8 Facts About Driving Innovation Through Diversity

The concept of diversity, often based on notions of culture and gender, should also include disability. How can businesses foster innovation through diversity.

Key highsights from the "People Challenge" panel discussion at the 2020 HOTCO Conference.

During the HOTCO Conference held in Budapest in January, several speakers faced the “People Challenge”, exchanging points of views and finding ways of bringing greater diversity and integration into the hospitality industry. The core of the discussion entered on the inclusion of people with disabilities, harnessing technology and the importance of employee training.

The panel speakers:

  • Maria Pütz-Willems (Founder and Editor in Chief – HospitalityInside) - moderator
  • Daniel Csángó (Social Entrepreneur, Participatory Co-Teacher - ELTE University, Bárczi Gusztáv Faculty Of Special Needs Education)
  • Cornelia Kausch (Managing Director & Leadership Coach / CEO and Leadership Coach - CK Hospitality Advisors / CK Hospitality)
  • Olivier Verschelde (Senior Consultant – EHL Advisory Services)
  • Gorjan Lazarov (CEO - Orea Hotels & Resorts)
  • Johannes Fuchs (Head of Product & Co-founder - Robotise)

Disabilities and diversity in hospitality

People who are disabled are going to be able to do things just the same way, if you give them the right tools.- Daniel Csango

1- The concept of diversity, often based on notions of culture and gender, should also include disability.


2- Disability is wrongly seen as a medical issue, when in fact it's more a social issue.

3- Only 20% of disabled people are employed, (and rarely in satisfying positions).

4- With the creation of tailor-made development programs, the hospitality industry could open up more possibilities of rewarding work for the disabled, thereby widening its horizon of diversity.

5- Technology must be harnessed to integrate people with disabilities. Their integration lies at the heart of innovation.

Training and development of employees

5- In the next 30 years, 4 out of 10 jobs will be related to the tourism and hospitality industry.

6- Technology will inevitably eradicate certain positions whilst also creating new ones.
In hospitality however, the personal touch ensuring interaction between guests and employees will remain, since this is precisely what the industry is based on.

7- Optimum customer experience hinges upon the right training received by employees.
This training must be 'people-centered', because in brief, this is how the money is made.

8- The industry needs to understand what adds value to the customer experience and employee experience respectively. Aligning both so as to embrace inclusion and diversity lies in innovatively-minded training programs.

Gorjan Lazarov advised us not to forget the cause and effect:

All of these metrics are the effect and what is causing these metrics in our industry is the people, and they make a difference.


All of the above deeply shows how the hospitality industry is slowly but surely shifting its mindset towards a more inclusive world thanks to technology and training of employees who are, it is worth mentioning again, the core of the industry. Olivier Verschelde reminded us:

127 years ago, EHL was created by the industry for the industry.


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Catherine Rey
About the author
Catherine Rey joined EHL Advisory Services as Sales & Marketing Manager in 2015. Her role involves developing and implementing the EHL Advisory’s Sales & Marketing plan and promote the Advisory portfolio around the globe.

Prior to EHL she worked in the International Education industry for over 5 years both in Mexico and Switzerland, where she moved with her family in 2013. She represented in Latin America prestigious wine and spirit brands within the Hospitality industry for over 10 years. She worked closely with International Hotels, government institutions and corporate executives and multinationals and had to support them in the international implementation of their educational projects.

She is a graduate in International Business from the University of Blaise-Pascal in Clermont-Ferrand France and spent her last year of study in the University of Oklahoma Price College of Business USA. She followed several wine and spirit training both in France and Mexico. She lived in 5 different countries and enjoy multicultural environments where relationships, new ideas, innovation and original concepts are valued. She appreciates being challenged and strongly believe in enhancing the customer experience to growing the business.