The Importance of U.S. Exchange With The Philippines

In today’s global Hospitality climate, younger generations have a vested interest in gaining experience abroad.

To put it simply, Interning in the U.S. provides the inherent benefit of learning to acclimate to unfamiliar surroundings. To be an excellent host, it’s helpful to see things from a guest’s perspective, too.

Moreover, good hospitality depends in part on the host’s flexibility. A host ought to have the capacity to accommodate as diverse a set of guests’ needs as possible. Americans give trainees the chance to learn to adapt to diverse range of backgrounds, and adaptability is an invaluable skill.

J-1 Participants Make Cultural Exchange Happen

The fact of the matter is that international travel can be dangerous, especially when visiting a new nation for the first time. Not only is being in a new land inherently intimidating from a cultural perspective, it can even be treacherous trying to locate the right guides to help you get there.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to differentiate between legitimate placement companies like TransUSA Exchange and unscrupulous copycats, who promise fabulous opportunities but fail to back up those claims. At best, these dubious organizations simply disappoint their clients. At worst, their clients arrive to find that they may not be able to return home.

TransUSA Exchange only connects participants with respected employers of the highest integrity. Because our network of employers hold themselves to the highest standards of performance and ethics, we’re able to provide J-1 interns and trainees with placements that actually match the vibrant photos and exciting descriptions that candidates see on program descriptions.

As a result, we’ve been able to connect countless 5-star hotels, Michelin-Star restaurants, and world-class resorts with interns and trainees who are not only qualified, but who regularly exceed their hosts’ expectations.

Thus, the J-1 Cultural Exchange Program enables us to give American professionals the chance to work alongside fresh talent from what is poised to become the world’s next Hospitality Capitol. At the same time, participants return home from their experiences with invaluable knowledge gained from their executive chefs and brilliant managers.

El Nido, Philippines [source]
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is SPT-Filipinos2018-F9.png
Statistics show that remittances from Filipino immigrants in the United States have steadily increased since 1977 as Filipino migration into the U.S. has continued to increase [source].

How Hospitality Thrives in the Philippines

It’s just a fact. Hospitality is a huge part of Filipino culture.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the Philippines have more than 1,000 hospitality schools nationwide. In fact, that number’s still growing.

It would appear that Filipino students looking for careers in Hospitality have a plethora of options. So why is it that such a large number of Filipinos choose to intern not just abroad, but in the United States specifically?

Great Santa Cruz Island, located in Zamboanga City in Mindanao, Philippines, is famous for its pink sands. The beach’s rosy shores draw ecotourists in who admire the unique hues, which is actually the result of tiny bits of red coral (Tubipora Musica) mixing with the sand. [source]

So, why do so many come to the U.S. to train?

Cultural Exchange Helps Everyone Succeed

American industry leaders know that to succeed in hospitality, it’s imperative to expose yourself to international perspectives.

One thing that the Philippines learned a long time ago is that you’ve got to adapt to your guests’ needs. But staying flexible isn’t always easy, especially in today’s travel climate. The diversity of guests’ backgrounds has never been higher.

The only way to keep up is to assume a persistent attitude of open-mindedness and accommodation. That way, learning about your guests will remain your first priority.

A History of Hospitality

According to locals, Filipino peoples were known for their hospitality for centuries before their islands became “The Philippines.”

“Years and years back,” writes TransUSA Exchange partner Vanessa Jopillo, “even when there were hardly any hospitality schools yet in the [Philippines], we were already making waves and were known for our hospitality.”

The country’s hospitable nature dates back to the island country’s early days. Some Filipino writers even argue that their welcoming nature dates back to ancient times. Prior to Hispanic contact, the 7,641 islands that make up the Filipino Archipelago made the area a booming international trade hub. Indo-Malay migration to the archipelago began at least 30,000 years ago, and the subsequent influx of Chinese traders helped steer the Philippines towards a primarily commerce-based economy.

Fittingly, the extremely diverse demographic arrangement that resulted from these migrations transformed the Philippines. Commerce, combined with the necessary contact with foreigners that comes with trade, created a space where countless ships were coming and going year-round.

All those traders and cargo ships created a demand for short-term hospitality services. Inns were founded and developed over time into hotels. Understandably, the nationwide Hospitality economy took hold and prospered.

