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  • Meet Minneapolis: Travel to the Twin Cities this Summer for HITEC 2019

    We all know that travel can be a real hassle. So, what about a trip makes it worth packing up your suitcase, saying goodbye to your family for the next few days, fighting the airport and staying in a.

  • New Global Directors Join the 2018-2019 HFTP Board

    The HFTP 2018-2019 Global Board of Directors was installed during the association's 2018 Annual Convention and introduces new directors Toni Bau, Carson Booth, CHTP and Mark Fancourt. These extensive director profiles give insight into the distinguished professions and personal goals of HFTP's newest association leaders.

  • A Series of Must-Read Articles on Cybersecurity Produced by the HFTP Research Centers

    Data security remains a pressing concern and top priority for the hospitality industry. The HFTP Research Centers are dedicated to producing findings that can significantly aid hospitality businesses in their efforts to protect their guests’ privacy and personal information against potential cyber threats and attacks.

  • HITEC Special: Does EU GDPR Affect U.S. Hospitality Companies?

    By Alvaro Hidalgo. The EU General Data Protection Regulation has set a path towards protecting personal data which many other countries will follow. In a global industry such as hospitality, it should be a primary objective to take the steps towards compliance.

Article by Dr Lohyd Terrier

Virtual Reality in Education: Welcome to the New Age of Learning

EHL ·4h
EXPERIENCE THROUGH TRAININGIntegrating new technologies in training is part of a broader movement to help learners gain experience. The goal is clear: challenge pedagogical techniques to develop a more experiential way of learning.Of course this idea has been around for some time. The so-called learning-by-doing approach could be seen as the forbearer of experiential learning. Knowledge can be acquired from books...but experience cannot. Learning the fundamentals is one thing, applying them to theoretical situations is another - applying them to real-life situations is harder still.According to Patrick Ogheard, Associate Dean of Practical Arts at Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne"The Swiss dual education system upholds the firm belief that theory and practice go hand in hand. This is particularly true in hospitality management. Our biggest pedagogical challenge is not only to leverage but also transmit the strong heritage hospitality is grounded in all while ensuring we keep up with the changing world. Teaching must evolve to reflect the what and the how that best serves our students, and bringing technology into the equation is no longer a fun addition, but a necessity."The goal of experiential learning is to help students apply knowledge, and to create an experience during the training session. Indeed, virtual reality tools enable students to come into contact with a more dynamic representation of reality than a traditional case study. Dynamic role play, or situational learning, could enhance teaching by requiring students to problem solve in an immersive environment. One in which the consequences of each action could be tested on trial-and-error basis.MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASEAny educator or trainer will tell you: it's hard to get students' attention...with distractions coming from cell phones, computers and other devices. Consequently, a war is being waged in classrooms around the world."The rules of the game have changed; students just aren't the same; the teachers of tomorrow can either fight technology...or use it to their advantage."These technologies have many advantages. They foster a great deal of curiosity so why not use them to get students' attention and get them involved in class? Explaining to a student what a production line looks like is one thing; being able to show him or her - via a virtual reality headset - is a whole different kettle of fish.Maintaining students' attention is related to another, more pedagogical, goal. Here, the immersive and experiential aspect of learning could enable learners to permanently encode information via new learning channels. Students think, see and test their ideas and knowledge immediately. The goal is to move closer to real-life work situations, which involve an emotional component that is often missing from traditional learning contexts.Moreover, these new tools enable learners to engage in highly-specific situations because they do not come with the same time and cost constraints. For instance, students could switch from one environment to the next (fundraising initiative, conflict with a customer, etc.) without having to get out their chair. The other important element is the fact that using new technologies reduces the risk linked to errors in a real-life situation. Obviously, the negative and positive consequences of virtual reality games, as realistic as they may be, are only virtual. Consequently, users can try and test new strategies in a risk-free environment.GAMIFICATION IN EDUCATION"Our students have grown up with video games where tasks, levels, challenges and immediate feedback are the rules. Those rules are completed with rewards, competition, rankings and interaction with other gamers. When they were children, they probably had the impression that school was much more boring than playing with their friends. Gamification is the best way to attract and retain our students' attention in a real or virtual classroom.The technologies that are available today offer a wide range of opportunities to motivate and to engage our students, and above all to help them become active learners. Gamification is also a challenge for the faculty members since it is not just about games. We have to know our students, their skills and we have to set the learning objectives as in a more traditional approach. The content has to be there, gamification and technology are just new ways to deliver it."Ana-Maria Nogareda, Director of Academic & Student Affairs at Ecole hoteliere de LausanneCUSTOM-DESIGNED TRAININGImmersion is a fantastic learning opportunity but another advantage of these tools is the fact that they can be personalized. The benefits of tailoring teaching to the individual learner are well-established; however, implementing bespoke solutions remains difficult.Professors are already pulled in many different directions. Personalization is often limited to a group-by-group basis. How can teachers tailor their course to individuals when there are 40 students in each class? New technologies could make this type of personalization possible while increasing class sizes on a massive scale.In addition, the progress of each student could be measured, enabling students to learn at their own pace. The avenues in terms of personalization are multiple: it could be possible to match teaching methods with learning styles even when class sizes are daunting. Performance tracking of this sort could allow educators to adapt teaching techniques and learning speeds on the fly.CHALLENGES AHEADNew technologies seem to offer a variety of advantages but it would be unwise to see them as a cure to all our woes and the problems they raise should be dealt with head on.The first is linked to the danger that immersion could significantly reduce interaction between individuals, particularly between students. Interacting with another human being is far more enriching than interacting with an avatar. Likewise, interactions with a screen will never durably replace real interactions. Student-teacher interaction must be maintained at all costs. A balance must be found between tech-delivered content and regular classroom teaching.The other limitation is related to the cost of these resources. Indeed, schools need substantial IT and WIFI infrastructure to support the simultaneous use of these bandwidth-hungry tools.Lastly, investing in these new technologies (even though costs are dropping fast) is financially onerous for training and education organizations."The Housekeeping Virtual Reality course started with the February 2019 intake. We have created a serious game where a team of 5 student's work together. Only one student wears the Oculus glasses, the others see what he/she is seeing on a screen. We have received excellent feedback from the students who appreciate the use of technology in the class. The whole student team is involved from the start of the experience and they can quickly see the benefits of working as a team to succeed in the game.For the future we need to introduce more gamification and experience-based learning into our curriculum. We are currently looking at augmented (AR) and mixed reality (MR) technology, as well as more VR possibilities. The next serious game will allow each student to participate "inside the game" either sharing the VR experience by all being in the same virtual environment or by using AR or MR so that all players can see the same objects.Holographic images may also play a part in our future education, bringing celebrities to life who can share their knowledge without physically being on site."Julia Aymonier, Chief Information Officer, EHL Group.Tomorrow's challenge may well be to train professors, teachers, trainers and other educators so they can become more tech-savvy...or to convince them of the usefulness of implementing such tools. While the future of education is bright, more scientific studies measuring the effectiveness of these new methods need to be conducted before a definitive conclusion can be drawn regarding the relevance of developing such solutions in teaching.
Article by Samuel Wich

Human Trafficking: What Hotels are Doing to Prevent It

EHL ·7h
According to the Global Slavery Index, an estimated 40.3 million men, women, and children were victims of modern slavery on any given day in 2016. With the International Labor Organization estimating annual profits from forced labor at 150 billion USD, it is the world's second largest criminal industry and affects all countries. The victims of these crimes have to endure forced labor, sexual exploitation, organ removal or forced marriage.The fight against modern slavery starts by acknowledging and identifying the issue. In 2015, the UK government intensified their efforts by issuing the Modern Slavery Act, calling for more transparent supply chains in large companies. The awareness of this issue has also risen dramatically over the past years thanks to the efforts of many human rights organizations. Together with government agencies they are determined to educate the general public and private corporations on signs of human trafficking and on how to proceed once a case has been identified. Private companies are asked to step up and acknowledge their responsibility to protect the many lives destroyed by this heinous practice. As a global industry, the hospitality sector has an important role to play in recognizing and fighting these crimes.Unfortunately, human traffickers often use the anonymity provided by hospitality establishments as a base for their operations. Be it as a location from where they conduct the trade in human lives or even as the very place the individuals are forced to work involuntarily by means of force, coercion or fraud. It is a common misconception that human trafficking only takes place in less developed countries and in back-alley budget hotels: the reality is that it can take many forms and can happen in any place.How hospitality organizations are addressing human traffickingMarriott International has recently collaborated with ECPAT-USA and Polaris - both leading non-profit organizations - in the fight against human trafficking to make their educational programs accessible in several languages. So far, more than half a million Marriott employees have successfully completed the training to learn about early warning signs such as:Minimal luggage and clothingMultiple men being escorted one at a time to a guest roomIndividuals who cannot speak freely or seem disorientedGuests who insist on little or no housekeepingMany hotel companies have taken similar steps in this direction.Wyndham Hotel Group already entered a partnership with Polaris back in 2014 to produce, distribute and train their employees on comprehensive educational tools on human trafficking. It has become a standard for global hotel companies to issue a slavery or human trafficking statement containing the organizations commitment to combat the issue. These statements are important in establishing and overseeing a working strategy for companies' due diligence processes, risk identification and management, training and awareness. Just as important as a combative process, however, is the creation of performance indicators to measure the success of stated policies.Hilton has committed to not only train all employees on the issue, but also map all operating hotels and pipeline countries against human rights risks in collaboration with the International Tourism Partnership.But even for well-trained staff members, detecting an ongoing crime can be hard as it is mostly conducted behind closed doors and the warning signs can surface in different nuanced ways. Staff members, as well as guests have to stay vigilant and not be afraid to escalate suspicious behavior. It is encouraging to see companies in the hospitality industry taking steps towards the eradication of forced labor and other forms of human trafficking, but there is yet a long road ahead to the attainment of this goal.

