New abilities are required for the ultimate professional within the travel and tourism sector. While the industry focuses its efforts on adapting to the new normal, knowledge remains the most precious asset in an increasingly uncertain and changing world. David Falcon explores six other skills that will be needed.
1. Adaptability / Flexibility
This skill is crucial especially in the travel and tourism industry, a sector that is characterized by its dynamic environment and the unprecedented transformation that COVID-19 is causing in the global workplace with a massive amount of jobs going remote. However, new opportunities come as well. Becoming a digital nomad, someone who both works and lives ‘on the road’ helped by technology, is an alternative that escalated since the outbreak of the pandemic. This trend is fuelled by the spread of nomad-friendly visas.
More and more destinations are starting to target digital nomads by offering one-year visas designed to attract both freelancers and remote workers to these territories. However, nations like Estonia and Georgia will demand digital nomads demonstrate their monthly income prior to granting them these visas. Another example is Barbados, where annual accommodation is now being offered for less than $300 for workers applying for visas. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria poses the opportunity of experiencing the destination as a local rather than a tourist for digital nomads through a complete program which includes coworking centres, social events, and even surf lessons.
2. Tech Intelligence
The outbreak of COVID-19 is accelerating digital transformations in businesses across the travel industry, from airlines to travel agencies. These already-started processes were quite important before but, within the ‘new normal’, they are critical. Employees able to comprehend and capitalize on elements like artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, or the Internet of Things, will pose a competitive advantage for the companies they work for. Exploiting these technologies will contribute to better prepared businesses for any upcoming crises.
Another fundamental component within the Fourth Industrial Revolution is data. Both current and future professionals need to master the ability of examining and understanding data so they can make better business decisions. Travellers produce massive volumes of information which, for those professionals well-trained in observing and managing data, provide trends and purchasing patterns.
To sum up, digital skills are a must for travel industry’s professionals and provide an opportunity to differentiate in the global job market. Being able to apply digital competences, including online marketing and web development among others previously mentioned, poses the best way to keep progressing in your career.
3. Emotional Intelligence
The following ability is not just about being aware and expressing emotions, but also being able to control them. Emotional intelligence applies to both our own emotions and others’. In the COVID-19 era, it is usual to live with uncertainty about the economy or anxiety with regards to travel and getting infected. Companies must step up their efforts to develop wellbeing strategies and initiatives for their employees. Parallel to this, workers need to continue taking care of their mental health from an individual point of view.
Emotional intelligence is about connecting with people. Therefore, understanding other people’s emotions requires individuals to show empathy for both colleagues and clients. The travel industry is a sector that relies heavily on experiences linked with emotions, hence professionals need to display emotional intelligence either when conducting business-to-business or when dealing with customers. Showing understanding, flexibility, or active listening, has never been as important to the travel sector as it is now.
4. Continuous Professional Development
The skills considered essential are continuously changing. This is the reason why professionals should add as many updated competences to their skillset. Currently, workplaces are not unalterable environments therefore, employees need to do their part in refreshing their abilities. By building up their ‘toolbox’, skilful workers will be in demand within a tight job market and they will find themselves in better positions to excel in their careers. Thousands of MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses) are available for the global travel industry workforce. From learning new languages to enhancing negotiation techniques, these courses are prone to be self-paced, easily accessible, and can be a differentiating element within a CV.
5. Critical Thinking
The ability to question and collate information nowadays is critical. People are subject to a continuous and never-ending flow of news coming, mainly, from social media sites. In a sector such as travel and tourism, whose global demand can either plummet or skyrocket with a single Tweet, professionals must examine data from different sources to discern what represents either information or misinformation. By putting this skill into practice, travel organizations will be able to undertake much better decision-making processes based on unfailing information while discrediting any sort of misstatements harmful to the sector.
6. Cooperation and Creativity
In an increasingly digital world, the outbreak of COVID-19 has driven the growth of international teams formed with multicultural individuals working from countries scattered all over the world. This situation represents a challenge in terms of adapting to a new way of conducting business as well as managing different communication and leadership styles. However, it poses an opportunity to develop creativity, even if it means coming up with innovative strategies to keep businesses afloat or shifting to new ways of promoting destinations and holidays.