This map shows migration patterns between mainland Asia and the Filipino Archipelago, prior to Spanish contact. From here, we can see the large amount of traffic passing through the island chain.

From its Commercial Roots, Hospitality Culture Flourished.

But how has Filipino culture preserved such a long-standing tradition? We asked Philippines-based Internship Coordinator Joann Goingo from Advanced Global Skills for her thoughts. As it turns out, we can thank families for keeping this value alive.

“Hospitality is being taught and practiced within the family, and [it] is always highlighted in the Filipino education,” writes Joann. She goes on to say that hospitality “is one of the compositions of our culture. Even strangers are treated in a very pleasant way. Status does not define how we relate to other people–both privileged and unprivileged Filipino citizens are very welcoming and share what they can just to make others feel comfortable.”

Vanessa Jopillo, who acknowledges hospitality’s historical importance, helps us see exactly how Filipinos put that welcoming attitude into action.

In her words, Filipino families will “always help out in preparing the most sumptuous dish they can ever come up with, even if it means that they will be serving the most priced and well-kept goods in the pantry… even those goods they were saving up for Christmas.

“When it’s time for the guest to bid farewell, families will traditionally say goodbye with the saying, “Balik Kayo Ha,” a phrase that offers a preemptive invitation for the guest’s next visit. Roughly, the phrase translates to, “Please come back soon!”

Evidently, visitors take that farewell to heart, because tourism in the Philippines is booming.

Hyper-realist painter Dante Hipolito earned the nickname “The Smile Painter” for his cheerful depictions of his subjects. Hipolito remains an iconic figure in Filipino visual art [source].

Hospitality’s Modern Significance

The Philippines has grown its tourism revenue from 2.2 billion in 2009 to 6.6 billion in 2017. Recent years show continued growth.

Frankly, it wouldn’t be a huge leap to see a correlation between hospitality’s cultural and economic importance. In fact, tourism in 2018 contributed about 12% more to the country’s GDP than it had in 2017. The nation’s also making some extreme investments. Fortunately, this focus on hospitality has made the country particularly suited to resist global economic slumps. After all, people just don’t seem to stop traveling.

Metro Manila, Philippines [source]

The Role of Technology

According to BusinessWorld, Southeast Asia’s first daily business paper, the Hospitality sector’s outstanding growth continues today. The industry’s success is due in part to technological innovations. Technology “has changed everything,” writes columnist Grail Ragos-Rosario, and “the rise of technology has also led to more challenges and [disruptions] that are directly impacting the hospitality sector.”

However, improvements in front office and accounting software act like a double-edged sword for Hospitality workers. While these advancements have sped up the booking process for hotels, the new digital standard also created new problems. For example, the internet has emboldened room-sharing companies like Airbnb, who capitalize on the ease of internet booking. Airbnb may present the same threat to hotel chains that ride-sharing apps posed to taxi cabs.

In addition, booking sites have made it increasingly easy for customers to avoid booking through the hotel directly. These 3rd-party sites siphon away the demand for front-office labor, signaling a shift in the service patrons expect from hotels.

“The Philippines has grown their tourism revenue from 2.2 billion in 2009 to 6.6 billion in 2017.”

– Ceic, hong kong

How Industry Leaders Adapt to Change

The desire to modernize has resulted in increased corporate awareness of contemporary technological trends, so the knowledge gap between tech-savvy youths and out-of-touch executives has narrowed.

As an example, BusinessWorld reports how hotels responded to the 2016 Pokemon Go craze: “Quick-thinking establishments realized the huge attraction caused by the app and opted to have the game developers install Pokestops in their virtual locations, thereby increasing [foot] traffic and exposure to the public.”

Facilities have also adapted to accommodate guests’ digital needs with amenities that, in the past, would have been considered premium luxuries.

High-speed, wireless internet has become an industry standard. Brick-and-mortar gaming facilities have gained popularity (by providing strong LAN connections for local multiplayer games), and hotels in the Philippines have begun to make game-rooms a designated resource for all guests.

In fact, Filipino Hospitality investors anticipate the potential for new service markets through the ever-increasing popularity of electronic gaming. Entertainment City, an in-development gaming and entertainment complex in Manila, aims to be the Las Vegas of Asia.

Concept Art for Entertainment City, Manila [source]
Photo of Okada Manila Gaming Resort. Entertainment City aims to borrow from the golden coloration that adorns this facility’s terraced roof [source].

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