The travel and tourism industry in India was growing at a rapid pace in the pre-COVID era, led by the improving infrastructure for air, rail, and road connectivity to cities in India as well as the growing number of government initiatives to promote tourism in the country. From 2020 to 2027, the global market was forecasted to have a CAGR of 5.2%, with Asia-Pacific being the fastest-growing segment. India’s travel and tourism industry was the third-highest in terms of size, trailing only China and Japan. This naturally created flush jobs, contributing to nearly 12% to India's employment and was on track to add at least 10 million jobs over the next 6-7 years.
The COVID effect
The COVID 19 viral outbreak has created a crisis of epic proportions, brutally affecting almost every industry barring a few. The travel and tourism industry has been one of the worst-hit sectors due to the global pandemic with an estimated 70% job loss of the total workforce. With sealed international borders, suspended flights, compounded further by countrywide lockdown with intercity and interstate travel forbidden for weeks – travel and tourism has come to a complete standstill with about 4-5 million job losses across the entire country across accommodation, transport, and activity services.
The road to revival
The recovery in the first phases will be sluggish as the industry transforms and adapts to travel and tourism in a post-pandemic world. All industry leaders across the board are prioritizing safety and hygiene at every step to rebuild confidence in travelling and provide the customers with reassurance on safety and hygiene standards at all times. As we transition to the unlock phase, the early trends are showing a slow yet strong and steady recovery of domestic travel. The immediate focus of the entire industry has been on bringing down operating costs under acceptable levels by optimizing all fixed costs, including outsourced costs as well as people costs with the majority of industry leaders taking heavy cuts in their compensation.
Travel brands are also working closely with various ministries, government authorities, and industry bodies, as well as industry peers on various facets that will support the resumption of services; be it the introduction of new protocol and safety standards for travel across segments or recommending the stimulus needs for the industry or promoting safe travel campaigns across feasible destinations. All major players have been keeping a close focus on product innovation to enhance their offerings attuned to altered travel choices, preferences, and evolving traveller behaviours.
Upcoming hiring trends in the travel and tourism industry
Over the short term, business simulation is one of the key areas that the industry will focus on. People skilled in modelling the impact and timing of the different economic scenarios on property and portfolio performance will see job prospects opening up for them. Roles like revenue management, forecasting, and budgeting will be in demand, especially now. Multi-skilling and cross-skilling will be key differentiating factors going forward. Since social distancing and no contact will be a big part of businesses in times to come, understanding technology and leveraging the same to deliver the umbrella of no-touch service will be of utmost importance post-COVID.
Along with these, digital experts specialized in online or telesales, aiding in increased revenue growth will gain importance to varying degrees based on segment, location, and type of property. The quick digitization will also see a demand in data-driven roles that cater to dynamic data-driven pricing, real-time booking, and online listing.
As travel slowly makes a comeback, Facility Management will be a primary area that industry players will be looking to strengthen. Hospitality graduates need to reskill themselves to leverage technology to manage operations efficiently, get comfortable with cloud property management platforms, and integrated guest communication and management to cater to the digital nomads. While accommodations may take time for renovation and maintenance to be in line with safety guidelines, the industry will also see jobs being created in partner management. This will help in staying updated to optimally capture and leverage government incentives, and adapt quickly with any incoming regulations.
Customer Experience will also evolve to incorporate emotionally intelligent workers with strong soft skills to allay the fears of guests. Skills such as communication, entrepreneurial skills, understanding of concepts like responsible travel, sustainability, etc. will be the key parameters players would seek out while hiring. Prospective candidates will have to develop/hone these skills and be ready to learn more on the job once the industry re-opens.
With local and domestic travel expected to be the first to kickstart revival, localized job opportunities catering to informed people from their regions might be one of the upcoming areas in hospitality hiring. In all likelihood, nature and wildlife will be preferred over monuments and history in the months ahead. Therefore, the hills, the sea resorts, wildlife reserves, and slightly isolated locations might be the ones who start the above-mentioned trend.
Lastly, with the pandemic impacting the real estate sector badly too, some experiential industry players are also looking to capitalize on the slowdown in the real estate sector to expand their footprint in various regions and would be needing business development and supply managers to quickly take advantage of lucrative real estate prices. The hospitality industry is well on its way to beginning full-fledged operations in the coming months, although it will take a considerable amount of time before the sector returns to the pre-COVID era.