Insights on Travel

By Chloe Mak

Discovery+ is a series of online industry panels which give students the chance to interact with working professionals and learn about the careers they aspire to enter. These panels provide youths and working professionals with the opportunity to better understand industry trends, hear first-hand perspectives from industry professionals, and gain valuable advice on entering or navigating these industries.

On 1 March 2022, Advisory hosted Discover+: Travel, the 53th edition of the Discovery+ series. Speakers on the panel included:

  • Shi’Ai Liang (Moderator): Director, Hotel Development, Asia Pacific, Marriott International
  • Chevon Low: Head of Advocacy and Policy Media, Asia Pacific
  • Kenji Soh: Director, APAC Travel, Bain & Company
  • Teo Pok Yih: Independent Consultant and Entrepreneur, Tourism Solutions International & 1000Meetings

Attendees included students at various levels of education with a desire to know the different career paths in Travel, and how to best position themselves for such roles. Below are some key points shared during the session:

Firstly, one needs to be passionate about hospitality and enjoy their job. The travel industry requires one to meet a wide range of people that can be anyone from a CEO to operational staff in a hotel, thus people skills, such as being tactful, are also important. Being able to make people feel at home, and being creative in finding solutions for different things are also important.

The industry is not grounded because of COVID-19, and there are many more areas to explore beyond online booking platforms, airlines and hotels. Other areas include real estate management, operations, corporate etc.

The travel industry is very fluid and there are many entry points into it. If your degree programme has industry links, you can still enter the industry even without a specialised degree. While one is typically not required to have technical skills in a particular area to move around the industry, internships are available in school. Management trainee programmes may be available for one to explore different facets of the hotel industry, which builds a good foundation.

If you are in a tourism school, you will be surrounded by tourism opportunities! For those who are not, be open minded to opportunities and try! You can always change your career path later on.

It is not very developed due to various factors. Firstly, the purpose of space travel (whether it is corporate or tourist related) has yet to be established. If it is meant for corporate travel, companies must be able to pay for it. However, the cost is high due to a lack of demand in Asia. Scalability is also an issue, as there may not be the necessary infrastructure here.

Sustainability has a very broad definition, but it includes how the benefits of travel can be shared with locals and how certain heritage elements are preserved and shared. One example would be how pre-covid, the main form of income for some communities was tourism. However, with the pandemic, these communities were unable to reallocate resources to reduce the impact of little travel. Thus, diversifying income sources is a form of sustainability, along with ensuring the health and safety of travellers and local communities. One trend that is taking off is regenerative travel, where there is a focus on the reduction of impact of travel on local communities while also increasing the net benefit of tourism for communities. 

In terms of sustainability indicators in the travel industry, companies can now purchase carbon credits to offset their emissions, and system contractors may have green systems that they can choose. Hotels can also be awarded green ticks, providing options for people going for sustainability without impacting their business and revenue. There are also systems in place that can calculate the amount of carbon emitted from flights, which can help companies see how to reduce their carbon footprint. Lastly, sustainable aeroplane fuel is being developed, alongside improved flying techniques such as a smoother descent for more efficient fuel use.

Yes and no. 

No, as it might get overtaken by other countries who are better located than Singapore geographically even with the government trying to support SIA. Many locations can overtake us especially with the advent of long-haul flights.

Nonetheless, Singapore has the necessary infrastructure and government support to carry out hub operations, and continue to remain a choice hub. This is due to little political unrest and friendly business infrastructure, which cement our reliable and predictable impressions. We must work hard, and how we draw on transit travel is something important to consider too.

No, unless you want to specialise in something regarding the hospitality industry, for example revenue management in a hotel or operations. Being in this industry is more about skill sets than university knowledge. Having said that, alumni networks built in school can be very helpful.