ITALY – EUROPE : THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY BETWEEN JOB OPPORTUNITIES AND NEW PROFESSIONAL FIGURES

Travelling, moving from one place to another, whether for work or holiday, is part of human nature and the resources linked to this specific need will never cease to exist. But it is undeniable that the restrictions and extraordinary precautionary measures due to the Covid -19 pandemic have completely disrupted people’s daily lives, thus also having a strong impact on their tourist behaviour. Precisely because of this, one of the sectors that has suffered the most dramatic impact is tourism, since the mobility of people has been lost: an essential condition for the use of services that has been totally denied by Covid-19 with all its consequences. And everything that gravitates around tourism has naturally seen a strong period of standstill and decline. But already by this summer 2021 there seems to be a good restart of the sector, especially in Italy. Without forgetting that tourism is a key sector of the European economy as it represents, in terms of volume of business and number of employees, the third most important economic activity in Europe, encompassing a very varied set of activities and geographical areas and involving both public and private subjects and operators. And then because it is the world’s leading tourist destination, thus the most important market both as a source of tourists and as a destination. This is why the Union’s action is always aimed at encouraging, in the tourism sector, the creation of an environment conducive to the development of businesses and at fostering cooperation between Member States, in particular through the exchange of good practice. Although the exercise of competence in this area is highly decentralised, with regional and local authorities playing a major role, now more than ever there is a strong impetus from the EU for a new tourism policy.

The European tourism industry is essentially made up of small and medium-sized enterprises, which nevertheless require measures and actions to improve their economic results and strengthen the competitiveness of the sector. However, the substantial funds made available by the Recovery Plan will be used to upgrade and improve the standards on offer, with the dual aim of increasing the competitive capacity of businesses and promoting a tourism offer based on environmental sustainability, innovation and digitalisation of services. In the same way, it will be essential to modernise tourism businesses by promoting innovative models of work organisation, including through the development of networks and other forms of aggregation to develop the digital and other skills of those working in the sector.  It goes without saying that all this will only be possible through access to specific and qualified training. Never before has it been so important to train, and to train well, as it is now.

This is also because, despite the fact that our country stands out for its wealth of natural resources and immense historical, artistic and cultural heritage, for some years now it has had a poor capacity to attract foreign investment, mostly due to regulatory and bureaucratic obstacles.  Even if the shortcomings from a structural point of view are not insignificant, just think of the inadequacy of the railway and port infrastructure, the lack of specific government policies and also a low level of professionalism among employees in the sector. In addition to these shortcomings, there are studies that indicate that the main factors that can have a negative impact on tourism in Italy include the inadequacy of the information system and services for tourists, the lack of tourism infrastructure and the negative assessment of value for money.

Thanks to its high capacity to generate growth and employment, tourism is capable of becoming a driving force in relaunching the economy to overcome the current crisis caused by the pandemic. Above all, it can play a decisive role in creating stable conditions for development and economic and social integration. It is also a means of promoting stable employment and of safeguarding and enhancing a country’s heritage. But for all this to happen, particular attention must be paid to innovation in services and business models to be applied in tourism. Amidst trends and changes, however, this sector has a future full of new employment prospects ahead of it, and making your passion for travel your profession can be a great opportunity to seize. But since it is such a promising market, it needs highly specialised figures with adequate preparation and training who are clear about the objective to be achieved: attracting an ever-increasing number of tourists. Skills and professionalism that are also able to devote themselves to the development of highly competitive niche markets, with the development of brands that take into account the various trends that are emerging, such as tourism for the elderly (what is now considered the silver economy) or ecotourism. Or the growing trend that will become increasingly important over time of eschewing the dependence of seasonal mass tourism in favour of an “off-season” dimension that lies between culture, sustainability and wellbeing for tailor-made experiences rather than the same holidays for everyone.

