The guests in the "Elysium" experience the gastronomy of the future with all their senses. An article published in the Reimagine Education newsletter.
The hospitality industry is developing into an Emotion Economy
In times of digitalization and cost optimization, emotions and unique experiences are increasingly sought-after by hotel and restaurant guests. The social values and lifestyle of hotel and restaurant guests are subject to continuous change, with a direct impact on the hospitality industry. It’s become clear that emotions are one of the most important factors for the individual well-being of guests.
The focus is shifting further and further away from purely transactional services; the fulfilment of the general physical and psychological needs of guests, including but not limited to food, safety and entertainment. There is also an increasing ambivalence. One evening, guests can dine in the most exclusive Michelin-starred gourmet restaurant and the next day they can pick up lunch at a food truck. By appealing to emotions and creating experiences, society is inevitably moving towards the creation of an individualized, emotional feel-good factor. This is what we deem ‘The Emotion Economy’.
The competence to construct emotionally charged experiences
The hospitality industry must therefore create experience-oriented services that are associated with emotions. In order to create conscious and positive emotions for guests, the entire sensory spectrum must be activated, and verbal and non-verbal communication taken into account. Because only emotionally-charged experiences succeed in anchoring themselves in the long-term memory of guests, creating guest satisfaction and loyalty is a decisive competitive advantage.
The ability to construct emotions by means of staging is therefore one of the increasingly important soft skills in the hotel and gastronomy industry. In addition to classic host skills, qualities such as empathy, communication talent and dramaturgical skills are in demand. In times of digitalization and automation, the hospitality industry employees of the future will need social and emotional intelligence in order to differentiate themselves. They will have to learn to cultivate their creativity, collaborative action, abstract and systemic thinking and complex communication skills. Holistically trained generalists with a high level of empathy and a broad range of soft skills will dominate future talent profiles in the hospitality industry. This presents hospitality management schools with the challenge of developing these emotional skills.
It may not be possible to control or recreate guest emotions in hospitality, but it is possible to create emotive frameworks within which those experiences are more likely to happen. This objective needs to permeate all strategic and operational management levels of a hotel. Therefore, SSTH does not only teach social skills, but also strengthens self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation and social awareness.
"The focus lies on the individual emotions of the guests. The SSTH students receive the right tools and emotional abilities to create truly unique experiences and to inspire the emotionalized guest of the future," says Michael Hartmann, Managing Director / CEO of the SSTH.
In the future, the focus will be on the human factor. In times of shortage of skilled workers, the SSTH wants to enthuse young talents for the industry, inspire them with exciting projects and sharpen their necessary skills for greater employment opportunities.
An emotional experience for the guests
The prototype restaurant Elysium was developed as part of this ambitious "Affective Hospitality" vision. This vision provides guests with an emotional experience. The new 24-seater restaurant combines state-of-the-art technology, innovative cuisine and digital storytelling to a multisensory work of art: animations, projections, sound and scent effects complemented the carefully choreographed service of the gourmet dishes.
A visit to the restaurant thus becomes a gastronomic “performance”, in every sense of the word, whereby the guests themselves can become part of the staging because of virtual and augmented reality.
A cutting-edge training facility for students
The Elysium is not simply an experimental restaurant; it serves as a digital classroom. For SSTH students, it is a unique training field where restaurants such as UltraViolet in Shanghai and Sublimotion in Ibiza served as role models.
They can apply theoretical knowledge, gain valuable experience and test the latest innovations and industry trends in a real-life setting. In our Elysium, the students develop everything themselves, from the storyline to the technical implementation, from the culinary offer to the entire staging. Our maxim: Empowerment - but always accompanied by renowned experts such as actors, directors and guest chefs.
Michael Hartmann, Managing Director and CEO of the SSTH: "This innovative approach corresponds to the "Affective Hospitality" vision of our hotel management school, because experience is the best way to learn. “Affective Hospitality" focuses on the individual emotions - and how could these be better presented than through an evening of unique experiences?”.