Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Education
For a Special Issue on
Looking into Hospitality and Tourism Education in the 2030s – Conundrums and New Standards
31 March 2023
31 October 2023
Special Issue Editor(s)
Cora Un In WONG,
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Macao Polytechnic University
Macao Institute for Tourism Studies
University of Waikato, New Zealand
Looking into Hospitality and Tourism Education in the 2030s – Conundrums and New Standards
The hospitality and tourism (HT) industry has experienced tremendous changes in the past few decades, fueled by rapid global socio-economic development, techno-advancement and increases in income. The COVID-19 pandemic posed further challenges that accelerated changes in both industry and education. The industry developed “non-contact” services and education went “on-line.” These changes are reflected in the themes of research in HT education (Griffin, 2021; Menon, Gunasekar, Dixit, Das, & Mandal, 2022; Seo & Kim, 2021; Smith, 2021; Ye & Law, 2021). However, while recognizing the uncertainty and challenges, it is time to move our vision away from looking at what has happened. Instead, we should look into the future – how will the HT industry look in ten years from now? What skills will the future HT industry be wanting? How can the HT institutes and programs innovate to embrace the future?
Artificial intelligence applications are beginning to inform information and operations management (Wirtz et al., 2018). Research in the tourism industry has indicated that technology advancement, service automation and innovation have increased productivity in many aspects (Buhalis et al., 2019). Certainly, having wide digital connection with social media and mobile applications has been proven to add value for tourists and guests (Morosan & DeFranco, 2016; Ramaswamy & Ozcan, 2018). Through the intense integration of ICT with the operation systems of HT industry, consumers today find relevant and more diverse HT information much easier than even a decade prior. These changes, innovative though they are, are but a precursor to greater change once real-time seamless data systems emerge with 5G services. As a result, digital business applications are being integrated into the HT education. Not only are ICT related courses being offered but several institutions are exposing students to an immersive learning experience via equipping the teaching and learning process with artificial intelligence support services.
However, as Stankov and Gretzel (2020) commented, the fact that we are increasingly dependent on Tourism 4.0 technology in tourist experiences does lead to issues in human-system interaction, including but not limited to dehumanization and depersonalization of tourist experiences, technostress, information overload, perceived riskiness of technology use, and ultimately tourist experience value destruction. Such potential problems are inimical to the provision of palatable tourist experiences that represent the core of the HT industry. The heart of tourism and hospitality has always been about experiences (Pine & Gillmore, 1999; Schmitt, 1999) and traditionally hospitality and tourism industry has placed the face-to-face experience of human relationships at the core of its services (Pan & Ryan, 2009; Ryan, 2010). A delicate balance is thus needed between a better use of ICT and optimal tourist experiences. The structure of HT curricula determines the subject-areas with which our students are familiar (Goh & Sigala, 2020). Apparently enhancing students’ ICT competencies is an important focus of today. But would over-embracing technology in our HT education contribute to optimal tourist experiences? How might consumer behavior change in the 2030s? In particular, how people will travel in 10 years’ time and what services and products would be in highest demand?
Focusing on market segments, the ageing population poses further global issues. According to the World Health Organization, the number of persons aged 80 years or older is expected to triple between 2020 and 2050, reaching 426 million (WHO, 2022). The students of today will be working in a different world to that of today when they come to celebrate a decade of work in the industry by about 2035. In the event that a concentration on IT means socializing and personal emotional states are largely inhibited or less emphasized in the learning process, would that be consequential to students’ decision making, actions, memory, attention and even their body language, which are conventionally the key components in generating pleasant tourist experiences (Berkowitz, 2000; Weaver & Moyle 2019). From tourists’ perspective, while tourists are good at making bookings over the internet, in an ageing world, the numbers of those retiring are not being replaced by those under the age of 18 years. Senior citizens often seek the quality of life they feel their working years should bring to them even as age often means a deterioration in their health. This can only be done by raising the productivity of workers. But while those approaching retirement are very different to those who were approaching 65 some 30 years ago, they too tend to value interpersonal face to face service situations (Otoo & Kim, 2020; Otoo, Kim & Choi, 2020). How does the HT industry respond to seemingly incompatible demands between a want for service and a need to raise productivity based on greater usage of robotics? The price mechanism is one way, but that would suggest that only the high-income groups obtain desired services while the less wealthy are provided less costly services that they may see as being of less value. Equally one must also perceive a temporality in this as the generations pass. Those over the age of 65 years in the 2030s may have different attitudes towards robotics than their counterparts of today. Hence, the ageing population inevitably entails re-consideration when targeting this segment and requires product redesign and innovation to cater for the senior segment. What qualities should the future HT talents possess to embrace this segment?
