The 5 most immediate challenges to ensure the growth of the tourism sector in Spain

on September 27 | in Campus News | by Carlos Díez de Lastra, CEO Les Roches Marbella | with No Comments

2017 became the fifth consecutive year in which Spain broke record international tourist arrivals, with about 82 million visitors, but the latest data recorded in July, with a fall of 4.9% in hotel occupancy (the most significant since 2010) may represent a change in trends.

In anticipation of today’s celebration of the International Tourism Day, we will reflect on the challenges that our country faces as a tourist brand. We need trained professionals, with talent, capable of leading the future of tourism, who acknowledge the need for excellence, and whose main goal is the guest and their satisfaction. Hotels must be the main part of this change, but the communities and their surroundings must also play a role. Tourism is not only an engine of wealth and employment but a tool to improve the lives of people so it is essential that public, private and academic actors are coordinated in their efforts.

1. Seasonalization

España ofrece actividades para todo el año.

Probably one of the most important challenges of the industry and especially for the “sun and beach” destinations, which have seen the improvement of security in Turkey and Tunisia, and its aggressive commercial offer, have diverted part of the flow of tourists to Spain, especially from the United Kingdom and Germany. We must make a reflection, from all areas involved in the sector, to reposition our tourism brand. We were fortunate to have lived a few years of splendor because, in part, we benefited from the conflictive economic and political situations of other competitors, and now is the time to decide what future role we want to play on the international tourist map.

From Les Roches we believe that part of the protagonism and responsibility rests in the hotels. Spain has many attractions that are not exploited, and hotels themselves can become part of the tourist offer by playing an experiential role. If a hotel is able to offer an excellent service and at the same time become a host for the traveler, helping them to discover exclusive, unknown areas, or enabling them to participate in the destination’s social and cultural activities in a different way, they will achieve loyalty and also increase the period of their stay while being attracted to different periods of the year.

2. Looking towards 5 Stars

Five Star Destination: Marbella, Málaga

 The luxury tourist is the customer profile most desired by mature destinations because of their economic capacity, profitability, and loyalty. But, in addition, they are the best option if we want to continue maintaining our pace of growth and do so in a sustainable manner. An average hotel in any coastal area in Spain cannot compete in price with another of the same characteristics in Turkey or Tunisia. This produces a gap that becomes even more pronounced if we take as a reference the so-called tourist packages, with impossible and unbeatable offers that leave national tourism-based businesses out of the competition.

At Les Roches, where future directors of five-star hotels are trained, they are aware that their role will be vital in the development of our tourism brand. Their training offers them personalization, excellence, experience, and quality. These are characteristics that most hotels have not yet fully implemented. It goes without saying that hotels have ceased to be merely a place to sleep and are quickly becoming one of the essential centers of the travel experience. We are on the right path in this regard, but this is a crucial moment for the tourism sector, where many pieces are moving or relocating. We are in a moment of evolution in the tourism of experiences towards an industry of emotions and luxury tourism establishments cannot remain outside of this tendency if they do not want to see how small but more agile competitors occupy their market position.

3. Big Data

Big Data will shape the future of tourism

Undoubtedly, the exchange of data has become a powerful marketing tool. Before, a destination’s infrastructure represented a growth engine for any country`s tourism; today data collection and analysis technologies will be what will mark the future of our industry. We are facing the highway of technology. ” I am convinced that the systems that allow regrouping all the knowledge necessary to manage a hotel on the same platform and that provide additional resources from external sources will succeed. Those tools that, through artificial intelligence, can predict future behaviors and anticipate the client’s demands will carry a lot of weight. With the digitalization of data that allows an extraordinary crossroads of information, a unique scenario opens up to us. If you know your guests, you will know how to serve them, surprise them, and most importantly, be loyal to them.

The hotel of the future will be intuitive and the technological solutions that follow this line will be the ones that are more in line with the sector. Only those capable of investing in specific training will be able to compete with the platforms arising in the online environment and anticipate the needs of the tourist.

4. Training & Talent

BBA in Global Hospitality students at
Les Roches Marbella

 According to the data reflected in the latest study by Oxford Economics and WTTC, the lack of talent in the coming years worldwide will be widespread and of the almost fifty countries analyzed, only four (Philippines, India, Norway, and Bahrain) will have more supply of talent than demand in the tourism sector. In the rest of the world, it is expected that in 2024 they will be unable to cover 4% of the potential jobs that could generate the growth of the sector. There will be shortages throughout the chain; from the most basic positions of the hotel to the managerial positions. But it is not necessary to go that far either. Training in Spain is still our great unresolved issue, especially in a sector as sensitive as tourism, where professional and personal values come into play. We need highly trained, talented professionals capable of leading the future of tourism. It is necessary that there is a consensus to promote training and raise the quality of service an idea on which supports the educational model of Les Roches Marbella, where we recognize that the hotels that are betting most on training are the ones that have the best results, in growth and quality, and that is something that can be extrapolated to the entire sector and the country.

5. Social Networks, Technology, and Millennials

Millennials hold the passport to the future

Social networks are starting to generate new business models and transform industries such as tourism. The new generations are the customers of tomorrow, but they already represent a very important niche market, especially in urban destinations. In fact, more and more studies show that young people use travel and decide which hotel to stay at based on the possibilities of sharing attractive experiences in their social networks. In this sense, the new tourist of the millennial generation wants to feel part of the life of the hotel and the city, to convey that they are at the center of where things happen in order to share it, even if that interaction is not real. For this reason, many hotels already show, and that is what we are doing, common spaces that integrate lobby, reception and bar so that the guest feels a lot of activity and movement around them and wants to transfer it in their social networks right from their arrival. The tangible part of the hotel and the comfort of the common spaces take a back seat in this new hotel model, and those who adapt their spaces to this new demand will achieve the greatest evolution in the coming years.

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