Challenges for future hospitality managers
While a head for figures and a certain element of natural charm are undoubtedly important, there’s actually much more to hospitality management than maintaining profit margins or being able to bring a smile to the face of a disgruntled customer.
Juggling these elements may sound like challenge enough – and undoubtedly is no easy task. But on top of these demands, future leaders in the hospitality management sector also need to be strategic and innovative thinkers, ready to seize new opportunities and adapt to meet new challenges in a rapidly evolving global market. And in order to achieve this, an undergraduate degree alone may not be sufficient.
This, at least, is the view of Karl Wöber, president and dean of graduate programs at Austria’s MODUL University, where he also lectures on the MSc in International Management. “Many undergraduate programs in tourism and hospitality management only focus on operational matters, but rarely on strategic skills and research methodologies,” Wöber says.
The industry itself is experiencing “some seismic changes”, he believes, and as a result “urgently needs graduates with comprehensive knowledge of contemporary marketing and environmental and development issues to provide leadership for local and international companies.”
Key trends in hospitality management
In particular, Wöber highlights environmental impact as one of the most important fields for future hospitality leaders to get to grips with. “Tourism is about travelling and experiencing the nature and culture of a destination, which creates many environmental issues. Investigating what policies can be implemented to reduce environmental impacts in the tourism production chain is not only a very exciting but also important and fast-developing field of study.”
Wöber further identifies new technologies as a key area, particularly in relation to the marketing side of the sector. “In the internet and mobile communication age, tourism marketing is ever more sophisticated, multi-leveled and very dynamic.” Graduates looking to work in hospitality marketing therefore need the skills and knowledge to make optimal use of new developments and trends, across multiple platforms and audiences.
Beyond these two major fields – environmental impact and new technologies – what other topics might graduate students consider specializing in? Well, at the International Centre for Research in Events, Tourism and Hospitality (based at the UK’sLeeds Metropolitan University), a significant amount of research focuses on the relationships between the tourism industry and local communities.
Hospitality management research
This includes topics such as the role of tourism in reducing poverty in developing countries, the relationship between cultural festivals and a community’s social capital, and the role of ‘authenticity’ in tourism experiences.
Other ongoing research projects at the center include innovation implementation at music festivals, the use of humor in advertising and brand building, the behavior of gambling tourists, perceptions of service quality at business events, and the impact of sustainability information on customers’ holiday choices.
Meanwhile over in the US at Cornell’s Center for Hospitality Research, one ongoing priority is research into emerging markets, particularly India and China. This includes examination of hospitality industries within these regions, and also analysis of these national groups as outbound tourists.
High priority topics identified at Cornell also include the effects of new media platforms on customer decision-making, the impact of government policy on travel and tourism revenue, changes to the ownership structure of the hospitality industry, and generational differences in consumer experiences.