Data Science: Why the Travel Industry Needs It

EHL ·25 April 2019
On many aspects, I am offering a better product and value for my customers, but I am not seeing any increase in results. How can I stand out from my competitors?This is one question I have frequently been asked by fellow travel and hospitality industry professionals, from destination managers to hoteliers or service providers. One might delve into the variety of factors that can influence lagging performance of travel organizations (and there are many), but I have come to realize that simply rephrasing the initial ask, helps shift an operator's mindset to focus on the richness they have at hand, rather than on their shortcomings. The question then becomes:Where does a competitive advantage lie for me in today's' aggressive business marketplace?To tackle this reframed question, most of my colleagues would agree that building a competitive advantage would focus on creating unmatched customer value or, in other words, being entirely committed towards satisfying (and anticipating) travelers' needs and wants in your value proposition.On many levels, this answer appears trivial: how can this total commitment to customer satisfaction be tangibly grounded into day-to-day business operations? This is where data comes into play.The data opportunity for travel and hospitality businessesA hotelier's job has radically changed over the last few decades. Towards the end of the 90s - thanks to the integration of the internet and the rise of direct bookings and online travel agencies - the hotel sector went through a disintermediation opportunity. Over the next decade, we saw the rise of social media, where guests started to comment and review their travel experience on public platforms, disrupting more and more the relationship with travel providers. Lastly, in recent years we have witnessed the non-stop growth of ubiquitous technologies, empowering travelers on the move.All these evolutions have resulted in growing numbers of travel and hospitality industry professionals working with digital technology in-house. Nowadays, even small independent hotels have 'someone who takes care of the web'. However, as the amount of travelers' data is skyrocketing due to digitized customer journeys, the extent to which it is efficiently used by operators varies greatly and, often, falls short.Internal or proprietary data - guests' transactions and preferences from loyalty programs for example - continues to be tapped into mostly for revenue management purposes; external data - user reviews, bookings and comparison behaviors etc...- is typically monitored for reputation management. Nowadays, generating a proper understanding of data - and connecting all data sources effectively - is paramount in generating a competitive advantage, providing superior customer value and ultimately orientating the future of any business.Data Science for Independent HotelsHampus Ljunggren - Head of Business Developments and Partnerships - Travel AppealData science is the modern 'holy grail' of hospitalityBusinesses which generate enormous amounts of data should not only leverage it to understand their current performance (i.e. business intelligence) but also - and most importantly - to generate prescriptive analytics to orientate their strategy.Data science, which may at first seem overly 'techy' and 'expensive' is actually quite feasible. Let's explore three areas where a deep and conscious understanding of data could take travel and hospitality firms to the next level.The differential guest valueTravel and hospitality industry professionals around the world are perfectly aware of their competitors' moves at a local, national, and international level. In a very competitive marketplace, constantly monitoring and understanding competitors' offers and strategies is critical and is a very common practice.But data is providing an additional layer: the differential guest value, or in a nutshell: what is the current offer of your business? How can it be positioned with respect to competitors? How can you ultimately differentiate your service from direct competitors?In Switzerland alone, hotelleriesuisse estimates that more than 90% of accommodations are privately owned and operated. This means that there is a great focus on superior customer value. Data (internal and external) allows hoteliers, for the first time ever, to base their choices on real insights rather than on rumors and feelings. Insights about how managers interact at different touchpoints during the customer journey (owned media, earned media and paid media) can also help fine tuning the way hoteliers position their products on the market.Marketing and operationsMarketing is one of the most evident ways travel and hospitality industry professionals can use data. If using data to improve the competitive advantage of a business will impact an organizations' identity and core values, establishing constant communication streams and engagement with guests throughout their customer journey will not impact your marketing strategy, but will make the whole practice evolve towards integration with day-to-day operations.Hoteliers can surely start by focusing on mapping their visibility efforts along key touchpoints of the customer journey to maximize engagement with the customer. But data and technology can enable an even deeper experience by activating these touchpoints before a guest sets foot in a property to provide a truly personalized journey. When guests' preferences and behaviors are tracked and/or recorded, they can be cascaded to the manager, then distributed to the room divisions and so on.Smart Hotels for smart guestsAn organization which can gather data around the above-mentioned digital elements (i.e. competitive environment, differential guest value, customer journey) will then be able to transfer that knowledge into the in-room experience. This is the basis for a smart hotel, where data (together with technological infrastructure) is used for the day-to-day, personalized delivery of guests' value.This is only a partial synopsis of the possible strategic uses of data science. However, the main message holds true: do not be afraid of data. Data is everywhere and can enhance the competitiveness of your business. Data can also support product development, marketing and operations while also aiding in the transformation towards "smart" businesses. This is true for any single professional within the travel-value chain, from hotelier and destination manager to service provider.Data in Action: Destination Sentiment Tracking for the city of Montreux, SwitzerlandAs part of their Digital Marketing elective course, final year students from Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne had the opportunity to collaborate on a hands-on data project with hospitality data analytics firm Travel Appeal.Using the Travel Appeal platform, millions of data points containing contents, reviews, trends and competitor information from Montreux were analyzed over a one-year period.Key findings:Montreux is doing incredibly well at attracting people. With a gain of 11,000 online reviews in 2018 across all types of hospitality properties (and an astonishing 150% growth rates in restaurant reviews), more reviews means more customers.As is often the case, people become vocal about shifts in prices during big events. Including strategies to manage expectations (or bad reviews) during a peak of activity, can go a long way.The Montreux Jazz Festival is gaining traction, with some spillover effect on the overall destination.This blog post is based on the following articles:Inversini, A., Fesenmaier, D. Xiang, Z. (2015). Communication Technologies in Tourism. In Cantoni L., Danowski J. A. (Eds.) Communication and Technology. 5th Volume of the Handbook of Communication Science (pp. 495-509). De Gruyter Mouton, Berlin.Buhalis, D. and Inversini, A. (2014) Tourism Branding, Identity, Reputation, and Word of Mouth in the Age of Social Media. In M. M. Mariani, R. Baggio, R. Buhalis & C. Longhi (eds.). Tourism Management, Marketing and Development: The Importance of Networks and ICTs. pp. 15-40. New York: Palgrave McMillan.Bhattacharjee,D., Seeley, J. and Seitzman, N. (2017) Advanced analytics in hospitality. Digital McKinsey. Retrieved on 01/02/2019.

REPORT: Attracting and Retaining Hospitality Talent in 2019

EHL ·24 April 2019
For the 10th Edition of the Young Hoteliers Summit, the Employer Rankings Reportexplores - among other things - the career path motivations and workplace characteristicshospitality management graduates and professionals view as the most important. This year, over 1200 students completed the survey from 100 nationalities across 285 schools. We rounded-up key takeaways from the report.Download the Full 2019 YHS Employer Rankings NowStudents are most motivated to work in traditional hospitality upon graduationTraditional hospitality is the most popular sector for hospitality students - 42% of respondents are extremely motivated to work in this sector.However, there is an overall decrease in motivation across all hospitality sectors, with traditional hospitality experiencing the steepest decline of 4.66%.Respondents may be less decisive in pursuing their career in hospitality and more exciting career prospects appear to be necessary to attract young talents.Rather than being "job hoppers", young graduates are simply motivated by their long-term goalsAlthough only 4% of students expect to leave their first job within a year, 25% of hospitality alumni actually move on to their next job within that time frame.Intrinsic motivators such as Career path and Advancement, Training and Development and Empowerment and Responsibility were cited as most critical motivators for job retention (salary only appeared as the fifth motivator).Factors influencing opinions of hospitality employersFour Seasons takes back first place as the preferred brand in the Luxury & Upper Upscale segmentFour Seasons has taken back the crown this year, followed by The Ritz Carlton and Marriott Hotels & Resorts are most sought-after brands in luxury hospitality.Multi-brand hotel companies continue to dominate the rankingsAcross all segments, multi-brand hotel companies such as Marriott International and Hyatt Hotels governed the landscape.Ibis Hotels, Ibis Styles Hotels and Ibis Budget Hotels - owned by Accor Hotels - ranked in the top 5 of the Midscale & Economy segment, probably explained by a larger brand awareness and perception of better career advancement opportunities across brands and properties.
Article by Samuel Wich

Coworking Spaces in Hotels - A Match Made in Heaven?

EHL ·19 April 2019
How hotels can benefit from the coworking trendThis development is of course hard to ignore. A shift from traditional ways of working, while considered detrimental by some, can be an immense opportunity for other businesses. Hotels are one such type of business that can benefit largely from offering coworking areas.Communal spaces in hotels do not only attract a younger audience, but also serve as a way to connect with local communities in ways that an old-fashioned business center never could. A successfully-run coworking space can be a great way of getting more people to interact with your property, spend more time on-site and eventually generate more revenue.Independent hotels such as Zoku in Amsterdam, or Hotel Schani in Vienna are living proof that the convergence of hospitality and coworking can be a recipe for success.The number of hotels adopting this concept is steadily growing. With this change, the hospitality industry is moving away from a dominant paradigm that rang true for centuries. In these collaborative spaces, the guest room is no longer the hotel's primary product. Rather, their ability to connect traveling professionals, entrepreneurs and local communities in a way that caters to their need for inspiration and networking will be the crucial service business hotels of the future have to get right.Successful ventures by smaller players into coworking are starting to pop up on the radar of large chains from all over the world.Accor, the French hotel behemoth that is making moves towards becoming a travel platform touching customers' everyday life, views co-working as a crucial part of its strategy.According to Accor CEO Sebastien Bazin:Hospitality must evolve towards more flexibility and be able to open the gates to non-travelers for a drink, a yoga course, a fitness room, etc. In other ways, we are targeting non-travelers by bringing hospitality outside the hotel. Through strategic partnerships, we are now offering our hospitality expertise in new playing fields, for example, such as co-working places."In 2017, Accor announced a partnership with Bouygues Immobilier declaring a plan of opening 80 collaborative Nextdoor workspaces by 2022, rolling out 10 to 15 locations every year.Another example is quickly expanding Chinese group Jin Jiang. In 2016, the company made a similar move investing 260 million USD in the world's premier coworking space provider WeWork. The partnership will help WeWork achieve their ambitious growth strategy in Asian markets.The integration of coworking concepts seems to become an unstoppable force in the international hospitality industry. Yet, the aggressive expansion plans are not immune to setbacks. WeWork's first ever release of financial performance data, showed the alarming rate at which the company is burning through its investors' cash. The business activity spread across 100 cities resulted in a loss of 2 billion USD in 2018. Generally, only 42 percent of coworking spaces are actually turning a profit according to the most recent Coworking Survey by Deskmag.So, while the increase in popularity is undeniable and the demand for flexible workspaces will certainly stay an important factor in the design of future hotel concepts, companies looking to get in on the trend should heed the signs of unprofitable projects and adjust their planning accordingly. Operational margins and market readiness should be well examined before grabbing a board and surfing the coworking wave with all the other start-ups out there.

INDUSTRY REPORT: Innovation Strategy in Practice

EHL ·18 April 2019
The Hospitality Innovation Industry Report, authored by EHL Associate Professor Dr. Carlos Martin-Rios, is based around a comprehensive model reviewing combinations of technological and non-technological innovations and analyzes how different innovation strategies contribute to generating competitive advantages for hospitality businesses.Dr. Rios has been tracking hospitality innovation for the past several years, surveying hundreds of managers and interviewing more than 50 executives and thought-leaders to produce this report.Hospitality innovation management is one of the most salient topics in international hospitality, tourism and travel management. For many, innovation is equated with technology, and only scientists and engineers bring innovation to life. Yet, it can occur in many avenues that have little or nothing to do with technology or science.Identifying the role of various forms of innovation and their impact on innovation returns and firm performance, provides valuable decision-making information for hotel managers. We rounded-up key takeaways from the report.Download the full Hospitality Innovation Report nowTechnological innovation: all about products, services and processesNowadays most service innovations in hotels come from technological innovations. It is a crucial driver of growth, an effective way to neutralize digital disruption from OTAs and sharing economy firms, and an effective tool in attracting younger generations.Technology innovationIn our study, close to 72% of executives reported to have implemented a considerable proportion of innovations in the technology category; yet taking a closer look at the use of online technology, there are significant differences on how hotels, OTAs and AirBnBs interact with their guests before, during and after their stay and provide personalized service throughout.Top executives and senior managers agree on the need to strengthen the industry's ability to continuously adapt and innovate by facilitating investment in new technologies and continuously adapting to new technological capabilities. Despite the importance of technology advancement, these firms do not obtain significantly higher results in overall customer retention and average bed occupancy rate. Investment in new technologies should be strengthened through a combination of several forms of innovation.Service innovationAdditionally, one of the keys to profitability in new service development is launching unique, superior services with a compelling value proposition. This trend is largely tapped into by successful hospitality firms as service innovation is prominent among successful hospitality firms. As recent research suggests, the nature of services and the pace of change have shifted dramatically in recent years, and mastering the traditional aspects of service delivery is no longer enough (McKinsey, 2015).Process innovationOftentimes, innovation in the hotel industry is not so much about new services, but really all about processes. It has been a while since hotels modernized their processes and optimized their operations by standardizing them. For long, most hotel practices have revolved around traditional P&L processes. Today, new processes bring together consumer experience, e-commerce, big data and digital transformation, and revenue growth analytics.Non-technological innovation: a soft innovation practice in organizational, management, marketing and business model innovationManagement innovationWhile manufacturing firms gave birth to several managerial innovations (TQM, MBO or agile management), some of the latest management trends have emerged simultaneously in production and service environments, including hospitality. For example, agile management principles and techniques (or Scrum, Lean, and Kanban) or collaborative user-oriented and supplier relationships and innovations.Innovations in management play an important role for hospitality businesses. Not only from an outcome perspective but to develop, implement and monitor the progress of distinctive strategies boosting competitiveness.Organizational behaviorHospitality is a notoriously labor intensive activity. So from an organizational behavior standpoint, effective management is a vital component for higher performance. Although about 37% of hospitality firms report high levels of organizational innovation, the report shows that organizational practices of hospitality businesses - i.e. the adoption of new ways of organizing work processes, establishing alternative ways of managing employees and fostering internal leadership - need to be better articulated altogether. Indeed, there is a significant relationship between pursuing organizational solutions and managerial innovations and results suggest a strong association between organizational innovation, business model innovation and overall organizational effectiveness of a firm.Marketing innovationClose to 40% of all firms have heavily invested in their marketing innovation strategy. Marketing innovation allows hospitality businesses to harness the power of customer satisfaction and many hotels have made great efforts to build brand loyalty through various marketing innovations, including creating online brand communities, new loyalty programs, or social media analytics. These innovations do not work in isolation however, as marketing innovations have no direct significant economic implications for hotels.Business model innovationBusiness model can be defined as the firm's design or architecture of the value creation, delivery, and capture mechanisms it employs. While the next generation of game changers is already here - Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain, 3-D printing, Artificial Intelligence (AI) - are hotels ready to challenge traditional thinking and invest in new business solutions?As a matter of fact, only 19% of the surveyed companies pursue a medium intensive innovation strategy regarding their formulation of a business model. Yet, those firms actively innovating their business offering are also the companies with the most complex innovation strategy and the highest innovation intensity. There is a strong positive relationship between business model innovation and all performance indicators, with the exception of average bed occupancy rate, as seasonal fluctuations and external socio-economic factors have significant economic implications for hotels.What's next: innovation trends in hospitalityAlthough sustainability and open innovation are not part of the innovation strategy of many hotel firms, our results illustrate how certain hospitality firms are engaging in these novel forms of redesigning the consumer experience and developing broad networks of relationships to generate innovation returns and firm performance.Sustainability innovationSustainable innovations is more than a PR stunt, it can't be mere corporate window-dressing. The hospitality industry is a major driver of economic development and has a major impact on several facets of sustainable development (SD). A strong commitment to SD by adopting sustainable practices has the potential to be beneficial for the hotel industry. Although some 80% of firms in the study indicated that they were investing heavily in eco-innovation, examples of hotels fully committed to sustainable management do not abound (yet). For that reason, first movers like Six Senses already have some significant advantages.External business relationshipFrom formal business relationships (alliances, R&D projects or consortiums) to informal cooperative relationships, hotels can benefit from the participation within multiple kinds of network relationships. A considerable proportion of executives consider that the implementation of new methods of organizing external relations with stakeholders have an important impact on their business performance. Engagement in the establishment of external relationships helps them obtain, combine and exchange critical knowledge, which is directly related to its economic activity and strategic business priorities.

