Friends of the Nonverbal Communication Blog, this week we present the paper “Measuring the importance of communication skills in tourism”, by Tankovic, A. C.,; Kapes, J. and Benazic, D. (2022), in which authors carry out a study with college students to know the importance that different communication areas have for the future of tourism sector’s professionals.
We know from numerous studies to date, that communication skills have been identified as one of the most important, even crucial, factors for modern businesses.
While it is important to have specialized professional knowledge to be effective in our work, research shows that having only technical skills has become insufficient to meet the challenges of today’s business environment.
Now, those who hire are not interested in people who only have specific skills for the position, but are also looking for other significant skills, the so-called “soft skills”. The term refers to interpersonal skills, dealing with people, attitudes that improve business efficiency and relationships.
Effective business communication is a prerequisite for the successful performance of any company. However, when it comes to tourism, the importance of communication is even greater, because in tourism it has a deeper meaning, vital for the success of the business, especially in the interaction between tourists and employees.
Recent research shows that hotel managers spend up to 80% of their workday communicating interpersonally with others. Their communication ability affects the job satisfaction of all their subordinates. Auditory communication skills involve the process of receiving, interpreting and responding to messages, being considered by most experts as the most important part of the business communication process.
Plus, something very interesting is that the skills required in tourism change over time. Due to technological advances, tourism is, today, a sector indissoluble from technology, which is why it requires digital skills from employees.
The need to understand, know and master non-verbal communication is also mentioned. For example, it is important to pay attention to the communicator’s physical characteristics, body movements, the expressed courtesy, facial expression…
Employees in tourism and hospitality must be carefully recruited, and must receive continuous training, because their communication skills are an important indicator when it comes to generating positive interaction with customers.
It is important to make the following distinction. While communication in tourism may primarily require external communication, internal communication helps reinforce employee satisfaction, which, in turn, affects guest satisfaction. Combining external and internal communication, you can achieve an interpersonal communication that involves everyone, through two-way channels, with direct personal contact, making all parties feel heard and, therefore, ensuring that everybody’s needs are met more frequently.
Authors realized that there was no previous body of research and literature on the different aspects of communication applied to tourism and considering all at once.
Thus, they distributed a questionnaire that assessed written, oral, listening, digital communication, and non-verbal communication skills. The questionnaire was sent to tourism students and completed between 2019 and 2020.
The findings revealed that written and oral communication skills are the prerequisite of business communication. As expected, auditory communication skills seem to have become an essential component of interpersonal communication, linked to the daily activity of companies and, furthermore, closely related to greater hierarchical responsibility.
On the other hand, digital communication skills refer to contemporary challenges beyond technical and computer skills, such as the processing of digital information that is received and its treatment.
Nonverbal communication skills have a very high reliability value for those surveyed, who mention the need to pay attention to signs such as: smiling when speaking, using gestures and certain body postures, wearing appropriate professional clothing, appearing confident, honest…
For future research, authors recommend focusing on the effect of the aforementioned communication skills on employability, entrepreneurial intent, or career development.
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