What we’ve learned over the past couple of years is that even if you try, you can’t be prepared for everything, says Caroline lusby, associate professor at the CRF Chaplin School hotel and tourism management and co-director of the new Online BA in Global Sustainable Tourism.
With the new year in sight, Lusby offers his thoughts on the future of the hospitality industry, its changes and the awareness due to COVID-19 and the rapid growth of tourism.
“Travel is now part of life, it includes independent travel and authentic and cultural experiences, which are growing areas,” she says.
Originally from Germany, Lusby grew up in Europe and traveled extensively. It was during these trips that she befriended, grew closer and developed a passion for the hospitality and tourism industry.
“Not all travel is created equal,” she says. “You can stay in your bubble or get to know nature and local communities.”
Practicing total immersion, Lusby has developed two passions, which really work in synergy: the well-being of people and the connection of people to others. Her focus on personal relationships, she says, has shaped the way she approaches her research, as she has published extensively on the cultural benefits and threats of global tourism.
A Fulbright scholar, she continues her own research in the industry with work focused on empowering communities and creating sources of income that use tourism as a tool for forest conservation.
Lusby considers Miami an interesting case study because of its “microclimates” and the way the city has tried to move away from the typical idea of beach and nightlife. The new emphasis is on creating microclimate prints with more eclectic prints like Wynwood, Little Haiti, the Everglades, and more, which showcase the unique subcultures that Miami has. She adds that Miami also has many “greening” needs.
“There are specific environmental issues like rising sea levels and red tides that we need to be aware of in hospitality and tourism,” she suggests. “But there are so many small movements like food recycling, cleaning programs, and volunteering that tourists can connect with.”
In that sense, Lusby describes five ways the hospitality and tourism industry will connect with consumers. These areas, she says, will be the guiding forces over the next several years for the industry.
1. Generational differences
There are changing generational differences and much more awareness of experiences. For 60 years, says Lusby, hospitality and tourism grew rapidly, but travel was more passive. Now that is part of life and the emphasis is more on authentic experiences and culture.
2. Well-being through travel
Another growing trend is the idea that wellness and wellness can be achieved through travel. Again, with experiences at the forefront, hospitality and tourism at large are moving towards more personalized experiences and accommodations. The focus is on people and the planet, she says.
FIU Top Scholar recipient for 2021, Lusby is a certified Green Globe Auditor and sits on the board of directors of Florida Society for Ethical Ecotourism, a non-profit organization dedicated to environmental awareness. Lusby notes that the BS in Global Sustainable Tourism helps address sustainability in all aspects of the hospitality and tourism industry. What was previously only seen in niche markets is now common in mass markets. A lack of sustainable practices also affects crops, she says. New methods are working to showcase authentic experiences for travelers while preserving local communities and even providing communities with benefits for their connection with tourists.
4. Influences of local and global crises
Any type of crisis, including diseases such as Zika virus, outbreaks of COVID-19 variants as well as political unrest will deter domestic and international travelers. After the September 11 attacks, the US government invested in Brand United States to help change perceptions abroad and encourage visits. Brand USA’s destination marketing mission is to increase international tourism and spending in the United States, while increasing US tourism dollars. This type of marketing and communication has been essential in a world affected by a pandemic, says Lusby.
5. Labor shortage
The pandemic has hit the hospitality industry harder than most. As a result, there is an ongoing challenge to find manpower to work in hotels and restaurants as demand from customers increases. This shortage has brought the industry to a crossroads. Operational changes occur and innovative ideas are also introduced to produce new efficiencies. These innovation-driven hubs will pave the way for the next few years.
Lusby sees signs that travel and tourism are slowly coming back. The FIU designs study programs that examine problems and provide the framework for solutions. It refers to a new class of wellness that explores what consumers want. The course takes a holistic look at happiness and how that translates into applicable strategies.
“We are exploring how we can incorporate some of these lessons to create a better experience in the hospitality and tourism industry,” she adds and stresses that true resilience depends on adaptation, as well as on a strong program and new graduates ready to face what happens. to them on the ground.
“It’s going to be tough, but we’re seeing the changes and preparing our graduates to make the connections necessary to build resilient communities,” she concludes.