Now's the time to join tourism, hospitality line
IF YOU are innovative, adaptable and tenacious, you are precisely what the local tourism and hospitality industry needs, said industry experts.
In an industry that is always changing, being able to innovate is key, said Ang Woon Jiun, learning and development manager at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group.
Speaking at the My Paper Advance seminar on tourism and hospitality on Sunday, he gave an example of how spa services were all the rage in hotels in the past, but the draws now are staycations and melding technology with familiar services, such as do-it-yourself check-in kiosks for business travellers.
"Everything of value depreciates with time," said Mr Ang. "Forty years ago, when the concept of room service was launched, it was unbelievable. Today, room service is probably an expected or basic service."
It is a good time to consider joining the tourism and hospitality industry, which looks set to grow with opportunities in the expanding cruise and sports events businesses, said fellow speaker, tourism practitioner Barkathunnisha Abu Bakar Maricair.
According to figures from the Singapore Tourism Board's (STB's) latest tourism sector performance report, tourism revenue remained steady at $23.6 billion last year, despite a 3 per cent year-on-year decline in visitors to 15.1 million.
This means visitors are spending more, said Ms Barkathunnisha, who is also a lecturer and corporate trainer at Kaplan. The STB report also indicated 6 per cent year-on-year growth in the sightseeing, entertainment and gaming sector.
She added that one important trait for employees in the tourism and hospitality industry to have is to "be happy", as customers like to associate with people who are genuinely so.
Ms Barkathunnisha also noted that there are more jobs available in the tourism and hospitality industry than there are people to fill them.
"Tourism is booming, but short-staffed," she said. "It is a problem faced all over the world and in Singapore."
The four speakers at the seminar said that passion is key to having a successful career in the industry.
For speaker Linda Loke, director of restaurants, bars and events at Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant, passion was what drove the former waitress to excel in the food and beverage (F&B) industry.
She said that, while the F&B sector has very high job vacancy and resignation rates, it is one that "definitely rewards you for your effort and hard work".
When it comes to customer service, a key ingredient in effectively communicating with customers is being able to listen to them, said speaker Marianna Pascal, a corporate trainer at STTS Training.
Ms Pascal also shared three tips on how to deal with angry customers (see sidebar), which resonated with seminar participants like Ng Wee Ling, a part-time guest services host.
"The three tips were very useful," said Ms Ng, 46. She used to be from the tourism industry and is thinking of rejoining it after attending the talk.
Another participant, 23-year-old Julian Teo, who just graduated from Murdoch University and is considering a career in hospitality, said the seminar was "interesting" and gave an "in-depth explanation of the industry".