Comment: Students are our future

Comment: Students are our future

The Abta Travel Convention began this week hearing from a group of people who don’t often get a stage at major industry events – but who represent the future.

Travel Weekly’s special Business Breakfast at the Abu Dhabi conference marked the launch of Take Off in Travel 2017, our annual prospectus for the travel industry aimed at school-leavers and college and university students.

Ahead of the discussion, delegates were played a video in which sixth-form travel and tourism students from Highdown School in Reading explained what their hopes are for a career in travel.

Our panel of industry experts agreed that the travel industry should do more to promote the range of exciting careers and opportunities that travel offers if it is to compete for the most promising staff in the future.

But the breakfast event and the convention also heard it is not all about the young – there’s just as much need to help older workers to either return to work or find new careers in this exciting industry.

And the same is true of customers, as Debbie Marshall of Silver Travel Advisor pointed out in her presentation on the opportunities for travel firms in the mature market, which has adopted new technologies such as social media with just as much enthusiasm as younger generations.

The generational theme was picked up by digital strategy expert Thimon De Jong, who said future generations will demand customised products and services in exchange for personal information, while algorithms will outperform humans in matching people to product. But he warned of the dangers of over-automation, saying humans should always be kept in the loop.

Good news for those students embarking on what I hope will be successful careers.

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