Digital Transformation Education For Hospitality

In order to prepare future leaders for the challenges they will face in the digitally connected world, hospitality management schools must review their programs.

Over the past decade, digitalization has been extensively changing the hospitality industry. In 2020, the arrival of the global pandemic has served as a catalyser for the transformation of the hospitality scene requiring an even more increased digital presence in many of its processes. With technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain, food technology and facial recognition disrupting the industry, hotel companies globally are looking for more specialization from graduates being able to adapt to the digital revolution. 

In order to prepare the future leaders for the challenges they will face in the digitally connected world, hospitality management schools must review their programs and adjust the curriculum for the new generation to develop new critical skills and digital knowledge. These changes have contributed to the development of programs that include coding, data analytics and visualization, digital marketing, and even CSR and ethics to better prepare the young professionals for a world where traditional hotel companies are demanding more specialization. Careers with hospitality companies that do not actually manage hotels are some of the most attractive.   

The academic programs focusing on digital transformation prepare students for a career in business strategy or entrepreneurship, focusing on the transformation of business models and new opportunities provided by digitalization, such as revenue optimization in the hospitality industry where new operators are shaking up the market. These skills are especially crucial for the future hospitality Indian leaders as India is the most digitally-advanced nation for digital tools being used in the travel and tourism industry.  

Despite the industry being very traditional in terms of its core competencies like guest service, cleanliness, culinary, and accounting that are deeply rooted in standardization and repetition, the growing need to rethink these aspects due to the current context allows for many economic opportunities in the industry. The customer-facing technology applied in hospitality now requires innovation and disruption. 

Over the last twenty years, hotels have become savvier and dedicated ever-increasing resources to direct sales, e-commerce, and revenue management, but these disciplines have evolved as career specializations in very distinct silos that conformed to existing, traditional organization structures. The outcome is often very smart people who excel within a discipline and then are forced to learn on the job or fail when they arrive at the senior level; as well as strategies that make sense to each of the internal owners but not to a consumer from the outside looking in. 

Another great reason to study digital transformation is the transferrable nature of the acquired skills also outside of hospitality. The rate of innovation in the travel distribution industry is among the fastest of any industry and shows no sign of slowing down.  Unlike actual hospitality, the barrier of entry is quite low, and the potential margin of profitability is quite high.  After the extensive testing of innovative ideas in the hospitality that focuses mainly on customer experience, what is being applied by hotels at the cutting edge of distribution and improving the customer buying journey is rapidly being emulated elsewhere. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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