HoteliersGuild | ForumOfDialogue | Volume III | October 2020

Page 1




t i n U

C y b ed

! e c n e d no fi




Time to take a Moment of Respite and let ’s try to inspire Confidence, Encouragement & Appreciation Frank M. Pfaller

Dear Friends & Colleagues, I am again so very grateful to our member friends and to our international colleagues who, despite the still ongoing problems, continue to support our cause so energetically. And please join me to extend a warm welcome to our new panel members, and it is with great pleasure that there are more and more women among them - with good reason, as we will find out later !

Frank M. Pfaller President | HoteliersGuild Publisher

Let’s stand ‘United by Confidence’, even though the coronavirus pandemic has placed extraordinary demands on leaders in business and beyond. The vast humanitarian toll taken by COVID-19 creates fear among employees and other stakeholders. The outbreak is massive and its unpredictability presents an extraordinary challenge for executives, as it already resulted in a high degree of uncertainty. It also caused the feeling of lost control, disorientation and emotional disturbance. Our industry is suffering, no doubt, and the short to midterm future may look rather scary. It is therefore all the more satisfying to note, that our HoteliersForGood initiative is contributing to create confidence. From all the feedback we received following the first two volumes of our ForumOfDialogue I feel that we have recognised the crises, and many colleagues confirm that they mounted their respective response. I am also happy to note that our members are sharing their expertise on this forum, thus stimulating confidence within our community. What’s needed now by leaders is not a predefined response plan but behaviours and mindsets that will prevent them from overreacting to yesterday’s developments and help them look ahead. I am absolutely thrilled to inform you that we commenced some weeks ago to turn another page in our private society: The new chapter for female industry leaders LeadingHôtelières immediately following its unofficial communication to a selective circle of lady colleagues, has already generated huge interest with enthusiastic feedback from the invited founder members. Together with Xenia zu Hohenlohe, Managing Partner of ConsiderateGroup and Prof. Dr. Sowon Kim, associated professor of EHL and Co-founder of the EHL

WomenInLeadership initiative and the help of a group of dedicated women volunteers, we are now structuring the chapter. Especially in times of crisis, the right leadership matters and we push this further, because women in hospitality leadership are still a minority, even though they represent more than half our workforce! We strongly believe that more women in leading positions in hospitality can and, in fact, will make a change - so stay tuned! You will also notice that we have strengthened our board with additional academic experts on sustainable hospitality issues, be it F&B, tourism, human relations or mentoring, and I am pleased to report that a lively exchange with our ‘hands-on’ hoteliers is already in progress. In a recent speech at the EcoHoteSummit, I addressed the problematic of the present rise of ‘Ghost Kitchens’ and asked the question if it’s a passing craze or here to stay. Our panel member and HoteliersGuild’s supporting member, Prof. Dr. Willy Legrand provides us interesting academic insights in his op-ed in this forum issue. He is joined by his colleague Prof. Dr. Gabriel C. M. Laeis who contributes an eyeopening op-ed on the wicked problem of local food for tourism development in the Global South - great reads indeed, and I had the pleasure to attend their most recent EUROCRI webinar on “The Green Recovery Imperative: Future-Proofing the Hospitality Industry” - in case you missed it, you are encouraged to take a moment to watch it here. …and on the very end of this volume, I’d like to share this most interesting piece from Douglas Rushkoff with you, who says that THE PRIVILEGED HAVE ENTERED THEIR ESCAPE PODS and look forward to hear back from you! Enjoy the reading & be inspired!

My warmest regards Frank

ThankYou Panel Members and Contributors For Your Gracious Support !

It is a great pleasure and honour to join the panel of the HoteliersGuild. I am delighted to support industry colleagues dedicated to working on solutions towards a hospitality industry, which is kind to the environment, healthy to its workers, pleasing to its guests, efficient for the operators and profitable to its owners. Thank you Frank for this unique opportunity to contribute to a future proofed hospitality.


Prof. Dr. Willy Legrand Professor of Hospitality Management at the IUBH International University of Applied Sciences located in Bad Honnef - Bonn, Germany

Xenia zu Hohenlohe, Co-Founder ConsiderateGroup

Xenia is as passionate about hospitality and travel as she is about helping to create new systems in order to integrate sustainable practices into every aspect of life. She has been working in the hotel and tourism industry all over the world for the last 20 years, building experience and knowledge on what ingredients are needed to make a hotel as well as its services outstanding. Sustainable management policy being one of these ingredients, as it ensures a hotel's successful future existence.

Prof. Dr. Sowon Kim, Associated Professor with EHL & Founder of WomenInLeadership

Xenia zu Hohenlohe

She teaches in bachelor's, master's and executive education programs fields of leadership and intercultural management. Sowon’s initiative puts the focus on projects regarding women, and on a wider scale the initiative aims to promote leadership, culture, and policies that foster diverse, balanced, and people-focused environments. It strives so that students, faculty, staff, and alumni can lead fulfilled professional and personal lives.

Eva Malstrom Shivdasani Creative director and co-foundern of Soneva

Eva creates and oversees the interior design process. During the 70s and the 80s Eva was a top fashion model appearing on the covers of more than 100 high-end magazines world-wide. Eva also had a successful clothing company in Paris, called L’EVA. Her real flair is in her impeccable taste, innovative and unconventional ideas and an overall daring approach that ensures a different 'feel' for each project. Her attention to detail is considered legendary amongst the Soneva hosts.

Eva Malstrom Shivdasani

Suzann Heinemann Founder GreenSign

Suzann Heinemann has over 25 years of experience in the hotel industry as founder and managing director in hotel development and consulting, especially in strategic marketing and sales projects. For many years she was co-owner of a hotel specializing in conferences before she founded Gronowsky & Co. Hotel Consulting GmbH and GreenLine Hotels GmbH. At Gronowsky & Co. she is responsible as managing director for the planning and implementation of various projects with well-known customers in the hotel industry.

Suzann Heinemann

Yasmine Mahmoudieh, Iconic Architect&Designer

Prof. Dr. Sowon Kim

Yasmine studied art history in Florence, architecture at the l’école d’Ingénieurs de Genève in Switzerland, interior design at the college of Notre Dame in San Francisco and architecture and interior design at UCLA in Los Angeles. A year after she graduated from UCLA (aged 26) she opened her first studio in Los Angeles, and today has her headquarters in London. Her work can be found across Europe, the United States ,into the Middle East and Asia, and even in the skies above, working as one of the few chosen de-signers to work on the Airbus A380.

Yasmine Mahmoudieh

Sue Harmsworth, Founder ESPA

A warm welcome to our new panel members!

Sue Harmsworth

The founder of ESPA, Harmsworth has more than 50 years experience in the spa and wellness industry and has founded and managed multiple successful wellness businesses, as well as pioneering the modern spa model we are so used to today. Sue is an inspirational and visionary leader who over the past five decades has shaped the spa industry as we know it today. She founded the global brand ESPA in 1993 and sold it in 2017. Sue has an MBE from the Queen for services to the spa and beauty industry, is a recipient of the ISPA Visionary Award, American Spa Industry Icon, CEW’s achiever award and sits on the Advisory Board for GWS, GWI and Forbes.

Prof. Dr. Gabriel C. M. Laeis has a keen

Prof. Gabriel C. M. Laeis

interest in gastronomy, food and sustainability ever since he commenced his career as a cook in a small Italian restaurant. He moved on to work for a number of restaurants, international hotel chains and hospitality management consultancies in Germany, China and Australia. He holds a BA in Hotel Management and an MSc in Organic Agriculture and Food Systems. For his PhD in Development Studies at Massey University, New Zealand, Gabriel looked at the role of cuisine in shaping tourism-agriculture linkages in Fiji, finding that Western-driven mass tourism has a tendency to colonize the foodscape and alienate local cuisines. In 2018, Gabriel coorganised the first conference on tourism and the SDGs in Auckland. He continues to enjoy scrutinising the interface of smallholder agriculture, tourism and hotel management in the one in Geneva Business School, Barcelona.

Franziska Altenrath Co-Founder and Managing Director at TUTAKA

Franziska gained various insights into the problems and effects of unsustainable consumption patterns from different industries such as automotive, real estate and fashion. Being a true materialist herself, excited about design, materials and production, she searched for ways to challenge the status quo. She decided that it is time to reach to the roots of sustainability concepts and went back to University to study Ethics, Politics and Economics at LMU in Munich. Here she dedicated her thesis to "Sustainability and Humanitarianism in Tourism" and started the TUTAKA journey.

Franziska Altenrath

Maribel Esparcia PĂŠrez Professor at the

University of Lleida in the Faculty of Law, Tourism and Economics, Diploma in Tourism and Master in Hotel Management, in the hotel sector for over a decade, I have been part of international hotel chains and independent chains, with extensive experience in operations and strategy. Certified as an Agent of Change in Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance criteria by the International Society of Sustainability Professionals. I have carried out research and strategy projects for different universities and companies since 2012. I have given talks in business schools, the most recent one in Geneva Business School, Barcelona.

Maribel Esparcia PĂŠrez

Dagmar Symes, General Manager Riyadh Private Estate. Dagmar brings a wealth of experience in both the hotel and luxury retail industries across Europe and the Middle East. Starting her career with the leading hotels of the world, Dagmar previously worked in various luxury properties in France, Switzerland and her native Germany. Prior to joining Private Estate, Dagmar held the position of General Manager at Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort, Cluster General Manager at Phoenicia InterContinental Hotel in Beirut, Lebanon and Le Vendome InterContinental Hotel.

Dagmar Symes

Daniela Freund, Professor at Universitat Ramon Llull

A warm welcome to our new panel members!

