Hong Kong has long been recognised as a tourism hotspot in East Asia. In tandem with this reputation, universities in Hong Kong have been striving to improve tourism and hospitality programmes, producing high-quality graduates who take their talents and skills all over the world.
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University ranks first on Shanghai Ranking’s Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2020 for hospitality and tourism management. Its School of Hotel and Tourism Management (SHTM) outlined the efforts and plans towards healing the sector post-pandemic in its “Horizons” magazine — here are a few takeaways we can all learn from.
Prioritise health and self-care
COVID-19 has created an urgent need for improved health and safety measures. “Together with the promotion of hygiene measures adopted at different touchpoints to boost visitors’ confidence, we will reopen our doors to welcome back travellers with attractive offerings and exciting experiences,” says Dane Cheng, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board.
Beyond institutional measures, hoteliers are also learning crucial lessons about change management, crisis management and negotiation, including the role of work-life balance and self-care. This is done through talks and seminars by industry professionals.
Use disruption as a launchpad for creativity
While disruption comes in many forms, a pandemic causes a shock that forces every industry to review its entire gameplan. SHTM believes: “Rather than persisting with the same old ways of doing business, both sales and marketing teams and revenue teams must develop new working practices to survive and even thrive in today’s unpredictable climate.”
This includes adopting more digital marketing strategies and tapping into the influential power of social media, as well as realigning international tourism messaging to tell the world that Hong Kong is safe.
Embrace online modes of learning
How do you teach hospitality online, you ask? At HKPU, students have been privy to courses that replace traditional touch, taste, and interactions with online chat and education systems. This includes a crash course on coffee displaying the types of extraction methods and espresso drinks, as well as virtual winemaking lessons or vineyard tours.
Besides that, the university also collaborated with edX to kickstart the MicroMasters in International Hospitality Management in August. The course combines online and offline resources to curate a “brand new learning experience” for students, says SHTM assistant officer Brigid Yau. Ian Mason, a tourism and hospitality consultant from Australia recommends the programme to anyone interested in “expanding their knowledge of key aspects of tourism and hospitality today” and “applying critical thinking to solve the challenges facing the sector.”
Promote domestic tourism
Cheng shares that a key focus moving forward is to “encourage Hong Kong people to ‘be tourists’ in their home city.” This could potentially translate to an advertising strategy that is “cost-effective, less biased and more authentic than traditional advertising.”
How can this be done? For one, brands must attempt to represent the locale as accurately as possible, in order to elicit self-congruity — that is, when personal ideals match a certain brand image. This will turn locals into proud ambassadors for tourism, though they are not directly compensated.
Develop a global mindset for tourism and hospitality
At the same time, tourism and hospitality professionals must strategise globally for the long term. HKPU alumna Kristina Braun from Germany cites “a global mindset” as one of the important traits of a hotelier; thankfully, she cultivated this through the cultural diversity at HKPU.
Internships and mentorship programmes will also help graduates accumulate industry experience and develop a customer-first mindset, which become major plus points for graduates entering the job market. Fellow alumna Miyoung Hwang credits her summer internship for pushing her out of her comfort zone, which helped her understand her strengths and equip her for her future career. Today, she is a human resources associate with luxury brand Burberry.