Hello, my name is Vid and I too, am a passionate young professional in tourism. I am currently finishing up my Master Degree here at SEB in Ljubljana. Out-going, practical and an extrovert by heart, I like to go out and with a »hands-on« approach make things happen. I actively collaborate among students at the faculty and among small businesses in hometown where I connect them in order to create value.
Hospitality and Hosting: What lies ahead
Hospitality and hosting mean a lot to me. It is not only a business but rather a way of life. There are many ways you can do it, I chose the one I felt is the most appropriate in the long-run – with heart and full presence. In the last few years, the tourism industry has been out-doing itself every year so basically anyone who had some free space somewhere considered getting into the business of renting it out.
Unfortunately, the impossible and unexpected happened this year with the appearance of the COVID-19 virus and now it seems everything is turned upside-down. The future is more uncertain than ever before. So what is the shape of things to come?
I am based in Slovenia, one of the greenest and safest countries in the world. We happen to have one of the most distinctive geographical areas as you can visit the Alps, mediterranean coastline and vineyards with thermal water, all in one day. More precisely, I am based in Bohinj, a natural wonder which was named ‘heaven at the end of the world’ by LonelyPlanet last year.
Lately, hosting guests from all over the world was not a terribly difficult job – if your goal was to make decent money in a short-period of time – the summer season for example. Putting aside the paperwork and legislation procedure, registering on various OTAs and accepting reservations along with some physical work (cleaning, arranging stuff) and taking care of guests were all pieces of the puzzle. The force behind it – huge demand, obviously. Demand fuels the circle and the things seemed so easy for quite some time.
For a lot of people here, hosting from time to time is a way of earning some money for repairs and paying the costs, a side-hustle if you want. For me, it is much more. It is a lifestyle, a full-time job that comes with flexible work shifts – a business which needs time, adaptation, investments and constant improvements. When the pandemic is over we will not be able to pick up where we left off. UNWTO has predicted a 25% cut of international travel and this will apparently show. Some destinations will suffer more, some less. Cities and destinations with masses will be avoided, alternatives for air travel will be explored, trips will get shortened in terms of distance, there will be a rise of domestic travel. Those are general predictions that will happen at some point and to some extent, for sure. What about hosting business and hospitality in the world, in Slovenia and, from a very personal perspective – in Bohinj for instance? I believe the hotel sector will suffer the worst circumstances after this, they have huge costs and in city destinations they will have to hustle for every guest. OTAs will lose some power as tourists will try even more to find the direct link toward the supplier – as it is obviously cheaper and as they help the local economy more. Since I am an optimist I believe people will stand together after this and will try to help small businesses more directly.
However, marketing and optimization on various platforms will have an even more important role: how do you stand out from the others? What tools and online tricks can reserve you a higher spot in the ranking system, how do you make the algorithm bring you the best results? Let’s be honest, demand will not be as high as we are used to. What about the supply side – people are used to selling high rates easily till now, but this will change greatly. The experience will be even more important – guests will spend their money with even more caution so the value needs to be higher than ever. Consider getting that “hello” and “thank you, goodbye” gifts right away! Care for each guest is always a top priority in hospitality, no doubt about that, but now it will gain even more significance.
And technology? I believe for now it will back up a little bit. Sure, automatic check-ins and communication with guests from distance seem convenient and to be working but the world will adapt to a new reality in which values and norms will change in a way that the personal touch will become of extreme significance again. The communities will connect more – it’s in everyone’s best interest. No more just milking commissions from inexperienced, especially elderly, people but fair collaborations with mutual benefits. What has been easy so far will change as all stakeholders will try to make compromises and find some balance.
As of this moment the world is in chaos, a truly dangerous and dark place to be. Uncertain times are ahead and every industry will face great challenges and changes. A few months ago, studying tourism seemed like the best decision ever, and now… it still is! Tourism is people and the industry will bounce back. When and how? What does all this mean? What are some of the numbers we are talking about?
I unveiled some facts and some viewpoints from my side. Every negative event has positive side effects too. I truly hope we will have the chance to host many tourists in Bohinj this year and onwards. We will work harder on an individual level and smarter and more connected collectively. We will get over this stronger than before. I look forward to writing another entry in the future where I will be able to reflect on this one. What about you?