Daniela Freund

She holds Hotel Management Diploma in Switzerland, Tourism Degree by URL, Barcelona and Diplomas in Cornell University, USA, Master in Marketing by UAB. . Currently working on her PhD in Educational Sciences at Blanquerna related to making hotels more accessible to families travelling with a child on ADS. Passionate about tourism, hospitality, education & women leadership. Contributes towards a more responsible and equal world through networks (EJE&CON, 50a50, Agima, Women in e-travel), articles and as speaker in conferences and media. Mentor & advisor of tourism.

Raquel Noboa Founder of 50Shades of Greener

Raquel Noboa

Raquel Started her own Green Journey at Hotel Doolin, in Ireland. She was working there as the Sales & Marketing manager in 2012 when the Hotel decided to start a Green Hospitality programme and Raquel was chosen as the new Hotel Green Manager. Within 2 years implementing Raquel’s green actions, they reduced their Energy by 30%, waste by 40% and water by 25%. They also won every win award in Ireland and she positioned the Hotel as a leader in the Sustainable travel market.

Dr. Henri Kuokkanen, Associate Professor at Institut Paul Bocuse. Henri's areas of expertise cover

Prof. Dr. Henri Kuokkanen

corporate social responsibility (CSR), ethical consumption, and revenue management, and he holds a PhD from Leeds Beckett University in CSR. His industry experience includes treasury and business control management in the global telecoms industry; he has also been a partner in a consulting company focused on transforming CSR into a strategic tool to create stakeholder benefits. His main field of research and publication focuses on the business potential CSR offers from a consumer perspective. He has also authored multiple publications in the area of revenue management, with a focus on the potential the discipline can offer in tourism destinations through stakeholder cooperation. Henri has won several conference best paper awards and presented his work as a keynote speaker in international events.


STAY CONFIDENT! from Sonu Shivdasani CEO & Founder



A Personal Message of Encouragement Countries throughout the

-- and when the virus poses

in China, initial projections of

world have imposed drastic

such a tiny threat to young

a 3-5% fatality rate were far

restrictions to contain the

and middle-aged people.

too high.

virus, the economic and social

“The greatest fear is fear

Many countries vastly

cost of being locked down


overstated their likely number

have been terribly high.

(Franklin Delano Roosevelt,

of deaths. Uppsala University

However, as the weeks have

inauguration speech, in the

in Sweden, for instance,


midst of The Great

predicted 90,000 deaths in


one month, but Sweden has



understanding of COVID 19 improves, it is clear that, while

had a total of 4,700 virus

potentially lethal for older

Perhaps one of the biggest

deaths to date.

people and those with

obstacles to easing the

Likewise, on 29 March,



lockdown is fear. The world’s

Columbia University issued a

complications, for healthy,

newspapers and TV stations

report highlighting a need for

younger people, the chance

have gorged on the

136,000 hospital beds in New

of dying from the virus is

coronavirus, producing

York City. In the end, 12,000

vanishingly small. In badly hit

blanket coverage of mortality


parts of New York City, for

rates and other frightening

According to recent research

instance, where infection rates

details. Not surprisingly, the

by the United States

were as high as 25%, for those

‘danger indicator’ that sits in


under 45 years the survival

the left side of our brains

Countermeasures Center, the

rate was 99.98%.

remains on high alert. Like a

half-life of the COVID virus in

As new information pours in

t h e r m o m e t e r, o n c e t h e

mild conditions such as 75oF

from around the world, and

danger indicator rises, it takes

and 25% humidity is 18 hours.

we develop a more nuanced

a lot of shaking with facts and

But when the temperature

understanding of COVID-19,

reason to bring it back down.

rises to 95oF and the humidity

our measures to control the

To quote Hans Rosling: “We

rate increases to 80%

virus must also become more

need to learn to control our

(conditions found in the

sophisticated. General

drama intake. Uncontrolled,

Maldives and other tropical

lockdowns and international

our appetite for the dramatic

countries), the half-life

border closures – which are

goes too far, prevents us from

reduces to 1 hour.

devastating huge chunks of

seeing the world as it is, and

According to the United

the economy, and the lives

leads us terribly astray.”

States Center for Disease

and livelihoods of hundreds of

Here are some facts to reduce

Control (CDC), there are no

millions of people – don’t

our intake of drama, and

documented cases of a

make sense, when rapid

temper our fears of

person becoming infected

testing, contact tracing, and


from a surface contaminated

good hygiene are so effective

Due to a misunderstanding of

with COVID-19. Yet, every

at preventing the virus’ spread

the true extent of the infection

hotel and resort mini-film I


have watched about reopening – including our own – has footage of an employee diligently wiping down surfaces. A Hong Kong study, involving an analysis of 7,324 cases in China, identified 318 distinct outbreaks, all but one of which occurred indoors. This suggests the risk of catching COVID outdoors is low. I attach a graph produced by Sir David Spiegelhalter of Imperial College, London.

As Dr. Slocum recently wrote other European countries. The below



Worldometer last week, shows that Sweden suffered lower deaths per capita than countries that enforced strict lockdowns.

coronavirus effectively doubles your existing odds of death within a given year, which is extremely low for young people. SOURCE: Prof. Sir David Spiegelhalter, ONS, Imperial College London. Prof. Spiegelhalter highlights in the graph that coronavirus roughly doubles your chance of death once you hit around 40. While that might sound scary, we have to bear in mind that the risk of death for those under 45 or so is extremely low – 0.1% per year. A 40year-old with coronavirus therefore has a risk of death of about 0.2%, rather than 0.1%. There has been much controversy over the Swedish approach to the virus, which involved far less restrictive measures compared with

physician but unfortunately when some of our cancer patients got COVID I treated them together with my colleagues. We used antivirals as conventional

Source: Worldometer knowledge of how to treat the virus has evolved considerably since those dark days at the beginning of the year: There

"I'm not a front line COVID

coagulants, anti-biotics, anti-

Our understanding of, and This graph shows that having

to us:



breakthroughs in treating COVID by the Medical World: Gilead with Remdesivir, and the Dana-Farber using Ibrutinib which avoided cancer patients from needing to be hospitalized. There is also the example of my Oncologist, Dr. Abdul Kadir Slocum (I was diagnosed with stage-4 cancer at the end of 2018. Embracing “And” rather than settling for “Either, Or”, has dictated our approach to wellness, and excellence in general, in all our businesses over the years. Dr. Slocum cured me by combining traditional c h e m o t h e r a p y, “ A n d ” alternate wellness remedies.)

therapeutics together with high dose vitamin C, Andrographis, Thyme extract etc. as complementary therapies and all of our patients have gotten better with such treatment." The low fatality rate for those who are healthy and not old, the limitations of the virus’ spread, and the improvements in testing and treatment, means that we have the opportunity to retur n to (almost) normal, albeit with robust measures in place to protect vulnerable groups. The importance of protecting vulnerable groups should not be taken lightly. Let me flashback to 1979, when I was 13. My morning ritual with my father was to drive to the local tennis club and play a game before breakfast. On that particular morning, halfway through the play, my father sat

down, short of breath. He asked me to practice

Above all, new investments in health

against the wall while he recovered his breath.

infrastructure put in place over the past 12

An hour later, he died of a heart attack. To this

weeks, such as more hospital capacity, extensive

day, I wonder whether if we had skipped that

and rapid testing, and sophisticated contact

morning ritual, he wouldn’t have died. The

tracing means that blunt control tools, such as

worry that one might have had an impact on

lockdowns, can now be relaxed before they

reducing the life of one's parent is something

destroy even larger parts of the economy.

that I would not want to wish on anyone else.

Then, we just need to work on our fear, which,

We must not make a similar mistake over

in the final analysis, may have caused more

coronavirus, as we reopen our economies we

damage than the virus itself.

must consider adequate protection for older and vulnerable people. How do we start on the road to recovery? To start with, we should maintain the personal hygiene habits that the virus has taught us, such as frequently washing hands, and following the traditional Asian courtesy of wearing a mask if you feel unwell. These habits will also reduce the incidence of other viruses such as seasonal flus and colds.

SONEVA’s new Water Villas



w e i v ent r


Women & Leadership from Lindsey Ueberroth CEO of Preferred Hotels & Resorts Co-founder & Ambassador LeadingHôtelières


Women & Leadership: Lindsey Ueberroth, Preferred Hotels & Resorts by Kerry Medina for HOTEL MANAGEMENT

The Mark Hotel in New York City, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts.

Lindsey Ueberroth joined her parents’ soft brand hotel company, Preferred Hotel Group, in 2004 before ascending to the role of president in 2010 and then adding CEO to her title in 2014. In 2015, she led the rebrand from Preferred Hotel Group to Preferred Hotels & Resorts and the following year, redesigned the brand’s moves are credited for the revenues that Preferred m e m b e r p ro p e r t i e s i n which the iPrefer program increase in enrollments, a and a 23-percent increase HOTEL MANAGEMENT leadership style as well as Preferred’s Vice Chairman

loyalty program, iPrefer. The

“ It’s easy to focus on your industry when trying to ideate or problem solve. Networking and brainstorming with women across other industries has helped me “get out of my own way” many times. “

$1.11 billion in reservations achieved on behalf of its 2016, a year during produced a 57-percent 24-percent increase in stays in room revenue. Here, talks to Ueberroth about her working with her mother, and Chief Creative Officer

Gail Ueberroth. Have you learned any best practices from women in other industries who are also members of Young Presidents Organization (YPO)? It’s easy to focus on your industry when trying to ideate or problem solve. Networking and brainstorming with women across other industries has helped me “get out of my own way” many times. When talking to peers in YPO—whether they are in fashion and retail or IT—the conversations shed light on how other industries are innovating to stay ahead by creating change at a faster pace. In some cases, a YPO peer can help me make a more efficient decision about a technology we may be debating having installed.The best practices that I have learned through YPO:

