Window to the Future – Opinion Series – What could the future of the hospitality industry look like?

In this series Lausanne Hospitality Consulting (LHC) strives to challenge the way we look at our industry. We want to create awareness for future trends that may have an impact on the way we trade. In Window to the Future – Opinion Series, LHC posts opinions on the potential future of our industry to trigger a constructive dialogue with you. We are looking forward to your comments!

Episode 1 – Self driving cars and the hospitality industry – A perfect match?

The buzz about self-driving cars is omnipresent. It seems that the entire industries, no matter if car manufacturer or Silicon Valley tech-company are racing for the same goal: To be the first one to offer autonomous vehicles to the world. Futuristic non-sense you say? Already an everyday sight in traffic all around California, autonomous vehicles will soon be sighted on European roads as well, with BMW just having announced that it will be testing its new technology on public roads as of 2017. And the rest of the world is not sleeping either!

The developers’ aspirations are manifold, where one could imagine BMW & SIXT wanting to change the way we own vehicles by marrying autonomous mobility with their joint DriveNow car sharing initiative; UBER offering driver less rides at unbeatable prices, GOOGLE combining big data with transportation technology on all levels or HONDA personalizing the driving experience by adding artificial intelligence to passenger entertainment systems – think Siri on wheels.

For all we know is that autonomous transportation, when it arrives on a large scale, will change the way we travel or commute. Hence we raise the valid question of how it will impact the hospitality industry. What changes are we facing and how can we capitalize on the opportunities arising?

We will look at three areas where the hospitality industry could experience changes:

Hospitality Marketing

The rise of autonomous vehicles may change the way of hospitality marketing, as driving moves from being a purpose-driven activity to an experience activity for the passengers. Hence people will spend more time entertaining themselves interacting with media during the journey. Individualized and real time advertisement, driven by big data and geo-positioning will become the new paradigm for hospitality marketers. Who knows, will hotels or restaurant chains be cutting deals with UBER to distribute their services as a function of this? We will stay alert.

Highway Gastronomy & Mobility Catering

When individual mass transportation increases through autonomous vehicles, public mass transportation will decrease. Therefore big changes may happen in the landscape of mobility catering. However opportunities could arise through new catering models specifically designed for autonomous vehicles. Highway gastronomy may convert to meeting locations or even disappear.

Hotel Real Estate

Autonomous cars will affect commuters, as their daily commute becomes productivity time. Due to this people may be more likely to move further away from city centres to remote residential locations. Therefore the real estate market and hence hotel developments could be impacted.

Autonomous cars could also cut out the overnight stay for short business trips, as people will be able to travel and sleep at the same time on the way to their destination. This would certainly get hotel developers re-thinking room layouts and space allocation for a share of their rooms in the pipeline. Could you imagine spa-like rooms with only a day bed and lavish bath rooms to freshen up after a night’s journey in the autonomous vehicle? Let your imagination flow free…

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Abhishek Jakate Consultant at Lausanne Hospitality Consulting

Jens-Henning’s role at LHC involves the development of learning centres around the world, advisory for the hospitality and service industry, as well as the creation and implementation of new services and products for the company. He has joined LHC in 2015.

Next to a Bachelor Degree in International Hospitality Management from the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL), Jens-Henning also holds a Diploma as Hotelkaufmann (Management Assistant in Hotel and Hospitality) from the German chamber of industry and commerce.

Growing up in a family of restaurateurs, Jens-Henning has worked in various positions for leading hotels, restaurant and catering companies in Germany, Switzerland and Denmark, building a solid understanding of the operations in luxury hospitality organizations.

While studying at EHL and throughout industry internships he has acquired various experience in consulting projects. Bringing his entrepreneurial spirit to work, Jens-Henning has helped clients to reposition their portfolio, developed hotel and F&B concepts and held workshops and courses for various topics. His mother tongue is German, he speaks English fluently and is currently studying for his working proficiency in French.

When not at LHC, he enjoys riding his motorcycle and taking photographs. Jens-Henning is a passionate cook, always trying out new recipes he discovers on his travels.