Apr 18, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

With a global economic contribution of more than 7.6 trillion USD in a single year alone, the travel and tourism represents one of the world’s largest industry sectors. While the desire to see the world motivates people to travel, a number of compelling factors inspire millions of people to pursue careers in this booming field -- from the opportunity to work alongside collaborators from diverse cultures and backgrounds, to promoting sustainability. However, because the field of travel and tourism is rapidly evolving, it is imperative for aspiring workers in this space to keep up with the latest developments and hottest trends. One major impact on travel and tourism happening right now? Digitalization.

Here’s a closer look at why digitalization matters, along with one smart way to gain the skills you need for an inside edge with travel and tourism employers.

The Digitalization Imperative

According to a recent World Economic Forum (WEF) whitepaper, “Digitalization is the cause of large-scale and sweeping transformations across multiple aspects of business, providing unparalleled opportunities for value creation and capture, while also representing a major source of risk. Business leaders across all sectors are grappling with the strategic implications of these transformations for their organizations, industry ecosystems, and society. The economic and societal implications of digitalization are contested and raising serious questions about the wider impact of digital transformation.”

The travel and tourism industry is far from immune to the digital transformation phenomenon. Not only are more people traveling than ever before, but they’re doing so in very different ways -- with different expectations, too. In fact, according to Forbes, the hospitality and tourism industry has been “completely turned on its head in recent years” by trends including mobile integration, Artificial Intelligence and chatbots, integration of the ”Internet of Things”, focus on data, online reputation and virtual reality.

In the recent report of Amadeus, a leader in travel and tourism innovation, it is stated that  “In a world of digital interaction, where technology, data and traveler expectations mean that freedom and control sit hand in hand, the power today is with the corporate citizen (….) Change is upon us. New entrants are disrupting the norm, creating the need for significant innovation and heightened differentiation. Established players in managed travel are transforming themselves strategically and operationally in a bid to compete effectively in a virtual, digital and mobile marketplace.” The report also stresses that the travel industry is moving forward, past innovations like self-booking technology and seamless desktop-to-mobile interaction, and on to game-changing technology like location awareness, preemptive solutions to travel disruptions, and other services that anticipate and react to customers in real time.

Certainly, this applies to travel industry organizations, but also to the people that power them. In other words, in order to help travel entities navigate significant ongoing change fueled by today’s digital landscape, the most successful workers in this industry will require new competencies, including everything from understanding the ins and outs of online tourism to learning how smaller operators can best harness the power of social media.

Preparing the Next Generation of Travel and Tourism Leaders

Enter Hochschule Fresenius, University of Applied Sciences. Offering MA degrees in a variety of areas, including Digital Management (M.A.) and International Tourism and Event Management (M.A.), Hochschule Fresenius provides students with the high-level knowledge and practical skills to take on central and strategic roles in the digital transformation.

While the programs are taught in English and their international approach gives students an enriched perspective and sought-after context in our increasingly borderless world, the MAs also offer detailed insights into the topics digitalization, how to manage the digital transformation within a business and also how to manage digitalization within the tourism and event industry. A focus on sustainability and e-tourism, meanwhile, acknowledges the increasing importance today’s consumers are placing on these aspects of travel, and the content of the coursework is continuously updated to reflect new knowledge and requirements within the industry. The different MA degree programs of Hochschule Fresenius qualify the students to deal with current development along the digital industry and the tourism and event industry in their further careers.

“The digital revolution has impacted almost everything in the world as we know it,” James McClure, country manager for UK and Ireland at Airbnb, recently told The Guardian. And the potential for what lies ahead is equally vast.

The WEC anticipates that the travel and tourism industry is moving towards ordered and meaningful solutions. “Travelers will experience seamless journeys tailored to their habits and preferences. Companies along the aviation, travel and tourism industry journey will optimize customer experience by collecting and exchanging data, and continuously generating insights. In time, travel will become frictionless, blending seamlessly with other everyday activities.”

The takeaway for organizations in the industry? Investing in digitalization in order to adjust to and evolve with these changes can mean the difference between stagnation and success. With an MA from Hochschule Fresenius, aspiring workers in the travel and tourism and the digital industry can not only position themselves to survive in this new world, but to take on key roles in moving it forward in the most innovative and exciting ways.

 

 

 

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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