Survival in these times is highly dependent on a hotel's ability to quickly adapt and pivot their business to meet the current needs of travelers and the surrounding community. Join us for Optimization Part 2 – a FREE virtual event – as we bring together top players in the industry to discuss alternative uses when occupancy is down, ways to boost F&B revenue, how to help your staff adjust to new challenges and more, in a series of panels focused on how you can regain profitability during this crisis. Don’t lose sight of who you are as you focus on your business and its growth trajectory. Keep balance and take care of yourself personally to maintain good performance professionally. Leaning into your fears is the fastest way to combat hurdles without the fear of falling short. I encourage women to get over the fear of failure, as those are the best learning moments and the occasions when we can pivot and achieve success much faster. Choose the people you surround yourself with carefully. Personally and professionally, you can solve almost any problem with the right people around you. What advice could you offer other women on being direct without being perceived as aggressive? There is a big difference between being aggressive and being assertive. One is a defensive response, and the other is a confident, respectful way to get your point across as a means to achieving your desired end my communications skills at identified and honed a few establish a strong leadership external parties. It’s essential to speak with n e v e r j u d g m e n t a l l y. To and considerate, not state your opinion before

goal. After constantly evaluating

“ Choose the people you surround yourself with carefully. Personally and professionally, you can solve almost any problem with the right people around you.”

the onset of my career, I have behaviors that have helped me voice with both internal and authority, always respectfully, establish a style that is thoughtful aggressive, balance when you the other party and when you

allow them to take the lead

on a topic. Telling a story to

reinforce your opinion from

the perspective of experience can

be a candid way to relate to others and help them understand the thought process. Asking questions is another effective method I like to use to illustrate my point in a way that can be more convincing than making straight statements. Effective leaders are confident, empathetic, and self-aware. Ineffective ones are just the You’ve worked with your mother since joining Preferred in 2004. What are some of the generational differences in your management styles and your approaches to leadership? One of the most fascinating conversations we have about our approach to shaping the future of the company relates to the question of how we can celebrate the heritage of the brand, a focus for my mother, while embracing innovation, a priority for me. Overall, the major differences come in the areas of our decision-making and communication styles, comfort with the digital landscape and perspective on work-life balance.

First, from a communication and management standpoint, my mother takes a more topdown, authoritative approach to making decisions, whereas I am more collaborative. Likewise, while my mother is less risk-averse and acts based on what she knows as proven methods towards success, I am more apt to follow my gut feeling based on a trend or an idea presented by my executive team as a means to capitalizing on new initiatives that may be risky but have great growth potential. Second, my mother sees value in printed media. She likes producing vibrant physical evidence of our brand through print advertising to reach a target demographic and to s h o w c a s e o n f u t u re am fascinated by the social media for its quantitative and while reaching a wide existing and prospective Finally, my mother, a work, specifically in a

occasions. Personally, I

“The biggest challenges for women looking to achieve top leadership roles were the need to travel, relocate and dedicate long hours. “

power of digital and ability to provide instant, qualitative feedback target audience of customers. baby boomer, loves to traditional office setting

that allows her to talk to her team in person at a moment’s notice. Given my responsibility to directly manage a global team and my closeness to the workforce’s younger generation, I understand the appeal of communal, open workspaces and the preference for flexibility. What’s your take on why there are so few women CEOs in hospitality? I’m happy to see more women CEOs in hospitality. However, we are still a far cry from where I hope we can be in terms of representation. The biggest challenges for women looking to achieve top leadership roles were the need to travel, relocate and dedicate long hours. In the past, once having children and raising a family came into the equation, many women were forced to make a choice, and those challenges were hard to overcome. Given the innovations in technology and a more open attitude towards flexible working hours and “home offices,” many of these hurdles seem alleviated. There has also been a dramatic shift in how hospitality companies value the diversity that women executives bring to the table, especially in the CEO role, and particularly in the areas of communication style, collaboration and being champions of change. Men and women leaders alike have strength in these areas, but I think women are less likely to focus on the past or tradition and are more collaborative by nature, preferring to work cross-functionally, which can help overcome barriers or communications challenges.

The Preferred Life preferred hotels & resorts


n o i s iV


Hospitality a Force for Good from Xenia zu Hohenlohe Managing Diector

ConsiderateGroup Chairlady LeadingHôtelières


My vision of sustainable hospitality - ’50 Shades of Green’ We have a little less than 10 years left to make sure climate change and global warming is not irreversible above the 1.5C overall increase-that is tight deadline for us all to reach! But having just witnessed 6 months of the most unprecedented amount of changes in policies, behaviour, financing and out-of-the-box thinking, due to another crisis, I am more positive than ever that we can make this work, we can reach our goals. So let’s re-cap on the facts: According to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Cllimate Change) we have to reduce our Co2 emissions between 45-50% by 2030 so it is the task of the entire world population to cut emissions in by approx. 7% a year, in order make carbon net zero feasible by 2050. Why? As this is currently the only way to stop global warming turning live on this planet unsustainable for mankind and most other species. And despite the abrupt halt to most travel in particular flights in 2020 due to the Covid-19 crisis, the prediction is that 2020 will see an overall reduction of possible only 6% of global Co2 emissions. But as we all know we cannot stop all economic activity perpetually in order to reach our goal, as our livelihoods depend on those too. However there are a couple of lesser known facts about global emissions, which also need to be taken into consideration. Namely that our digital behaviour, i.e, all the energy needed to power all our devices which have now become such an integral part of all our lives, has with 3,7% of global emissions (pre-Covid) already overtaken air travel emissions. And that was even before the whole world switched to using Zoom, Teams and Skype for remote working and meeting. So imagine the jump 2020 is going to bring with it! Nevertheless, that does not mean we as an industry, in particular the hospitality sector cannot be a force for good when it comes to achieving Carbon neutrality, adding value to our companies on an ESG* level, particularly now as we have the opportunity to correct past mistakes to #buildbackbetter *ESG= Environmental Social Governance So how does all of this affect us- as hoteliers, in our daily business of making people happy, making people smile and giving them an unforgettable experience? My answer is always: in a huge array of areas and topics- hence my motto of ‘50 shades of Green’ as you can make a difference with so many little things and added up the sum can end up being huge! I am most probably going to risk repeating a lot of things some of my esteemed fellow HotelierGuild sustainability experts have already told you, but here we go:

No1- of course is our resource consumption on-site at property level, in particular energy

consumption, which is usually after staff cost the 2nd biggest spend a hotel has. Therefore, there is not only a huge environmentally argument to be as energy efficient as possible at your hotel but

above all there is an economic one. And in these times of economic hardship this should be enough to convince any hotelier to address this issue sooner rather than later. Starting with efficient BMS systems, to smart meters, to energy production on-site, proper isolation with green walls or roof gardens (as they have the positive side effect of also offering more biodiversity and natural habitats for your surroundings) to lighting, proper waste segregation, etc etc. Again, the good news is that there are plenty of companies out there offering fantastic financing models for any hardware investments, eliminating the need for up-front investments as the payments get reduced from savings made, so the ROI here can be anywhere between 2-7 years. We also highly recommend to track all your resource consumption in an effective and efficient way by using a data monitoring system as this gives you more control, transparency and helps with any reporting on progress for needed regulatory or financial reporting, also with investors. Additionally it helps with any certification process you might have chosen to undergo- data is becoming increasingly important.

No2- Staff- this has various aspects to it. A- you want to ensure you address sustainability from a

social and governance aspect as much as from an environmental impact one too. It has been proven that there is less staff-turnover when a hotel or hotel company is serious and dedicated to living sustainability within its walls, with a coherent CSR strategy and transparent reporting on all material topics. As this will always integrate the staff and give them ownership of the process, therefore increasing their loyalty to a brand or hotel. B- without behavioural changes led by your team many of the measures you will need to implement in order to achieve strategy goals will not be able to be reached. Therefore a myriad of measures starting from training, workshops, KPIs related to your goals, as well as incentives are called for here. Plus, I think we have all understood how important social issues have become during the last few months, so looking after your staff and understanding that a solid sustainability strategy will always also include solid HR policies has become more important than ever.

No3- Suppliers and your supply chain overall. This also addresses an incredibly amount of

issues when it comes to sustainability. Obviously if we are looking at Co2 emissions in particular we all know that the more local we procure the better as there are less Co2 emissions from transport of goods added to our supply chain. But then there are also other factors to take into account, such as production processes, employment policies of our suppliers (i.e. are they paying their workers fair salaries and are there fair working conditions), usage of resources in production, in particular when it comes to water, the ingredients used, packaging and ultimately a supplier’s willingness to also improve on their practices. Consequently, having an active, on-going and open dialogue with all of your suppliers is key to making progress on reduction of emissions and again to achieving any sustainability goals. I was immensely proud when I was told by one of our clients’ procurement department only recently that their counterpart at Danone SA had commented on how positively impressed they were with the questions we had been asking them on their endeavours to reduce single-use plastics! It really does make a difference to have these conversations. Additionally you can have so much fun developing new sustainable products together with your suppliers as it is one of the most rewarding and satisfying experiences when the end product is a win-win for all parties, including the guests who will benefit from the usage.

No4- Your guest and your community. Having an honest and open conversation with

your guests on this is vital- they are educated travellers and are generally very aware when it comes to sustainability these days, so do not attempt to greenwash by promising measures you are planning to implement but have not even started. A good intention has not yet convinced anyone! Sustainability is a journey and not something you achieve in a day, a month or a year, things evolve, technologies chance, so do legislations and many other aspects, it is therefore key to communicate to your guest where you are on that journey, as long as you have embarked on it. And your communities, i.e. the people in the locations where your hotel is situated are a key element to all of this too, as they share the same environment you operate in and will not only want to know about your efforts to make a positive impact but can also be taken along on this journey, potentially you can teach them some things and they will be able to also show you areas you might not be engaged in yet- again, another win-win situation. Plus having a solid community relationship will imbed your property in the local economy and make it more risk adverse too! As you will have noticed those four key elements I outline above are all multi-layered and will end up being approximately 50 shades of Green if you add them all up! There are of course a thousand different ways of addressing these, be it by embarking on a tracking & certification process with someone like ‘It must be Now & Earth Check�, a local certification programme of your country such as GreenSign in Germany, opting for a reporting framework either with the UN Global Compact, or GRI or reporting according to Science Based Targets, or by integrating all of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals into your operations or some other way. Whatever you chose, it is just important you do something as all of the above adds value to your company and its offering. I myself with my company and together with my business partner, Benedetta Cassinelli, have made it our mission to serve the hospitality sector by optimising the value that becoming a more sustainable company will bring. We endeavour to be at the forefront of sustainable

advisory by driving behavioural change and by developing innovative technology solutions to support these processes with data.

