Travel and tourism staff need to reskill amid a post-pandemic world

Is the global health crisis an opportune time for hospitality workers to expand their skillset?

By U2B Staff 

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The travel and tourism industry is among the industries that have been hit hardest by the pandemic. As many wrangle with a new normal, the global health crisis is proving to be an opportune time for hospitality workers to expand their skills and stay relevant with industry practices while waiting for the sector’s revival. 

Since January, Ascott Centre for Excellence (ACE), the global hospitality training arm of Ascott, has seen a 400% year-on-year increase in participants to 1,300, reported Travel Weekly Asia.

“The demand for our training programmes has increased significantly as more companies invest in developing their staff during this downtime. The adoption of online training also enabled us to cater to this demand. When we moved our classroom training online, our class size doubled to 40 persons,” Willie Ong, vice president of ACE, was quoted saying.

The training centre specialises in training for the hotel and accommodation services sector. 

Participants comprise of operations and back-of-house staff, including non-executives to managerial levels, and learn from trainers with operational experiences, seek career counselling and are offered opportunities to do a stint at Ascott’s serviced residences and hotels worldwide, said the report.

An industry forced into disruption

Travel and tourism
Tourists walk at Punta Ballena street in Magaluf, Calvia, in Spain’s Balearic island of Majorca on July 16, 2020. Source: JAIME REINA/AFP

Speaking to Orlando Business Journal, industry leaders said there will be a need for workers staying in the travel industry to be re-educated on what’s expected of them to serve customers. Many standards will have changed or become more intense by the time employees return to the workplace.

These may include teaching employees how to take guests’ temperature at theme park gates, stronger sanitising, cleaning and fumigation protocols, said Dennis Speigel, founder, and CEO of Cincinnati-based industry consulting firm International Theme Park Services Inc to OBJ.

Cleanliness will play a more prominent role while staff may also have a learning curve to see what is allowed while keeping experiences fun for guests, said Gatorland President and CEO Mark McHugh.

He added that there will be lots of training on the latest health guidelines and how standards such as keeping large groups separated or touch-points at the parks cleaned.

Areas to upskill in for those in the travel and tourism industry

The rise of online learning also means learners can opt to choose online programmes that fit their time and schedule without hampering their efforts to upskill.

Expedia Group Academy recently launched a complimentary education programme to help displaced or furloughed travel workers expand their skill sets, develop professional networks, and open career opportunities while the industry starts the road to recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, reported Hotel Business.

Their online learning modules are themed by month and are led by industry and subject matter experts as well as company executives. Modules will include webinars, online training, activity guides, and downloadable resources.

Meanwhile, with cleaning rising in importance amidst the pandemic, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) has also created COVID-19 Precautions for Hotels, an online course developed in partnership with the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI), said HB.


This course is designed to help hotels train their staff on the enhanced safety and cleanliness guidelines.

At the end of the day, regardless of your level of seniority, the pandemic doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom for those in the travel and tourism industry. Instead, it can be viewed as an opportunity to build your skills and future-proof the self in light of adapting to a new normal.