In this podcast Michael McKay interviews Jerome de Meyer, Chairman of the Board of Villars Palace Hotels & Academy. De Meyer is a disruptor in the field of hospitality and has broad experience on various issues regarding the industry. He shares his insights into disruptive innovation, which interrupts a regular flow and creates new opportunities.
De Meyer's focus on vocational education involves an innovative hybrid platform, which is a link between hospitality, a vocational school, and digitalization. His approach to hospitality and leadership is to achieve sustainability while doing good.
Disruption is a term that has been used in many ways, and it can be challenging to give it a concise definition. The word "disruption" comes from the Latin root word "per," which means breaking apart. However, for Jerome, disrupting something is an interruption of a regular flow. Disruptive innovation creates a lot of new opportunities, and that is probably the positive side of the disruption that we are experiencing today. Here is a case study of how disruption can work in the hospitality industry.
The co-owner of Villars Palace has experienced many interruptions of flow throughout his life, starting with a career change at the age of 26. They decided to buy a private school and do something different within education. Their approach was to involve students much more in the learning process, both inside and outside the classroom. Today, de Meyer and his business partner have invested in hospitality and education to create a new hybrid platform that combines vocational training with hospitality, leadership, sustainability, and digitalization.
De Meyer started his career as a marketing manager with Swiss International Air Lines before he decided to buy a private school to do something different within education. He aimed to involve the students more in the learning process and not just be in the classroom all day long. Today, de Meyer has invested in hospitality and education to do something very new in this field. He created an innovative hybrid platform that links hospitality, a vocational school, and digitalization.
The hybrid platform is a continuum, and the basic difference is that hospitality schools usually have an application restaurant and sometimes have a small application hotel. In contrast, Villars Palace Hotels and Academy has a large hospitality group and an application school.
The advantages of this approach are that students have a broader range of facilities and opportunities to learn and apply their skills. Jerome also believes that the hospitality industry can create an impact on society by providing sustainable solutions that benefit the community, the environment, and the economy.
Sustainability, circular economy, and green economy should be at the heart of what the hospitality industry does. The industry players should consider an industry where people can share their knowledge with them, allowing them to become better. This makes it possible for them to be the YouTube of the hospitality industry.
YouTube is the largest learning platform in the world, and people use it in three ways: to watch movies for fun, to learn how to fix their coffee machine or washing machine, and to learn. A business model encompassing vocational training is like YouTube, where people can learn about hospitality, leadership, sustainability, and digitalization.
In addition, the business model is a unique approach to education and hospitality where students can learn from real-life experiences. By intertwining hospitality and education, entities like Villars Palace Hotels and Academy have created an innovative and disruptive business model that allows students to gain practical knowledge and skills. Moreover, by incorporating sustainability and green economy practices, such a business model is not only profitable but also socially responsible.
The digitalization of a platform is also an essential aspect of disruptive innovation. It is crucial to embrace technology and use it to improve the customer experience, create new business models, and enhance the efficiency of operations. Digitalization can also help reduce waste, lower costs, and increase productivity.
Young adult learning is not just for students between the ages of 18 and 25. Instead, it is an essential aspect of long-life learning, enabling individuals to keep up with the rapidly changing world of work and maintain their employability.
There should be a commitment for the industry to provide a range of learning opportunities to its guests and target market, enabling them to develop creative skills, adaptability, and other essential competencies. The aim is to help individuals prepare for today and tomorrow and remain competitive in an ever-changing job market.
One of the phrases that stands out in businesses that target customers with the community's well-being in mind is "feel good, do good." This concept is about moving from being a passive consumer of hospitality to an active one. By being aware of the impact of our actions, we can feel good about ourselves while also doing good for others and the planet.
This does not mean that the organization becomes a charity, but it becomes committed to giving back to the community in practical ways. For example, the industry players can source their food locally, supporting local farmers and minimizing their environmental impact. This approach enables them to remain in business while also making a positive impact on society.
The future of hospitality will become much more interactive. Guests will want to be more engaged in their experiences, and hospitality providers will need to offer more than just great rooms and fantastic restaurants to be successful.
In addition, a sense of purpose will be required in the hospitality industry. Guests will want to feel that their stay is more than just a vacation or business trip. They will want to interact, get a new experience and enjoy their stay. Therefore, sustainability needs to be at the center of the narrative so that businesses offer guests the opportunity to fulfill this purpose.
Here is an example: Villars Palace Hotels & Academy has taken this concept of purposeful hospitality to heart. In addition to offering top-notch accommodations and dining options, the resort also features a 450-square-meter gallery with permanent exhibitions from famous photographers and cartoonists. They have also created a conference room to facilitate exchanges between guests and staff, making the resort a two-way hospitality experience.
In conclusion, the hospitality industry must focus on sustainability, creating unique experiences, and educating the younger generation. The industry needs to go beyond traditional accommodations to provide guests with a memorable and meaningful experience. De Meyer also believes that the future of the hospitality industry is in creating a two-way business model that focuses on making guests feel good and do good.