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Technology is evolving at a faster pace than ever. Hospitality students need to relearn the high touch dimension. The cutting-edge tools should facilitate the delivery of experiences. However, the core of hospitality should remain the principal driver of this sector, the high touch dimension.

The Chairman of Lausanne Hospitality Consulting Mr. Ernst Brugger opened the 2018 Edition of the Window to the Future Summit with a glimpse at what hospitality in the future could imply: “Sustainability is not just to correct environmental risks. The question is how can we create a high-quality environment? Anticipate, not correct, this is sustainability, a competitive factor for the future.”

Hospitality education with new tools, new tech enablers can be an important player in the creation of a sustainable environment.

Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality and Mobile Learning will shape the future of hospitality education according to Dominique Turpin, Dean of External Relations at IMD.

“Ted Talks of 20 minutes are now sliced into much shorter videos to respond to the reduced attention span of millennials and generation Z.”

Forbes measured the attention span at 12 seconds for millennials and 8 seconds for Generation Zers.

Professor Nouria Hernandez, Rector at University of Lausanne, points out that in these times of information abundance the most important skill that will have to be taught to students is critical thinking.

What is the role of technology in the future of hospitality education? “Technology can facilitate education at a faster pace. Our mission is as well to develop new knowledge, inter-disciplinarity” points out Mr. Jean-Philipp Bonardi, Dean at HEC Lausanne.

Professor James Larus, Dean at the School Computer and Communication Sciences at the EPFL, explained that students who started 5 years ago didn’t even see a hint of Neuro Science classes taught, but today, it is the heart of many classes. Throughout their curriculum, these students saw some disciplines grow and others be replaced, this trend will grow and we will need to adapt. Prof. Larus closed the panel quoting Alan Kay (1971) “The best way to predict the future is to invent it”.

Mr. Christophe Dubi, IOC Olympic Games Executive Director unveils his vision of hospitality in the future with a striking analogy: “What we want from managers is to deliver ultra-performance, like Olympians, on a daily basis. Do we give all the educational tools to the students to train, perform and most of all, recover when they become managers?”.

He then suggested a new take on the panel’s title, “High tech for High Touch”, explaining that the future of hospitality will allow to personalize the experience of millions of ticket buyers as well as heads of state at the games.

A further topic discussed was “glocal”, think global, act local. Mr. Aziz Boolani, Chief Executive at Serena Hotels, South/Central Asia, raises the following question “How do we work with communities directly, rather than through intermediaries?”

Moderator Ms. Mary Gostelow drives the spotlight on food “how local should we be?”.

Suspense was triggered when the topic of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was discussed between Mr. Samih Sawiris, Chairman of the Board of Directors Orascom Development and Mr. Yaron Ashkenazi, CEO of GCH Hotel Group. All attendees agreed that May 25th 2018 will change the way the future of hospitality is predicted.

Ehotelier names food waste as 2nd hospitality food trend. They suggest that a sustainable way of tackling food waste in hospitality is to partner up with local start-ups to develop new solutions for the future.

Mr. Quang Thai, Chief Strategy Officer at Jing Jiang Europe & Louvre Hotels Group, stated “We move from trade hospitality to care hospitality”. Mr. Catalin Cighi, Managing Partner of Cain Hospitality Innovation (CHI) added “we’re moving away from a star-system, from rating systems to a real-time relevant rating, tailored to customers’ moods and the context of the stay”. Mr. Tej Tadi, CEO at Mindmaze explains how technology’s role in hospitality is to be the enabler, not the replacer “the key is to stick to 1 modality of training. Technology can enable different “touchpoints”, decoding dreams will be possible in 20 years. Today, we can already control cars with our brains”. “We will be able to enhance what we feel, what we touch and experience in 10 years. But how cannot be determined yet”.

Mr. Thai shares concrete actions being tested in his hotels, for instance how staff could communicate in any language with tech tools. Moods of staff and hotel guests are also attempted to be identified. Identifying people’s mood or soft vs. hard skills ratio could enable personalized staff training and experiences for hotel guests.

Mr. Ted Teng, President, CEO at the Leading Hotels of the World reminds hoteliers that “following a trend is already too late, we need to pick the right opportunity that will become a trend”. Models of the future will evolve into two-sided business models in hospitality where the focus goes on both customers and hotel brand members. All experts of the panel agreed that outsourcing will be an important trend in the future, especially technology, social media and CRM.

Technology evolves a lot and has a direct impact on hotels and restaurant, Mr. Patrick Willis, Michelin Starred Restaurateur asked “is AirFnb going to be the next AirBnb?”.

Transparency and ethics are slowly being prioritized over taste in gastronomy, explains Mr. Peter G. Rebeiz, Chairman & CEO at Caviar House & Prunier. Mr. Philipp Mosimann, Managing Director at Mosimann’s, shares his plans of visiting a farm that reuses water used for fish production to grow vegetables. He believes that this is an example of the future of food production in urban areas. Mr. Catalin Cighi comes up with a catchy new term “JITS, Just In Time Service, in future customers will wish to choose at which exact moment they will receive service.” He adds that the restaurant life cycle time shrinks, restaurants in future will be like “a girl wearing different make-up”.

Food will increasingly be associated to medical virtues, to décor and atmosphere, to location and to customers’ social status. Customers are putting pressure on the food industry to be transparent and prove sustainability.

However, when asked by Director of Lausanne Hospitality Consulting, André Mack what they would invest in, the experts reply with two options: restaurants and local farmers.

Technology is an enabler, but the core of hospitality will sustain.