The issue of environmental sustainability has always been a significant concern. It is imperative that a new tourism and hospitality paradigm that can significantly reduce carbon footprint be in place (Gössling & Higham, 2021). It is expected that more demand and campaigns will seek to ensure eco-sustainability and decarbonizing tourism by the 2030s (Melville, 2022). The realization of the above ambition relies much on the future talents and workforce, pressuring the hospitality and tourism educational institutes to create / reform their curricula, and restructure their knowledge and education models to better prepare students to meet the future demand of the HT industry. In addition, there will be additional demands on the qualifications of HT workforce by emphasizing subjects on health, sanitation, eco-sustainability, technical competencies in ICT and social media (Edelheim, 2020; Sigala, 2021).
Researchers and scholars in the HT industry will thus need to envisage the future and to consider how we should educate our students in HT education for that time. In this regard, we need to provide a valuable degree in HT education that enables students to:
- value interpersonal services
- be capable of working with AI algorithms and robotics while being empathetic and productive
- ensure algorithms and robotics provide desired services
- maintain high skill sets ranging from food services to experience design
- utilize the big data sets being generated on guests and clients in ways that serve those guests and clients
- actively seek solutions in offering low or zero carbon hospitality and tourism products
If our HT education should be shaped along these lines in the next decade, what are the implications in reforming the HT curricula as well as the learning environment? How should we find a delicate balance in knowledge construction and dissemination between the technology focused and human-centered? While we review the past changes and disruptions in the hospitality and tourism industry arising from COVID, and their implications for HT education, it is time that we look ahead and imagine ourselves into the future. In addition, pedagogically, questions need to be asked about the ideal delivery mode. The recent adoption of hybrid modes of teaching and learning have innovatively addressed the COVID-related challenges and offered great flexibility, but frustrations have been frequently reported (Lei & So, 2021; Ren, Guan, & Tavitiyaman, 2022). Concerns embraced include how could learning quality be guaranteed when not all the students possess appropriate degrees of self-control in time management and may lack motivation in active learning and participation in online learning activities. A better experimental and experiential learning has thus been called for.
Considering these questions and placing HT education under scrutiny, the aim of this special issue is to focus on innovative HT education paradigms and practices that could address the needs of HT industry in the 2030s. Specifically, the following themes are on the agenda for this special issue:
- Looking into the 2030s, what types of talents are required (and thus expected from HT educational institutes) for a productive labor force?
- Identifying and preparing skills for the future HT industry - new curricula, new pedagogy, new assessments
- How to innovate in techno-blended teaching and learning in HT education and research into advantages/disadvantages of those mechanisms?
- How to add value to HT education by looking into the 2030s – what will attractive HT programs look like?
- Re-examining the core qualities of the HT graduates, what will be changed?
- What are the implications of an ageing population, changing demand for HT product and service, and the implications for HT education.
- Preparing environmentally friendly hospitality and tourism product designs, service procedures, and the implications for HT education.
- Identifying guest and tourist behavior changes in the era of technology 4.0, such as a growing attention on health, especially emotional wellbeing, work-life balance, and the implications for HT education.
- The latest students, faculty, and industry perceptions of the needs for an overhaul of HT education in the 2030s.
The following types of manuscripts are welcome:
- Empirical studies
- Conceptual papers
- Research note
Interested scholars please submit your extended abstract to Dr. Cora Wong at [email protected] (500 words including references) by March 31st, 2023. Decisions will be sent to corresponding authors on April 15th, 2023. Full-length articles are expected to be submitted to this special issue of JHTE by October 30th, 2023. Full paper submission will be processed in the system. Please indicate that your submission is intended for the special issue of “Looking into Hospitality and Tourism Education in the 2030s – Conundrums and New Standards” when you submit. We look forward to receiving high quality research papers from you. For any inquires please kindly email Dr. Cora Wong at [email protected].
This special issue is expected to be published in August 2024.