Our company now having reached critical size, we felt it was the right time to undergo a certification process of our own to demonstrate our sustainability credentials to the world and are therefore delighted to have just been awarded the BCorp Certified status. Having built a highly motivated team of skilled sustainability experts with hospitality background to support our clients, we are all passionate about travel and we are passionate about maintaining this planet as a liveable environment for all species including ourselves, in all of its beauty and facets.




t h ins g


Human Trafficking and the Hotel Industry: How to Prevent It from Prof. Dr. Sowon Kim Associate Professor

Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne Co-Chairlady LeadingHôtelières


The EHL Women in Leadership (WIL) Expert Series had the privilege to welcome Prof. Dr. Maureen Brookes of the Oxford School of Hospitality Management (Oxford Brookes University) to share her expertise on the topic of human trafficking. Drawing on her research, which has been funded by the European Commission, she helped our audience to understand why hotels are vulnerable to human trafficking and how to identify the critical intervention points within hotels where signs of trafficking can be spotted and preventative measures can be put in place. Prof. Brookes also shared with us her knowledge in combating human trafficking in order to protect hotel businesses and support victims.

What is human trafficking?

Human trafficking is analogous to a more modern form of slavery. It involves the recruitment, movement, and exploitation of human beings. Vulnerable individuals are more likely to be recruited via coercion or deception, who then are isolated from their environment in order to be easily controlled and finally exploited. Today, there are more slaves than in any other time of human history. The Walk Free Foundation’s Global Slavery Index (2018) estimates 45.8 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, of which 71% are women. And the numbers continue to rise as human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal activities, third only to drugs and arms trafficking. Several factors are fueling human trafficking, including: 1. Increasing migration due to economic disparities between countries; 2. Lack of punitive measures (e.g. in the UK only 1% of the victims see their traffickers convicted in a court of law); 3. And disturbingly high profit and ludicrously low cost of “buying” a human being. The average cost of a slave is USD 90, whereas the average annual profit of a single trafficked woman for sex is USD 100,000. In fact, the ROI in the area of sexual exploitation is 100%-1,000% and forced labour is 50%. Globally, the annual profit of human trafficking is USD 32 billion.

Human trafficking in the hotel industry

The hospitality industry is highly vulnerable to human traffickers especially when it comes to child sexual exploitation and forced prostitution, forced criminality, domestic servitude, and forced labour in hotels (or in their supply chains). Research estimates that there are 1.14 million victims in the European hospitality industry (80% for sexual exploitation and 20% for forced labour in restaurants, bars and hotels).

Why are hotels vulnerable to human trafficking?

Because their revenue streams and operations are increasingly being automated. For example, automatic check-ins/check-outs, third party reservation systems, non-mandatory registration and identification, guest privacy and anonymity all prevent hoteliers and staff members from knowing the real identity of their customers or what they are doing behind closed doors. Employment practices and corporate culture also facilitate human trafficking, including: priority of meeting customers’ requests that exceed ethical boundaries, lack of background checks on new employees, lack of awareness of employees and lack of training to spot signs, fear of retribution by staff if they report suspected incidents, and lack of clear measures to address human trafficking.

Knowing the signs of human trafficking for hotel staff

There are numerous signs that staff should be trained to recognize along a trafficked victim’s journey in a hotel. For example, forced labour victims are usually isolated and unwilling to socialize, often volunteer to work during social functions, and do overtime shifts as much as possible. Independently, these behaviours do not reveal much, yet taken together they paint a clear picture of a trafficked human being.

There are primarily two journeys in a hotel: sexual exploitation and forced labour. Hoteliers must identify the critical intervention points (CIP) within their establishments in order to effectively build safeguards and employees must pay attention (and be empowered to act) to these points (see figure 1). Figure 1: Critical intervention points of trafficked victims in hotels, Combat Human Trafficking So what can be done? The Combat Human Trafficking Toolkit developed by Prof. Brookes and colleagues includes measures that can be taken at three levels of management At the Senior management level: Use maps showing smuggling and trafficking routes and pinpoint the properties in their portfolio close to them, in order to prevent human trafficking. An increasing number of senior managers use criminal heat maps displaying properties’ various levels of risk per category. This system provides them with an efficient control tool. At the corporate management level: Develop anti-trafficking policies (including supply chains) and monitor their effectiveness by using KPIs such as number of anti-human trafficking training programs offered

and attendance, number of properties that have undergone a risk assessment for human trafficking per year, number of suspected cases reported internally. Corporate management can also work closely with the police or independent bodies to prevent this crime and support the victims. At the operational level: Create barriers such as full reference checks for all new recruits (including address and bank details in salary checks), engage in conversations with new recruits, and implement a buddy system to ensure interactions between all employees and regular staff training and awareness campaigns. Human trafficking in hotels is associated with legal risks including complicity, operational risks such as business disruption, reputational risks linked to financial implications, and most importantly to ethical and moral risk, as human trafficking is a crime against humanity.

HoteliersGuild is honoured and proud to count with Sowon Kim’s support for our new chapter LeadingHôtelières. Dr. Sowon Kim, is an Associate Professor at Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL // HES-SO, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland) and Co-founder of the EHLWomen in Leadership (WIL) Initiative launched in 2018. She teaches bachelors, masters, and executives in the fields of organizational capital and leadership and intercultural management. D r. K i m ’s r e s e a r c h focuses on p e r s o n a l i t y, networking, w o r k - f a m i l y, and leadership diversity. She has published in diverse outlets such as the Journal of Vocational B e h a v i o r, H u m a n R e s o u rc e Management J o u r n a l , Personality and Individual Differences, and Journal of Environmental Psychology. Dr. Kim holds a PhD from the University of Geneva, was a Visiting Scholar at IESE Business School and INSEAD Fontainebleau (both funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation) and is a Visiting Professor at the University of Geneva. Prior to academia, Dr. Kim has gained substantial business experience in the consumer goods, high-tech, broadcasting, and jewellery industries.


The Kitchen is Dead – Long Live the Kitchen from Prof. Dr. Willy Legrand Department of Hospitality, Tourism and Event Management IUBH University of Applied Sciences Bad Honnef, Germany


In a recent research conducted by McKinsey & Company on Reimagining European restaurants for the next normal, the authors argued that the food and beverage sector must “embrace innovation in their channel strategy, menu offerings, and business model” (Khan et al., 2020). And the 2020 COVID-19 health crisis has triggered a multitude of opportunities to boost innovations in products, services and systems, as crises often do (e.g. Clark, 2020; Rigby, Hollander, 2020; Elk and Berez, 2020). From click and collect channel strategy or made to delivery and meal kits, many restaurant innovations, which have been around already but often operating in a niche segment or with a slow uptake, suddenly became a ‘must have’ simply to remain in business during the months of lockdown. Ghost kitchens (also labelled as ‘dark or shared kitchens’, ‘delivery-only kitchens’, ‘cloud kitchens’ or ‘virtual kitchens’) is one of those innovations which became, almost overnight, a pillar to food supply in urban environments. In those same urban centers, operating a stand-alone restaurant has become extremely challenging for a multitude of reasons and most notably high operational and financial gearing due to heavy lease agreements, licensing and regulatory requirements and labour costs. The lockdown

“The situation post-lockdown remains dire, where a 50% occupancy in restaurants is the new ‘100%’, a recent norm due to distancing regulations. So with this in mind, how can one compensate that missing 50% occupancy?” has exacerbated the situation and laid bare the fragile restaurant foundations with many operators wondering how to stay in business. The situation post-lockdown remains dire, where a 50% occupancy in restaurants is the new ‘100%’, a recent norm due to distancing regulations. So with this in mind, how can one compensate that missing 50% occupancy? Certainly menu pricing, loyalty programmes and off-peak offers are all important topics. Additionally, customer experience such as personalised digital offers or inapp ordering continues to play a very important role in restaurant recovery. However, there are great expectations for digital orders and delivery of out-of-home food with an expected growth rate three times that of in-restaurant sales by 2023 (Steingoltz & Picciola, 2019). Strong from flexibility in changed market conditions, and alongside the already established food trucks and pop-up restaurant, ghost kitchens and virtual restaurants may become a new gastronomy reality, where “the branding and food are real, but the restaurants do not exist elsewhere in the physical world” (Wiener, 2020). With easy order and payment processing, perceived shorter waiting time and along with better packaging that ensures an adequate sensory experience once the food has travelled from the ghost kitchen to one’s own four walls, this seems to be a dream come true for many who ditched home-cooking a long time ago (Hanbury, 2018) but a challenge to traditional restaurant owners (Loizos, 2019). The challenges are, as in so many cases when innovation disrupts established markets or operating procedures, multi-fold on the sustainability front. Recently, in an article published in the New Yorker, a video made in a mega Ghost Kitchen unit was discussed which “depicted line cooks packed into a windowless warehouse, yelling over the sounds of tablets and phones chiming with order alerts” (Wiener, 2020, para 10). The author concluded that “as in most restaurants, the apparition is for customers; the ghosts are the workers themselves” (Wiener, 2020, para 10). Chefs and cooks may still have work, albeit under difficult conditions, the need for any front staff, from cashier to wait staff and managers, is eliminated with related socio-economic impact in communities. On the other hand, a fleet of drivers and riders are needed to handle food deliveries. However, those gig economy jobs are often precarious with low wages, high workload, issues with personal safety while delivering food and relatively low job satisfaction (Li et al., 2020). Consequently, countries are trying, with mixed results, to implement legislation to improve the rights of those workers (e.g. EU, 2019). On the environmental front, the argument can be made that ghost kitchens ensure an optimal use of real estate by maximising the output