Therefore, in addition to the “classic” and recognised professions in the tourism sector such as guides, travel agents and tour leaders, many other professions are evolving, others are emerging and some are consolidating. But in the great and continuous transformation of the travel industry, it is new technologies that have led to the emergence of new professional figures such as the Destination manager, the Travel Organiser, the Travel designer and influencer, or the Deep walking trainer. There are many new professions on the horizon in the travel and holiday industry. And where knowledge of the web and its mechanisms, as well as the languages, traditions and cultures of emerging markets, is required, as well as familiarity with new technologies, both with the technical, structural and graphic design of a website. But above all with search engines, with the management of social networks, with the monitoring of corporate web reputation and with revenue management, become the skills most in demand.  New jobs that have qualifications and skills that were unthinkable just a few years ago and that involve creativity, constant training and specialisation.  However, these must also apply to the ‘old’ professions. Not least because hotel chains, airlines, shipping companies and groups specialising in holiday villages are not going out of business. On the contrary, they are evolving towards an increasingly smart and digital role. From online tourism intermediaries to travel communities and websites that every tourist facility must have today, there are many active positions linked to this world: Guest relations, Booking agent, Front Office Manager, Meeting Planner/Congress Manager, SEO – Search engine optimiser, All-line advertiser, Community manager, Content curator, E-Reputation Manager. And these are just some of the figures that have enriched the repertoire of tourism professions and that allow us to improve the quality of work and services offered.

According to estimates of employment and professional needs from 2019 to 2023, for Italy jobs related to the digital sector, services and “green” activities could reach 3.2 million. But, as with any other profession, there are no improvisations, and in 3.0 tourism you cannot be left behind even in traditional roles such as guide or hotelier. Also because, according to various studies in the sector, Italians are “the most digital travellers in Europe” and when it comes to travel they want everything at the click of a button. Technological innovation has undoubtedly contaminated this world, leading to a vast diversification of professions, which can no longer do without continuous updating.  Universities, regions, job centres and training organisations offer a wide range of courses, masters, training activities and orientation days for aspiring professionals in this sector. The opportunity to work and make a career in tourism is therefore not a mirage, as long as those who have to make fundamental career choices every day understand that this job market, like many others, requires continuous training updates, without losing sight of traditional professions.

It follows some of the new professions in tourism :

Booking and sales portal manager: manages and coordinates all operations relating to the booking department, such as availability and rates on the various online booking portals. He also creates specific offers and packages on his own site through the booking engine.

Tourism web marketing manager: this professional figure is responsible for defining, managing and verifying, in line with the company’s business and marketing, the Internet presence of the tourism-hotel business (hotels, tour operators, travel agencies, etc.), its strategies and online communication, using the techniques and tools that enable interaction with users and business relations to be developed via the web.

Community and social media manager: these figures are part of the marketing department of hotel chains and, in addition to marketing, are also responsible for positioning the hotel in digital searches, while the community manager is responsible for managing a virtual community of users (also known as an online community), with the tasks of designing its structure, coordinating its activities and maintaining relations. Alongside these professionals, the Connector will also work, who in large luxury hotel chains is in charge of social media and Youtube videos relating to individual structures and connecting them but with diversified content.

E-Reputation Manager: professionally halfway between a data analyst and a public relations expert. This profile is responsible for analysing and managing the image of a company or individual on the web and on social channels. His activity starts by monitoring conversations and content online about a company, an individual product or service. He analyses the content posted in order to intervene with appropriate strategies in the event of critical situations (negative comments) and to identify and implement development projects in the event of new business opportunities. Identifies trends, influencers and critical issues through data analysis to develop winning marketing and business strategies.

E-Commerce manager: attracts bookings directly on the site without intermediaries, with targeted and customised offers based on demand in the city. It assesses the profile of those seeking accommodation, the percentage of rooms currently booked at the property and modulates the request according to the calendar, for example, from low season to events that may take place in a given place.

Advertising manager: designs online campaigns to trigger the desire to travel, creates the brand, the image or recreates it, the inspiration of a destination, a country, a park, a museum. They need to have ideas, an aptitude for storytelling, knowledge of social media and SEO techniques and a good cultural foundation.

Travel Organiser: is considered the new travel agent. He sells trips and holidays supported by new technologies. He is a professional and specialised consultant, expert in proposing holidays and tailor-made trips, highly innovative and totally different from those proposed in the catalogues. Compared to the classic figure, they are more consultative and less tied to the physical agency, even if they work in direct contact with the public or choose the Olta (online travel agency) directly.

Travel Designer: this is one of the most innovative and creative professions in the tourism sector. The Travel Designer organises tailor-made trips in order to guarantee compatibility between the expectations of the tourist, the territory and the local community. This figure takes care of the entire cycle of the travel experience, focusing in his proposal on the aspects that make a trip memorable. In addition to the planning phase, he or she will take care of the promotion and distribution of the tourist package.

