Toastmasters International published a cover page article on the importance of communication skills for the global tourism industry in December 2018. The article highlighted the importance of effective communication; sharing the best practices from Kathmandu to California. It mentioned that people in the tourism industry will continue to need the skills learned in Toastmasters to meet the tourism demand.
Unfortunately, Covid-19 has made a large dent, breeding uncertainty, emotional disruption and despair in the last 16 months. As the tourism industry is slowly crawling back in some parts of the world the destinations in the Indian sub-continent are still under complete and partial lockdown. It is pertinent to ask if effective communication still plays a vital role in rebuilding the tourism industry.
Greek Philosopher Aristotle ( 384-322 BCE) identified three purposes of communication: to inform, to persuade and to entertain. Interestingly the tourism industry is communicating with exactly the same purpose even after 2,300 yrs. However, we are chased by the million-dollar question; are we preparing the industry, its leaders and staff members with the art of effective communication in order to thrive and not just to survive?
As the tourism operating sector is gearing up to restart the industry, this is critically important to build back better. Earlier this week, Toastmasters in Nepal organized a panel discussion in the Clubhouse with the theme ‘ The Art of Effective communication in the Tourism Industry’. The panelists were former CEO of Nepal Tourism board, Tourism industry leaders and Distinguished Toastmasters. The discussion was very engaging and insightful and the ideas can be adopted by anyone in the tourism industry, not limited to Nepal.
The key takeaways of the discussion were:
- Effective communication is an art as well as a science.
- Asking the right questions and the appetite to learn are the keys to professionalism.
- Storytelling is absolutely important in order to make a point in a more captivating way.
- Listening skill plays a vital role. There is no quick-fix to effective communication. But becoming a star listener will surely pave the way to becoming a star communicator.
- Cross-cultural communication mastery will pave the way to success for the professionals as well as the aspiring leader.
- The art of communication is learned by communicating. Hence a deliberate practice is the key to honing core competency in effective communication.
- Compassionate communication is the need of the hour. Our message to the world should be filled with empathy and camaraderie.
Every crisis has a life cycle, and emotional states which vary with the cycle’s stages. With the help of effective communication, tourism operating sectors and its frontline staff members will be able to ensure safety for all. This is perhaps a testing time when the service team will have to be more courteous while maintaining physical distance, showing importance and not making the guests feel uncomfortable, not an easy task! Needless to say, non-verbal communication will be more important than ever.
In this unprecedented time, a consistent and effective communication carried out by a tourism professional or the destination helps to foster credibility. Aristotle recognized the importance of effective communication 2,300 years ago, it’s never too late for the tourism industry to learn the new skill and take advantage of strategic strength.