per square meter, thus optimising the energy usage for heating, cooling and ventilating space. However, a research conducted by Li, Mirosa and Bremer during the COVID-19 outbreak on the impact of online food delivery platforms on sustainability revealed that the carbon footprint of delivery is in fact high (2020). Additionally, the generation of waste, plastic in particular, is significant. Packaging waste resulting from food delivery is an environmental hazard. While the ‘fight on single-use plastics’ had shown its first result pre COVID-19 with large hotel chains banning items from rooms and food and beverage outlets, the clock is being reversed at an alarming rate. In China’s mega cities where food delivery has experienced a rapid increase over the past five years, the volume of packaging waste increased from 0.2 million metric tons in 2015 to a staggering 1.5 million tons by 2017, a stunning seven time fold in two years (Song et al., 2018). With the COVID-19 outbreak, the use of disposable single-used plastic has increased on the argument that single use packaging meets higher sanitation standards and is thus more hygienic (Neo, 220). However, there is no scientific consensus on this particular issue and a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in April of 2020 came to the conclusion that if plastic surfaces are not properly cleaned, “the virus can remain viable and infectious in aerosols for hours and on surfaces up to days” (van Doremalen et al., 2020, 1567) suggesting that single use plastics may not be as safe as first thought. In terms of circular approach to waste management, recycling packaging waste is only as good as the availability of recycling facilities in individual countries. Additionally, food delivery packaging is frequently soiled with food residues and thus often discarded in regular trash bins. Depending on the country, municipal waste is either sent to landfills, incinerated or simply dumped or burned illegally. In all

“This is particular worrying since plastics and in particular micro- and nano plastics (i.e. plastics bags and bottle breaking down in tiny fragments too small for the eye) not only have a proven negative impact on the fauna and flora but the latest study presented at the American Chemical Society found that micro- and nanoplastics are detectable in human organs and tissue including lungs, liver and kidneys (ACS, 2020).” cases, the environmental impact is considerable. This is particular worrying since plastics and in particular micro- and nano plastics (i.e. plastics bags and bottle breaking down in tiny fragments too small for the eye) not only have a proven negative impact on the fauna and flora but the latest study presented at the American Chemical Society found that micro- and nanoplastics are detectable in human organs and tissue including lungs, liver and kidneys (ACS, 2020). While scientists are not certain of the health hazards due to plastics making its way into human bodies, “search in wildlife and animal models has linked micro- and nanoplastic exposure to infertility, inflammation and cancer” (ACS, 2020, para 4). Another waste associated with deliveries from ghost kitchen is spent batteries (thus consigned to waste with a majority being lead-acid batteries) used in electric bikes as well as the energy required to charge electric vehicles. While studies are still scarce on the topic, a research conducted in China found that energy required to charge food delivery vehicles and bikes (with coal as electricity source) plus the energy needed for the treatment of packaging waste resulted in 73.89 Gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2016 alone (Jia et al., 2018). The authors discuss the energy – emission –waste nexus of food deliveries. The last aspect is related to food waste. Here too, there is scarcity in the scientific literature on the impact of ghost kitchens on food waste management. Arguably a lot of the food waste issues are ‘outsourced’ or ‘externalised’ to the consumers who tend to over purchase while using an app or website to order and consequently discard the uneaten food (Li et al., 2020). There is a counter argument to which ghost kitchens are more efficient at preparing food although here too, supporting evidence is scarce (Li et al., 2020). Food waste is also ‘planned’ via minimum price for free deliveries practice enticing consumers to order more in

order to reach that free delivery amount threshold (Li et al., 2020). Another aspect playing a role is the difficulty for consumers to assess the aromas, portion size or the taste while ordering online (li et al., 2020); all those elements play a critical role when dining in a physical restaurant. Some research shows that consumers ordering food deliveries easily disregard food due to poor taste or unexpected large portions (Li et al., 2020). This is not to say that food waste is not an issue in physical restaurants, but it is equally an issue in a ghost kitchen environment. The challenges are, as in so many cases when innovation disrupts established markets or operating procedures, multi-fold on the sustainability front. Recently, in an article published in the New Yorker, a video made in a mega Ghost Kitchen unit was discussed which “depicted line cooks packed into a windowless warehouse, yelling over the sounds of tablets and phones chiming with order alerts” (Wiener, 2020, para 10). The author concluded that “as in most restaurants, the apparition is for customers; the ghosts are the workers themselves” (Wiener, 2020, para 10). Chefs and cooks may still have work, albeit under difficult

“On the environmental front, the argument can be made that ghost kitchens ensure an optimal use of real estate by maximising the output per square meter, thus optimising the energy usage for heating, cooling and ventilating space.” conditions, the need for any front staff, from cashier to wait staff and managers, is eliminated with related socio-economic impact in communities. On the other hand, a fleet of drivers and riders are needed to handle food deliveries. However, those gig economy jobs are often precarious with low wages, high workload, issues with personal safety while delivering food and relatively low job satisfaction (Li et al., 2020). Consequently, countries are trying, with mixed results, to implement legislation to improve the rights of those workers (e.g. EU, 2019). On the environmental front, the argument can be made that ghost kitchens ensure an optimal use of real estate by maximising the output per square meter, thus optimising the energy usage for heating, cooling and ventilating space. However, a research conducted by Li, Mirosa and Bremer during the COVID-19 outbreak on the impact of online food delivery platforms on sustainability revealed that the carbon footprint of delivery is in fact high (2020). Additionally, the generation of waste, plastic in particular, is significant. Another waste associated with deliveries from ghost kitchen is spent batteries (thus consigned to waste with a majority being lead-acid batteries) used in electric bikes as well as the energy required to charge electric vehicles. While studies are still scarce on the topic, a research conducted in China found that energy required to charge food delivery vehicles and bikes (with coal as electricity source) plus the energy needed for the treatment of packaging waste resulted in 73.89 Gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2016 alone (Jia et al., 2018). The authors discuss the energy – emission –waste nexus of food deliveries. The last aspect is related to food waste. Here too, there is scarcity in the scientific literature on the impact of ghost kitchens on food waste management. Arguably a lot of the food waste issues are ‘outsourced’ or ‘externalised’ to the consumers who tend to over purchase while using an app or website to order and consequently discard the uneaten food (Li et al., 2020). There is a counter argument to which ghost kitchens are more efficient at preparing food although here too, supporting evidence is scarce (Li et al., 2020). Food waste is also ‘planned’ via minimum price for free deliveries practice enticing consumers to order more in order to reach that free delivery amount threshold (Li et al., 2020). Another aspect playing a role is the difficulty for consumers to assess the aromas, portion size or the taste while ordering online (li et al., 2020); all those elements play a critical role when dining in a physical restaurant. Some research shows that consumers ordering food deliveries easily disregard food due to poor taste or unexpected large portions (Li

et al., 2020). This is not to say that food waste is not an issue in physical restaurants, but it is equally an issue in a ghost kitchen environment. Despite the issues raised above, off-premise dining is on the rise (NRA, 2019) and ghost kitchens will continue to play a role particularly for a generation of consumers that enjoy the flexibility of consuming food anytime and anywhere. And while it may be difficult for consumers to check on the food provenance when ordering from ghost kitchens, it does not say that transparency cannot be guaranteed. In a world where consumers increasingly value the sustainability of the food, from origins to transformation (Khan et al., 2020) and where health and wellbeing play an important role in food consumption, ghost kitchens’ stance on their sourcing policy, transformation practices and work etiquette should be provided. Food delivery companies must have a clear plan for the implementation of various emission reduction activities and carbon offsetting plans as steps towards carbon neutrality. Governments are called to set the accepted minimum standard on all those topics and consumers have the duty to demand greater transparency. There is one last aspect not considered in the discussion surrounding ghost kitchens. It is the role assumed by neighbourhood restaurants in creating bonds between members of a community. It is where acquaintances become friends, individuals become partners or professionals strike a deal; all around a table in a safe environment. Stand alone or hotel restaurants are more important than ever. It is only when they are gone that many will understand what is missing. References ACS (2020, August 17). Micro- and nanoplastics detectable in human tissues. American Chemical Society Press Release. newsreleases/2020/august/micro-and-nanoplastics-detectable-in-human-tissues.html Clark, L. (2020). Innovation in a Time of Crisis. Harvard Business Publishing Corporate Learning. EU (2019). Gig economy: EU law to improve workers’ rights. European Parliament. Hanbury, M. (2018, June 24). Millennials are cooking less and less, and it could cause a crisis for America's biggest food companies. Business Insider. https:// Higgins-Desbiolles, F. & Wijesinghe, G. (2018). The critical capacities of restaurants as facilitators for transformations to sustainability. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 27. 1-26. 10.1080/09669582.2018.1510410. Hollander, J. (2020). Hospitality Innovation is Thriving Despite the Crisis (Q2 Innovation Report). Jia, X., Klemes, J.J., Varbanov, P.S., & Alwi, S.R.W. (2018). Energy-emission-waste nexus of food deliveries in China. Chemical Engineering Transactions, 70, 661–666 Khan, H., Laizet, F., Moulton, J., & Youldon, T. (2020, August 05). Reimagining European restaurants for the next normal. McKinsey & Company. https:// Li, C., Mirosa, M., & Bremer, P. (2020). Review of Online Food Delivery Platforms and their Impacts on Sustainability. Sustainability, 12(14), 5528. su12145528 Loizos, C. (2019, June 29). A rare glimpse into the sweeping — and potentially troubling — cloud kitchens trend. TechCrunch. NRA (2019). Harnessing Technology to Drive Off-Premises Sales. National Restaurant Association and Technomic Inc. research/research_offpremises_201910 Neo, P. (2020, April 07). Safety vs sustainability: Single-use food packaging use rises due to COVID-19 – but is it truly safer? Food Navigator Asia. https:// Rigby, D.K., Elk, S. & Berez, S. (2020). Develop Agility That Outlasts the Pandemic. Harvard Business Review, May 15. Song, G., Zhang, H., Duan, H., & Xu, M. (2018). Packaging waste from food delivery in China’s mega cities. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 130, 226–227 Steingoltz, M., & Picciola, M. (20196, February 2). Meals on Wheels: The Digital Ordering and Delivery Restaurant Revolution. L.E.K. Executive Insights, XXI(5). https:// van Doremalen, N., Bushmaker, T., Morris, D.H., Holbrook, M.G., Gamble, A., Williamson, B.N., Tamin, A., Harcourt, J.L., Thornburg, N.J., Gerber, S.I., Lloyd-Smith, J.O., Wit, E. de, & Munster, V.J. (2020). Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1. New England Journal of Medicine, 382, 1564-1567. 10.1056/NEJMc2004973 Wiener, A. (2020, June 28). Our Ghost-Kitchen Future. The New Yorker.