Looking Back and Forward: These Six Tech Trends Are Still Reshaping 2019

EHL ·18 April 2019
Many advancements have been more subtle but equally promising and transformative, from smart analytics in consumer and professional apps to the gradual but complete improvements in artificial intelligence, powering everything from self-driving cars to predictive text on your smartphone.As we study technology trends from the past year, we get a better look into what trend is still reshaping 2019 and beyond. After all, what seemed fictitious a few short years ago is now possible with an average Apple Watch. Just imagine what the next few years will bring.Narrow Artificial IntelligenceArtificial intelligence has long been the holy grail of technological advancement. Far from its depiction in science fiction movies, artificial intelligence (or A.I. for short) is a catchall term for machine learning and other computer solutions to seemingly complex problems that can be processed through a system of computer tasks that result in "learning" or intuiting the solutions to problems.While broad-scale, dynamic learning-style robots overlords like we've seen in movies is still a long way off, Narrow A.I. was one of the biggest trends of 2018 and promises to continue into the new year.Narrow A.I. consists of highly specialized machine-learning solutions that target a specific task like driving a vehicle or understanding written or auditory language.From intelligent advertising to photo searches to self-driving or assisted driving cars, A.I. is continually improving as the technology behind it is improved. A.I. is increasingly tapped into by hospitality organizations to resolve some pain points in travel or optimize the guest experience: IHG collaborated with Baidu in 2018 to launch 100 AI-powered suitesin hotels across China.Intelligent Applications and AnalyticsAs the first wave of A.I.-augmented apps has demonstrated, intelligent applications and analytics are one of the most direct and promising technology trends in recent years. A.I. runs in the background of many pre-existing applications, and is either already invisibly improving the user experience or is in beta testing, as application developers seek to improve the user experience and business potential of these products through A.I.Advanced analytics, automated customer service, and intelligent processes are all on the horizon as intelligent applications continue to improve the services computers can provide. Intelligent apps reduce the amount of input and application expertise required by people and the systems they're using, which will continue to transform the workplace and job descriptions across industries.Virtual customer support, intelligent translation services, and expanded application functionality all promise to reduce the load on workers, as applications provide services that oftentimes used to require a team of dedicated employees.The intention of intelligent applications is not to replace people, but rather to augment their activity and make the user experience and customer-facing experience better than ever.With A.I., the same workforce can be radically more productive and customers can receive more thorough and immediate care than previously possible. Similarly, augmented analytics uses machine learning for data collection and preparation; as well as extrapolation and insight discovery which benefits business users, operations teams, and data scientists alike.Intelligent ThingsThis trend began with the widespread unveiling of "the Internet of Things" (or I.o.T.)which meant incorporating sensors and Bluetooth or wi-fi connectivity into previously static devices, from thermostats to washing machines, industrial sensors and monitoring equipment.By bringing these devices online, developers harnessed the power of the cloud and widespread connectivity to make multiple devices safer, more efficient, and easier to use.The next wave of Intelligent Things promises to combine the first-wave of Internet of Things connectivity with the advances in A.I. that will make connected things smarter. For example, artificial intelligence in a camera that already connects to a smartphone will power stunningly powerful automated shooting modes that far surpass the antiquated "auto" settings on early digital cameras.Autonomous tools like vacuums and farm equipment will also make the leap from using simple sensors and geofences to "visualizing" and processing staggering amounts of data, using cloud connectivity, onboard artificial intelligence and advanced analytics to make decisions that may soon surpass even the most experienced human operator.One of the most interesting future advances is the collaborative nature of intelligent, connected things. Different farm equipment from different phases of preparation, planting, and harvest may work together, or a team of specialized harvesting devices may be able to make intelligent decisions about which rows to work.In hospitality, hotel companies like Best Western or Marriott have been testing voice-controlled customer service as products like Amazon Echo become increasingly adopted within the home environment.Cloud to the EdgeEdge computing is an advancement in cloud computing which brings the content collection, processing, and delivery closer to the sources of information.Greater functionality embedded at the edge is a promising advancement that favors local clouds which can be integrated into infrastructure designs with large numbers of intelligent things.Colocation and edge-specific networking will become more common as more things become online and intelligent, and new network designs will reflect the increased number of intelligent things in the coming years.Although hospitality brands have been collecting consumer data from their loyalty programs for years, they simply do not have access to the gigantic amount of data that brands like Amazon or Google are able to collect (and use). Additionally, travelers nowadays are less likely to make booking decisions based on said loyalty points and are above all expecting tailored experiences and seamless UEx. Edge computing provide a unique opportunity for the industry to deliver services on a global scale while still addressing local data needs.BlockchainBlockchain was one of the biggest buzzwords in the last few years, thanks to its use in the cryptocurrency world.Blockchain is a democratized, distributed, and decentralized token ledger that removes friction or ownership from bits of information (hence the name "Bitcoin"). Blockchain allows unverified parties to exchange highly secure information across standard networks and promises to change industries and private transactions alike.While blockchain has mostly been in the news for its financial implications, it is also promising and useful in security and content distribution models, which would have favorable applications in government, healthcare, content sharing, supply chain logistics, and other data-transfer situations.The biggest criticism of blockchain is that the protocol is relatively new and untested - but the billions of dollars in cryptocurrency have demonstrated that the technology is ready for the limelight, even if it isn't ready for rampant speculative investment.Businesses may not be ready to utilize blockchain in their daily processes yet, but the technology is being actively developed and tested and promises to transform data distribution and security across industries.The Future Is NowNo matter what industry you work in or what technologies your business or personal life currently involve, the future is full of promise. Self-driving cars are closer to reality now than ever before and smart analytics mean that our emails can just about write themselves. As we look beyond 2019, one thing is clear - whether you run a massive, operations-intensive enterprise or just need a little help replying to customer service emails, the future is very bright indeed.

EHL Alliance: EHL Group creates a networking platform for its partners

EHL · 8 April 2019
LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- EHL Group has created the EHL Alliance, a "business club" designed to leverage EHL's resources and knowledge, offering its members the possibility to tap into the best minds, research and network in global hospitality management.Designed by EHL Advisory Services, EHL Group's consulting and training company, the new EHL Alliance will be accessible by way of a yearly membership that can be tailored to the size, capacity and needs of each member. A broad range of benefits have been engineered specifically for schools, hospitality companies and individuals who wish to become part of the EHL Alliance. These include discounted or privileged access to consultancy services, education, training and research, knowledge sharing with EHL's faculty and innovation centers, priority access to EHL's young talents for recruiters, access to networking events and more."All entities of EHL Group - whether the consulting company, the University in Lausanne or the Professional School in Graubunden - seamlessly interlock to propose a wide range of services and educational offers. Today, we are extremely happy to extend this capacity beyond the Group and respond to what has been a recurring demand from our industry partners. Our network has grown organically and exponentially over 125 years, now the time has come to create a formal structure that explicitly categorizes the many benefits of an ongoing relationship with EHL Group", explained Michel Rochat, CEO of EHL Group.IHG a founding member of EHL AllianceOn April 4th, the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has become a founding member of the EHL Alliance. Already a longstanding friend of EHL, IHG has decided to formalize its relationship with EHL Group, the world's top hospitality management education group. "The Alliance is a business club bringing together the best of the hospitality industry as well as leaders from very different sectors such as watchmaking, agri-food, health, sports, banking. This agreement marks the culmination of several years of collaboration between IHG and EHL students and alumni. We very much look forward to taking hospitality to new heights, hand in hand with IHG", explained Olivier Roux, Senior Managing Director of EHL Advisory Services. The international network of schools certified by EHL Group is also an integral part of the EHL Alliance."We're incredibly proud of our colleagues, who come together from all backgrounds, to create a special culture and make IHG an outstanding place where everyone is truly welcome.As we continue to grow and build our business for the years ahead, we are excited to have partnered with some of world's most prestigious hospitality schools, such as EHL. Through these relationships, and a range of other programs, we aim to continue to inspire, engage and nurture some of the best industry talent. I'm looking forward to seeing these partnerships further support a new generation of IHG leaders", enounced Ranjay Radhakrishnan, Chief Human Resources Officer, IHG.About EHL GroupEHL Group encompasses a portfolio of specialized business units that deliver hospitality management education and innovation worldwide. Based in Lausanne, Switzerland, the Group includes: Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne (EHL) is an ambassador for traditional Swiss hospitality and has been a pioneer in hospitality education since 1893 with over 25,000 alumni worldwide. EHL is a leading university that provides a range of on-campus and online learning solutions, including undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs to talented students from 119 different countries.Swiss School of Tourism and Hospitality (SSTH) has been one of the leading hospitality management schools for hotel specialists for 50 years. SSTH delivers Swiss-accredited professional training and higher education in its newly renovated 19th century spa-hotel in Passugg, Graubunden, to Swiss and international students from 20 countries.EHL Advisory Services is a consulting and executive training company in hospitality, active in more than 30 countries, which supports the development of the hospitality industry.
Article by Margarita Cruz & Isabella Blengini

Driving Innovation: How Frugal Can Hotels Be?

EHL · 8 April 2019
When speaking of innovation in the hospitality industry, we often hear about new technologies and processes capable of breaking the standards on how the industry works. Typically, these innovations require large amounts of investments; as well as the design and implementation of new processes. According to the EU Industrial R&D Investment Scorecard, in 2017 alone, investments in innovation made across different industries around the world surpassed EUR700bn.However, only a small percentage of players are effectively able to implement innovations of this kind. In fact, 90% of the world's R&D investments come from large corporations. Small- and medium-size firms are instead not only 5.75 times less innovative than larger firms, but also have 13% lower chances to deploy their innovations productively according to a recent study by Harvard Business Review. This is also the case in hospitality. Indeed, in an industry with high fragmentation like hospitality, innovations and R&D investments represent only a limited option-particularly for independent, small and medium-sized hotels.In an industry where competition is intense and hotel concepts are often closely related to those of the competitors, being innovative is an important part of maintaining the competitive advantage. But if impactful innovations are difficult to develop for small and medium companies, how can companies remain innovative? How could hoteliers and other players in the industry learn to be innovative and bring in novel practices while using the resources at hand?Innovation does not have to be expensive.In fact, the concept of frugal innovation can turn out insightful in this direction.Innovating by following a frugal approach means to be able to create more value for a company while optimizing its scarce resources or by even creating social impact in a community.For example, think of M-PESA, a company which created a mobile payment solution in Kenya, where the vast majority of the population owns a telephone, but does not have any bank account. One of the founders of M-PESA went beyond this first innovation and created a new company, M-KOPA. This innovative business introduced home solar solutions in a box, composed of a solar panel, three LED lightbulbs, a solar radio and a cell phone charger. Kenyans, who do not have enough money to afford the cost of the home solar solution, could instead use the M-PESA technology and buy it through a generous system of 365 micropayments. M-KOPA now provides clean energy not only in Kenya, but also in Tanzania and Uganda. This is an example of how a simple technology-mobile connectivity, which is abundant in some developing countries-has been used to provide a scarce resource like energy.Lessons from frugal innovatorsSo, what could we learn from frugal innovation and examples like M-PESA in the hospitality industry and how could hotels be frugal and create 5 times or 10 times more value without compromising quality or their hospitality approach and by using available resources?When thinking of frugal innovation in the hospitality industry, recombination and reconfiguration of already available resources turn out to be the key. For instance, by allocating resources in a different way or searching for alternative ways of delivering the same service, frugal innovation offers a feasible approach to help players in the hospitality industry keep up with changes in their business environment. In an era where socially and environmentally responsible brands are sought after by younger generations, it makes sense to recombine elements at hand to come up with new business models, new hotel concepts, and even perhaps untapped markets.Why not think about an eco-friendly luxury hotel that only relies on local resources? Let us consider a hotel based in a majestic destination where natural resources abound. Hoteliers could build their property with local resources such as wood, plastic, or ice. According to the approach of frugal innovation, recombining these resources would lead to higher value creation because of providing opportunities to stay in a unique property while also reducing costs by using only locally sourced materials and resources.We could also think of long-standing properties aiming to attract new generations but do not have the resources to completely renovate their hotel and even less so to create a new hotel concept.Frugal innovation could be useful here by, for example, allowing them to increase their value to younger generations by creating special weekend get-aways with reduced prices for young adults. Alternatively, a hotel of this kind could also attract younger generations in a frugal way by, for instance, hosting a funky dining experience once a month with the help of young and dynamic apprentice cooks who are eager to create their own menus and inventions devoted to younger consumers. Having young and dynamic apprentice cooks would reduce the costs of hosting such events while it would also give guests the chance to enjoy creations that will not be available anywhere at any other time.Finally, another interesting approach for hotels could imply the active involvement of local communities to provide not only hotel services but also authentic and unique experiences to the guests.Especially if we consider hotels located in exotic destination countries, this could contribute to the needs of the local population while also offering a completely original experience to the guests.These are just some ideas about how hotels could remain innovative without compromising large amounts of capital. Whether it is by recombining tangible resources such as raw materials or intangible ones, such as knowledge or business models - frugal innovation offers an interesting way to cope with the challenges of a fast-changing and competitive industry like hospitality.

