Lausanne Hospitality Consulting’s first bi-annual Window 2 the Future Forum hosted at Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne focused on major issues in the hospitality industry, including technology, talent management, hospitality soft skills, sustainability, and the growth of the Asian market. Industry leaders and experts were brought together during a day’s worth of panel discussions, presentations, and round tables, where these topics were discussed at length. The afternoon culminated in a workshop to unite the earlier focused-discussions with the challenge of looking forward to give industry leaders an interactive reflection of how certain issues may affect the future of hospitality.

 

The workshop introduced critical uncertainties that could have a dramatic effect on the political and social climate of the world. André Mack, Director, Lausanne Hospitality Consulting, lead the workshop, presenting three scenarios and asking participating industry influencers to consider the elements and imagine the influence of such events on hospitality: how would such happenings change the industry, and what would hospitality look like in the face of the described occurrences?

 

Each scenario focused on key issues at present, including immigration and the refugee crisis, political changes in the USA, the growth and rise of China as a world power; the role of technology in developed countries, especially in terms of surveillance and espionage; European instability and the potential of a disbanding of the European Union; and tensions between the USA and other large world powers like China and Russia. The scenarios imagined how events may play out in the next 15 years, giving important milestones for every five- year block that would influence the outcome of political and social shifts. The presented scenarios pushed boundaries to change the landscape that hospitality professionals are used to thinking in, and forced participants to view the industry in entirely new surroundings.

 

Three scenarios were presented, and though somewhat grim, they each resulted in a “new world” for consideration:

 

The “Adolescence” scenario focused on the destabilization of populations in market economies, illustrating a dependence on and mistrust of technology and political systems. These mistrusts lead to a rise in terrorism, which increasingly becomes an ideology, spreading at a grassroots level and causing fragmentation of the Arabic world. The increase of terrorism and mistrust in government systems results in the world split into three powers: declining industrialized countries, rising transition and developing countries, and terrorism groups. The world is on the brink of rebellion.

 

The “Maturity” scenario moved through the influence of the refugee crisis in Europe, focusing on the transition of populations to Europe and how the various countries would accept refugees into the society. Acceptance and support would eventually lead to economic destabilization, as the countries would be unable to support the influx of people, and Europe would be torn between right-wing opposition to immigration and those in support. Regulations could lead to a new emergence of the “second-class citizen,” leading immigrants to be more innovative and productive in self-made businesses, igniting the economy and raising their status in society. With the growth and success of immigrant-run businesses, countries in support would experience significant growth and a “new Europe” would emerge.

 

The “Re-Birth” scenario was perhaps the grimmest, but also provided participants an interesting opportunity to think with a blank page. In this scenario, China’s approach on Asian countries ups military actions by the US, resulting in a Cold War that soon turns into a full World War with Russia’s involvement and support of China. The war results in a destruction of assets, populations, and communication networks, causing communities to turn inward and new values to be considered with a focus on local.

 

The conclusions of the discussions resulted in differing prospects for the various scenarios but, surprisingly, similar threads of thought ran through each. One point raised was that not a single participant envisioned a future without hospitality or foresaw a dissolution of the industry as we know it, though there was much to say about the evolution and differentiation from current operations that could result.

 

Some themes included:

Focus on local vs. global

With the potential of a third World War, a demolition of assets, destabilization of economies, and destruction of the internet, global communication and connectivity would be broken down. The networks that had been built to link far corners of the world would be obsolete, once again creating barriers between countries, continents, and populations. Travel and tourism would be forced to turn inward and focus on local communities. This local focus would create opportunities for societies to celebrate local customs and culture, and re-establish  the strong roots that may have weakened with globalization. Additionally, an appreciation of localism would help communities to thrive, and hospitality could transform from a business-focused industry to one more centered on human relations.

 

Focus on sustainability

With a destruction of resources, assets, and materials, populations would have an opportunity to rebuild. Learning from the past, a large emphasis could be placed in sustainable development, creating hotels from environmentally friendly materials or utilizing the land and natural resources to create unique and interesting accommodations.

 

Focus on celebrating culture

As the world gets smaller, many distinguishing characteristics of cultures, countries, and regions tend to melt together and become less differentiated, losing the factors that have set them apart. Globalization and the ability to connect far corners of the world has been looked upon positively, but how does this affect the world’s diversity and is this melding really a good thing? A return to roots, a celebration of differences, and a distinction and appreciation of  cultures are all things that were discussed as potential outcomes in such scenarios. Additionally, the recognition of past mistakes in such scenarios, for example, in dealing with the refugee crisis, would make populations more sensitive to how different cultures and people are treated moving forward. Recognizing the positives that integration could bring and respecting cultures of all origins was an important conclusion from the discussions.

 

 

The success of the workshop was apparent in that concrete conclusions were not drawn about the future of hospitality, but rather the right questions were asked to provoke the thoughts of participants. Industry leaders enthusiastically discussed the various scenarios and outcomes even after the close of the session. The workshop was a positive end to a successful conference, paving the way for the next Window 2 the Future Forum.

Module leader

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André Mack Director at Lausanne Hospitality Consulting

André has an extensive career in the in-flight catering industry and specialized in the areas of customer service and business process re-engineering.

He is both Director, Lausanne Hospitality Consulting, and faculty member, Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne, lecturing on project management and consulting. André facilitated seminars on product development, strategic resilience, branding and customer service strategies within the hospitality industry. The consulting mandates in operational and quality auditing of hospitality business units, re-engineering of management and operational processes, project management for hotels new builds, strategic business analysis, as well as the development of hospitality learning centers, have allowed him to touch base in New York, Sydney and many countries between these two destinations.

Andre is an alumnus of HSG (University of St. Gallen) and of Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne. He speaks French, German and English, mixing it up sometimes with the various Swiss German dialects.

Besides walking with his two children and his wife, Andre appreciates particularly good food, good wine and the unique atmosphere of a Swiss chalet with its chimney fire.