O n A

n o i pin

iP ece


The wicked problem of local food for tourism development in the Global South from

Prof. Dr. Gabriel C. M. Laeis Department of Hospitality, Tourism and Event Management IUBH University of Applied Sciences

Bad Honnef, Germany


There is a persisting myth in the tourism development sphere about tourists travelling to faraway places, curious to eat local food and by doing so, supporting local farmers. This has given way to the notion that providing local food in tourism destinations of the Global South is a triple win: Firstly, it provides muchneeded income for smallholder farmers (of which there are many in the Global South). Secondly, chefs can work with fresh local produce that build a consistent, high-quality basis for their menus. Lastly, tourists from the Global North can savour fresh local delicacies. As convincing as this may sound in theory, there is unfortunately only anecdotal scientific evidence to suggest that ‘local food for local development’ in a Global South tourism context indeed works. My own observations from a research project in Fiji further corroborate this finding. This opinion piece elaborates on the intricacies of local food systems in small island development states and challenges the concept that matching local agricultural production with tourism industry demands is beneficial for local communities. To begin with, the local food for local development concept is based on a number of misconceptions. The average Global North tourist may claim to be interested in foreign cuisines and might pay lip service to the attractiveness of ‘travelling with one’s palate’, but when it comes to spending a week or more in an unfamiliar environment, many travellers resort back to what they know. Most likely this will be steaks, burgers, pizzas, pasta, salads, sandwiches, fish and chips and continental breakfast – or rather: the typical Global North restaurant menu. Foreign local dishes are mostly banned to somewhat traditional ‘local night buffets’, where tourists “To begin with, the local food for local might sample the odd localised dish, before development concept is based on a going for fish and chips at the pool bar the next number of misconceptions. The average day.

Global North tourist may claim to be interested in foreign cuisines and might pay lip service to the attractiveness of ‘travelling with one’s palate’, but when it comes to spending a week or more in an unfamiliar environment, many travellers resort back to what they know.”

Another assumption is that wherever tourists go, even in the most remote areas, there exists some form of a ‘local cuisine’ that is capable of transforming l o c a l p ro d u c t s i n t o mouth-watering dishes that so happen to please the majority of Western palates and look good on social media posts. Most countries of the Global South have a history of colonialization, political destabilisation, poverty and environmental degradation. Therefore, local cuisines are often a creolisation of remnants of indigenous food culture, goods introduced throughout the colonial history, international trade and the limitations set by pervasive poverty, especially in rural areas. For example, locals in South Pacific island states are known to favour imported tinned tuna with rice over their own local reef fish with root crops. Often they sell their local catch to exporters, intermediaries, or restaurants to provide income for families. A share of this income is then spend on cheap items from the local grocery stores – rice and tinned tuna. Tinned meats, such as corned beef or spam, are ubiquitous in South Pacific households and as much a relic of colonial times as they are a product of economic hardship. Indeed, anyone wondering what ‘local cuisine’ really means in these countries needs to visit the houses of local villages. Here one will likely find a mixture of dishes that resemble the country’s history, but not necessarily what glossy tourism brochures conjure up in the minds of tourists. Due to the lack of a local cuisine that suits the wishes of tourists, restaurants serve the Global North restaurant classics. One could argue, nevertheless, that this could still drive a local food network and channel tourism dollars into poor rural communities. In order to cook typical Global North standards, however, chefs need red tomatoes, green crispy lettuce, straight green cucumbers, firm potatoes and so forth. These are all items that one might expect to find in any supermarket or restaurant in Europe or North America, for example. It is often assumed that these produce can be grown anywhere in the world

at the same quality and quantity standards. That is another drastic misconception. The amount of agricultural knowledge and mechanisation that goes into growing a consistent supply of, for example, tomatoes, year-around at a steady quality level far exceeds the capacity of most smallholder farmers in the Global South. The establishment of irrigation systems, shade houses and soil management systems; the acquisition and correct application of hybrid seed material, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides; and finally the adherence to specific harvest and post-harvest handling procedures takes an incredible amount of training, knowledge and capital – not to speak of stable political and social circumstances. More traditional local crops, such as the root crops yams, taro and cassava, on the other side, rarely feature on Global North menus and are thus not sought-after by restaurants which cater to tourists. Therefore, there is little money to be made for local farmers, even though these kind of crops would far better match local climatic conditions and traditional farming methods. Those farmers that try to grow what tourists like to eat often fail, because they do not manage to grow the right variety at the right quality in a consistent fashion. For instance, not every potato species makes for good French fries – the tourist’s potato dish of choice. Some orange varieties have a green skin and not an orange one and are therefore rejected. There exists a countless number of banana varieties, but only the Cavendish banana is what most tourists are used to. Nevertheless, some farmers might be willing and have the means to try their luck with growing what the tourism industry actually wants. For instance, in Fiji “More traditional local crops, such as the a number of farmers have done well root crops yams, taro and cassava, on the with growing basil, capsicum and other side, rarely feature on Global North cherry tomatoes, after being convinced menus and are thus not sought-after by by intermediaries of the idea and restaurants which cater to tourists. supported by international aid Therefore, there is little money to be agencies. Restaurant chefs were happy made for local farmers, even though these decent prices and to buy locally, pay kind of crops would far better match local stop importing these items. A triple win, climatic conditions and traditional farming at last?

methods. Those farmers that try to grow

Enter COVID-19. G l o b a l l y , what tourists like to eat often fail” international tourist numbers are estimated to drop by 60 to 80 percent in 2020 compared to last year (UNWTO, May 2020). In Fiji, international arrivals plummeted by 72 percent in the period of January to July 2020, compared to last year. From April through to July only a couple of hundred visitors came to the islands – 99 percent less than in 2019 (Fiji Bureau of Statistics, September 2020). The local tourism industry, including resorts and restaurants, is out of business, to say the least. Farmers that have followed the advice of intermediaries and aid agencies are left without a market, because restaurants do not need their products anymore. To make matters worse, what they grow is not what the locals favour. If they are lucky, they can sell to export companies, but those mostly require far larger quantities than most smallholders produce. In times of crises, tourism numbers plummet quickly, but also recover within about a year. The September 11th terrorist attacks, the 2002 Bali bombings and the 2004 tsunami in Thailand exemplify this. Larger tourism enterprises might have the means to survive such an economic downturn. Smallholder farmers, on the other side, struggle to survive. They have little economic reserves and they are in a long-term business. In most cases, growing food means dedicating your land to a particular crop over several months, if not years. At harvest time, farmers needs a market, or they will lose a major share of their annual income. Hitching your plough to the tourism wagon might prove profitable during good times, but will ruin smallholders in times of crisis.

One avenue to create more resilience in rural communities could be to serve up more locally adapted produce in restaurants. By doing so, farmers can grow species that work well in smallholder, mixed cropping systems and sell to the tourism as well as the local market. From a tourism perspective, this will take, however, dedicated and well-trained chefs that know the culinary whims and fancies of Western tourists as well as the agricultural circumstances of their regions. They need to be able to create a fusion cuisine that marries both worlds. Cook books such as Me’a Kai: The food and flavours of the South Pacific (Oliver, Berno & Ram, 2010), named the Gourmand Best Cook Book of the World 2010, certainly support chefs in South Pacific islands in tackling this tremendous challenge. Its basic concept: traditional recipes, based on locally grown ingredients, with modern twists. In 2016, Fiji established a training project for chefs on how to integrate this concept into their menus. The result were unexpected. Trainers were far busier with training chefs on basic workplace hygiene and cooking skills, than on cooking fancy new recipes. Of course, this is a single story and there may well be more successful examples of this concept elsewhere. However, it does shed light on the local food in tourism development conundrum. What could be supplied locally is not what most tourists like to eat; growing what tourists enjoy is more often than not beyond the capacity of local farmers and in times of crises offers little security; lastly, chefs that could bridge the local food sphere and international palates struggle with far more basic issues than creating new and appealing dishes. An encouraging thought comes “One avenue to create more resilience in from considering the impact of different rural communities could be to serve up t a rg e t g ro u p s . F o r e x a m p l e , more locally adapted produce in backpackers visiting Samoa were found restaurants. By doing so, farmers can grow to stay in more locally owned and species that work well in smallholder, m a n a g e d accommodation mixed cropping systems and sell to the businesses, because they suited their tourism as well as the local market. From a travel experience aspirations tourism perspective, this will take, (Scheyvens, 2006). This however, dedicated and well-trained chefs particular traveller segment was perhaps seeking a more that know the culinary whims and fancies genuine local (food) experience, rather of Western tourists as well as the than the usual sun, sand and sea agricultural circumstances of their vacation. This might propose a more regions.� careful consideration of what type of tourist a country seeks to attract and what implications this could have for local communities. Backpackers, food tourists and agritourist might all be more suitable target groups that encourage a stronger links between traditional crops, genuine local food and the tourism industry.