Women in Hospitality: Managing Work and Family

EHL ·21 March 2019
An increasing number of women in hospitality join leadership positions without an intention to leave their family ambitions behind. What enables them to achieve their life goals? A study by Dr. Sowon Kim looks into key factors that help women manage this balancing act.The conflict generated from managing work and family is real. For half a century, the primary focus of research on this topic was driven by this potential conflict. Still today, female leaders reveal what seems to be a trade-off between career and children. One of the most powerful women in the world - former CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi - shared and advised when stepping down as CEO from PepsiCo last October:"I've been blessed with an amazing career, but if I'm being honest, there have been moments I wish I'd spent more time with my children and family. Make the most of your days and make space for the loved ones who matter most" - Indra NooyiBalancing demanding jobs and family: what research revealsIn a quest of understanding further how women with demanding jobs and family responsibilities cope with their work and family life, I conducted a study interviewing female leaders primarily in the hospitality sector across Switzerland. As an increasing number of women join leadership positions without an intention to leave their family ambitions behind, I focused in particular on what factors enabled women to achieve their life goals.I found that women have a dual-centric identity as they place a high identity on both and work family roles, and not necessarily one over the other. Women perceived their work and family spheres as integrated (vs. segmented) even if the degree of permeability (cognitive, affective, and behavioral spillover of roles) and flexibility (roles are elastic and mutable) of work-family boundaries were context dependent.In general, women who ran their own hotel properties had greater permeable and flexible boundaries than women who were hired to manage a business unit or operation.Women excelled in proactively developing an ecosystem of support which included family (nuclear and immediate), company (supervisor, peer, and subordinate), and the institution (childcare systems) and engaging in boundary management behaviors.Developing a support ecosystemAs an example of this integration approach is the experience shared by consultant Cornelia Kausch, an EHL Alumni and VP of development at hotel property company Pandox. She told EHL students during a panel discussion that women make up more than 30 percent of Pandox's board. Noting this was 'nothing special' for a Scandinavian firm, she argued that the industry needs to find ways to integrate women with children."My big advantage when I had my twins was that I was running hotels, so whenever they were sick I just took them with me to the hotel and put them in a hotel room. That was my solution." Kausch acknowledged that this solution is far from being perfect and that it was one of the benefits of being in a leadership role. Many women in hospitality clearly would not have such advantages but the message is clear: companies could be doing more to support women achieve their goals, whether through flexible work arrangements or childcare provision.In line with this suggestion, one of the family owned hotels in my study sample had opened the hotel guests' childcare facilities for their employees, which impacted employees' rate of attraction (to the company) and retention.While this might not work for all hotels including business hotels or any type of hotel without childcare facilities, other alternatives exist to enable employees to manage their work and family life. In fact, having family supportive work environments and supportive supervisors are far more important than work-family policies per se. As gatekeepers of a positive environment, the role of supervisors is critical: are they - or are they not - providing the right amount of psycho-social and emotional support to their employees to balance work-family life?

Reducing Data Waste in Hotels

EHL ·21 March 2019
Hotels are wasting valuable data without even knowing it and they need to start "going green" in regards to saving their business environments. By wasting data, hotels are losing major opportunities and revenue generating potentials. Three ways hotels can prevent data waste.The world is on a mission to go green and the hotel industry is joining the movement. Starting with removing plastic straws from their properties, major hotel chains including Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt, and AccorHotels are trying to reduce the amount of plastic being used to help preserve our earth. Reducing waste is crucial to helping the environment and going green as reducing data waste is integral to enhancing a hotel's performance and improving its business.With hotel data, it's the same. Hotels are wasting valuable data without even knowing it and they need to start "going green" in regards to saving their business environments. By wasting data, hotels are losing major opportunities and revenue generating potentials.How hotels waste dataData is generated and collected by all team members in a hotel from the concierge to the general manager. With data generation and collection points occurring throughout all hours of the day, there is a lot of potential data to gather, convert, and use to benefit your hotel. Without proper recognition of these data points, to no surprise, data can go to waste. However, it takes much more than simply acknowledging the presence of data to prevent losing valuable revenue sources.Businesses primarily lose data when they do not have the proper technology to collect and analyze the data.Without investing in technology solutions to better understand your hotel's data, it is nearly impossible to comprehend the information, let alone gain results from it. According to the MIT Sloan Management Review, many businesses still struggle to understand the relationship between IT investments and business value.If your hotel business cannot see the great potential its data can bring, of course it will be difficult to convince decision makers to invest in better technologies. However, thanks to the growing awareness of data's value, businesses, hotels included, are beginning to see the true value of data and the potential return on investments in technology.While hotels are beginning to understand the importance of technology solutions and hotel data platforms, these software and applications cannot be of use to a hotel if its people do not understand how to use them or the solutions they are producing.Data silos are plaguing the hospitality industry, particularly as the industry is behind when it comes to integrations between different technologies and software providers.Data is being lost between points A and B when these data silos cannot communicate with one another and are simply producing results based on their individual data points. Without integrations, larger and more valuable data analysis cannot be conducted to its fullest potential and profit generating capacity.How to prevent wasting data1. Select appropriate data technology solutions for your hotelHotels come in all shapes and sizes. There are chain hotels, independent hotels, boutique hotels, business hotels, spas and resorts, timeshare vacation homes, extended stay hotels, convention hotels, and the list goes on and on. With such diversity within the industry, it's impossible to find technologies that are one-size-fits-all.But why would you even want a software that isn't tailor-made for your hotel? While there are the widespread, well-known technologies like major PMSs or POSs available, sometimes they simply don't work for your hotel. For instance, some PMS could miss reporting on room-type levels or pick-up reports if the system doesn't match your hotel. By using a PMS built for MICE hotel types for a small, boutique hotel, or vice versa, you would not be able to receive applicable data from your software.Selecting the right technology solutions for your hotel is the first and most important step to reducing your data waste because not only is it a sizable investment, but it will also determine how your business is run in the years to come. When looking for a software or program for your hotel, the best approach is to research as much as you can before investing. Not only is it important to select a PMS, CRM, or any solution that best fits the size, type, location, and guests of your hotel, but it's also necessary to consider what other technologies it can be integrated with.The need for technology in the hospitality industry is growing and with this increase in demand, comes a variety of applications, programs, and systems that can only be beneficial if they can integrate with your key technologies.2. Invest in training your staff how to use the technology and improve their work efficienciesIt's a well-known fact in the hotel industry that people make the hotel. With exceptional employees comes great service, which in turn, brings business to a hotel.When trying to avoid wasting data, it's critical to make sure your hotel's staff understands the importance of data, how they contribute to the data journey, and what they can do to ensure data isn't wasted. Without a general understanding of hotel data from every member of a hotel staff, it's difficult to generate profits from data without a foundation. Not only does your staff need to understand the value of data, but they also need to be trained in how to use the technologies you have selected to improve data usage.By investing in time and money to train your hotel's staff on how to not only use the software, but also understand the solutions they provide, you can ensure better results from the data analysis.3. Once you select your technologies, see what else is available to add-onIntegrations between technologies is extremely important and is only going to become more so with time. As technologies develop, they will need to be able to connect with one another to avoid data silos. Thus, the technologies you select can only benefit your hotel if they are integrated with each other. Once you choose a technology that is integration-friendly, there is a growing number of add-on applications for hotels to help use data to your hotel's advantage. There are numerous applications available to hotels from messaging apps to revenue management tools to OTA insights and tracking apps.Besides PMS and POS related add-ons, there are numerous tools to help hospitality organizations maximize their data.For example, as the importance of guest satisfaction grows, in addition to the multiple channels of review websites, it's easy to lose a lot of essential data that is available to hotels online. Hoteliers can prevent their businesses from wasting this data by investing in reputation management tools, such as ReviewPro, which helps hotels manage their reputations by monitoring reviews, conducting satisfaction surveys, boosting rankings, and driving higher satisfaction. In the connected, social media friendly world we live in today, reviews can make or break a hotel's reputation. These reviews provide an enormous amount of data for a hotel and if managed correctly, can increase a hotel's occupancy, ADR, guest satisfaction, and reputation.Hotels are losing data on a daily basis simply because the industry isn't aware of the value in its data and where to locate these data points. By acknowledging the issue and addressing the data wastage, hotels can "go green" and reduce their data waste. Technology is always changing and the hospitality industry can take advantage of these improvements by selecting the appropriate software for its hotels. No matter how advanced technology becomes, without the proper training of the people who are using it, data will still be wasted. Once hotels begin to see investments in hotel technology the way they view investing in refurbishments and inventory, they can start benefiting from data analytics and hotel data platforms to increase revenue and improve their operations. Stop wasting your hotel's valuable data and join the industry leaders who are taking advantage of hotel data and the technologies that provide the priceless solutions.This article was first published on the SnapShot Blog.SnapShot is the first and largest hospitality independent data processing platform, helping both enterprise and individual hospitality organizations collect, harmonize and analyze their data to better manage their business.

