A Deep Dive Into a Futureproof Tourism Industry – Tour Operators & Travel Agencies
After the finalization of the NTG desk research and survey, semi-structured interviews were conducted in all partner countries to acquire additional in-depth understanding and insights into the future of digital, green and social skills from the perspective of people working in the tourism industry. Altogether, 264 interviews were conducted in the NTG key partner countries with senior managers, human resource managers, company owners, entrepreneurs, heads of department and other relevant respondents in all five tourism sectors under investigation. This blog focuses on the most important outcomes of the tour operators and travel agencies.
In all countries, interviewees agreed that knowledge of Microsoft Office is indispensable and a priority when it comes to skills development. Tools, skills and programs that will be needed in the future are: the Internet in general, online applications, tablets, Office 365, Google docs, online programs for planning and organising work such as Trello, social media, websites, blogs, vlogs, Skype, mobile conferencing, podcasts, headphones, scanning devices, emails and live chats with customers. Data analytics, skills related to applying technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR).
Most staff members – except in the technology-based companies – do not have to be digital specialists; they do not have to know how to build a website or how to construct AI-powered systems as this will mostly be outsourced in small and medium-sized companies. However, staff should understand the underlying concepts of AI-powered systems and technologies in order to be able to decide what kind of digital tool would be helpful to solve a problem
Environmental or green skills are not priority in the sector today. “Green tourism” is still perceived as a niche market and “price” is still the first consideration for most clients. However, many participants think that environmental management skills will increasingly gain relevance as customer requirements in terms of sustainability will increase with younger generations holding different values becoming more significant in the travel market.
Today and in the future, people are still very much needed in this sector as many clients appreciate human contact and a personal touch. Service orientation, (inter) personal and communication skills will therefore remain essential. Social skills are in high demand in the tour operator and travel agent sector. The Irish report mentioned that “the ability to interact with others in work terms, in groups, and person-to-person in a customer service context are highly prized” (Country Interview Report Ireland). This was confirmed in the Hungarian Report where interpersonal skills but also curiosity, tolerance, and trustworthiness were valued as important current skills (Country Report Hungary).
The future of digital, social and green skills
The Next Tourism Generation Alliance has conducted desk and field research on the future of digital, green and social skills in tourism. The outcomes have been collected in documented in research reports and visualized content. This output can be found on the research page. Furthermore, the most striking results from the interview reports can be found in attractive SlideShare presentations, please have a look to check out the quotes from the representatives from the tourism industry – Italy, UK, Hungary, Bulgary, Ireland, Spain, The Netherlands and Germany.