Sustainability as a Priority from Maribel Esparcia Pérez Professor at University of Lleida


ROOTS September 2020

Maribel Esparcia Pérez

SUSTAINABILITY & LUXURY IN HOSPITALITY Now more than ever, luxury is about simplicity, creating moments of intimacy, profundity, with a focus on service and significance.

As we restart the tourism activity, whatever form of wealth creation must be able to regenerate nature economies, and societies.

Walking into the hotel lobby, appreciating every detail is one of my passions, however, what makes me perceive quality is simplicity - the ultimate sophistication. It is much more about how you feel rather than what you see.

We have to be inventive and creative to design models of cooperation within the industry as well as with global entities driving real change.

Thus, it is time to implement circularity, regenerative leadership practices in operations and strategy. Where luxury experience goes beyond material things, is about spirituality and balance. The hotel should belong first to the place where it is built, and then to the people that will work and stay in it. If we had to pay for the natural resources needed to develop travel activities, the industry would not be profitable. Furthermore, the importance of consumers’ concerns and awareness of environmental and social issues makes it imperative to set systems and good governance practices at the business core. This research paper shows consumers WTPM in luxury hospitality when companies are values-driven or more conscious of their operations. Also, it shows how hotel managers could establish strategies to retain more responsible consumers in improving their sustainability practices. Moreover, it suggests that consumers that search for information about hotel responsible practices show a higher willingness to pay more to stay in a hotel.

That means better and broader cooperation with NGOs, academia, civil society, public entities, and the private sector working together. As business leaders, we have the responsibility to innovate and offer solutions to contribute towards responsible investment, operations, strategy, and effective allyship. Also if we consider global systemic challenges steady - environmental and social- our industry will not be able to thrive. Indeed, scientific research findings suggest that sustainability has become an element of quality expected by luxury customers. This result suggests a high risk for brands that ignore these requirements. It is thus, urgent that we bridge the gap between theory and reality to preserve brands' reputation, competitiveness, and even maintaining license to operate.




t h ins g


Women in Hotels from Anne Arrowsmith a distinguishes member of

HoteliersGuild’s LeadingHôtelières


It was most apt to be invited to speak on the subject of Women in Hotels this month by Bill Barnett of C9 Hotelworks Phuket and Delivering Asia, as the 18th August marked the 100th Anniversary of the right for woman to vote in the USA. Now just to be clear, this was for certain women and it wasn’t until many years later that ALL women had the right to vote in the USA and not until the ‘70’s in Switzerland. So as we evaluate the role of women in hotels, it is no more or no less important to consider the progress of women across all industries, racial, socio-economic and geographic backgrounds, to herald the successes, appreciate the bravery and sacrifices of those before us and acknowledge that in contrast to technological advances; however far we have come; we have so very much more to accomplish before we can claim to have true equality. With the limited time allocated, my thoughts are confined to two topics – firstly, what advice would I offer my 20 year old impatient and uncertain self and secondly how reading and literature played a large part in unlocking my interests and passions and started my addiction with travel and secondly, and the many affiliate sectors that make up the hospitality industry as well as awakening an appreciation for living life as well as one can as long as one can. So to the first subject and advice that is just as apt for my 60 something year old self as it is for my 20 year old self and actually applies equally to male and female: 1. Be curious about everyone and everything. Never stop learning and being in a state of wonderment. Read, research, mingle with those who don’t share your views, worship your god or eat what you eat. Ask questions, listen intensely and be sure to voice your opinion. I was once told by a colleague during the early days of working in Bangkok (quite some years ago and before my most recent return) “Khun Anne, you think too loud”. Having established that my verbal thoughts were accurate and respectfully presented, I promised that I would continue to “Think out loud” while requesting that should I ever veer away from facts and regard for others, to please call me on it. 2. Believe in yourself and be yourself. So often we feel pressured to ‘fit in” and compromise who we are and what we believe in. Trust me, your true friends will find you, just as you will orbit towards those you have a simpatico with. 3. Believe you are the equal of ALL but avoid believing you are superior to others. This approach will keep you grounded and is a wonderful moral compass in terms of practicing equity. In particular, men should take heed of this point as I have found throughout life that they are very gifted at telling us how very gifted they are. One needs to look no further than politics, to have perhaps the best and possibly the worst example of this phenomena. 4. Retain a sense of humor. Being able to laugh reduces stress, improves your mood and is a great connector with others – it cuts across age, rank and region. 5. Take criticism seriously but not personally. It’s never easy to hear things about oneself that are less than flattering but whether well intentioned or simply meanspirited, we can always learn about others and ourselves when faced with adversity. And so to my Second point:

My lifelong intrigue with hotels started at an early age and for our younger listeners, let me add some context to this. I grew up in a small community on the Welsh / English border (the child of WW2 generation) which was too small to even be classed as a village, in fact it was aptly called Cross Lanes because it literally was no bigger than that. My engagement with the wider world was through the pages of books. I was an avid reader and my taste eclectic. Summers lent themselves to the less serious selections and I discovered and devoured murder, mystery and the art of misleading in the works of Agatha Christie. Now for those of you not familiar with this female author, suffice to say her body of works - some 66 books have conservatively sold over 2 billion and by most estimates twice that number. That’s billion with a B! In fact, Agatha Christie is only surpassed in sales by The Bible and Shakespeare and if we think of today’s most successful female writer - JK Rowling has in comparison garnered a mere 50 million in sales. So what, you ask has Agatha Christie got to do with hotels and the subject at hand. Well for me everything as so many of her books were centered in hotels and just as relevantly, in exotic locations. To remind you or perhaps motivate you to discover or rediscover her, her books include: At Bertram’s Hotel Evil under the Sun Death on the Nile A Caribbean Mystery Murder in Mesopotamia Passage to Frankfurt Murder on the Orient Express So my life choices were nicely narrowed down for me – A life of crime, a detective, or a hotelier and avid adventurer. The former, like the latter could have taken me around the globe but I realized I just wasn’t smart enough and hence opted for sales instead. But I get ahead of myself. One of my first summer jobs was a room maid at The Cross Lanes Hotel – yes we were too small for a church or post office but we did have a manner house that was converted into a small country hotel, followed by adventures afar when I gained a summer experience at Chateau Lake Louise, Alberta – Canada. Now a word of advice – dress to impress as I was hired as a dish washer but on arrival at the hotel and my first face to face meeting with HR, they took one look at me and decided I was too delicate for dishes and promoted me to assistant garde manger, before I even stepped foot in the kitchen. I went on to work as a nutritionist in a chocolate factory (perhaps a contradiction in terms as this was well before the 75% cacao days) and began my travel career with P&O Cruises in London, working my way up to the position of Deputy Purser. After hanging up my life jacket from sailing, I entered the wonderful world of hotels; the beginning of a career that would span several decades and have me travel the world, which has been richly rewarding with amazing experiences and has given me great personal joy and fulfillment. I worked the majority of that time with Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts in both the USA and Asia in marketing roles before becoming General Manager at the award-winning all-suite 137 Pillars House Chiang Mai give years ago, and being promoted to Corporate General Manager for 137 Pillars Hotels & Resorts in February this year, overseeing all aspects of operations for both properties, as well as future development. I highly recommend the hospitality industry to those seeking adventure and travel, who are genuinely interesting in being of service, love working with people from all cultures and are not afraid of hard work and long hours.



Sustainability has become inevitable for hotels from Suzann Heinemann CEO GreenSign


Throughout the past months, hygiene and protection concepts have become a part of every hospitality enterprise. Due to the ongoing pandemic, hotels are confronted with a higher workload in order to meet the required hygiene standards. This is a challenge at first, but it can be seen as a chance as well: An opportunity to rethink current internal processes and to redesign them towards more sustainability. Sustainability continues to gain importance - both for companies of all sizes and for guests. In the hotel industry, the implementation of sustainable initiatives in corporate strategy is steadily increasing. More and more people are making sure to reduce their carbon footprint and this is also questioning the way they travel. Digital and sustainable structures, regionality and fresh products continue to mean a competitive advantage. With the growing expectations of hotel guests and stakeholders, the anchoring of an ecological and social commitment in long-term corporate management has become almost indispensable. Hoteliers who approach sustainability correctly and who can inspire the team and guests with it, position themselves ideally in the market. The cost savings should not be underestimated. Those who efficiently improve their structures and convert work processes to conserve resources will save costs in the future. An example of this is the energetic area, where a lot of resources can be saved with small investments and changes. One of the greatest industry is and will remain workers. With a strategy and the commitment, hoteliers are comes to employee satisfaction.

