My last chapter from the Hospitality series is focus on a fundamental question: What will be the Manager of the Future? When we speak of the “Hospitality of the Future”, we have to keep in mind three long-term historical trends:

  • the progressive increase in the number of nights people spend away from home in hotels;
  • the progressive increase in the proportion of meals eaten in restaurants; and
  • the progressive increase in the range and frequency of the pursuit of out-of home leisure activities involving hospitality (Monopolies and Mergers Commission, 1989).

In parallel, tourism, which involves the hospitality industry as a significant component, has become the world’s largest industry, and its long-term global growth projections are greater than for any other industry (The World Travel and Tourism Council, 2016). Data show that when people achieve the standard of living to afford to buy “high class” hospitality products, the frequency with which they choose it over “low class” hospitality increases.

There is a middle class in emerging markets that has doubled in size over the last 20 years and is expected to double again, to nearly five billion people, in the next 20 years (UN The Millennium Development Goals Report 2014). Tourist arrivals from these countries have doubled. It is a real continental shift that we are experiencing. Last year, for the first year ever, the world recorded more than a billion global tourist arrivals, another figure that has doubled over 20 years and is expected to double again over the next 20, to nearly two billion tourist arrivals a year.

This represents a tremendous opportunity, but there needs to be very rapid growth in the industry to keep up with those demographic trends. Among other things, it means that there needs to be a huge cohort of potential managers available to deliver service levels that meet guests’ expectation. A cohort of a new type of manger better educate and balanced on soft skills and hard skills in the same time.

Nowadays we can outsource almost all the functions in a hotel: housekeeping, maintenance and engineering, front office, reservations, etc.

Restaurants are outsourced to different restaurant chains, spas are outsourced to wellness brands, and Online Travel Agents (OTA) have largely taken over the business from Hotel Reservation Systems (HRS).

If this is the case, do we still need hoteliers? What is their role today, and what will be their role tomorrow?

The CEOs of many of the most important hotel chains are not hoteliers; their background is in finance, law, marketing, or management in other business sectors. Many have never held a management position in hotel operations.

If this is true, is hospitality education still needed? It begs the question, what exactly do we mean by “hospitality”?

Complicating the picture is another trend. The majority of today’s students from the top two hotels schools in the world do not go into hotel operations when they graduate. Instead, they want to land attractive positions in national and multinational companies operating in various domains, such as luxury products, healthcare, consulting, and banking, among others.

What is the explanation for this interesting success (or failure)?  Is there anything that all these businesses have in common?

We will try to answer these questions by proposing a new concept based on advanced research conducted in other domains and used partially in hospitality by managers with common sense and long experience – but generally without a structured, scientific underpinning. These managers are simply known as those having the right attitude and good soft skills. Our concept will try to explain what these soft skills are and how we can design the right “Hospitude” (a portmanteau word, clearly, that combines “hospitality” and “attitude”). We will try to understand what aspects of this Hospitude are rational and what are emotional, in order contribute to a new concept that we call “Affective hospitality”.

It is curious that the domain of hospitality could have escaped the influence of the scientific revolution that provided western society with a ‘new’ system of knowledge. However, the low status afforded to the study of hospitality (at least in comparison with other domains of study) has, until the latter half of the twentieth century, tended to constrain the development of a scientific self-understanding of the field.

Neither extreme generalization nor specialization can produce the perfectly adapted hospitality manager of the ­future – but a smart mix of both can. A balance between empathy and efficiency is needed. Only then can guests be made happy, and only satisfied guests will return.

In an atmosphere of technological and societal changes, the demand for education will rise substantially. The hotel industry will only be able to shape the future with knowledge and skills if rational and emotional intelligence are being combined. The best combination of generali­zation and specialization – and empathy and efficiency – will empower and motivate employees and make their work interesting. Some characteristic demands of this future work environment are:

  • ability to work in heterogeneous teams
  • ability to understand and create guest experience
    and emotions
  • technological literacy
  • ability to work globally, in networks and across cultures
  • flexible, mobile and agile personality
  • life-long learning capabilities
  • creative, innovative and entrepreneurial
  • adaptability to think in scenarios and react quickly

Those hotel managers who are able to operate efficiently and, at the same time, manage to include empathy and emotionality into their working processes, will be the players of the future.

Now, however, in the early decades of the twenty-first century, science is able to link – indeed unify – many diverse disciplines, combining learnings in such fields as nanotechnology, biotechnology, neurology, psychology, and information technology to improve our understanding of cognitive science. Applying these converging sciences and the multidisciplinary vision we have of our environment could allow us to make tremendous improvements in human abilities and societal outcomes. The emerging opportunities are therefore both broad and timely, and in the long run are of clear interest to individuals, society, and humanity as a whole.

Author

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Ray .F. Iunius Director Business Development

Prof. Dr Ray F. Iunius is the author of various academic and professional articles published by journals in the management of services, technology, and innovation. He is also the author of a number of books such as « Industrie de l’accueil », « Hôtellerie de Luxe », « La gestion des spas », “Un Hôtel, un modèle ?” in de Boeck editions and co-author of the “Lausanne Report on the future of Hospitality Industry.”

He is the founder of the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne Institute of Technology and Entrepreneurship (EHLITE), the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (INTEHL), the Students Business Projects (SBP), the EHLITE magazine, and the Chair of Innovation Paul Dubrule.

Ray earns a BSc, MS and PhD in Technical Sciences from the University of Transylvania Brasov and an MBA and PhD from the Faculty of Business and Economics (HEC) of the Lausanne University. He is currently Director of Business Development at Lausanne Hospitality Consulting, an Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne and Swiss Hotel Association company.