Adventure Tourism: Catering to the Thrill-Seeker Traveler

EHL ·20 March 2019
Strolling around Japan with a Samurai over the course of a week or greeting gorillas in Rwanda while staying at a luxury lodge are only two examples of the ever evolving (and creative) offer from hospitality businesses: how to cater to the adventurous traveler?Through the ages, mankind has been pushing the limits of exploration: we have conquered lands, we have discovered the wonders of our planet and, pushed by our relentless thirst for knowledge, we have greatly expanded our awareness of the world we live in. Today's travelers are no different: driven by an increasing need to find meaning and purpose in their busy lives, they leave their comfort zone to venture into some of the most remote - and sometimes hostile - places in the world or venture into epic journeys.Dubbed "adventure tourism", this trend accounts for one of the fastest growing categories in the travel industry, as stated in a 2014 report by the UNWTO. How do destinations and hoteliers cater to this new breed of intrepid travelers?Unknown Thrills and Adrenaline Attract Travelers: Why?Isolation, loneliness and fear make people more susceptible to anxiety and stress. But people are still trying to find remote places to visit and new adventures to experience. Why? Turns out, the stress generated by isolation is not all that bad.A documentary produced by Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne - Going Home to the Stars - is set at the European Southern Observatory in the Atacama desert in Chile, one of the driest, most isolated places on earth. Sherif Mamdouh, who lead the documentary creation, investigated how a whole crew of scientists, specialists and hospitality workers manage to live and work together in the middle of the desert, where everything is inaccessible and scarce. The psychological aspect of his experience is fit to capture full attention. According to Mamdouh:A high level of stress can drive to a high level of satisfaction and thus, a higher sense of well-being. Stress is not just a negative force: in some instance, it can stimulate the brain and increase cognitive abilities.This may explain why people seek this kind of experience: to complete the excitement of discovery and the feeling of adventure. Unknown thrills, adventures and adrenaline attract travelers, and they are captivated by hidden landscapes and places where few have set foot before. If that means being exposed to stress and isolation, then so be it.Interested in a career in hospitality management? Learn more about our programsWho is the Thrill-Seeker Traveler?Passionate and risk-taking, adventure tourists tend to be wealthy, willing to pay a premium for exciting and authentic experiences. Adventure operators have reported an average of USD 3,000 spent per person, with an average trip length of eight days.In a 2018 report from by Intrepid, motivations to chase adventure range from decompressing (recharging one's batteries) to simply satisfying their curiosity and - interestingly enough - having something fun to share on social media.According to, the yearning for experiences over material possessions continues to drive travelers' desire for more incredible and memorable trips: 45% of travelers have a bucket list in mind and the majority of those will aim to tick one or more destinations off their list in the coming years. Most likely to appear on a bucket list are thrill seekers wanting to visit a world famous theme park, travelers looking to go on an epic road or rail journey or visiting a remote or challenging location.Age does not seem to be a key factor for adventurous travelers, as the older demographic appear just as keen to test their adrenaline limits as the younger generations.How to Cater to this New Breed of Travelers?Destinations are increasingly marketing themselves as unique, appealing to travelers looking for rare, incomparable experiences. Case in point, destinations around the world gear their slogans and messaging to attract adventure travelers. Take Norway's "Powered by Nature", Greenland's "Be a Pioneer" or New-Zealand's "100% Pure New Zealand" - they all incorporate a sense of adventure into their brand identity.Destinations that have prioritized adventure tourism frequently create regional associations to regulate the quality and safety of the tourism offer. Canada's Adventure Ecotourisme Quebec, the Brazilian Adventure and Ecoutourism Association or the Tour and Safari Association in Namibia, are few examples of those type of destination-run bodies of regulation.Hospitality businesses are also increasingly seeking to attract thrill seekers. If climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, base-jumping off a cliff in Australia or trekking through the Sahara might have once scratched the itch for adventure, the offer has now become mainstream. Hotels and travel operators have immensely benefited from technology and online tools to optimize their operations and achieve a greater marketing reach. As a result, they have greatly augmented their products, not only by offering unique accommodations, but by providing customized off-site adventure packages or making it possible for guests to immerse themselves in local communities.Strolling around Japan with a Samurai over the course of a week or greeting gorillas in Rwanda while staying at a luxury lodge are only two examples of the ever evolving offer (and creativity) from hospitality businesses.Additional resource:Global Report on Adventure Tourism - UNWTO

Food Halls Are the New Food Courts (With an Authentic Twist)

EHL ·20 March 2019
Food halls are everywhere nowadays, from Florence's Mercato Centrale to Lisbon's Time Out Mercado da Ribeira, there is a good chance you stumbled upon one of these gigantic cafeteria-style public markets, where - under the same roof - you can taste different types of foods, see different chefs at work and even buy groceries. Food halls are doing more than just serving meals to hungry locals and tourists: they are designed as a curated experience, where guests can not only enjoy top-notch street-style foods, but fully grasp an authentic flair of the city they are in.Why are food halls all the rage right now?First of all, our food habits have drastically changed and food halls' success has been going hand in hand with how the consumers demand has evolved. Quality-conscious consumers are constantly looking to eat differently every day, while fitting it into their busy schedules. They want to be able to choose from a variety of dishes and products on a daily basis, like to be able to choose from a list of high quality ingredients and try world cuisines.Another reason why food halls have been successful lately are tourists. Tourists on-the-go want to get the most out of their journey in terms of visits and local experiences, which obviously include food, in a limited amount of time. Ordering a "sample platter" with the city's best food while mingling with locals and browsing through aisles of local goods eliminates this issue and packs the most experiential value into one visit.Locals too can take advantage from food halls. In addition to offering a variety of cuisines, they serve as grocery markets and often sell fresh and locally-sourced products, as well as serve as modern public squares where people can spend a night and hang out with their friends.The #foodie culture also contributed to the success of food hallsA foodie is defined as someone who pays attention not only to what they eat but also from where it comes from. By offering fresh food and a variety of experiences grounded in authenticity, consumers directly associate food halls with healthy and high-quality dining. Moreover, foodies have famously risen to the status of social mavens and - although highly annoying for some - a nice picture on their Instagram feed speaks a thousand words in terms of marketing power of these new food meccas. Food halls have then been capitalizing on their social media appeal: with a huge focus on appealing designs and plating, free wifi or open-kitchen concepts calling for on-the-go snaps.New opportunities for chefs and entrepreneursIn a highly competitive marketplace, food halls have also proved to offer opportunities for food entrepreneurs and chefs to test drive different business models and culinary experiences. Designed to organically attract a lot more foot traffic into their premises, food halls have not only removed some of the barriers to entry into the restaurant business, it also allows food entrepreneurs to start serving a lot more customers, at a fraction of the regular startup costs. Jonathan Butler, co-founder of Smorgasburg - the largest open-air food market in the U.S. located in Brooklyn, New York - in a Vox articlesays:We think of ourselves as the biggest small business incubator in New York City. We're a platform for entrepreneurship. In some ways, the most impressive thing we've done is we've democratized and changed the economics of starting a food business.Jonathan Butler - co-founder of Smorgasburg in New York CityThere are many food halls around the world today. Chains are expanding and new ones are constantly created. They have become so popular that their number is expected to triple between 2015 and 2020 and you for sure do not want to miss out on this experience. So when you are traveling, make sure you visit the one closest to you.Some of the best food halls around the world:Eataly (Turin), Quincy Market (Boston), Harrods Food Hall (London), Great Food Hall (Hong Kong), Isetan Food Hall (Tokyo), Lafayette Gourmet (Dubai), Markthal (Rotterdam), Food Garden (Mexico).

Luxury Hotels: What's Their Digital IQ?

EHL ·19 March 2019
According to New York-based consulting firm Gartner L2, Four Seasons, Hilton, The Ritz-Carlton and Fairmont account for some of the smartest hospitality groups online. The firm released its annual report - The Hospitality Digital IQ Index - ranking the digital competency of 75 of the biggest hospitality players. We rounded-up three key takeaways from the study.A strong brand creates a market! Gartner L2 stated that Airbnb beats all indexed brands and most OTA sites in terms of raw traffic - with over 40 million monthly visitors, that's more than and combined - and in-app store performance ranks fourth in the Travel category, trailing only Uber, Lyft, and Yelp.Disruptors like Airbnb and Google are further redefining the hospitality ecosystemAirbnb's strong brand awareness attracts travelers, and the amount of travelers attracts Airbnb hosts. This is nothing new. In the era before OTAs, some hotel brands were able to create their own markets based on the number of properties, or outstanding services (such as Four Seasons). Then came the Internet and the emergence of the ever-growing OTAs: as the amount of hotel brands continued to grow, they could already barely compete with online travel and booking players - which ultimately became top of mind for consumers.And now, it looks like Airbnb and Google may replace OTAs in travelers' mind. It took over a decade for hoteliers to recognize that OTAs are here to stay: not only do they need to fit into a redefined ecosystem, but they also need to leverage OTAs to reach new customers. Now that generations of new customers - i.e. Millennials and upcoming Gen Z consumers - may have their first travel experiences via the lenses of the ever-ubiquitous Google Hotels or Airbnb properties, how will this influence their perception about hotels?In response to these existential threats, big hoteliers continue to grow through consolidation, reinforcing their loyalty programs, competing with online players on their digital visibility and content production efforts or investing in differentiating technologies on their online or on-property experiences.The need to leverage loyalty programs effectively for luxury hotelsThe number of loyalty program members is critical for hotel investors. The bigger, the better. Case in point: adoption of such programs by hospitality players has continually been on the rise over the past decade. The L2 study reveals that the loyalty efforts of the top five hospitality enterprises grew from 30% to 47% within a year.Adoption by hospitality businesses is only one part of the game here though, as there is a growing gap in value expected by consumers and what's being actually offered to them. Most loyalty program members do not join such programs because of their behavioral or attitudinal loyalty, but simply to collect points and reap the rewards. On the other hand, over the years, airlines and hotel companies have devalued loyalty program points by raising the thresholds to exchange awards. Given the rising costs of customer acquisition through traditional online advertising, hotels brands ought to really evaluate the return on investment of attracting new consumers into a loyalty loop that might just miss the mark on actually retaining consumers. By making loyalty offers truly meaningful and ensuring loyalty points are actually valued by brands, travelers will be more likely to forgo category search and jump straight to the digital players have clearly doubled-down on their retention efforts. Example: Le Club by Accor Hotels where members have the opportunity to share their interests and hobbies in arts and culture, lifestyle, and even sports. Powered by preference data, Accor aims at refining the experience for their members. Multi-brand loyalty programs are also arising - such as the merge of Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest - or independent luxury hotels stepping up their game - such as Hyatt Hotels Corporation announcing a new loyalty alliance with London-based Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH), a collection of more than 500 independent luxury hotels from around the world.The battle of the top of the funnelMy major concern is always about the top of the funnel, as in how do hospitality businesses generate new leads? Gartner L2maps out key digital tactics along the customer journey and identified category search, Google Hotels, and web advertisingas three key top-of-the-funnel tactics.Yet, what happens before travelers conduct category search? Could hoteliers reach customers before that step in their journey? I see three ways here to capitalize on consumer intent before performing online search: web advertising, working with airlines to reach potential customers and, last but not least, content marketing.Tess Mattisson - Director of Marketing for the European Division of Choice Hotels International - strongly believes in the "brands as publishers" model, not because they have large piles of money to throw around, but "because they've realized they need to invest in media and content - hence become publishers in their own right,- if they're going to successfully sell their products further down the road." Proud hoteliers who perceive themselves as local ambassadors could create content to promote their destinations making potential travelers aware of a specific hotel through destination content first, who would then proceed to booking. Instead of focusing on bidding on the right keywords, develop content based on these keywords, and help potential customers imagine and plan their upcoming trip.When developing hotel content, keep in mind the following. First, Google has the most comprehensive database of destinations and travelers behaviors (watch Google Destinations and Google Trips videos if you have doubts). Second, Facebook notifies users about upcoming events their friends are interested in. When developing local content, hoteliers should aim to tap into customer data that Google and Facebook don't have access to - bringing us back to owned data from loyalty programs and consolidated across all owned channels. Merely putting information as a destination guide is not enough anymore: hoteliers should produce always-on content that is not only highly relevant, but grounded in the specificities of a local destination, and in-the-end create links to position their properties as to add value to traveler experiences.The Hospitality Digital IQ Index examined 75 brands and scored them based on the following factors: Discovery (e.g. search, Google hotels), Path to Purchase (e.g. booking engine and mobile site), Content (e.g. website content and social media) and Retention (e.g. loyalty program, email marketing). After scoring, the brands are grouped into one of five digital competency categories: Genius (140 + points), Gifted (110-139), Average (109-90), Challenged (89-70) and Feeble (<70).

EHL Group revamps its Junior Academy for a unique family experience

EHL ·13 March 2019
LAUSANNE, Switzerland - EHL Group has drawn from its past experience to rethink the journey it offers high school students to discover the hospitality industry. With courses and activities animated by some of the world's top professionals, the new EHL Junior Academy offers an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look into the worlds of 5-star hotels, fine dining and business management.Junior Program for Future Hospitality Leaders The program devised for the aspiring hospitality students, or those still wondering if hospitality management is made for them, offers a hands-on look into the hospitality business and a chance to explore the latest trends in luxury hospitality and culinary arts. The highly experienced faculty members will introduce the concepts of hospitality service excellence and restaurant management, for a first look at some of the main business concepts. As is customary at EHL, students will have the opportunity to meet people from around the world and sharpen their cultural awareness, creating friendships based on shared values and interests.Learn from the very best EHL has been named the world's TOP hospitality and leisure Management University in 2019 in multiple rankings, holds the world's only Michelin Star as a school, and employs some of the most prominent Chefs (Meilleur Ouvrier de France). EHL has been leading the hospitality industry for 125 years, making it the best possible place to plant the seed of a successful career as a manager. For teenagers who wish to know more about the world's fastest growing industry before committing to four years of hard studying, a week at the Junior Academy will equip them (and their parents) to make the right decision.Parent Academy For the first time, parents accompanying their children to Switzerland will have the opportunity to attend a tailored program of their own. The EHL Parent Academy Program offers a mix of fine dining experiences, regional sight-seeing excursions, workshops to improve wine knowledge, and chocolate tasting.One experience, two locations EHL Group now offers the possibility to discover hospitality excellence on both its Lausanne (Western Switz.) and Passugg (Eastern Switz.) campuses. Whether they wish to be in the world's Olympic capital on the shores of Lake Geneva amid the sun-soaked vineyards, or in the heart of the Swiss Alps in the world's locations that counts the most 4 and 5 star hotels, visitors will benefit from the best hospitality management immersion in the world.More details To find out everything there is to know about the new EHL Junior or Parent Academy and for registrations, visit the dedicated webpage.

