New minor Future of Digitalisation in hospitality at Hotelschool The Hague
In this minor, we will bring into the classroom technologies such as robots, AI, face recognition, AR, and VR.
Interview with Dr. Alexander Lennart Schmidt, Professor (Lector) of Technological Innovation at HTH, about the upcoming minor Future of Digitalisation that will start in February 2023 during Block C.
How is Hotelschool The Hague implementing digital transformation in hospitality into the curriculum?
A concrete example of how Hotelschool The Hague is keeping up with digital transformation in the industry is our new minor Future of Digitalisation. We are currently developing this course, which is an addition to the already existing minors. In the Future of Digitalisation, we focus on the available digital technologies and what the future will look like for hospitality. Hotelschool The Hague offers a very stimulating environment for feeding back insights from our research projects to the classroom. In this minor, we will bring into the classroom technologies such as robots, AI, face recognition, AR, and VR. We want to use this course as a platform to co-create and experiment with the students and identify opportunities for further research that we can take back to the Research Centre. Our students are the next generation, the ones with creative, fresh ideas. So, we want to keep up with this continuous loop of nurturing education, bringing in findings from the Research Centre and vice versa.
Are you mainly testing in Skotel or also planning to collaborate with industry partners?
In the minor Future of Digitalisation, we will not only be relying on Skotel but also external partners. Hotelschool The Hague has multiple outlets in different tiers between its two campuses. There is Le Debut, the fine dining restaurant, La Mangerie, and the Foodcourt, Streats, HTH’s food truck, and the BAR. At all these different outlets we are testing and implementing digital technologies in real-life settings. Further, HTH has very strong connections to the industry. These are very valuable partners, both on small and bigger scales, with pressing issues and questions. Our industry partners can provide us with a real-life environment where we are encouraged to experiment and create together. By testing and applying digital technologies right in our partners’ hotels or restaurants, we can directly see how technologies resonate with guests. And we get insights into whether we need to adapt the technologies and how.
Are there any examples, either in the Netherlands or abroad, of front runners in digital transformation in hospitality?
When it comes to the Netherlands, one example I can think of is CitizenM. This is not a front runner per se, but they do position themselves as a hotel that aims to provide affordable luxury based on digital technologies. CitizenM takes a leading role in transforming the industry by use of self-check-in terminals and Internet-of-Things for example. While they are very successful in what they do and the adoption of new technologies, the question is if the mass market of guests is ready to adopt a more technology-driven hotel. Theory tells us that industry change takes some time so I would say that CitizenM is a front-runner in transforming the industry by purposefully not being extremely digitalised. In fact, CitizenM is not using cutting-edge technology but is leading in transforming the industry through careful, guest-centric digitalization.
If I look at examples from abroad, there is the FlyZoo Hotel in Hangzhou, China. There, the customer journey is completely digital. You can check in by placing your face in front of the camera and all your personal information is connected to your ID card – no need to scan it anymore. With face recognition, you can enter the elevator which will bring you to the right floor. When you enter your room, a small robot is there to offer you room service. There is also a speech recognition Alexa-like machine that you can use to ask for a bottle of water. A couple of seconds later a service robot is at your door. Thus, we see the technological potential working. However, for an impactful transformation of the industry, we need to take more than digital technology into account.
Since we are a business school, we will research these technological opportunities, with an eye on creativity, digital disruption, but also the financial aspect. When we have commissioned projects in the minor, ROI will be touched upon to offer complete solution advice. Indeed, we encourage free and creative experimentation at the beginning of a project. Nevertheless, we also strive to provide a bit of an idea of the financial implications of our solutions.
If you are an industry partner interested in collaborating with HTH on these research projects, please contact Dr. Alexander Lennart Schmidt via Research@hotelschool.nl
The minor “Future of Digitalisation” is part of Quality Agreements 2019-2024. The Quality Agreements for HTH are the result of an interactive process of working groups and consultations with students and staff.