The importance of digital workers, beyond technology
Changes in society and in tourism carry workforce to adapt their skills to better find a “marriage” between what clients demand and what we can offer them. From this point, CEHAT has been investigating what the industry should offer to society in order to accomplish one of the missions of the Next Tourism Generation (NTG): improving the qualification of the workforce.
In a general context of economic difficulties, which have resulted in austerity policies and measures that have caused a series of consequences in society. Inequalities have increased at all levels of society, favoring the emergence of people at risk of social exclusion.
On the other hand, we are witnessing a considerable increase in the arrival of migrants, generating insecurities and a need to adapt to a new cultural environment. The decrease in resources allocated to mechanisms for the inclusion of people with disabilities. And finally, the lack of adoption of gender equality strategies in the workplace.
That is why, from the Council of Europe, and therefore in many of the Member States, a strategy has been proposed to allow us to safeguard human rights, promote gender equality and preserve the wealth of our culture and heritage. In this respect, in Spain, a series of national strategies are being promoted, with their action plans and measures to be implemented, which allow these objectives set by the various Ministries to be achieved.
Therefore, tourism as a strategic sector in Spain must consider the incorporation of all these aspects that have to do with the necessary social skills that must be acquired by young recent graduates and professionals in the sector, in order to approach society and its needs and demands.
CEHAT Foundation supporting social skills in the hotel and accommodation sector
CEHAT, as the national association representing the hotel and accommodation sector, has already launched a series of actions to promote and support this strategy. The actions incorporate social skills in companies and professionals, which can serve as a reference for national and European tourism companies.
Due to this concern that arose from the business organization, in 2009 CEHAT Foundation was set up. The Foundation works around the management of social, educational, training and labor insertion activities for groups at risk of exclusion. The foundation also promotes cultural and research actions in this field.
Since then, a project has been launched to integrate battered women and people with disabilities in various jobs. They are supported by training actions that help the acquisition of certain technological skills, business management, and customer relations.
Gender equality in the tourism-hotel sector
The European project EQUOTEL has also been developed, dedicated to understanding the gender pay gap in the hotel sector. The aim of this project is identifying the causes of the pay gap and combating any gender discrimination in the tourism-hotel sector. Even though the hotel sector employs more women than men, many of them have less favorable economic conditions.
The main conclusion of the study was that the cause of the gap is not the qualification, but seniority in the job and the possibility of receiving extras for night shifts. etc. For this reason, hotel managers have been asked to reflect on the benefits and advantages of applying voluntary initiatives that promote the reconciliation of work and family life. They have sought to advise companies to avoid and resolve situations in which there may be discrimination based on sex.
Accessibility in tourism: the best cases from Spain
Another relevant aspect to consider is the inclusion of people with all types of disabilities (physical, sensory, intellectual, psychic…) in the various jobs, whose greatest exponent is the hotel chain Ilunion Hotels. Their hotels are the only ones in the sector with the seal of universal accessibility. The Special Employment Centers have more than 70% of the workforce with disabilities. In addition, they think about the needs of disabled customers and use technology to help these types of customers.
Around public-private collaboration, the ‘Spain is accessible’ portal and ‘ALL GO app’ have been developed. The aim is to identify and promote the accessible tourist offer in Spain, helping to present Spain as a tourist destination committed to accessibility. Spain is prepared to receive tourists with disabilities, reduced mobility or special needs. In this way, tourist companies, accommodations, restaurants and tourist destinations that meet the conditions in their facilities, resources, and tourist services have been classified to be promoted as “Tourist Destinations Accessible to All”.
Finally, it is worth mentioning the effort being made to capture a new niche market focused on the Middle East and Asia. That implies that it is necessary to readapt the staff more in contact with the client, so that they learn how to greet them, what type of services they like, how to present these services offered, what tourist products to offer, among others. It is essential to know their uses and customs to adapt and offer what interests them. Of course this must be according to their preferences and demands, different from the European style.
We are already in the 21st century. The Next Tourism Generation Skills Alliance reconsiders the most important green, social and digital skills for the workforce. Clients are willing to receive customized services. The environment needs to be looked after if we want to leave our kids a place where to live, and technology should make our lives better.