Neeta Lachmandas, Assistant Chief Executive, Singapore Tourism Board
The Asian travel and tourism industry is expected to face a significant labour shortage of about eight million jobs in the next 10 years, mostly at the managerial level, which poses a critical challenge as businesses expand and grapple with more complex demands from increasingly discerning consumers.
Ms Neeta Lachmandas, Assistant Chief Executive of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) shares her views on what it takes for travel leaders and tourism businesses to succeed in the region. This is the first in a thought-provoking series featuring the change-makers in Asia’s travel and tourism industry.
How is the leadership imperative key to leveraging the region’s growth potential and what does it take for leaders to be “Asia-ready”?
Navigating the region’s fast-growing and diverse environment requires the right strategies and a healthy appetite for innovation. A global perspective is essential – thinking beyond traditional business models, coupled with sensitivity to the specific needs and cultures of local markets.
Are Asia’s travel leaders ready to play a leading role in driving further transformation and growth of the industry?
Asia has an increasingly important role to play in the future. In 2013, Asia is projected to see growth of 5 to 6 per cent, outstripping the global average of 3 to 4 per cent. By 2020, two out of every five travellers are expected to be Asian and will account for nearly half of global tourism expenditure.
A new generation of leaders is introducing a level of energy and ideas that is creating waves across the travel and tourism landscape. The opportunity lies in bringing together the right people – those with the ability and desire to drive change - who can make a material impact.
From the past few editions of TravelRave and the Asia Travel Leaders Summit (ATLS) in particular, we have seen healthy discussions among travel industry leaders on key issues that cut across the entire industry. 2012 participants included Pak Budi Tirtawisata, CEO of Panorama Group and Mr Deepak Ohri, CEO of Lebua Hotels & Resorts.
One of the key challenges discussed at TravelRave 2012 is that many companies are not keeping pace with Asia’s growth potential, in terms of organisational development. What were some of the relevant findings and insights that were shared?
Firstly, there is a need to develop managers with broader competencies to compete in a more complex and dynamic operating environment. Secondly, existing programmes and initiatives are unable to meet the development needs of the industry.
Increasingly, business success is driven by leaders who possess a global outlook reinforced by well-rounded experience and market exposure. Addressing the gap in existing training and development platforms, especially for middle and senior management executives, requires a paradigm shift in the way businesses operate. Companies need to empower Human Resources to play a more strategic role in driving talent and executive development.
More importantly, business owners need to move from a competitive to a cooperative mindset especially in “non-competing” areas such as joint cross-sector initiatives aimed at raising the quality of the entire industry.
How can a platform like TravelRave facilitate longer term collaboration?
Following ATLS 2012, leaders have re-convened in working groups involving representatives from companies such as VFS Global Group, TAUZIA International Management, and Patina Hotels & Resorts to explore concrete ways to cooperate on strategic HR and talent issues discussed at the last summit.
Recognising the importance of engaging Gen-Y talent, ITB Asia partnered The Singapore Association of Convention and Exhibition Organises and Suppliers (SACEOS) to launch the inaugural Future Leaders initiative in 2012, targeting the top travel and tourism students from Singapore. The programme served to cultivate a better understanding of the travel industry so as to attract and groom the next generation of talent.
TravelRave is a key platform that gathers business leaders and industry professionals to explore the potential for cross-sector cooperation, share relevant insights and best practices of conducting business in Asia.
TravelRave 2013 will see an exciting line up of eight events across the travel and tourism spectrum from hospitality, tourism investment, technology to aviation.
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Sources: 1. HVS, ILO, WTTC, CNTA, IIFL, Cygnus, Great Places to Work Institute, Industry Interviews, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) analysis 2. EIU, BCG analysis in Consumer Insights: Profiling the Asian Middle and Affluent Traveller, a report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Singapore Tourism Board (STB), Asia Travel Leaders Summit 2012 3. UNWTO World Tourism Barometer