By Clara López, member of Baud's team.
1980. A unique little town on the Malaga coast. Towering mountains to explore. Coves hidden between plants and rocks that have grown as they wanted. Narrow streets with plenty of space. Neighbors and longtime visitors.
2019. The town of Malaga is getting out of hand. The mountains are packed with houses and more houses of new construction. The coves are filled with artificial sand and, even so, one towel does not fit next to the other. The many visitors walk through the streets one next to the other at the rhythm of a procession and when dawn comes, there is an open bar of alcohol, rubbish and wet T-shirts.
Many saw that it was getting out of hand. Many began to solve it. And the covid-19 arrived. And urgent action must be taken for a sector that represents 12% of our GDP. But future measures must also be considered.
Do we want to take advantage of this crisis as an opportunity to improve the quality of our tourism?
If you say yes, I will tell you the 5 keys that I have obtained from different sources. You choose to keep the headlines, read it all or if you dare, reflect and share it back with me. Because the subject lasts long.
First key: safety and comfort
On the one hand, security has always been a flag of tourism, particularly in Spain, with an extensive protection system, audits, sampling ... The system is reinforced in the light of new protocols guided by reference institutions such as the Institute for Spanish Tourist Quality, certified by companies such as SGS or Aenor. And the reinforcement is here to stay, as were the security measures for air transport after 11/XNUMX.
On the other hand, that security must find the balance of moving in a clear and understandable way, but also pleasant, integrating it into the space and taking care of every detail related to the client's comfort throughout their experience. Because, after all, actors such as hotels, so relevant within the tourism ecosystem, “are our home for a while”, in the words of Ramón Adillón, Quality and Environment Coordinator at Paradores, in a talk at UDIMA.
The classics of Spanish tourism are now reinforced.
Second key: sustainability and technology
Promoted by reference organizations such as the UNWTO, there is talk of the development of sustainable tourism. Respectful, constructive, not overcrowded, not temporary and extended to new territories. Some examples that advance regulated in this line are the Alhambra or the Cíes Islands.
On the other hand, there is also talk of a reality that we already hear in all sectors, “digitize or die”, and that materialized hard in tourism with the recent fall of the British Thomas Cook, the second tour operator in the world and the oldest . Tourism agents are seeing the digital transformation especially accelerated in these times and propose the incorporation of technologies such as online checkin / out, facial biometrics, orders or door openings from mobile phones, heat maps in real time ...
In this sense, it is vital to establish objectives and define a path in which technology is used as a tool and not as an end in itself. Objectives that in any case guarantee the so-called “service close to distance” that should prevail even more in a sector such as tourism.
Macro trends that tourism also makes its own.
Third key: exchange that enriches
Overcome the collection of pushpins on the world map to achieve more social experiences, delving into culture, caring about people and their spaces, integrating, sharing knowledge and acquiring new ones. Getting the real juice that tourism can give us, as promoted by platforms like Work Away.
A new paradigm defended by intellectuals such as Andrés Jaque, director of the Advanced Architectural Design Program at Columbia University, in an article for National Geographic magazine:
"The trip would stop delving into a culture of exoticization, cultural colonialism and exploitation to become an activity linked to the maintenance of networks of affections and long-term labor, cultural and civic activism collaborations."
A new social stage begins.
Fourth key: value and price
In an increasingly complex world, or as some call it, VUCA, a growing majority of the workforce is engaged in exchanging high-value services. This situation further complicates the discussion on 'the price of things'.
We consider a product or service expensive or cheap based on the value we attribute to it. If it is valuable to us, we will accept a higher price. And we achieve value through quality brand work and at all levels. These types of brands mean companies, projecting their own mix beyond the sector. But even more, these types of brands open new business opportunities, the famous blue oceans in which they have the ability to initiate a didactics, develop a value, and set a price. An example of this are the new bubble rooms under the stars that exponentially multiply the price compared to a traditional room.
A well-built brand and model will have the ability to establish a fair price adjusted to the value of the business, providing it with the necessary oxygen to work in the direction of quality tourism, sustainable for the town and its workers and neighbors.
Beyond the classic and the current, you must find your own.
Fifth key: professionalized resilience
Tourism is one of the most resilient sectors. Traditionally affected by unforeseeable circumstances ranging from climate change to the most serious catastrophes, it is used to fluctuations that prevent one year from being the same as another.
Now the sector must redefine its resilience, support it in analysis and its new tools such as Big Data or Business Intelligence, as well as creativity and vision, to make better decisions in real time. Professional steps that escape from trial and error and ensure to the maximum the path of survival and growth in an increasingly complex environment.
Being prepared is useless if you are not prepared.
Tourism is a sector of great importance for the country and therefore for all of us, it is having a bad time and we must work together to recover it with higher quality. Build together the tourism we want.
A safe, comfortable, sustainable, innovative, social, valuable, resilient and professional tourism. A strong tourism that is even capable of pulling high-value industries such as science, education, technology, agriculture and livestock, architecture, telecommunications or energy. Like the aerospace or military sector they pulled their own industries, later contributing to many other sectors.
A strong and renewed tourism in favor of an Industry Made In Spain.
Achieved with profound actions from all the actors involved. Why Any change to be successful depends at the same time on state regulation, good work and communication from companies, and individual responsibility. States and companies are on the move, are we also running as individuals? For example, are we willing to travel to Rome without going to the Sistine Chapel? Or to pay more for a hotel with a home automation system designed by local engineers?
On the part of the Consultants, we will continue working for the different agents, helping them to signify themselves, create new models and act with professionalism and resilience, overcoming together, with the strength and courage of always, this and any other challenge that lies ahead. .