Webinar by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Daniel Chong Ka Leong: Human touch being redefined in the hospitality industry

This webinar highlighted on current and ongoing efforts in sustaining the hospitality industry, where every touch point of the industry has been “re-strategised” in these times of crises.

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Assoc. Prof. Dr. Daniel Chong mentioned that undoubtedly, the global pandemic has caused tremendous stress to the tourism and hospitality industry. Movement restrictions have been imposed in nations across the globe since early 2020. As of today, there are approximately 60% of these nations which have eased travel limitations. Nevertheless, locations marked as red and yellow zones adhere to state quarantine orders. With movement control still being imposed, international travel has indeed dwindled significantly. He also further highlighted that on the contrary, domestic travel has risen in the recent months, stating that private resorts seem to be a favoured choice by local tourists recently. Although most may say that Malaysia is undergoing a “recovery stage”, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Daniel Chong mentioned that the country is now in the “transitionary stage” instead. It may take several more months before the nation shifts into a recovery stage.

The new normal does sound like a cliché but it cannot be denied that “the new normal” procedures have reshaped human interactions in the hospitality and tourism industry – social distancing and the use of mask. He mentioned that these new rulings and safety directives have received criticism from experts, claiming that they may reduce the human touch. During these times, it was witnessed how Artificial Intelligence (AI) has replaced basic human interactions. He also added that most often times, these interactions are merely through the motions, and that manpower is still a very pertinent component of the hospitality and tourism industry.

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Luxury hotels have trodden a new path to shed light on how human touch can be redefined. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Daniel Chong mentioned that services are brought to hotel rooms to avoid public area gatherings, where personalised services still very much made an impact. Whereas, in the events industry, going virtual seems to be the way to go, and including a database of recordings would be a good move to increase guest engagement.

Prior to ending this webinar session, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Daniel Chong also mentioned that, “The pandemic is a reset button for the hospitality industry, bringing us back to the origin of hospitality where human touch was defined by genuine care, empathy, and support.”