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Tourism is dead? Long live hospitality!

Our world and our ecosystem are changing. The boundaries between services, tourism services in particular, are blurring; customer expectations are changing and we have to adapt. In order to conduct public policies, we need to define the sector; but who has known and will know how to define tourism clearly, objectively and without omission?

One of the deepest evils of our sector is that we are poorly defined, we are poorly governed and, let’s face it, we are poorly coordinated. In short, this vagueness creates confusion, friction, unnecessary division and does the industry no favours. Is the ice cream vendor located in a seaside resort and who makes 80% of his turnover over the two summer months part of the tourism family? Should transporters such as the SNCF (French National Railway Company) or airlines, but also cabs, be taken on board? Restaurants, hotels, private rental, outdoor hotels, receptive, leisure activities certainly, but also bicycle hire companies? Sports clubs and other leisure facilities as well?

One of the deepest evils of our sector is that tourism is poorly defined, therefore poorly governed and, let's be realistic, poorly coordinated by its actors. In short, this vagueness creates confusion, friction, unnecessary division and does the industry no favors.

Is the ice cream vendor located in a seaside resort and who makes 80% of his turnover over the two summer months part of the tourism family? Should transporters such as the SNCF (French National Railway Company) or airlines, but also cabs, be taken on board? Restaurants, hotels, private rental, outdoor hotels, receptive, leisure activities certainly, but also bicycle hire companies? Sports clubs and other leisure facilities as well? Department stores, with nearly 70% of their turnover made by tourist customers, are not considered as a player in the sector. Shopkeepers and craftsmen rub shoulders with CAC 40 companies and digital giants, how can we talk about a common path when certain interests may seem antagonistic?

Desirability is central to our hospitality business. Whether it is for a first-time visitor coming from the other side of the world or for a local resident, the job remains the same: to sell and make people live an experience. To be able to create that moment, that connection that will remain in the head and heart of the client, whatever his geographical origin or culture (See the editorial of June 2, 2020). Hospitality is above all a profession of contact and welcome, where the limits of the product and service are constantly being pushed back, where creativity can fully express itself.

Innovation is one of the drivers of our success, and our sector has seen profound changes emerge: the democratization of air travel, the democratization of commercial accommodation, particularly with budget hotel chains, and digitalization, which opens up an ocean of possibilities for customers and puts them back at the heart of the game. We are now entering a new phase of transformation. Demand for tourist services will remain strong, but what room is there for mass tour operating at a time when everyone can easily build their experience with digital technology? How can we explain the bankruptcy of Thomas Cook, one of the biggest operators in the sector, in 2019, a record year for world tourism?  It seems that only tour operators that offer tailor-made solutions have the room to manoeuvre to make the most of the game, by adding value to customer relations. More and more consumers want to give more meaning to their acts of consumption. These changes will gradually lead to a decline in mass tourism for tailor-made and individualized tourism, as is already happening in the luxury sector.

At a time when co-working and co-living are becoming more and more commonplace, and when "staycation" and "workation" are emerging, it is necessary for operators to adapt to the exponential development of teleworking. Who will lead the transformations in the sector?

In this period of crisis, all recovery scenarios are being explored. Recovery in V, U or L... It would seem that the K dominates, with a series of companies that continue to progress, while the future is judged bleak for those that belong to the world before. If we are indeed facing a K-shaped recovery, perhaps it is surprising that no tourism player is on the upward curve. If this crisis were to reveal the companies that are growing, in line with consumer expectations, where would the players in the tourism industry be?

Trust is the mother of all economic development. Faced with these profound changes, apart from completely reinventing itself, the hospitality sector has another battle to fight, that of reinsurance. It will have to respond to a triptych: safety, health security and economic guarantee.

This summer has shown us that the pre-crisis trends are confirmed around the authentic and responsible tourism. If no one is able to predict the future precisely, what is certain is that this crisis is currently not economic. It is linked to an exogenous, sanitary factor, which once mastered will give way to the economic crisis for which we can more easily read recovery trajectories. This crisis is not a liquidity crisis; liquidity is abundant, especially on the side of public money and finance. They will strongly contribute to the expected recovery shock as soon as confidence returns to the market.

For more than 25 years Hospitality ON has been deciphering the transformations in the sector and we look forward to deciphering the next 300 shades of hospitality in this new cycle with you.

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