Globalization and the development of economies in Asia, Africa and South America, means that business travel and tourism is more and more a truly cross-cultural activity, in terms of the demand side.
Yesterday’s stereotypical business traveller was American, German or Japanese. Today he or she is increasingly likely to be from Malaysia, Korea or Russia. Tomorrow they may come from China or Brazil. This development has great implications for the business tourism industry in terms of the product and how it is marketed.
The product needs to take account, for example, of different religious beliefs about diet and the practise of prayer. Marketing, particularly advertising, has to also take account of religious beliefs and values in different cultures, and how they affect the acceptability or otherwise of different types of advertising. Staff also need to understand what constitutes protocol and polite behaviour in different cultures so that offence is not caused to guests.
Labour mobility has also created a truly multicultural workforce in business tourism. Managers have to understand different cultures to ensure that they manage their staff as fairly and effectively, as possible. The cross-cultural nature of business travel and tourism will grow in future, and all organizations must recognize the implications of this development and take appropriate action. Otherwise the new markets will take their business elsewhere and customer satisfaction levels will decline.
In this chapter, the authors have endeavoured to identify some key challenges for the business tourism sector today that will continue to affect it in the future. The emphasis has been on what the industry needs to do about these factors but the authors are aware that most of the issues are being increasingly recognized.
Nevertheless, it is clear that the industry, which is young and only just reaching maturity, will face a number of major challenges in the next few years. It needs to deal effectively with these issues or they will threaten the continued growth and development of the industry in the future.