Digital Detox : Five Hotels to Disconnect

Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne (EHL)·11 March 2019
On average we check our smartphones about 80 times a day. Our lives in the 21st century can easily get clogged up with notifications, e-mails, tweets and likes. Even on our holidays a constant connection to Wi-Fi networks allow everyday stress factors to follow you to any destination. Have a read through our hand-picked list of hotels to explore some of the most attractive getaway destinations for your digital detox, where you can forget about your online persona and enjoy some moments of pure serenity.
Article by Sherif Mamdouh

What the Nudge (Marketing)?!?

EHL · 8 March 2019
Influence without constraint, and to do good. This is the ethos of Nudge theory. This "helping hand" theory claims to be able to rely on human irrationality to reach a desired outcome. Stemming from behavioral psychology and microeconomics, this new paradigm advocates "libertarian paternalism" where a dose of manipulation is admitted but used only in the most benevolent endeavors - not without reminding us that any form of communication can be perceived as manipulation.In 2008, Richard Thaler, one of the fathers of behavioral economics, co-wrote Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, a book that shook up prior understandings and highlighted a much more realistic approach to economics in its appreciation of human imperfection. Richard Thaler, who won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2017 for his unique contributions, has inspired public health and environmental awareness campaigns, drawing the attention of the US government (under Barack Obama's administration) and the British government, which have both created units dedicated to the use of nudges to reduce tax payment delays, reduce household energy consumption, increase charitable contributions or increase voter turnout rates. And it works!System 1, system 2Nudge theory is based on the prior work of Daniel Kahneman, who conceptualizes human thought in such a way as to explain the perpetual dichotomy between rapid, instinctive and emotional thinking (system 1) and slower, reflective and logical thinking (system 2). Our brain is a formidable machine capable of real prowess. But this ability to manage huge amounts of information at an exceptional speed is expensive in terms of energy.We have therefore evolved so as to process as much information as possible in an almost unconscious way via system 1. System 2 is uncomfortable and demands effort, so will only be used as a last resort. A rather telling image is that of driving. Tense, sweaty and on the lookout, the young learner will use system 2 while driving. Once experienced, the driver's actions become automatic and almost unconscious - here, system 1 takes care of the task; much less expensive, but also less attentive. From an evolutionary point of view, System 1 is life-saving in many circumstances; no need to think to remove your hand from a hot stove, or catch your baby just before a dangerous fall. These instinctive actions are essential to our survival. However, our minds allow themselves certain shortcuts which, in the hyper-connected and extremely complex world in which we live today, can be somewhat problematic.A little playful interludeA racket and a table tennis ball are worth a total of EUR1.10. The racket is worth one euro more than the ball. How much does the bullet cost?If you read this riddle for the first time, your system 1 immediately raised its hand and said "I know, I know, I know! the ball costs 0.10 EUR" with a wide smile of satisfaction. It is only once you are told that it is not the right answer that your system 2 will come out of its cave, yawn and start calculating to tell you that the right answer is obviously 0.05EUR (if the racket costs one euro more, it therefore costs 1.05EUR, to which we add the 5 cents for the ball which gives us the total of 1.10EUR).The fact that we quickly arrive at the wrong answer is not proof of a lack of intelligence or a personal defect, but a demonstration that many of our mistakes are the result of our psychology and weaknesses that Homo sapiens had to concede for the sake of optimization and survival.Just like everyone elseThe goal is not to reinvent or change human behavior, but to better understand it in order to extract rules based on scientific observations, which make it possible to review all processes, interactions and choices to optimize them.Some cognitive biases are inseparable from our decision-making. Worse still, they would even have more influence on our decision-making than rational thinking. The strength of the nudge is surfing the wave of subjectivity and irrationality, rather than facing it head-on."Behaviour towards organ donation varies significantly from country to country. In some countries you are automatically considered a donor and must take a short administrative step to remove yourself from the donor list. In these countries nearly 90% of individuals donate their organs! In other countries it is the opposite, you must follow the same procedure but to declare yourself as a donor. In this case, the percentage of donors drops to around 15%! The difference? The way the options are presented," explains Lohyd Terrier, Professor of Influence and Leadership at Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne.Some examples of biases typically used with nudgessource: http://www.psychomedia.qc.caStatus quo bias is the tendency to prefer leaving things as they are, with a change appearing to bring more risks and disadvantages than possible benefits. In various areas, this bias explains choices that are not the most rational.Framing bias is the tendency to be influenced by the way a problem is presented. For example, the decision whether or not to proceed with surgery may be affected by whether the surgery is described in terms of success rates or failure rates, even if both numbers provide the same information.Conformity bias is the tendency to think and act as others do.The conformity bias is probably one of the most important. It is the one that gives birth to fads and trends and also one of the most powerful due to our complex social nature.One day I asked my father how he had drove me and my brothers around all those years without a child seat or even a seat belt in the car. He simply replied that this was the norm, and that in fact he didn't feel like he was doing anything wrong. Such is the strength of bias!Choice architectureIn reference to the above-mentioned, it must be said that the way in which information is presented will have a major impact.People who provide a service, experience, contract, or other information that will lead to a choice are defined as choice architects. The latter, according to Richard Thaler, "have a responsibility to organize the context in which people make decisions".By finding that the default choice was the one most often used when completing a form, the UK government succeeded in increasing the rate of participation in pension plans, simply by checking the "opt-in" box by default, while leaving signatories the choice not to opt for the pension plan. With a tiny adjustment, the well-being of thousands of workers will potentially be assured at retirement. The range of possibilities remains the same, while the choice architecture has been optimized.Brands are also getting startedSome companies, realizing the strong economic, qualitative and reputational potential, have taken certain steps resulting from a "nudge" type of thinking.Think of the small cards inviting you to reuse your towel in the hotel bathroom, for example. This allows the hotel to be more environmentally friendly AND saves considerable amounts of money on laundry costs. With this new understanding, some hotels have leveraged the bias of conformity, mentioning for example that 87% of guests who used this room reused their towels. This tiny detail boosted the rate of towel reuse.Now imagine that you want to score points with your audience by adopting an ecological behavior through a ban on single-use plastics. It is then sufficient to no longer systematically offer straws with sodas or cocktails, while allowing those who would like a straw to ask the waiter for one. In the overwhelming majority of cases, straws will not be requested. You save on purchase costs, capitalize on the values shared with your customers and nurture their trust and loyalty, yet in practice, the choices available remain exactly the same. No freedom has been taken away.Nudges can also be used to strengthen the corporate culture. In an elevator at the headquarters of the Marriott hotel chain, a sign says "It's too quiet in here. Talk, don't text". This small invitation to conversation increased the positive interactions between employees and thus their overall job satisfaction.Where are all the consulting firms?Planning, communicating, gathering or helping by adopting a nudge approach can have extremely positive effects at low cost. But then, why don't we see specialized agencies and consulting firms popping up to offer this ingenious and efficient service? Quite simply because it is difficult for a firm to justify fees up to the potential added value, as the actual changes can be so subtle.Nudges should not be seen as a fad, but as the result of years of experimental research into how we make our decisions - Lohyd Terrier, Dr Terrier Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior at EHLTo maximize the impact of nudges, they must therefore be jointly managed by experimentalists specialized in influence and creative communication professionals. The studies are there, with figures and case studies to support them. No need for beautiful presentations full of keywords to impress the customer. The nudge is a gentle influence for which you need a sharp eye, a critical approach and a lot of creativity.

EHL Ranked World's Best Hospitality & Leisure Management School

EHL ·27 February 2019
LAUSANNE, Switzerland - Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne (EHL) has been ranked at the top position in the 2019 QS World University ranking for Hospitality & Leisure Management Universities, after celebrating its 125th anniversary and earning the extremely sought-after Michelin star. Once more, QS rankings confirm Switzerland's central role in shaping the hospitality industry, and EHL's position as the world's leading institution.EHL Group CEO Michel Rochat reacted to the news by saying that "this is absolutely fantastic news, because the continuous recognition as the top hospitality university, is an important indicator that we are doing things the right way". "As we celebrate our 125th anniversary, we celebrate a unique heritage that enriches all our programs, from our professional training in our Graubunden school SSTH, to our university programs here in Lausanne. The title of world Number 1 is an honor and a responsibility that helps us uphold our promise to open the doors to the best career opportunities for our students", he added."Switzerland remains an example in terms of academic excellence, competitiveness and innovation. We are delighted by this news which reinforces the relevance of our education, but also that of our certification programs which allow schools around the world to contribute to the evolution of our industry", said Olivier Roux, Senior Managing Director of EHL Advisory Services, the Group's consulting company dedicated to executive training and certification.EHL Group's focus on the future of hospitality and the future of education remains the driving force behind every thought, every action and every investment. All of which, to accomplish our mission to train the industry's best managers and offer them careers at the height of their ambition. This achievement is a source of pride for the whole of EHL Group.

INTERVIEW: Hotel Investment Trends in Europe

EHL ·25 February 2019
If you're thinking of investing in the hotel sector in Europe where should you be looking to put your money? Patrik Hug, Senior Consultant, Advisory & Valuation Services at Christie & Co based in Munich, Germany, says much depends on how risk averse the potential investor is.Hug, an EHL graduate, says that four out of five investors in hotel real estate are not passionate about hotels. "It's about cash flows, yields, and the return on investment. Of course, they like dealing with hotels, but it could be a parking lot as well. In the end, as long as the return is correct, that's all that counts. So it really depends on who you are and what your strengths are."Some hoteliers, he says, still haven't learned from the financial crisis - they still like to cut prices. That means, however, they cannot get back to their normal rates.A hotel manager is not necessarily a good investor, which is generally why they are not the owners."Nevertheless, people won't stop traveling. We had seen during the recession of 2008-2009 Germany just had one year where there was a dip. The economy might have suffered, and in the hotel industry rates have gone down, but it was really just a year. The general economy suffered longer than the hotel business. People continue to travel more and longer, because it's become affordable. Travel has become cheap - it is a commodity, and hotels have also become a commodity."While Germany is a safe haven with larger yields from hotel assets than other classes of real estate, Hug says that, overall, the newer EU countries which are still receiving funding from the European Union will see faster growth than the more mature European markets "because they were so far behind and are now starting to catch up."Hug told EHL senior lecturer Karen Earl-Erpelding in an interview for Hospitality Insights that growth in tourism is driven by the development of infrastructure such as airports. "Most European airports are congested and overcrowded, they are too small and many are running at full capacity or even beyond capacity."Here are excerpts of the interview.On the outlook for the German hotel market.Patrik Hug: Germany is regarded as a safe haven in terms of hotel investments and they have grown to be very attractive because they return larger yields than other forms of real estate, also because yields in general went down in 2017. We have seen 2018's transaction volumes decreasing a little because there are just not many opportunities around anymore. This is especially true since 2016 was a very good year but since then there have not been as many transactions in existing hotel real estate and portfolios, as there haven't been as many opportunities around on the market.It's not just German investors that turn to real estate, but also private equity Asian investors that would like to invest in German real estate.What we have seen is a shift from German investors who are not so often willing to pay such high prices anymore in primary gateway cities in Germany. Asian money, on the other hand, is less concerned about this, but they would just like to have an opportunity to invest in these top eight cities: Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden, Leipzig, Stuttgart, Dusseldorf and Cologne. Large institutional investors who are very risk averse have even started to acquire hotels and hotel projects in second-tier and sometimes even third-tier cities.Why are Asian investors attracted to Germany? Is it a question of stability? Because there are markets even within Europe - such as Spain and Portugal - that have better growth rates?Patrik Hug: Some investors have been cautious. For example, Spain is a leisure-driven market, thus you have lots of ups and downs, which makes it a bit less stable. Although there are business cities like Barcelona, Madrid and Seville, Barcelona has been a bit of a tricky city recently because of the political situation.Why has Germany been so popular? The political environment has been very stable. Also, in terms of tourism, around 75 - 80 percent is domestic tourism so it's very stable and affordable. For comparison, I just looked at the Geneva market and we had CAGR (compound annual growth rates) over the last five years in both supply and demand of less than one percent, and every German hotel market has grown more than three percent per annum, some even stronger.Even though the German markets are very mature, they have performed very well. There is also a big pipeline for each of these top markets, but they seem to absorb the new supply well. However, not all have been able to raise prices at or beyond inflationary levels, so they have remained relatively stable. So the question is: how long is this going to remain so? Munich alone has a larger pipeline than the whole of Switzerland. In Switzerland, to get building permits takes much longer and you need to get the financing right as everything is more expensive.But you also have the very seasonal locations which have relatively low ratios?Patrik Hug: Yes, but some of the seasonal destinations have caught up strongly because they have really taken away demand from mature holiday markets so you have seen Spain and Portugal grow to a relatively strong level in the last two years, including destinations such as the Canary Islands, which have done very well, but with the other destinations around the Mediterranean coming back - Egypt, Turkey, etc. You can see the shift of where people are headed to.A market that has grown tremendously over the last year and which has also drawn lots of interest is Croatia, which is growing as a destination. In terms of the hotel market, there is also some branded luxury product in the pipeline. There are some international brands present, but mostly it's local brands and independent hotels. The key challenge for Croatia - as for any beach destination - is the winter months.The market is certainly on the rise, for the whole coast. People feel comfortable with Croatia now that it's fully integrated into the European Union. I do not know when they will adopt the Euro, but that would again boost travel even more. What we have seen is that flight connections have tremendously increased and, especially for these markets flight connections are the key to survival: the more flights, the more tourists. It's a direct correlation. So the more air capacity such a destination can offer, the more tourism will flourish.As for other markets, isn't Albania severely under-developed?Patrik Hug: It is, but it is also one of the last Mediterranean countries with a nice spread of coastline. I think this is where development will go when other markets are saturated.Other markets where I think there is still growth potential are the Baltics. All three countries have beautiful coasts, mild summers like the Normandy area in France and there are some nice spots.What about the Swiss hotel markets?Patrik Hug: Switzerland is a different market as it's expensive, but look at the numbers: Austria, which has approximately the same size of population, registered 3.8 times the number of overnight stays than Switzerland in 2017. Vienna alone registered almost half the overnights Switzerland generated during the whole year.This also reveals that there is still room to grow, especially in the branded economy sector in Switzerland. There is pretty much just Accor which has a nationwide presence. There are some fantastic new products around ... we just need to find the opportunity in the right location.Patrik Hug is a senior consultant covering Central and Northern Europe for Christie & Co, which recently published its research, 'Travel Trends and Investment Hot Spots', in which it analyzes 14 European markets. Hug graduated with a bachelor's in international hospitality management from Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne (EHL) in Switzerland in 2015.Mrs Karen Earl-Erpelding, also an EHL graduate, is a senior lecturer in accounting and finance at Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne and is a member of the proposed Hospitality Finance, Real Estate & Economics (HFREE) Institute. She holds an MBA from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland.