Guest relation manager: this is the guest’s point of reference according to the assumption of guest centricity because the client must feel pampered. He therefore takes care of them from check-in to check-out, trying to meet their needs, planning activities to make their stay enjoyable and collecting feedback at the time of departure. After check-in, the guest relation manager has the task of accompanying guests to their room and making sure they like it, explaining the services offered by the establishment and the main attractions of the place, managing feedback and taking note of it to ensure an optimal stay for regular guests.

Guest experience manager: this is the person who manages the events that bring tourists into the destination. But above all, he creates empathy between the guest and the hotel, putting him at ease by integrating the services offered by the hotel with the guest’s expectations. The guest must be involved in a unique and absolute experience, to be remembered. To do this you need to understand the customer’s needs, because it is no longer enough to offer good products and good services: today the change of pace lies in helping the customer to improve his or her life during the stay.

Demand manager: his main activities are understanding the needs of business processes and defining requirements and organisational, information and technological solutions. It is a figure that can be employed in both airlines and tour operators.

Digital business analyst: this figure is mainly sought after by large hotel chains as he/she specialises in interpreting data from the web to optimise improvements and investments. He has the ability to analyse data to understand whether to focus on luxury or sustainability, medium or long stays, essential or personalised services.

Digital architect: this is the figure who creates the digital ecosystem in which the client moves, at the crossroads between the website where you book and see the information and the social pages where you can ask for details or leave your experience in posts.

Revenue manager: this is the person in charge of choosing the cost of services based on the choices made by competitors, on air traffic, on conversations on social networks, since by now there are no longer price lists, rates are dynamic and can vary even more than one day based, for example, on the number of bookings.

Reputation managers and brand managers: they manage reviews and complaints, figures that are increasingly crucial in an era in which digital reputation will become more and more important. Reviews a value in themselves, interaction and loyalty the priority of any quality brand.

Destination manager is the consultant entrusted with the tourist development of a territory. He is responsible for promoting and relaunching tourism in a given area. This figure must optimise the use of the human and economic resources available in order to enhance the cultural, environmental, food and wine characteristics that make up the tourist attraction of the destination.

Banqueting manager: must know how to organise banquets, receptions and parties. He must also be able to manage supplies, know the principles of oenology and gastronomy so as to propose appropriate solutions according to the service required on different occasions.

Experiential guide/environmental interpreter: this is a transformation of the tourist guide, he/she takes care of his/her travellers, but does so with a more educational and persuasive technique in order to foster a greater understanding of the territory and culture on the part of the travellers. He organises activities in the tourist destination to involve and enthuse the tourist: instead of a purely relaxing holiday, he replaces the journey that meets passions such as: art, wine, food, sport, but also ecology and social issues. It is able to tell the whole story of the cultural and social life of a country.

Track designer: this is another type of environmental guide, but closely linked to the web. More and more paths, trails and historical routes are growing in Italy and, like everything else, they need a name, a brand and, above all, social pages to tell their story, digital services such as an online map or GPS track, a dedicated app, and a tailor-made design for signposting so that it is easy to find.

SPA Manager is an expert in managing wellness centres or resorts. He participates from the beginning in the realisation of the wellness centre, works closely with the designers and his role is both managerial and operational. For this figure it is necessary to possess transversal skills: from those of personnel management, management of available funds and marketing to those typical of the wellness sector.

SPA Therapist: in wellness centres, hotel and resort SPAs, and in the city or on cruise ships, the concept of wellness has become indispensable, and so this professional figure is chosen who speaks languages, is responsible for welcoming clients, managing appointment scheduling, as well as performing beauty treatments and massages.

Recreational hostess/steward: this figure works in the port reception and navigation assistance sectors. They deal with the captain, crew and tourists on board, and work mainly on board. His skills may also be enhanced ashore in the interaction with maritime tourists aimed at providing them with information and assistance for the use of a wider range of tourism services at sea. In addition to technical skills, he needs many soft skills because he requires the ability to work constantly in close contact with people, including people of many different ethnic groups, and to work in stressful situations related to weather conditions and frequent travel. As well as working hours in tight shifts and living for rather long periods in cramped environments typical of recreational situations.

House Sharing co-host: helps in exchange for a percentage to manage your own home on the increasingly numerous and active online platforms for short rentals. Co-hosts work alongside the owners of the adverts to look after their accommodation and guests. In this way the hosts can always contact the co-hosts by phone or email so as to be helpful to the guest.

Experience host: is someone who offers or helps to book not only a house, but also an activity: from a special guided tour, to a boat trip, a riding or surfing lesson and much more. Or they offer and organise actual courses to follow: cooking, baking, mindfulness and much more.

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