With tourism numbers continuing to increase year on year, and new hotels and restaurants opening their doors not just in South Africa but all over the continent, all indications are that the industry’s positive trajectory will continue well into the future, says Erika Theron, Academic Dean at The Private Hotel School, an ADvTECH Tertiary institution based in Stellenbosch.

“All studies and forecasts also underscore the continued creation of jobs in this sector, which is good news for those who are considering this exciting field,” she says.

The hospitality industry is one in which increased automation is not a risk to the futures of these careers as customer experience and satisfaction are indisputably dependent on the human factor.  Automation may help improve efficiency of service, but it cannot take over the creation of the experience which is what consumers in this sector are looking for.  However, along with the great prospects, there will also be greater competition for positions, which means that prospective entrants into the field should ensure they can stand apart from their peers with a solid qualification, focused both on theory and practical experience, under their belt.

Statistics show that the tourism sector remains one of the fastest-growing economic sectors, contributing about 4.5% to total employment in 2015/2016. SA saw a 14% growth in tourist numbers from August 2015 – August 2016 and 1200 new hotel rooms between July – December 2017. A staggering 20 000 new jobs were created since 2014.

“The one statistic that truly underscores the opportunity in this industry for suitably qualified and experienced professionals, is the fact that our alumni rate of employment is a solid 100%,” says Theron.

“In addition to the benefit of being imminently employable upon graduation, many of our alumni also take advantage of exciting international opportunities every year, and they have been snapped up globally from the UK, Germany and England, to France, New Zealand, The USA and Dubai,” she says.

Deon Roets, Academic Head at Capsicum, ADvTECH’s Culinary school, agrees that opportunity combined with education in the field bodes well for the future of hospitality and culinary professionals.

“Consumers continue to become more educated and discerning, and any business in the hospitality industry is well aware of the need for their employees to be professional and effective in the workplace, and to ensure that valued visitors receive the best possible service and experience,” he says.

In the past decade, more than 4000 chefs have graduated from Capsicum, with many snapped up by leading local and global restaurants.

“The hospitality industry isn’t just expanding internationally.  The growth in South Africa remains exceptional but with more discerning consumers it is critical that training focuses on ensuring that graduates are able to cope with demanding customers.  For this reason, our focused combination of exceptional training with experiential opportunities results in confident graduates who are in high demand,” says Roets.

 

Article originally published: https://www.hospitalitymarketplace.co.za/

In the past few months, we’ve been looking at digital transformation trends in different industries like healthcare, retail, finance, and media and entertainment. Today, we look at an industry that’s been completely turned on its head in recent years, due to extreme digital transformation: tourism and hospitality.

It used to be that we’d visit a brick-and-mortar travel agent every time we needed to plan a family vacation or work trip. (Granted, some of you may not remember that.) But today, thanks to mobility, travelers are playing a much larger role in the experience. They want to find a hotel that matches their style—on their terms—the very moment they need it. And thanks to players like AirBnB, which set the stage for a completely new era of travel, they can. Indeed, when it comes to the hospitality business, digital transformation is a mix of greater customer demands—and the technology that can help meet them. Let’s take a look at the top trends impacting the hospitality and tourism industry.

Mobile Integration

The digital transformation is a dream come true for introverts who like to travel. With mobile-first and mobile-only brands continuing to grow, customers can do practically anything on their phone, from checking in—to ordering room service—to unlocking the room door itself. In fact, one can plan an entire trip—from booking to bedtime and home again—without ever talking to a live human.

AI and Chatbots

Remember when all hotels used to have clunky welcome binders on the desks, outlining where to eat, what to see, and what to do in the area—everything you needed to know? Today, hotels can provide all that information—and more—via AI-powered apps and technology. Guests can access the information at any time they need, right from their phones in the form of an e-concierge. They can even access voice-activated chat bots to open the curtains, set the alarm, or order breakfast, without ever talking to a human being. At the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, you can even text a robot named Rose at any time, 24/7, and she’ll find a way to fill your request, fast. Meanwhile, Marriott has been using AI-powered chat bots at nearly 5,000 hotels to do things like make reservation changes, and check on account balances or redemption vouchers.

Integration of the IoT

As more and more devices get connected to the Internet of Things (IoT), it makes sense that the tourism and hospitality industry would begin to harness that data to improve the customer experience. After all, the more they know about their guests, the better they can please them. If the IoT data tells them the customer has visited their resort every year for the last three years, it can automatically send a message proactively asking the guest if they’d like to make another booking this year. You just saved your customer a step—and guaranteed a booked room—without ever lifting a finger. The same could be said by harnessing information about food selection, excursions, and in-room amenities. The opportunities for up-sells and better CX are endless.

