I am writing this fourth opinion piece at the (supposed) peak of the third wave of COVID 19, if we ever get over the second, and I maintain the optimistic spirit that has characterised my reflections, given that, like any crisis, we will emerge from it, and convinced that we will take away many lessons learned in both the professional and personal spheres.
Our BRAINTRUST Leisure Barometer shows data for 2021 of a remarkable rebound effect when the pandemic passes, a date we all ignore since we do not have a crystal ball, but whose outcome lies in the responsibility of each one of us, and in the coordination of public institutions to reach the minimum group immunity where the greatest speed and efficiency of health efforts are needed, whose professionals continue to surprise us with their resilience, suffering and capacity to devote themselves to the sick.
This rebound effect, foreseeable on the other hand, will be based on two major premises: the need to travel after months of confinement, pseudo-confinements, self-confinements and perimeter confinements - which endow our language with literature and richness - and the intensity of forced savings by Spaniards in the face of the fall in private consumption during the pandemic.
First recovery and then growth is an irrefutable fact, and it is to be hoped that tourism companies and especially the professionals who make up the industry are prepared for a new era oftourism, where nothing will ever be the same again, in a society that is definitely being transformed by the effects of this global crisis that has never been seen before.
This third wave of the pandemic has caused growth forecasts for all countries to be revised, and in Spain our studies show economic growth of 5.9% for 2021 and 7.2% for 2022, leaving pre-crisis levels for 2023, as we have been announcing for some time. This is provided that the vaccination spreads quickly, not only in Spain, but also in neighbouring countries with which we have major trade agreements and which are the main sources of tourists, meeting the forecasts of the European authorities who expect vaccination to be close to 70% for the summer, thus recovering tourism, the driving force of the Spanish economy.
A sector that must continue to be a major bulwark of our country's economic model. To this end, and before falling into the abyss, as tourism entrepreneurs say, direct public aid is needed, as is the case in other European countries, and to receive funds from the "Next Generation" programme, which will require our industry to undergo a complete transformation and digitalisation. Within this framework, the green economy will play a major role, promoting a shift in Spanish tourism activity towards a focus on the sustainability of the entire ecosystem, which is expected by a majority of both Spanish and foreign travellers according to our International Barometersurveys in BRAINTRUST.
We are therefore heading towards a new era in travel consumption, with a more environmentally sensitive, digitised traveller, with multiple tourism product options both through the direct channel and intermediation, with end-to-end, integrated and digital processes, coupled with the contactless approach brought about by the pandemic.
With this encouraging outlook ahead of us, we are at an ideal time to reflect on what this new tourism will be like and to prepare our professionals, who have given ample proof of their ability to adapt to change over time. This is the challenge for tourism companies, beyond survival - a much shorter-term challenge - to know how to train our staff in both knowledge and skills for the future, conditioned by the arrival of new generations of travellers with radically different consumer habits and behaviours.
In 2020, the WTTC estimates that 140 million jobs will be destroyed, of which it expects 100 million to be recovered by 2021, but this will depend a lot on how we are able to train employees in the sector in the face of all these changes that are coming and their attitude towards a future that is uncertain in economic terms but predictable in terms of the change of model. Sitting back and waiting for everything to go back to the way it was before is not an option and those who do so will miss the train of the future. The responsibility of HR managers is enormous in the coming months and years.
Ever since I was a child, I always told my parents that I wanted to study tourism, which they always considered to be a "weed", because in those days the logical thing to do and what was well regarded was to study traditional careers in order to have a job, which was then considered a "weed", such as a doctor, teacher or bank manager.
job, which at that time was considered to be of high standing, such as a doctor, teacher or bank manager. Eventually I managed to get them to let me study what I was passionate about, and I entered the world of work, working in hotels, tour operators, car rental companies, travel agencies, until I reached the position of
travel agencies, until I reached the position of General Manager at American Express in 2001 in the midst of the global security crisis, where as a team we took the company to the top of the podium for innovation, creativity, solidarity and diversity.
I then trained and worked as a consultant and coach at BRAINTRUST, a role I currently hold, where I am happy trying to realise my true purpose, to help companies and people transform themselves and achieve their life goals.
However, I soon discovered that a degree in tourism, which has evolved to a great extent today, was not enough to be a good professional in the tourism industry, so I had to complement my studies with management programmes and complementary subjects, forging the skills I have today, although I have to say that I continue to train in various subjects such as Leadership, Digitalisation, Change Management, Data Analysis, Artificial Intelligence, Circular Economy, Agile Organisations and Customer Experience, among others.
I use my own example to try to convey that every professional should not be satisfied with what he or she has achieved, but should continue to train, anyone who stands still thinking that what he or she knows is enough will fall by the wayside. "Adversity is more master than prosperity".
These days working in BRAINTRUST for several tourist destinations in their strategic plans and in the formation of the value chain, we have defined the minimum needs for the sector for a post-COVID future, covering the following general aspects that should be completed with specific subjects for each sub-sector:
- Emotional reconnection
- Transformational intelligence
- Market understanding
- Product value
- Commercial skills
- Customer service process
- Customer experience
- Process efficiency
- Innovation as a driver of
- Language skills
- Change management
- Organisational purpose
As Alvin Toffler said, a phrase that I repeat over and over again at the beginning of our BRAINTRUST training seminars , "the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn". Whether we like it or not, many of the professions of the future have not yet been invented, and therefore some of today's skills will be of little use.
In the case of tourism, we are going to move from a mass phenomenon to a sustainable model, where part of the experience that our workers already have will be useless, and they will have to be trained in different subjects and subjects. In our times, society is changing very quickly, changes that used to take years and decades to materialise are now becoming a reality in months, as has been demonstrated in this current crisis of COVID 19. There is no time to lose in the transformation of the industry, and on this path, public-private collaboration is once again fundamental.
I would not like to close this opinion column without bringing positive psychology to the stage; the travel industry is going through the biggest crisis in its history, but it will continue to grow and will continue to be a great engine of the world economy and, of course, of the European and Spanish economies. It is up to politicians to protect companies by boosting public aid, it is the responsibility of company managers to transform our businesses and models and safeguard jobs, and it is everyone's obligation to consolidate and strengthen the training of our professionals to guarantee the future of our sector, with each individual and their company being jointly responsible for achieving levels of training in line with the new needs.
Post COVID times will be a time of fierce competition, as all destinations will be approaching the same travellers after vaccination, especially regions where tourism is the main form of livelihood, so fostering the training of the whole tourism value chain as one of the competitive axes and differential advantages will be key to success not only in the short term, but in the medium and long term. Because if vaccination works, which it will, and politicians help, recovery is only a matter of time. Let us each do our bit to continue to make our industry in Spain the best in our environment. Learning is a road that never ends.