Our industry is full of new faces.
Over the past couple years, whenever I have traveled to a tourism industry event, I have been struck by how many new people I see there. Some of this is natural, as people retire or leave organizations and new employees are hired to replace them. But turnover accelerated during the pandemic, as many tourism professionals lost their jobs and found other work. Now that travel is booming again, they have been replaced with new hires.
A lot of these new hires are very young, and many have no previous experience in tourism. When I spoke to a group at Southeast Tourism Society’s Marketing College last month, I was surprised how many said they had only been working in tourism for a few months.
This infusion of new, younger workers isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But for tour operators and travel planners who have been in the industry for years, working with new partners from younger generations is going to come with a learning curve.
With that in mind, here are four things we can all expect to encounter from our new colleagues.
New people bring a new outlook and fresh perspectives to our industry. Because they don’t have much experience, they don’t have much baggage. There are things we have done for years, or even decades, that may not make a lot of sense to new tourism professionals, and we should hear them out when they explain their thinking. Their ideas might help solve problems and streamline processes that we didn’t even realize were inefficient. The new ideas they bring about attractions and activities could prove to be a lot of fun.
The more time I spend with millennials and Generation Z, the more I’m convinced that they will fundamentally change the way we communicate in business. In general, millennials hate making phone calls, and Gen Z barely knows what a telephone is. If you’re used to doing a lot of business over the phone, you may have to adjust your expectations. Newer, younger tourism partners could be hard to reach by phone but easy to reach on social media or by text message.
Our newer, younger tourism colleagues came of age in a different era than many of us, and that reality is reflected in priorities that may be different than what you’re used to. They’re likely to prioritize work-life balance and demand more flexibility around work locations and hours. They’re also much more likely to actively promote social causes they care about. As a rule, they are more focused on sustainability and diversity than any generation that has come before. Those priorities will be reflected in their approach to tourism.
Adjusting to generational change can come with its share of challenges. But there are some great benefits too, including the opportunity to build new friendships. At its core, tourism is still a relationship business. And the lion’s share of the new, young tourism pros I have met are smart, upbeat, outgoing and personable. Building relationships with them will make your life — and our industry — richer.