Message from Prateek Hira for the students of Travel & Hospitality in times of Corona Virus

Dear Students of Tourism & Hospitality,

I understand that less and less students are into reading, very unfortunate though but probably that’s what we call evolution, so I decided to record my message specially for the students of Tourism and Hospitality and for all those freshers who are now struggling to get themselves established in the tourism industry.  

I know it’s the toughest time for all of us and even more for you, as you have not even started your career and the dark clouds are hovering over you already.

COVID is indeed a dreadful pandemic and one that has struck all of us unwarned, unprepared and blindfolded and no business is spared by it globally. Each one of the living generation is seeing and experiencing it for the first time ever.

I must admit it has hit the tourism industry the hardest and that includes hospitality and aviation. We are staring at 5 trillion revenue loss and above all about 40 million jobs that might be lost only because of the sector’s down trend.  

Having said that, it’s not the end of it all and our resilience is in fact is very strong both personally and professionally.

We also need to realize whenever such health and safety challenges are thrown to us, our scientists have handled it with utmost precision to dilute the ill-effects within no time and our science is in a very advanced stage than we think. Also we as humans have a great brain to dodge such situations and come out of it the soonest.

I am closely following the news on the vaccine research,  and imagine the scientist are so confident that even the commercial manufacturing has commenced without it having gone through all the stages of trials. When vaccines take years together and often decades, we are expecting it this year itself. Isn’t it music to ears?

Technology is another intervention in everything and see, what a fabulous app they have developed, Aarogya Setu, that can help break the chain of COVID and within no time can trace all contacts.

Now consider the allegations of many that India is not testing enough thus is low on numbers, but again see the death rate due to this virus in India. If we are not testing and identifying, the death rate still can’t be controlled rather should have been more than those countries that are testing and identifying. I believe that’s because of our inherent immunity and resilience to such viruses. Of course we do not have to take things lightly and surely should never challenge, but then I am trying to enumerate the positives of it.

Coming back to the career fears of the students and youth. Yes things will be a bit difficult n the short  to medium run, till the time industry gathers momentum and in one of my article, I clearly have said, assuming 30th  June 2020 be the date of being back in business and the virus fears being lowest, the corporate travel will begin at a slow pace within the next month or so, followed by the domestic leisure in the next three months, outbound  markets in the next twelve months, say by July 2021 will pickup and then India’s Inbound in eighteen months by January 2022.

I know its along time but be sure it will be as it was, and in fact much more in numbers than ever. At the end of the day, no sanitizations, no leaving seats vacant in the airlines, no temperature checks in the hotel and above all no social distancing will be a norm in the next 12 to 18 months. Or so I firmly believe. Fear is playing a huge role at the moment, but the silver lining in the dark cloud is, we have very short memory and an attitude to just forget and move on.  

So there are two ways to handle this. One, that we sulk and be depressed and just leave our passion to join and be in the industry that we always aspired for, while second is that we positively utilise this time to further hone our skills, learn new tricks, innovate and prepare ourselves in such a manner that we stand out when the time comes. You know the lock-down started from March 22nd and colleges were closed much earlier than that, so we have already done more than a month, so let’s analyse, did we do some learning during this period, did we brush up our skills, did we add an ancillary skill to our sets, did we read some relevant text with regard to our specialisation, did we attend numerous webinar to extend our knowledge ? if you did not, I am sorry to say, you are treading the wrong path and things might be really difficult for you when they start moving, while if you have, be rest assured you are the one, not only to be picked up first but you will have an enviable career path that will move up with double the speed than otherwise it would have.

The industry will now look for 360 degrees workforce that means travel and hospitality professionals will no longer be divided into bracketed roles. The trend of 360 degrees will be making inroads in the travel and hospitality domain, where professionals will be expected to “know all – do all” without having defined roles that bracket work. Travel professionals will have to think 360 degrees, learn 360 degrees, work 360 degrees and deliver 360 degrees too. It will now be a time for multi-tasking and travel professionals will have to relearn to perform in all spheres at 360 degrees. To be able to do this it will be imperative to learn many things from the ancillary kitty. It may sound strange, very strange, but now If you are a chef, you need to know photography, video editing, blogging and designing menus too. If you are a tour escort you got to know itinerary planning, documentation, even photography or creative writing. So it could be anything and everything that will add on to your profile now.

Soon when things start opening up you will see many in your peer group would have left the turf leaving it all open to you and then many others would have just slept away during this period of lull. It will be then that you will have brighter chance than you otherwise would have had.

I am sure you too know, nothing of this sort lasts forever, and even if it ever has, we have learnt to live and flourish and dodge all the ill-effects it.

A few days ago in a panel discussion I was with Chef Ranveer Barar who rightly said, till people will eat their breakfast, lunch and dinner you guys will have a job. In the same league travel will never ever stop and remember how very restless we already are to travel and just waiting to be allowed to.

So guys cheer up! and add-on to your learning, consider this a blessing in disguise, that’s just been bestowed on you to emerge as the most knowledgeable and employable candidate of future.

I leave you with a quote by Charles Haddon Spurgeon who said:  “Hope itself is like a star – not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity.”

Best Wishes,

Prateek Hira

(President & CEO – Tornos)