Ecole Hoteliere De Lausanne And The Luxury Hotelschool Paris Partner To Offer Hoteliers Executive Training For The Management Of Luxury Hotels

EHL ·25 February 2019
EHL Group, which includes Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne, a worldwide reference in hotel management schools, and the Luxury Hotelschool Paris offer executive training in Paris to develop the skills of hoteliers in management and project management. This brand-new program, developed with EHL Advisory Services, the consulting and executive professional training unit of the EHL Group, is aimed at managers in the hotel industry who wish to acquire additional management and strategy skills, and who wish to work in a team on an innovative project. The program is particularly aimed at managers who will have to assume greater responsibilities in the near future.The program is divided into 14 blocks of 3 days a year and is aimed at hoteliers in office. The training is delivered in French and English and leads to an executive certificate in Luxury Hospitality Management jointly delivered by both institutions.Classes starting in September 2019 will take place on the Luxury Hotelschool campus in Clichy, close to the L'Oreal research centre, as well as in luxury hotels in Paris. Half the lecturers are from the Luxury Hotelschool, and the other half from EHL."We bring our expertise in luxury hotel management to the service of this exceptional program, which will enable hoteliers to validate their skills and gain access to higher levels of responsibility. Our alliance with Lausanne offers graduates worldwide recognition of their competencies "says Arnaud Bouvier, President of the Luxury Hotelschool."The luxury hotel industry is the leading segment of the hospitality industry for its emotional and economic impact. Continuing education is an obligation for all managers and a priority for us, to support professionals in the rapid evolution of the market. Together with the Luxury Hotelschool Paris, we offer participants a new perspective, with the aim of inspiring them to deliver an unforgettable customer experience and develop more relevant management tools, "says Olivier Roux, Senior Managing Director of EHL Advisory Services.About the Luxury Hotelschool Paris The Luxury Hotelschool Paris is the first hotel school in the world dedicated to luxury. It offers two university degrees in English: a Bachelor's and a Master's of Science in International Tourism and Hospitality Management. With a history dating back to the end of the nineteenth century, the school masters the tradition of French hospitality associated with Anglo-Saxon management to train the future leaders of the luxury hotel industry in France and internationally.

Artificial Intelligence: Hospitality, and That Human Touch

EHL ·14 February 2019
Artificial intelligence is undoubtedly going to have an impact on the hotel industry as the bots - robots and chatbots - play a greater role. Julia Aymonier, CIO of EHL, says yes, some jobs will change, particularly those related to repetitive tasks. "The biggest challenge," she told Hospitality Insights in an interview, "will be to train people for jobs that are created by artificial intelligence."Robot-concierge?"There will be jobs, and if we don't train people, we won't have the staff we need to do these new jobs."We're unlikely to see robot concierges in four- and five-star hotels, as you can't have the "human touch" and the sort of relationship or contact expected in these hotels with a robot."But room service, why not? If you've got a robot which comes to your door and is capable of behaving like a human, taking a tray out and putting it on a table, then that job will probably go." "Robots which can go into a room and take all the laundry and put it in a (washing) machine, why not?"Aymonier, who has been speaking at a range of forums recently on the topic of AI, says that although there are plenty of opportunities to do other types of value-added work that would be more interesting, "we need to gear up the way we train these people. We already have huge holes on the market for a lot of positions in IT today.""It takes a lot of work to train a machine, even an artificial intelligence machine, to understand what you want it to do.""We need a quantum leap in terms of technology. We've got machines which can do artificial intelligence today but to give us the power to go further we need quantum computing."It takes a lot of hard work to teach an AI system to do what you want it to do. I relate that to having a baby. You have this baby that knows nothing and then you have to teach it, correct it, show it the right path .... In terms of AI, the system will then be able to answer - most of the time - what you want it to answer. But we're not there yet and it's not magic."EHL is currently running two AI-related projects.One is a virtual personal assistant named 'Amelia', which initially will help guests and students connect to the Wi-Fi, and at a later stage will answer questions from potential students and parents about the school's courses. ("She's hardworking and not supposed to get sick.")The other project will an 'Alexa' of sorts - the virtual assistant developed by Amazon - at the reception to answer questions and provide general information.The school has already been trying to train a robot concierge, albeit with varied results. (The Hilton in McLean, Virginia, near Washington DC, is already using a small, IBM-developed robot called Connie.)So the next idea will be to take whatever platform - whether Alexa or the virtual personal assistant - and connect the two together and have a machine that has that intelligence behind it to learn from, but also have mobility. In the end, the idea would be to have several robots wandering around the campus and have artificial intelligence built in, so the robots can answer questions and you don't have to go to one specific place."We're also looking at using AI to give us some gamification types of courses and mixing these with augmented and virtual reality systems.The school is about to launch a virtual reality class for first-year students, "which is based in a five-star hotel and deals with housekeeping issues which would be quite interesting.""We decided to do that as a proof of concept to see what it can actually bring" in terms of value. That project is due to be launched in February 2019."Virtual reality is quite interesting because it may be the way we'll sell holidays in the future."Aymonier expects AI to be used to provide predictive analysis of students' results so "we can give extra training to (a particular student who is likely to fail) in certain subjects." The school may start to explore this in 2019, using software to examine patterns related to learning habits and outcomes to see if students "might have a bit of a problem so we can give them some extra coaching or extra time in class."Based on their ability, classes could also be tailor-made for the students.All that, however, involves some sort of cost. Aymonier though believes the cost of the extra time and coaching can be offset. "Do we really need to bring it down to money? If we can help somebody we should do it. If machines can give that information and prevent students spending all this time in school and coming out with nothing, I think that's worth more than the money."Julia Aymonier was named EHL's Chief Information Officer in February 2016, making her the first woman on the Executive Committee in the school's history. She had previously specialized in IT for the banking, finance and trading industries, working for companies such as JP Morgan (Suisse), La Compagnie Benjamin de Rothschild, Banque Bordier et Cie, and Union Bancaire Privee. She graduated from Glasgow University and the Polytechnic of Wales with a BSc (Hons) in Computer Science.

New Dimensions of Service

Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne (EHL)·11 February 2019
The service industry is a unique powerhouse, which has seen constant growth over the past 20 years, with hospitality contributing some 10 percent of GDP. But what’s in store for the sector, particularly as it becomes ever more competitive and the pace of change ever rapid? At a recent event in Shanghai entitled ‘First Global Service Excellence Forum’ staged by CEIBS and Ecole hôteliere de Lausanne, we examined trends in the service sector.

Managing Overtourism

Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne (EHL)·11 February 2019
What, for you, makes an ideal vacation? Being alone in a beautiful spot or sharing the experience with loved ones? More likely than not you prefer to avoid the ‘madding’ crowd but you may already have had first-hand experience of the increasing numbers of tourists visiting major destinations such as Machu Picchu, Angkor Wat, the Taj Mahal and Venice.

EHL: The Berceau Des Sens Receives Its Michelin Star

EHL · 6 February 2019
LAUSANNE - Le Berceau des Sens has become the first educational restaurant in Switzerland to receive a Michelin star. The Michelin Guide has awarded a star to Berceau des Sens, the educational restaurant of Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne. Already holding the highest Gault & Millau rating for an educational restaurant, the establishment was awarded this Michelin star, the ultimate culinary distinction, while EHL Group is in a healthy growth phase.A new decor, a high-quality service offered by students under the watchful eye of instructors, as well as a refined and modern cuisine. The Berceau des Sens, which is open to the public and is booked out every noon and evening of the week, has never done better.Heading its kitchen since September 2017, Cedric Bourassin has given a new impetus with the help of an outstanding team of professionals who rely, among other things, on the talents of the best sommelier in Italy. "The star was not a goal we were trying to achieve, because the primary goal is to train our students, but it is a wonderful recognition of the product that we strive to offer our customers. I am proud of what we have accomplished and thank the Michelin Guide for this fine distinction," said the freshly starred chef at the end of the ceremony in Lucerne.Michel Rochat, CEO of the EHL Group, said he was "very happy to see the efforts of a passionate team rewarded and recognized on the international culinary scene".The Berceau des Sens offers a menu inspired by exceptional French cuisine, since Cedric Bourassin worked with Anne-Sophie Pic and the Bras family in Laguiole. But the menu is also in pursuit of umami, the fifth flavor that the passionate chef was able to explore during his long stay in Japan.
Article by Stuart Pallister

