Hospitality Industry
3 min read

Accor challenges EHL students on the shifting digital landscape in hotels

Ian Millar
Written by

As a part of the ongoing partnership between the Accor Hospitality Hotel Group and Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, a challenge was given to the BOSC6 students on the "Hospitality Technology Strategy" elective course.

"How can technology help to monetise Accor's hotel spaces, services, data and customers beyond traditional room and F&B distribution?" 

The primary mission of this assignment was to come up with innovative and plausible ideas for the creation of new tech-driven possibilties within a hotel infrastructure. The challenge was presented by Mr Floor Bleeker, Group Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Accor, who shared with the students some valuable real-life insights into the technological side of the hospitality industry as well the current situation in which the industry finds itself. This challenge was a part of the "Hospitality Technology Strategy" elective, an intensive course taught by Ian Millar, Manager of Institute of Business Creativity & Senior Lecturer, who has been with EHL for almost 20 years.

In this course, students learned about technologies for hospitality businesses, how they can improve operations and become a financial win. The main goal of introducing this challenge was for the students to perform an in-depth study of today's market of digital solutions in the hospitality industry and find a perspective application for one of them at Accor. 

accor-students

BOSC6 students on the "Hospitality Technology Strategy" elective course.

 

Notable guest speakers

In order to further immerse students into the realities of today's tech industry, Ian Millar invited several guest speakers to share their knowledge and experience with the students during his elective.

  • Phil Le Brun, Enterprise Strategist at Amazon Web Services and a former CIO of McDonald's, addressed digital transformation and the need for companies to timely acknowledge the changes in their environment and be agile in order to survive. The main takeaway that Phil Le Brun wanted the students to have was that while being a critical and an exciting enabler, technology on its own is "just" an enabler. It is a combination of culture, people, and technology that makes fundamental changes in organisations possible.
  • Lyle Worthington, Principal, Technology Executive, Consultant, CIO Advisor and a Startup Mentor, he was formerly a President at HFTP and a CIO of Student Hotel. In his presentation, Lyle Worthington covered the important technical concepts of digital transformation in more detail in order to provoke "thinking digital" in the students. He also reviewed the obstacles that businesses are facing on their way to digitalisation.
  • Florian Montag, Co-Founder of Hotelhero and an EHL Alumni, shared his experience of pursuing the entrepreneurial path in the world of hospitality technologies. He explained how to manage the digital transformation for a hotel in order to optimise the digital guest journey.
  • Timo Kettern, Corporate Director at IT Bierwirth & Kluth and a Vice-Chair HITEC Europe Advisory Council, discussed with the students the specificities of technology strategy depending on the size and the category of a brand, and reviewed a hospitality technology strategy from the point of view of a hotel management company.
  • Nick Price, CEO at NetSys Technology Limited, a former CIO/CTO of Mandarin Oriental and a Technology Hall of Fame Winner, shared his knowledge of how to identify competitors, products, and customers as big-picture elements foundational to any hospitality digital reinvention strategy.

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Ideation

At the end of the elective, in their solutions, students put emphasis on enhancing the process of connecting with hotel guests digitally. They prepared several tech solutions that can amplify this connection and extract even more benefits out of it than ever before. Ideas included the increased use of chatbots to fit with the digital traveler, increasing the use of F&B data to create unique experiences as well as “workspitality” considering the current Covid-19 situation and home office working.

It was thanks to the expertise and valuable insights from Accor represented by Floor Bleeker, Ian Millar and his "Hospitality Technology Strategy" elective and the guest speakers that the students managed to deliver thoughtful and insightful solutions as the result of this challenge.

 

Insights from the course

Students:

I really enjoyed working on the Accor project because the subject is very current. It  allowed me to understand the presented concepts during class. Additionally, I believe that the presentation of the group projects enhanced the learning experience due to the fact that the groups explained their approach to the challenge. Finally, it made me realise how important technology is for the hospitality industry, and that the collaboration between tech companies and hotel establishments must further be developed. - Gianluca Claus, BOSC6 Student

This project was a perfect example of a working experience under real-time pressure. You are thrown together in a team you haven't worked with before; you are given a challenging problem and are expected to deliver a high-quality solution to the "client" under short time constraints. For me, this project was an excellent opportunity to learn how to solve and tackle a real-life work issue. - Anna Sophia Stimpfl, BOSC6 Student

Accor:

It was great to work with the EHL students on opportunities to leverage our technology to create new digital services. The interest and dedication from the students are promising for us as we need innovative ideas and new technology to drive the industry forward. - Floor Bleeker, Group Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Accor.

Ian Millar:

In brief, this elective was one of the many examples of EHL education working closely with top industry players to create real life synergies. Our students learn from the best professionals in the world, who in turn take away fresh perspectives from young talents bursting with ideas, eager to enter into the hospitality management arena.

Written by

Manager of the Institute of Business Creativity (IBC) and Senior Lecturer at EHL

Aleksandra Pushchina
Written by
Aleksandra Pushchina

Academic Assistant at EHL

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