The Millennial Generation and HR Trends in the Tourism Industry

A lot has been written and spoken about “Millennials” to the extent of theorising new management practices to improve their engagement levels. We get to hear things like "They just have no respect", "They don't care about work" to "They just quit if they don't like the job or manager" even "They are just unmanageable." To properly understand how Millennials are doing this, you have to get into the ‘Millennial mind set’, by considering the events that have affected them, their values and their choices. It’s also important to remember that Millennials in different parts of the world are going through different job experiences; there are some things that unite them and others that cause them to behave differently.

 

To create a demand for wants, the advent of coffee shops giving options on size, flavour and various other combinations has led to almost everybody making multiple decisions before the day starts. Who had imagined that coffee shops would provide avenues for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee! Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. This led to the birth of on-demand satiation of wants. 

 

First, the internet and then the smartphones got us hooked on access to the world. This information overload meant marketers could easily target the emotions to ensure impulse buys with a ‘spend today pay tomorrow’ credit mind-set.

 

The secret ingredient of insecurity came in slowly but manipulating the minds of the Millennial Parents. This was the birth of mass peer pressure. The education system played a vital role in conditioning these young minds. The “Fear Of Missing Out” & “You Only Live Once” phenomenon drove parents to groom ‘super-achiever children’ by enrolling them to expensive nurseries, kindergarten and schools. The social media influencers made sure that you buy more, buy often & buy on credit and do more, are seen more & express more often. Ones self-esteem became directly proportional to the volume of followers.

 

One thing for certain is that the Millennial is a generation that is comfortable with disrupting the norm. Being the first generation to have grown up in the era of ‘internet’, Millennials are highly connected, technologically advanced and globally conscious and far more open to trying out new products and concepts. These are looked at as additional traits to have that make them strong potential candidates as compared to others in the industry. 

 

Travel industry is no longer in its nascent stages; however it is still younger than most other well established sectors in India. This industry has shown an impressive growth story so far. The World Travel and Tourism Council calculated that tourism generated 9.2% of India's GDP in 2018 and supported 8.1% of its total employment. The sector is predicted to grow at an annual rate of 6.9% by 2028 which is 9.9% of GDP. International tourist arrivals in India are expected to reach 30.5 million by 2028. In India, the travel industry hopes to create 46 million job opportunities by 2025. The UNWTO estimates that India will account for 50 million outbound tourists by 2020. This means that this industry will help boost the job market tremendously.

 

Instead of following the baby boomers’ dream of a house, a dream car, a steady job and a traditional family, they want a purpose-driven life, to make a difference in society instead. They prefer to consume experiences and do not want to wait until their golden years to see the world. Gone are the days of long career service awards and the lure of retiral benefits.

 

As Shallcross (2015) states, today’s millennials are travelling with “a backpack full of apps.” Their freedom of choice and the urge for a unique experience off the beaten track is the reason why the tourism industry has had to change and continues to change. “Millennials want a bit of everything, they want it all, they want it now and they want the Instagram photo to go with it.” The rigour and dynamic attitude that the Millennials possess is precisely why they are best suited to cater to the requirements of the ever evolving consumer base. The balance that the Millennials focus on between being achievement oriented and maintaining a good work life balance portrays traits of being decisive, strong headed and conscious which further adds to their EQ credibility.

 

The travel industry offers diverse opportunities for individuals. Largely the roles are in Sales, Operations, Products & Contracting, Ticketing, Tour Management and Support functions. Depending on the interest, individuals can look at careers in inbound or outbound tourism. Irrespective of the choices, all aspirants need to have a lot of confidence along with strong interpersonal skills and have a strong service mind-set and passion to make dreams come true. Someone who is looking to be a part of the tourism industry must have the hunger to learn new things every day, along with the knack of staying updated with the latest news, socio, economic trends and a strong knowledge of geography. To go on a great vacation is a dream most people have and the responsibility of every travel and tourism expert is to make this dream a reality in the best way possible. This industry requires individuals who have the ability to analyse, synthesize and interpret information, interpersonal communication (oral & written), ability to interact well with diverse cultures/groups, ability to do detailed research and plan effectively, critical thinking and above all respond well under pressure.

 

Individuals aspiring for a career in Travel and Tourism can opt for educational courses by way of a diploma, certificate, undergraduate or postgraduate programs as a qualification to be a part of this industry.  Distance Learning programs in Tourism and Travel Management are also offered by many institutes along degree courses, certificate courses, PG Diploma and degree courses, etc. There used to be a time when people who would join Travel trade as an afterthought, today the story is very different. In short, there is no dearth of opportunities in this sector, what is needed is a supply of well qualified resources.

 

Millenials by 2020 are expected to be around 50% of the workforce. No industry can afford to ignore this generation. For travel industry, people and culture will always be a competitive advantage. Technology, processes and systems can only contribute to an extent. People are the only asset that ultimately makes the difference. Therefore organisations are increasingly engaging in creating a workforce that understands ‘Customer Experience (CX)’ as the single most important driver. We, at SOTC, encourage regular intake of fresh talent in the Company to ensure that we remain relevant to the market space. One thing is sure, you will find a career in travel industry very exciting and interesting, and the best part, you even get paid for it!

 

 

Deepti is the Vice President & Head - Human Resources at SOTC Travel Ltd.

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