A union boss has given tourism workers a sober reminder that as the digital technology revolution leads to disruption in the instruction, it could also leave displaced workers in its wake.
“Where we are today is not where we anticipate we will be tomorrow. Everything around us is changing,” said General Secretary of the Barbados Workers Union Toni Moore, at a workshop on Tourism and Digital Transformation at the union’s Solidarity House, St Michael headquarters on Tuesday.
During the one-day sensitization workshop, the participants were briefed on types of technologies that were currently being employed in the tourism to help policymakers and authorities to make better marketing decisions.
They were also given an idea of how technology and social media were being used to help various entities carry out more targeted marketing.
Technological advances over the years have led to some categories of workers feeling that they were being displaced, Moore said.
The union leader suggested that it was therefore up to workers to ensure they stayed relevant.
“To ensure they are not displaced it means that they have to do something differently or be able to package things in a way that the average person who has the tool might not still be able to do it,” said Moore.
“So we are at a time when the unions are expected to protect jobs, offer people job security. One of the best ways that we recognize that we can do this is not by making you feel that the way you do things today will continue to be the way you do it going forward. One of the responsibilities we recognize as ours is to train people for the future, not only in terms of skills but in terms of the mindsets that are needed for the future,” she said.
Moore said the union’s “struggle” was generally at two levels – to train people for the future, and while doing so, to ensure that they were not being denied the opportunity for employment.
She suggested employers plan and prepare for technological change while embracing their workers, rather than be swept away by it.
“You don’t just get up a morning as an employer one day and say this is the way we will go. It means that you are planning and it means that you are preparing your skills base for the future. Where people can’t adapt maybe those people will fall, but we believe each worker should be given the opportunity to participate in the work of the future,” she said.
During his presentation on Digital Marketing and Social Media, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) official Gabriel Isaie said there were increasingly more “immersive content” in the industry.
With the average adult said to be spending over two hours a day on their smartphones, Isaie said it was critical that tourism operators capitalize on this trend.
Adding that artificial intelligence was becoming a main staple in the sector, he explained that big data was now responsible for driving transformation in tourism.
Big data refer to information, often in vast quantities, on human behaviour and interactions in order to uncover patterns, trends and connections. This data are often analyzed mathematically.
By collecting data on individuals including their age, sex, family size, where they are travelling from, and how much they spend on their trips, would give officials the opportunity to better implement targeted marketing strategies, Isaie explained. This could result in savings in millions of marketing dollars each year, he added.