Hospitality And Sustainability

While the pandemic has left a significant impact on the hospitality industry. EHL Group discusses how they were not deterred from their goal of sustainability in education and management. Proving that caring for people will always be the number one objective to this industry.

Michel Rochat the CEO of the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) Group speak with BW Businessworld about the hit the hospitality industry took and how it has adapted and evolved to become stronger with the pandemic.

Adapting to the crisis

The hospitality sector has become more resilient throughout the last year making changes quickly to generate revenue and has understood that health and safety are at the forefront of each individual’s mind, as well as an increased interest in sustainability, wellness and connectivity to enjoy time with family and friends.

Since customers have had more than enough time to reflect on their spending habits and alternative ways to consume, hotels adapted their offers to leverage pent up demand from residents and citizens for staycations, daycations and in-house experiences. 

This difficult situation for the hospitality and tourism industry is even more severe given that this industry relies on human relationships and social interaction that have profoundly changed because of new sanitary habits. This will result in new models and offers to be developed in order to provide new fulfilling experiences within the confines of the new normal.

Accelerating Digitisation and Hybrid Teaching

The last two years have been pivotal for EHL Group. We have opened our third international campus in Singapore, which has already welcomed its first students for short management courses and will welcome Bachelor and EMBA students in September 2021. We have made good progress on the expansion of our campus in Lausanne, which will be officially inaugurated in 2022 and will offer our students top-notch infrastructures. Also, we had been planning for a long time to move out of certain old pedagogical systems, but because of the sudden COVID-19 circumstances, we decided to accelerate the existing digitization strategy. 

We implemented a hybrid teaching model called HyFlex. This system separates the classroom into two groups of students: one group is able to follow the course in the classroom, while the rest follow the course live from their home. On-site presence is organized on a rotation basis so that all students have the same opportunities for presence on campus.

Hospitality Trends in 2021

At EHL we listed wellness, staycations, sustainability and technological innovation as the four expected travel trends for the tourism sector. 

The industry is currently in crisis management mode. If you look to the future, post-Covid, what trends do you see? The opportunities for ‘off-the-beaten-track' offers are increasing. Hideaways and less-travelled regions will benefit. There will be a return to slow-travel, self-drive and touring are also in, camping and B&B's will experience a revival. And lastly, there will be a demand for apartment-style accommodation and long stay offers with treatments, especially for senior citizens who enjoy travelling. In general, domestic tourism and day tourism will boom.

Sustainability in the industry

Because sustainability is about balancing the wants and needs of today’s travellers with the economic and environmental realities of hotels and destination communities. A curriculum grounded in sustainability can integrate this ethos in all kinds of ways: from strategic planning to finance and marketing, sustainability can become integral to the fabric of any course. In addition to incorporating sustainability throughout the curriculum - into courses including finance, marketing and human resources, for example – at EHL we offer a couple of sustainability-specific courses within our bachelor's degree program.

In keeping with its values and to adopt concrete actions by pledging to work on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), EHL’s Sustainability platform is based on four main pillars: 

  1. Integrate sustainability in education 
  2. Care for its people 
  3. Contribute to the communities 
  4. Respect the environment  

Several initiatives have been put in place and are applied throughout all EHL campuses, including the sustainability week, which brings together hospitality leaders from major hotel chains to debate current issues. Also, EHL developed the Corporate Social Responsibility Student Business Project within the bachelor's degree course, where students develop projects for the community and local businesses.  

Sustainability is the future of hospitality

Consumers are increasingly seeking sustainable destinations. Not only is sustainability a growing social issue, but consumers are becoming more aware of sustainable practices in hotels as information becomes more transparent. A natural extension of avoiding disposable plastics, eliminating unnecessary paper consumption thanks to opt-in receipts and reducing food waste, more far-reaching ethical and environmental considerations are shaping decisions made at the hospitality management level. Decisions about things as simple as which towel rails to install during renovations have surprising repercussions when implemented at scale. Simple eco-friendly switches include replacing miniature toiletries with larger, locally sourced dispensers, choosing ethically produced bedsheets made from organic materials and reducing energy consumption with smart bulbs, etc. Vegetarian and vegan options also harbour well-known environmental advantage, these options are not the only ones to be supported by the sustainable aspect, indeed the nose to tail influences will also influence our ways of consuming, and our customers' tastes.

With this in mind, hotels play a vital role in setting up viable operational practices as well as educating consumers on sustainable behaviours.

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