Luxury Hospitality and the Risk of Obsolescence

EHL · 5 February 2019
Luxury hospitality is at risk of becoming obsolete, according to PwC Global industry leader for hospitality and tourism, Nicolas Mayer. That's because it no longer fulfills the 'needs and desires' of clients that they couldn't get elsewhere.Mayer told EHL students recently in classroom sessions that, in decades gone by, luxury had involved 'standard expectations' about security, beautiful surroundings and service levels that guests were willing to pay for.Whereas now, this brand promise and standardization, this consistency promise, doesn't need to be obtained from a luxury operator anymore. You can get it online and through different channels yourself or through peers or people you trust.These are complex businesses, Mayer says, so hoteliers should not be on the lookout for a new competitor that is going to disrupt the industry and put them out of business.However, citing the examples of the online travel agencies (OTAs) and alternative booking platforms such as Airbnb, he argues "there are disruption innovators that chisel away at the core revenue-generating activities that operators deliver on behalf of hotel owners."Unbundling is becoming an issueMany businesses are increasingly "looking at hospitality as an unbundled sequence of services and disruptors saying 'well, I can't become a full service hotel operator but I can do distribution, revenue management or procurement, or I can do housekeeping or engineering better than (hoteliers).'"Owners no longer want the full service offering from hotel operators, he says, but only certain elements of the bundle, combined perhaps with the services of small companies. "So that's how, in my view, disruption will come." It will not come from one big player pushing the others around but "will chisel away at some of the core services of hospitality."Neither Uber nor Airbnb are truly disruptive innovators, Mayer argues, adding their offerings are more incremental than revolutionary. He sees Uber as a taxi offering and Airbnb an accommodation offering that is "incrementally developing what the hotel industry has been doing all along and, by being more agile through technology, basically grasping market share." Indeed, Airbnb may become a victim of its own success, he says, due to pressures on real estate prices and rental space, as well as security issues,butNobody has really asked themselves in the hotel operators' business: how is it possible that a new guy comes along and immediately so many of my clients run away and switch ships? That's the question that needs to be answered. They're grasping a piece of the market share and are here to stay.Towards obsolescence in luxury hospitality?Mayer further says the issue of obsolescence in luxury hospitality is serious because it takes time for hotel groups to reinvent themselves."I don't think any of the large, recognized players will become obsolete tomorrow. However their value proposition now is increasingly being challenged because the historic deal was: I shall provide a number of useful services in a package deal, in a management contract with a three percent base fee and a ten percent incentive fee on the owner's side. But both owners and consumers want to spend more on those parts of the package where they see value. For instance, some may prefer to spend 'disproportionately' more on a room than cross-finance a fitness or business center."The luxury delivery model is in danger of obsolescence," says Mayer, "because it is based on a transactional premise where we say you give us $800 a night and I will make available an array of things, some of which you'll use and a cross-subsidizing deal that works for everyone." That classical or traditional model is being challenged, he says, through the development of lifestyle hotels.If you start unbundling an $800 daily rate and take out the cross-subsidization that goes towards fitness, MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events), the business center, beach club, etc., what is left over is probably not going to be sufficient to cover the costs.So the unbundling and change in business model are actually putting the luxury model at risk of obsolescence. It's not so much that people will no longer wish to have human contact or nice experiences whether they be in dining or something else.Mayer stresses that luxury hotels are weak in terms of processes, IT and digital systems, and the development of staff.Hospitality-specific systems, whether for revenue management, or distribution, had had been bought in. In addition, due to a lack of training, systems are "being poorly used."As for processes, the hospitality sector is "among the least mature, the least standardized and the least modern"compared to any other major industry.Check-in processes, he says, have not changed fundamentally since the 1970s (although he does praise citizenM for being a pure digital company which "never had to build processes on top of an analog heritage"). Most operators have merely transferred analogue processes to a digital environment "but that is not digital transformation in a process environment."As for the development of staff, Mayer says "the hospitality industry is particularly suffering from a lack of access to talent because they have amongst the weakest management development programs of any industry." Consequently he urges hotel groups to offer career tracks and career clarity. "That doesn't need to mean that I will map out the next 12 years until your first GM position but people want to know there is a plan for them, rather than feel they're a reserve battalion to be dispatched when the first vacancy pops up somewhere in the chain."What solutions?Plenty of areas for improvement then, so what advice does Mayer have for hoteliers as they tackle these issues?My first recommendation would be, look at industries that are really good at process improvement and ask yourself what is that they're doing that you can replicate.The airline industry, he adds, is a good example as it "constantly looks at every micro process" to make improvements and, as in the hotel industry, "if you fix it, even in just a very small piece, that can have very big effects.""Looking outside the industry is tremendously important. One of the issues of the hospitality industry - and it's not a very original statement - is that it's almost incestuous," as hoteliers switch from one group to another, taking their expertise with them. Whether it be financial services (for the check-in process) or manufacturing (for purchasing and human capital management processes), the results have been 'phenomenal', Mayer says, when hoteliers have looked outside the sector for inspiration.

Empowerment In The Hospitality Industry - How To Make It Work

EHL ·22 January 2019
Dr. Steffen RaubSteffen Raub is a Professor of Management at Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne. He has written extensively on the topic of empowerment and addresses empowerment in his teaching and consulting activities.Philip JonesPhilip Jones has been in hospitality for 25 years. He started his career in his native Ireland, where he worked for an independent boutique hotel for 5 years. Then worked for the next 12 years for Ritz Carlton in the USA before working for Jumeirah for 2 years in the Middle East. Most recently he has been with Movenpick for 7 years, as a general manager in Vietnam, Singapore and Dubai. Philip Jones is currently General Manager of the Movenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach.This interview was conducted at Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne.Q: Philip, you describe yourself as "a great fan of empowerment". Why do you think empowerment is important for the hospitality industry? What attracts you to the idea?Jones: Well, working for Ritz-Carlton for 12 years was obviously how I became introduced to the concept of empowerment. I saw the very positive effects it had, both from the guest's and from an organizational standpoint. It is not only important when something bad happens and needs fixing, but also looking at how processes can be improved. We always looked at the phrase "improvement begins with dissatisfaction of the way things are."We really need to be pushing the boundaries and I am always one of these people who believe that corporate policies and rules are really important, and brand standards are really important, but they also need to be challenged. If you don't challenge them, you'll never get any better, you'll just do what you've always done, and you need some empowerment across all levels of the organization for people to feel comfortable to speak up and say: "No, I've got the responsibility to help and improve our business".Q: So, for you, empowerment and brand standards are not either/or, it's not a contradiction. The two need to go hand in hand...Jones: ... they need go hand in hand. One helps drive the other.Q: What do hospitality organizations have to do to implement empowerment successfully?Jones: Empowerment is one of the hardest things to implement. It's so easy to say, but, you know, there are so many boundaries to it. So, I really start with communicating what the boundaries and framework of the empowerment are. What we want people to do. To have that shared vision or common goal that we all work toward and to make it clear that empowerment is a tool within the box to pull out as and when appropriate.It then goes into training and I mean training that comes from me. So when we do our empowerment training to help look at specifically how we can "surprise and delight" and resolve guest problems, the colleagues need to hear it from me directly, Philip Jones, the General Manager. That way, there is no ambiguity. It is not "okay, well, yeah we're empowered, but are we really empowered?" And we do physical exercises. When we do those, we explain the limitations behind them, i.e. that every situation people are going to encounter is going to be unique and different.And then, most importantly, you have to make sure that empowerment never results in any punitive action - so long as the actions have been done ethically and within the framework that has been provided. If we look back and someone does something where we would say "wow, that was maybe a little much, or this is maybe a little beyond what we thought", but it's not written in the framework, then that's our fault as leaders for not being more specific. And that gives us the opportunity to go back and re-work the framework. Again, procedures and policies, they're all living, breathing documents that constantly get updated you can never conceive every possibility and eventuality.Q: For you personally, what does it mean to empower your direct reports? What do you do specifically?Jones: Telling them, simply, "Make the decision. Do what you believe is right." When I talk to my Senior Executives, I say "look, my working style is very simple: as a general manager I will always keep 51 percent of the vote and you have 49. But I will let you exercise that 49 percent of the vote 99 percent of the time. Unless, I really feel you're making a great mistake. But I want you to go out and learn from your mistakes."One of the best things that ever happened to me was on the very first job. My boss said "Look, make as many mistakes as you want, but make them only once and learn from them". And for me that was great. Having people feel comfortable to make mistakes is a good thing. I'm not afraid of mistakes, and even when you do things for guests and it results in a blunder ... Hey, you know, we're not judged by the mistake, we're judged by how we react to it. As long as we do the right thing, we're okay. We'll be okay. We are in a people business. People understand. People are very fallible.Q: Sometimes, critics of empowerment say "No, this is not for me. Empowerment is too risky, people can make exceedingly costly blunders." How do you react to that?Jones: So, if you don't mind, I'm going to share a story. I was working at the Ritz Carlton Kansas City, this was back in 1999. We had a young valet parker and he was going through the orientation. And during orientation, of course, we explain that whoever receives a complaint or encounters an issue has responsibility to resolve it to the guest's satisfaction, and to that end they are empowered up to $2000 dollars per guest, per day. And this particularly young valet parker, he was on his first day on the job and a guest pulled in a huge Lincoln Navigator. And, of course, he does his job: he parks the car. I mean, we don't need to train people how to drive or anything like that. He knows exactly what he has to do, i.e. put it in a parking space, label it ... The problem is, as he drove towards the parking space, there was a big sign that said "max headroom: 1.76m". And, yeah, that Lincoln Navigator was transformed into a convertible ...The valet parker was in tears. His first day on the job, he has destroyed a $70.000 car at that time. He's pretty sure he's getting fired... I was the Front Office Manager at the time. I saw him and I said "Look, you're not fired. In fairness, this is our fault. We should have told you that the big cars go over in another lot, and no one told you that, yet. So, this is a training issue. We're not going to penalize you for something that's happened and we can't avoid what is done at this stage."I said "I'll go tell the guest". And the young valet parker, in his tears, he said: "No, no, no, I've got to tell the guest. You remember what you said at orientation yesterday that I'm supposed to resolve this". And I said: "Yeah, but that was kind of like for little stuff and that this is kind of like this is a big one... I don't think you want this. You know, the guest is probably going to be really mad and shout and scream at you". But he said "No, words mean something." So he went up and told the guest. The guest was not actually that mad. His first reaction was "was anyone hurt"?Two weeks the Lincoln Navigator comes back to us perfectly fixed and the valet parker drives it out to the guest to return it. The guest looks at him and says: "Hey, this is great. And I just want to say thank you. You've made this such a seamless and easy experience. In a lot of organizations I would have be dealing with insurance companies and your boss, and your boss's boss and so and so forth. Just out of curiosity, as I do want to write a letter after this, so I get this right, what's your position? Are you the guest services manager? Valet parking manager?"And the employee replies: "No, I'm the valet parker". To which the guest replied "How the hell did you do this? This is a big blunder, and I only dealt with you, I didn't deal with any of your bosses". And the valet parker goes "Well, I'm empowered! We all agreed, I damaged your car, and if I didn't address the issue you'd probably have taken us to court to resolve the issue."Long story short, the guest writes a beautiful letter saying that from now on, he will only stay at that particular brand because he knows that people care and are empowered to fix issues. In addition, when his team travels on business, he will insist they only stay with that brand, as he knows they can focus on getting their work right, not spend time fixing issues they may face in a hotel.So, yes, sometimes, you put a framework on it, but that framework has to be flexible to a situation. I've had situations where a Ferrari crashed into a Porsche. Do you think that was $2000? No!Q: What about cultural barriers to empowerment? Does the concept apply everywhere?People sometimes just don't feel comfortable. Culturally it's not something they're used to. They don't want to be seen, to show people up or to do the wrong thing or make mistakes. And, in the Middle East, where I work know, it's very different. So, a lot of owners are very skeptical about empowerment, particularly because, unfortunately, we don't have typically college educated ladies and gentlemen working. There can be a lower education level. That doesn't mean they're any less smart. They just haven't had the benefit and the good luck and opportunities that we've had. But it does create slightly more restrictive boundaries that people want to work within. So yes, when we do it, when we implement empowerment in the Middle East, it's not quite as extensive as the $2000 per day.But, people have an opportunity. If the meal is not right, the waiter has an opportunity to take the meal away. No problem. If it's genuinely not correct. But we educate our ladies and gentlemen that the resolution should mirror the defect. So let's say someone is delayed on check-in because the previous guest didn't check out on time and they don't get the room until 5 o'clock. Well, give them a late check out the following day, if they want it, and maybe if they don't want that, we offer to buy them breakfast. Do something that acknowledges that the experience was not perfect.Obviously you are not going to say "I'm going to remove the entire night", because you didn't lose 100% value. And a key thing for me when it comes to empowerment: it's so much more effective for a front line professional to resolve the issue. Because by the time he gets to me, his general manager, or to one of my other executives, it's going to cost the organization much more. Because the guests expects ... by the time they get to me they will say: "oh, I've had to explain this to five people and now I'm REALLY fired up and now I REALLY expect something good from you..."Q: How do you see the future of empowerment? Is it here to stay? Is it going to become more important or less important?Jones: I think, it's going to become even more important. There is no question, our industry is going to continue to evolve very rapidly as technology improves. I think we're going to see a lot more artificial intelligence and automated activities take place, which is now going to drive the human element of our business into the personalized service, into the problem resolution, and into ensuring guests still have great experiences. And because at the end of the day, people want to walk away with that sort of "conversational currency" from the holiday, from the business trip, where they can, you know, where there is a sense of pride about where they stayed and what they experienced. And that will only be delivered by people. And by the right people. So, empowerment is here to stay, I think. It goes in conjunction with making sure you make the right selections of individuals who are going to have the talents and abilities to deliver it.


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