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The Future of Hospitality: Two experts on digitalisation, sustainability and the trends of tomorrow

9 Nov 2023

How can restaurateurs meet current challenges such as the shortage of skilled workers? How do they deal with the growing environmental awareness of guests? And how can small and medium-sized businesses keep up with increasing digitalisation and online booking platforms? In the fourth episode of the Digital Academy, the industry experts Dolores Semeraro and Regitse Rosenvinge-Thürmer shared valuable tips for digital, sustainable and future-oriented business success in the hospitality sector.

"Routine business - 'business as usual' - makes further development and long-term success in the hospitality industry more difficult”, explained Dolores Semeraro at the start of the online event: The tourism and hospitality specialist got straight to the point. The fourth episode of the Digital Academy focused on "The Future of Hospitality - Innovative Trends for Successful Restaurateurs" and offered a solution-oriented platform for the current challenges of the hospitality industry. Semeraro explained "how to shift from ‘business as usual’ to a successful sustainable business for the long term". According to her, authentic and sustainable marketing strategies have a positive impact on product development, operators and customers. This requires certain prerequisites: "The needs of our guests have changed. The aim is to sell products that meet their requirements. Therefore, we have to understand the needs of our customers and offer contemporary, relevant products”, the tourism and marketing specialist explains.

The value chain begins within the company itself - with attractive working conditions, training opportunities, a good infrastructure, but also through waste reduction and environmentally friendly material procurement. The customers’ influence is considerable as consumers attach more and more importance to a sustainable catering and travel industry. They are experience-oriented, want to be surprised and discover innovative restaurant and hotel spaces. Against this backdrop, restaurateurs need to reconsider operating models, understand guests' needs and gain their trust. Then they can develop sustainable marketing strategies and alternative hospitality solutions that meet the customer requirements. Semeraro's advice: a collaboration with local and regional industry players, initiatives and partners that complement your own brand in a meaningful way. Mutual support sets the value chain in motion, strengthens businesses and generates new customers. She also advises sharing data in order to benefit from long-term forecasts of consumer behaviour. "Try things out, stay innovative and work together. Make sure you stay in touch with the guests and receive feedback directly. We all play together in this ecosystem - if you want to go far, you can only do it as a team", the expert recommended.

With the question “how to embrace and implement digitalisation in the hospitality industry?”, Regitse Rosenvinge-Thürmer looked at the challenges that digitalisation implies. The consultant and founder of Regitse Rosenvinge Consulting has published the book "Storytelling for Hotels" and is one of the top 25 hospitality influencers worldwide. For her, digital progress is the key to long-term business success: "Use digitalisation to your advantage, as a tool that makes work easier, or for optimisation of processes. The digital experience cannot replace the live experience, but it can support it and contribute to your success. Be where your guests are: online." Artificial intelligence and customisation are among the top five digital marketing trends in the hospitality industry. Self-service options such as a digital concierge service are becoming increasingly popular with consumers. Contactless service is another trend in the hospitality sector: services such as self-check-in are considered more efficient, hygienic, hassle-free and personalised and are therefore often preferred. It is also important to create unforgettable experiences and give customers a feeling of exclusivity in the digital world. Augmented reality (AR) can contribute to this: interactive city maps or virtual room tours can be entertaining and can help to create unique moments. The influence of social media channels should not be underestimated as important tools that strongly influence the decision to book and the expectations of guests. To attract customers and highlight unique selling points, hospitality businesses should be active on platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook or Tripadvisor and also use influencers for promotion. This type of digital interaction with guests creates visibility, transparency and trust. Review platforms such as Google, Booking.com, Tripadvisor, Expedia and Facebook also play a decisive role: to strengthen their image and create a sense of community, the expert advised an ongoing interaction: The more active and visible a hotel or restaurant is, the more trustworthy and attractive it is to potential guests.

Despite the different perspectives on the future of the hospitality industry, the experts agreed that even small and medium-sized restaurants, catering and hotel businesses can secure their business success and move forward digitally and sustainably. "Communicate with your guests, get to know their needs and offer exclusive, customised experiences. This creates trust, brand loyalty and competitiveness," says Rosenvinge-Thürmer.

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In the fourth episode of te Digital Academy, the two experts provided insights into the future of the hospitality industry and shared their tips for successful restaurateurs.

Digital Academy: stream and network now

The recording of the panel discussion is now available in German and English in the Digital Academy media library. With the Digital Academy, the three consumer goods fairs Ambiente, Christmasworld and Creativeworld offer regular target-group-specific online events on a joint platform on important topics that move the consumer goods sector. They take place every two months throughout the year, can be followed in German and English and, with impulse lectures and discussion rounds by experts, provide sound industry knowledge, food for thought and practical tips. In addition to access to the range of lectures, all Digital Academy participants receive further added value: they benefit from the AI-supported matchmaking function throughout the year. This allows them to network and exchange ideas all year round. The 5th episode of the Digital Academy is dedicated to the focus topic of retail and will take place on 17 January 2024. Registration for the free use of the Digital Academy via consumergoods.digital.messefrankfurt.com.

Ambiente, Christmasworld and Creativeworld will continue to be held simultaneously at the Frankfurt exhibition centre:

Ambiente/Christmasworld: 26 to 30 January 2024
Creativeworld: 27 to 30 January 2024

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