Student Resources
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We must redefine the term hospitality

EHL Insights
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In October 2019 the concept restaurant Elysium was opened at the EHL Swiss School of Tourism and Hospitality (SSTH) Passugg. The digital restaurant takes guests on a multi-sensory, culinary journey and combines dishes with the latest technological effects. "Affective Hospitality" is what Michael Hartmann, Managing Director of EHL Passugg, calls the hospitality of the future.

Our time is characterized by rapid change. Not only social values, but also the entire lifestyle is subject to continuous change. This has a direct impact on the entire hospitality industry, as the provision of pure services is no longer sufficient to inspire guests and win their loyalty.

From the service economy to the emotion economy

Society is being shaped by the development away from a service economy and towards an emotion economy. Emotions crystallize as one of the most important factors for the individual well-being of guests. Addressing emotions and staging experiences contributes directly to the promotion of an individualized, emotional feel-good factor. And it is precisely this feel-good factor that reaches the guests' subconscious, touches them on another level and thus creates a unique bond with the company.

Capturing guests with all senses

The hospitality of the future is therefore an Affective Hospitality. The ability to understand the needs of guests with all their senses and to evoke emotions through staging is at the heart of this. Hosts develop into stage directors who occupy the stage and do all they can for a touching experience.

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New emotional skills are needed!

The ability to construct guest emotions with staging and experiences is therefore becoming an increasingly important soft skill. Specific host qualities such as empathy or non-verbal communication skills are increasingly in demand. Those who want to be successful in the hospitality industry in the future need social and emotional intelligence.

For hotel management schools, this means creating new educational approaches that teach graduates social skills such as creativity, collaborative action and abstract and systemic thinking, and promote their complex communication skills. What the industry needs are holistically trained generalists with a high degree of empathy and a broad range of soft skills. The EHL Hotel Management School Passugg (SSTH) is implementing these new requirements, which go hand in hand with Affective Hospitality, in its curriculum. This with the scientific support of the Swiss Center for Affective Sciences of the University of Geneva.

What does the university professor say about "Affective Hospitality"?

In our field of research, the Affective Sciences, we deal with and link a multitude of disciplines, such as neuroscience, philosophy, psychology and computer science. We are united by the common goal of understanding emotions and their role in human perception and behavior. In cooperation with the EHL Swiss School of Toursim and Hospitality Passugg we develop methods and tools to help students understand their own emotions as well as those of their counterparts. This can be guests as well as team members. For example, they learn to read facial expressions and the emotions behind them.

Prof. David Sander, Director of the Swiss Center for Affective Sciences of the University of Geneva

Focus on people and emotions

The focus of the curriculum revision is to familiarize students with the strategic, operational and tactical approach to interpersonal interactions. In the future, the focus of hospitality management education at the EHL Passugg will be on the human factor as well as on emotionalized services and experiences as a product.

The multisensory restaurant: a digital classroom

At EHL Passugg, we will show how these new emotional abilities can be trained using the example of the multi-sensory concept restaurant Elysium. In doing so, it enables a broad public to enjoy a unique, future-oriented gastronomic experience.

At the same time, the Elysium functions as a digital classroom in which students can try out themselves and their ideas. They develop creative concepts and drive innovation, but always put the guest at the center and in the context of tomorrow's hospitality. In the prototype restaurant Elysium, students take their guests on an immersive journey. Using the latest digital technology, they are transported into another world and addressed with all their senses. From the welcome to the farewell, a storyline is told with the support of the students.

Theater people as trainers and experts

In short, the Elysium combines the latest research, new technologies and a creative mentor/student dynamic to create a new way of applying pedagogy. Students are not only integrated into the education, but also take responsibility for the entire production chain of the multi-sensory restaurant. At this point, one can also speak of a blueprint or rather an image of the processes for shaping the future.

Of course, the students are always accompanied by experts. In addition to the university, the "Tatort" and theatre director Felix Benesch, actor Nikolaus Schmid and Nonconformform, a company specializing in multimedia projections, have also been involved in the development of the "Elysium" concept.


Article published first in Hotelier Magazin, 18.03.2020.

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