Respected Caribbean hotelier Nicola Madden-Greig has been named the new president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA). She has signalled a move to harness technology to deliver new customer experiences, while retaining the authentic warmth found throughout the region. Sustainability will also be among her top priorities.
The award-winning Jamaican businesswoman was elevated to the position during CHTA’s Annual General Meeting last week. She will serve the final year of a two-year term vacated by Pablo Torres, who tendered his resignation as he assumed broader regional responsibilities with Hilton International.
Madden-Greig recognised Torres for his work as president, thanking him “for stepping up to the plate to lead the association at a time of extreme crisis.” She lauded his leadership during the pandemic, and wished him well in his new role as Area Vice President of Operations – Full and Focus Service Hotels in the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America for Hilton International.
In accepting the presidency, she said technology and sustainability will be two of her top priorities as she embarks on a three-year term. She also is looking forward to growing CHTA’s membership and helping the association become an even stronger voice for Caribbean tourism.
Declaring that “Caribbean tourism must not only survive, but thrive,” Madden-Greig stressed the importance of better collaboration, establishing new partnerships and strengthening existing ones as the industry grapples with the on-going threat of climate change and the continuing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Looking to the future, she said, “Climate change still presents an existential threat to a sustainable industry,” and added that technology has vastly changed how tourism works.
“From the way we tackle our tasks to how we communicate with co-workers, suppliers, and current and prospective customers, technology has created ripples of change that have impacted companies in every industry,” she said.
As an example, she pointed to the tourism industry’s response to COVID-19, “where the virtual world became front and centre and a proliferation of apps, communication tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams and other platforms became indispensable.”
She urged members of the Caribbean tourism sector to reimagine the industry and use the latest technological tools to deliver new customer experiences “geared around hyper-customisation”.
One of her goals, she said, is to create a Caribbean tourism technology task force within CHTA that would examine opportunities to use tools such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality, big data and robotics to establish smart tourism enterprises in smart destinations, utilising smart teams.
However, she said, while technology offers innovative solutions, she cautioned the sector against compromising the trademark, authentic warmth of Caribbean people, noting that “a resilient, engaged, human-centric and sustainable industry is critical in this new paradigm shift.”
This people-centred approach, she added, “must continue to be an integral part of the planning process as we embed Industry 5.0 technology into tourism enterprises and work to upskill, reskill and provide support mechanisms for team members to transition into new roles or to provide exit options and support.”
She affirmed that small, micro and medium-sized tourism enterprises must not be left behind in the shift to a higher-tech industry, and urged broad-based collaboration among the public and private sectors, nongovernmental organisations, multilateral groups and local hotel and tourism associations to ensure smooth delivery of new products and services.
Acknowledging the value of education, Madden-Greig underscored the need to work with academic institutions across the Caribbean to ensure the available programmes reflect the changing trajectory of tourism and that “our young people are getting the right tools to be able to meet the challenges and opportunities of the sector.”
Madden-Greig also reiterated that broadening membership participation to build a stronger CHTA will be critical in moving forward.
“Let’s ensure the Caribbean rhythm never stops and vibrates throughout the entire world,” she said.
Madden-Greig, who is currently the group director of marketing and sales for The Courtleigh Hospitality Group, brings two decades of tourism industry experience to her new role with CHTA.
She is a former two-term president of the Jamaica Hotel & Tourist Association (JHTA) and current chair of the Gastronomy Tourism Network. Madden-Greig also sits as a director on the Jamaica Tourist Board and the boards of JHTA, the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, and the Tourism Linkages Council of Jamaica. She received JHTA’s President’s Award in 2006 and 2019, and, earlier this year, was named a recipient of Jamaica’s Order of Distinction (Officer), one of the country’s highest honours.