Focus on Data

As noted above, data is going to play a huge part in the new era of hospitality and tourism. In the case of AirBnB, they were able to use customer data to determine that guests who chose not to book were doing so because they were discouraged by hosts who failed to respond to their inquiries. (I’ve been there—it’s annoying.) By offering instant booking feature to guarantee their reservation, they helped alleviate many of the customers’ concerns and helped automate what had previously been an incredibly arduous part of their business model. Data didn’t just improve CX. It improves the bottom line, as well.

Reputation

The fact that guests can book instantly also means they can share their opinions instantly via Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor and other travel review websites. That’s why technology has pushed hotels and restaurants to focus even more on providing quality customer service. Yes, there are outliers. I’ve experienced them myself. But there is no doubt the trend is toward better service for guests—not just a better return for operators.

Virtual Reality

Whether it’s a hotel property, museum, or a tourist destination, guests can take a look without even leaving their living room via virtual reality. The goal is either to offer a preview of what guests will experience—or offer the next-best-thing to visiting at all. (For instance, would you rather pay $4,000 to visit Paris in real life, or $200 to take the same trip in a virtual world?) This isn’t being done on a widespread scale yet, but some major operators are offering guests the chance to experience at least a snippet of their travel experience—offering greater piece of mind especially to those planning a visit to a faraway destination. Others destinations, like the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MOMA) are already offering VR installations as part of  their exhibits.

The travel and tourism business is a $1.2 trillion industry. Clearly, there is incentive to invest to grow it even more. Whether the IoT is improving the accuracy of flight schedules, or the lure o f VR is convincing someone to take their first overseas trip, there is truly no end to the value tech can add to travel. They just need to be careful it doesn’t become so good that guests prefer the tech over the real thing.

 

Article originally published on: https://www.forbes.com/

There are many factors that contribute to a guests’ enjoyable stay, however, one aspect that is often underestimated and overlooked is the housekeeping.

There are various departments in the workings of a hotel that greatly contribute to an enjoyable stay for their guests. When staying at a five star establishment, small things like a warm welcome at the door or a speedy check-in time can greatly improve a guest’s overall impression. However, one aspect of a guests’ stay that is often underestimated and overlooked is the housekeeping.

Housekeeping is a vital mechanic that has the potential to make or break an establishment’s reputation. The way in which a room is cleaned, tidied and presented to its guests is in direct relation to the level of service the hotel prides themselves on. Housekeeping provides guests with a clear indication of how they are valued.

Dependent on the rating of the hotel at which you stay, standards and the level of housekeeping may vary. Remember, hotels with various ratings may not provide the same service. However, having said this, no hotel should compromise on the cleanliness of their establishment.

Housekeeping is comprised of many different aspects such as the cleaning of guest rooms, public areas, carpets, furniture, metal wares, et cetera. For many hotels, big and small, the housekeeping staff are the unsung heroes of their establishment and more often than not go unnoticed. Housekeeping staff ensure that the rooms are cleaned daily, stocked with in-room amenities and that common areas like the reception and restaurants are presentable, tidy and welcoming.

Although housekeeping staff do not necessarily interact with their guests on a daily basis, the quality of their service is critical in moulding the experience and memories their visitors will take with them when they leave. A guest who has had a wonderful experience at a hotel will most likely return in future, ensuring customer loyalty for the business.

The role of housekeeping staff is vital for any hotel that wants to maintain a high level of success in the hospitality industry. Housekeeping is not just about cleanliness, but is in fact about the standard. It is one of the most important services a hotel can offer and therefore time should be dedicated to training staff correctly to ensure an enjoyable and pleasurable experience is had for their guests.

Article originally posted on http://www.tourismtattler.com

2018 will see a breakthrough in five technologies for the hospitality industry. Some hotels have already acquired and tested the technologies on this list.

1. Virtual Reality can be used to market in-destination activities

Hoteliers have now realised virtual reality’s potential in the travel and tourism industry with leading hotel brands including Best Western and Marriott, having already introduced this technology to guests.

The Marriott introduced an in-destination VR service called VRoom Service which guests can use for 24 hours. The VR devices are loaded with ‘VR postcards’, which provide guests with travel inspiration, showcasing people’s first-hand travel experiences. This has the potential to encourage new holiday bookings and even experiences offered in-destination.

“By using the technology in the rooms, we’re bringing the experience to guests inside. It’s a property renovation,” says Michael Dail, Marriott’s VP of global brand marketing.

2018 will see the rise of Virtual Reality, which will become the norm for hotels. Guests will not only want to familiarize themselves with the location pre-check-in but also experience local activities before booking them.

