that feeds back.
What do we need to achieve this in the tourism and hospitality industry?
ONE: Review the pace and growth of tourism activity and improve the balance between tourism activity and its environment, analyzing the impact on the planet, with a progressive alignment with the main challenges of sustainability: efficiency, productivity and adaptation to value environmental of tourist destinations.
Key to this is the awareness and training of leaders, managers who recover the environmental and landscape quality of the destinations and take care of the expansion projects of the tourist areas.
TWO: Create products of special interest oriented to the segments of the market to positively influence the perception of the destination, differential attributes and innovative products for segments of non-seasonal shopping habits that seek unique experiences, in a much wider and diversified portfolio, promoting the seasonality and the rebalancing of flows.
THREE: People become the key to the future sustainability of the tourism model and must become a source of differentiation of the destination.
It is therefore pertinent to develop their skills and, in this context, knowledge is revealed as a basic requirement to develop an industry based on a new economy.
FOUR: Find, train and retain the best professionals and improve knowledge and innovation management, adapt the people management model to the new competitive environment, the new requirements, the demands and their projection of the future, and value the attractiveness of the sector as an opportunity for professional development.
And incorporate companies and organizations, as well as market dynamics, innovative entrepreneurs developing new business projects.
FIVE: Understand and evaluate a new customer with high expectations who want a hyperpersonalization, develop products and develop an offer with a true competitive potential, adopting the principles of specialization and differentiation, putting people at the center of everything.
What role does digital transformation play in this scenario? A fundamental one. Therefore, it is time to carry out three actions related to digital transformation in tourism:
ONE: Create awareness of the need to develop and adopt digital transformation technologies and the need for digital skills to support and improve business performance, productivity and internal organization.
We must achieve this through education and training in digital skills: all levels and sectors of education must be updated and must be part of the necessary basic skills.
TWO: Identify technological needs, develop technical and organizational solutions and use advanced shared services. Invest in technology to improve the experiences that the tourist perceives. Work on the transformation of marketing processes from the improvement of the relationship with the client to new environments and spaces of relationships created by technologies, channels and adaptation of trends.
THREE: Promote access to digital technologies for micro and small businesses and reduce the digital divide, focusing on people who do not possess digital skills and risk being marginalized not only in the labor market, but also in daily life, what can contribute to their exclusion.
The future is not predicted: it is built
Development and innovation are essential tools to compete in an economic environment characterized by globalization, the growing power of customers, increased competition and rapid technological development.
The future of tourism depends on the effort and work in common of all of us, with an open attitude towards collaboration with other organizations, whose knowledge flows can provide opportunities to expand the company’s knowledge base compared to that of its competitors.
The innovation materializes in processes of creation of value for the client and improvement of products and experiences, in the improvement of business processes and sustainability, with a set of actions related to the environment, new technologies and people like the main asset.
Each country must build and decide the strategy of its own tourism development and share a common orientation to continue playing the role of economic development and the generation of better jobs, in balance with the capacity of the urban and rural environment.
The tourism sector is now obliged to manage those changes that allow it to continue growing in profitability and social value, preserving the identity, style and quality of life of its local society.
III Hospitality Forum: Some additional conclusions
The third edition of the Hospitality Forum of the MedaWeek 2018 has also had two other panels of experts in which the Mediterranean hotel market has been discussed and keynotes have been offered to inspire the work force that the sector of the hospitality in the near future.
In the panel “An overview of hotel performance in Mediterranean Region – A regional market focus” have taken part Franck Trouet (CEO, GNI Synhorcat) – who, by the way, began his intervention by directly confrontting me to subscribe my words and join the philosophy that I have shared in MedaWeek 2018 – Amine Moukarzel (President, Golden Tulip MENA and Vice President, Middle East of International Hotels and Restaurant Association), François Furia (Mediterranean Development Association), Josep Francesc Valls (Professor, Department of Marketing Management ESADE) and Hala El Khatib ( Executive Director, Egyptian Tourism Federation).
“We must work so that the employees of the tourist industries want to stay in our companies and countries. A better service and better training are the tools we need to improve the tourism sector in the Mediterranean area “
Hala El Khatib, Egyptian Tourism Federation
Forum closed “Inspiring the future workforce – Fostering talent for the Hospitality Industry”, with the participation of Daniela Freund (Researcher of the Chair of Responsible Tourism and Hospitality and Lecturer of School of Tourism and Hospitality Management Sant Ignasi, Ramon Llull University), Karim Yahiaoui (Director of Corporate Relations, Air France), Iva Bahunek (CEO, Croatian Hotels Association) and George Drakopoulos (President and CEO of Tourism Generis).
In an interesting intervention, Daniela Freund has defined the three forces of change of tourism today and has ensured that: “We must adapt to change.”
For Freund “if we work together we will be much stronger. Training in new skills and abilities is key and joint public-private work is very important. ” In addition, she has asserted that “everything that can be done faster and better through technology decreases in the labor market. What is needed are profiles that add value. “
“We must understand that technology is changing all jobs. And we must adapt to that. And adapt the company to people through technology. Do we learn and change, organizations and individuals, just as quickly as the world does? If we do not, we have a problem “
Daniela Freund, Researcher of the Chair of Responsible Tourism and Hospitality and Lecturer of School of Tourism and Hospitality Management Sant Ignasi, Ramon Llull University
Iva Bahunek (CEO Croatian Hotels Association), meanwhile, has talked about the global impact of human capital in hotels, as you can hear in the following videos.
“We have to look for the best, hire the best and make them stay”
Iva Bahunek, CEO Croatian Hotels Association
I invite you to continue the conversation on my Social Networks. Do you have questions that you would like to ask me? You can do it at [email protected] and at #AskBallarin.
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