Part II: The Canary Islands; a living laboratory for hospitality and tourism
As one of the world’s most popular tourism destinations, the Canary Islands are a living laboratory for learning about the hospitality industry. With nearly 12 million tourist arrivals per year and a population of two million, the islands are populated by hundreds of hotels and thousands of restaurants serving a wide variety of preferences, tastes and spending levels. These conditions allow students to engage in active discovery about their own tourism environment while studying the larger trends and forces driving the industry in Spain and elsewhere. I act as their guide and get to participate in the discovery process with them.
One of the class’s first projects was to analyze recent hospitality industry reports to understand current conditions and emerging trends. Students worked in teams of three to synthesize and report on the most competitive tourism cities in Spain, the status of hotel development in the Canary Islands, and the potential impact of Brexit on Canary Islands tourism.
Another project involved conducting an inventory of hotels on the island of Tenerife located in the island’s main destinations: Santa Cruz, Puerto De La Cruz, La Laguna and the south shore of the Island. Students pooled their findings to create a large map displaying the predominant hotel types, service levels and rates in each of the major tourism markets. From this data, students reflected on the differences in customer base and the competitive environment in each location.
Getting outside the classroom to see, hear, touch and taste hospitality experiences is always important. A field trip to the Tigaiga Hotel and Suites was highlighted by an intimate sit-down with the CEO, Enrique Talg, who is part of a venerable family of Tenerife hoteliers and a leader in the local hotel sector. Talg shared his perspective on how the hotel achieves a high level of guest satisfaction and loyalty. Obviously it’s working, because a large proportion of Tigaiga guests stay with them year after year.
Gastronomy is a major focus on Tenerife, and we have just begun to explore the range of creative food establishments serving the island’s tourists and residents. So far, each student has evaluated a favorite restaurant in terms of food, atmosphere and service. Upcoming outings include a tour and talk at Casa De Los Vinos, a museum dedicated to the history and preservation of Canary Island wines, and a tasting and talk by a local chef who is pioneering an innovative Canarian-Asian fusion cuisine.