2. IOT: Guest enabled Rooms are on the way

Hotel brands have considered IoT platforms due to better cost efficiencies and enhanced guest experience. Hilton, for example, has built a beta test room control for selected hotels.

“Imagine a world where the room knows you, and you know your room,” says Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta at SKIFT Global Forum.

Hilton is using the DIY approach of proprietary technology which is built from the ground up instead of picking off-the-shelf technologies to implement. They are looking to build a brand-new hotel room with built-in voice control, temperature and lighting settings that are controlled via a custom app, available on the guest’s smartphone.

Despite hotelier’s reluctance to be ahead of the curve or gimmicky in their technology adoption, the signs remain strong that both brands have shown commitment and progress in IoT room technology.

3. Guest-facing technologies provide a more personalized experience

Apart from the Free Wi-Fi, personalization of the guest experience is going to be the biggest factor a hotelier needs to consider. With the availability of guest data and technologies to plug into a Hotel’s CRM, it provides tremendous intelligence information about the guest behaviour all the way from pre-trip, in stay and post trip.

IHG Study reveals that “Nearly three in five (59%) travellers say their hotel stay is significantly more comfortable if services are personalized and more than have (54%) admit it makes them feel more valued.” 

While hotels are utilizing technology to avoid private data exploitation, guest data analysis can be derived from smart guest connectivity devices. This provides more behavioural insights, which helps hoteliers offer a deeper level of personalization. Expect more developments and success in this area.

4. Digital Concierge will produce an efficient service

By 2021 the number of people using messaging apps to communicate will reach 2.5 billion according to Statista report, making messaging a primary form of communication.

According to Phocus Wright research; “39% of people surveyed said they are completely comfortable using chat to contact the hotel front desk, while only 7% said they would not be.” 

Brands such as IHG Group and Hyatt are already using third-party social media messaging platforms, while others such as Marriott have built apps to facilitate instant messaging. Notably, as hotels attempt to engage guests through this technology, travel agencies are also entering this space to drive loyalty.

Technology providers are looking to integrate chat with hotel systems. Chat communication is just another digital channel hotels can use to increase guest engagement and communication. Through a smartphone amenity with an app, for example, we should see more engagement opportunities than just to change booking details, such as pre-stay and post-stay communication.

5. AI & Chatbots lower operational costs

As Artificial intelligence (AI) & Chatbots mature we see more complex algorithms to perform complicated tasks increase, which should eliminate a lot of overhead operational costs. Finding the balance between human hospitality service and technology is going to be key as hotels try to reduce operational costs while increasing guest’s overall ratings.

“We’ve been building bots on IRC [for] many years … now it’s just that it’s on mainstream platforms,” says CEO/Co-Founder of The Bot Platform.

2018 will continue to see predictive guest technologies related to AI & Chatbots emerge and provide Hotels with the opportunity to offload tasks that hotel staff and customer support are trained to do.

Article originally posted on http://www.tourismtattler.com/

Measuring success can be difficult because success is relative; take the tourism industry for example, every year, lists titled ‘top tourist destinations’ or the ‘most successful tourist destination’ are printed.

Technological advancement has been moving at extraordinary speeds over the last couple of decades. New industries have emerged and existing ones are changing.

Entrepreneurship is an ability that can be cultivated through your every day interactions, through studying at school or through work based learning. However, before committing to it, there are a few things to consider.

The ITHSA had the privilege of being invited as a VIP guest for the 2017 Graduation Ceremony at Rosebank College, Pretoria. The ITHSA level 3 Tourism and Hospitality Management programme, is an international qualification certified by the CTH in the UK.

International universities recognise the ITHs portfolio of CTH qualifications as being equivalent to degree level studies. If you have achieved one of these Diplomas or Advanced Diplomas you can enter the second or final year of a range of tourism and hospitality degree programmes. There are about 35 university pathways available for CTH students.

Our courses are also developed with leading organisations in the Tourism and Hospitality industry sectors and should equip you with skills that will improve your career prospects and job performance. If for example you complete the CTH level 3 Diploma, you could look for opportunities as a hotel receptionist, assistance travel guide, sales trainee, trainee travel agent.

Once you completed your course, why not continue to the next level, as the management programmes are offered up to a UK Level 7 .

Congratulations to Bongethule Khuzwayo for achieving a magnificent 99% in the CTH Virgin Atlantic Earth examination . He is one of the first graduates in South Africa to complete this course from the CTH.His classmates are also to be applauded with an average pass of 80%.

Savendran Susai director at the SAAAC said that the class worked conscientiously throughout their course and enjoyed every bit of the tuition.  They found the course material user friendly, current and well-structured.

We are proud to be part of the CTH network, and endeavour to produce quality students in the Tourism and Hospitality industry, says Savendran.