“The biggest challenge is the time to deal with it. You just have to start and question the processes and individual things over and over again. So far, sustainability in the hotel industry has been associated with foregoing and high costs, but in reality, it means process optimization and cost savings. “

challenges in the hotel the shortage of skilled sustainable corporate associated social one step ahead when it recruitment and

Sustainability is a trend but what does it cost? Sustainability does not necessarily have to be more expensive. An important feature of sustainable hotels is ideal quality management and economic stability. Quality certainly has its price, but it is appreciated by guests and offers the potential to secure and increase sales over the long term. The fact is that with an environmental strategy, a hotel remains innovative and attractive in the long term. An exact amount cannot be defined as each hotel has different circumstances. Some people are already working sustainably in many areas without even knowing it. The biggest challenge is the time to deal with it. You just have to start and question the processes and individual things over and over again. So far, sustainability in the hotel industry has been associated with foregoing and high costs, but in reality, it means process optimization and cost savings. I am ready for sustainability - what do I have to do for it? Rome was not built in a day, and neither is sustainability. It is a lengthy process and every single step and every little success is fun. The motto is to be brave and to start, to look authentically at your own company and to begin small. No plan needs to be set in stone. There are already numerous sustainable partners on the market with innovative products who can support hoteliers in their endeavors to achieve sustainability. Even with good networking, a lot of new things can be learned and implemented. Anyone who needs a precise plan and a catalog of measures should be certified with a sustainability seal. Over 240 hotels are setting a green example – Best practices throughout Europe Every hotel can be sustainable – whether it is a five-star beach resort or a 20 – bedroom rural hotel. The diversity of the 243 GreenSign certified hotels demonstrate this. Among 14 European countries, the

GreenSign certification is awarded in one out of five levels, with level five showing the highest sustainable commitment. Hotels that are certified with a GreenSign level five and thus represent high ecological and social responsibility include the Haffhus Hotel in Ueckermünde, the Naturresort Schindelbruch in South Harz and the Waldhotel Stuttgart. All of these hotels have incorporated eco-friendly procedures throughout every hotel branch and therefore act as real pioneers for the GreenSign sustainability seal. At the same time, the Lindner Hotel group has chosen sustainability, setting a good example for chain hotels which focus on a green tomorrow. The a&o hostels are another group that officially declared sustainable commitment with a GreenSign certification in the beginning of 2020. Whether it is a reputable hotel chain, a beautiful hotel located in the middle of nature, or a hostel taking responsibility for its young travelers – GreenSign is designed for every hospitality enterprise and supports hotels of all sizes and categories on their way to sustainable development. GreenSign – The Leading Sustainability Seal for Hotels in Europe With the GreenSign sustainability seal, InfraCert – Institute for Sustainable Developments in the Hospitality Industry – enables hoteliers to either give it a first go at sustainability, or to develop further with sustainable commitment already being present. Due to the five-stage certification system, any hotelier has the chance to dive into sustainability at his or her pace and to experience sustainable growth and development over time. This makes the GreenSign unique in the industry. Today every hotel can start with its sustainability performance and InfraCert paves the ideal way for further development. The integrated and sophisticated concept structures, evaluates and documents all ecological, social and economic aspects within the hotel management. 90 certification criteria have been set up based on international standards.

“ With the GreenSign

GreenSign monitors and their cost and attract new groups of shortage of skilled workers. in marketing to achieve an reputation. Hotels, which experience qualitative and benefit from a large well as from numerous climate protection surprisingly easy!

sustainability seal, InfraCert – Institute for Sustainable Developments in the Hospitality Industry – enables hoteliers to either give it a first go at sustainability, or to develop further with sustainable commitment already being present. “


Schlosshotel Blankenburg

supports hotels to increase environmental efficiency, to guests and to counteract the GreenSign can also be used innovative and attractive are certified with GreenSign, quantitative growth and network and partnerships, as networking events and joint campaigns. The way there is



rt y o S


A NEW LIFE from Daniela Freund Professor at Universitat Ramon Llull


A popular Spanish saying states that babies are born “with a loaf of bread under their arms”. The origin is related to what the birth of a child, mainly a baby boy, meant for the poorest families. A new life brought one more pair of hands to carry money home. Nowadays, the birth of a baby for many professional women means the beginning of two new lives. That of the newborn and the new life of the professional mother, who is faced with a dose of joy and endless professional doubts. For many women, a birth marks the beginning of professional barriers or, at the very least, a remarkable slowdown. In the new edition of the ESADE Gender Monitor more than 800 women managers were consulted about the gender-related obstacles they encounter to get promoted in their companies. They point out, as the second main barrier, the difficulty of balancing the demands of the position with care of their children (22.1%). In recent months, with the increase of remote working caused by COVID-19, despite the fact that three out of four women acknowledge that the company has adapted to their family situation, 19.4% indicate that they have had more difficulties related to work-life balance than their colleagues and 28.4%, more than their partners. Today, women perform 76.2% of the total hours of unpaid care work, more than triple that of men according to the ILO. Co-responsibility is still far from being a reality. This care, which falls on women, affects their income in the labor market. A recent report by the Bank of Spain indicates that, in Spain, women stop earning, on average, 11.2% of their salary during the first year of their first child’s life. Men only lose 0.15% of their income. If the decade after birth is analyzed, the wage gap increases to 28% on average. ‘The playgrounds in our cities are full of professionals who have put their careers on hold and indeed, the vast majority of us are women’. That is how clearly Cristina Sánchez, a former manager, e x p re s s e s i t . S h e s a w a n opportunity in this situation and founded Juno projects. This company is made up of an international and multidisciplinary team of highly qualified professional women who have recently become mothers. They offer external resources for companies through professional services performed by their women’s team in a flexible and remote way, an asset of great added value for companies. During maternity, other women decide to start their own projects and there, they also encounter barriers. In fact, a study distinguished with the Honorary Award for Best Social Work by Cáritas Barcelona indicates, some investors are reluctant to invest in women if they are not willing to commit all their time to the project (as if investors themselves did not have a personal life beyond their work as investors). To alleviate this situation, in Barcelona, initiatives such as WERock Capital emerge, in which women investors not only invest but also guide and support women during their entrepreneurial journey. Let us claim not to give up, neither to the professional career nor to seeing our children grow up. Professional woman and mother is not an oxymoron. A new life is always welcome. Let us be co-responsible and ensure that the two new lives, that of the baby and that of its mother, develop in health and taking advantage of their full potential.


Hospitality a Force for Good from Franziska Altenrath Managing Diector



How can Hospitality become a Force of Good The hospitality industry has a huge potential to drive sustainability transformation across the industry and beyond. Here are five ideas of how hospitality can become a force of good. 1. Building purchasing pools not to create volume discount, but to have volume impact Sustainable products often come at higher prices. This is mainly due to the fact that demand is still quite low. A larger demand will move established players to invest into sustainability and bring new players to the market. And there is more. Refunds could be channeled not into one's bank account, but into a mutual sustainability fund, perhaps investing in climate compensation and thus pushing climate neutral supply chains. 2. Bye, bye Triple-Bottom-Line If we think of sustainability as the bottom line, we will approach it somehow like this: Let’s do the same thing as we did before, but let’s do it less bad. Sustainability is not about maintaining the status quo with a little less harm. It is about doing good. About contributing to a positive vision of the world. Creating this vision can of course not be the job of a single economic unit. Luckily, someone else has done it for us. The Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations are a solid framework with hard Key Performance Indicators that all kinds of corporates can use to determine their purpose and strategically define their goal contribution. A powerful tool in that regard is the handprint - footprint methodology, which does not only look at how to minimize negative impact, but also at how to maximize positive impact. 3. Redefining success What makes our business successful? How we define success on a managerial level ultimately changes our business focus. This is an elemental mindset change we have to do. We need to incorporate indicators which relate to environmental and social objectives. Many have been developed (for example IRIS+), some of them especially for our industry (for example GSTC). What they all need to drive change is to not be outsourced into a seperate sustainability unit which runs in parallel to other business sectors. Each department will have to define their own contribution to the overall corporate sustainability agenda. 4. No more lies Classical marketing has been about covering a given product up with cliches, promises and trends. The ultimate example being cigarettes - a product promising freedom, belonging, coolness when all one gets is cancer. Instead of hiding behind cliches and trends, we should be revealing our products, houses and the personalities working with us. Perhaps hospitality should ease up on perfection and become more honest and inclusive. Bringing the back-of-the-house in front of the house. Showing the effort and dedication behind the scenes. Creating connections between suppliers and guests through meaningful products and storytelling. Admitting to just have embarked on the sustainability journey is absolutely ok. Asking for help is great. Pretending to be something that is untrue is wrong and risky. 5. Becoming a platform for consumption change Sustainability has a positive impact on the brand awareness and thus creates brand value. But there is another really exciting angle to it. Hosts and Hostesses inspire thousands of people every single day. People who are open, and often expectant, to new experiences around sleeping, eating, relaxing, learning, working, working out, sustaining, recharging, and so on. As such, hospitality businesses have a massive potential to influence people’s behaviour as consumers. A forest spa, zero waste hotel room, a night in organic linen or a climate-neutral meal - those experiences will leave their traces. One of the most exciting aspects of a hospitality business's handprint (=positive impact) is the inspiration it creates within their guests to live and consume more sustainably.



A Message from Alexa Poortier Founder



April 22, 2020 is the 3rd anniversary of and the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and most of us are in self-isolation with our countries in lock down due to COVID-19. It is unsettling to realise how quickly our lives have changed and how much we have taken for granted. Most of us will hopefully mark this day and the rest of the year reflecting on the massive interconnected threats we have brought onto ourselves and future generations … and make an urgent choice to be part of the solution. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought our world to its knees and thrown travel, public health and the economy into chaos and jeopardy. It is a deadly warning for us to respect nature, protect animal health and their habitats, and leave ecosystems intact and not destroy them. To strengthen our global response and save lives, everyone is asked to do their bit for the good of the community by staying home and we’re seeing countless acts of community solidarity, compassion and empathy to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. This is an epic test of character and our collective strength. There is no other moment in our lifetime when so many of us find ourselves so dependent on the goodwill of strangers. We need the same collective strength to tackle climate change, a more massive threat to humanity which started slow and many ignored for decades. Scientists warn that we have less than 8 years of current emissions remaining in our carbon budget before we reach 1.5°C (34.7°F) above preindustrial levels. We are forewarned that just half a degree beyond this and we will severely destabilise our climate and worsen the climate extremes we are already experiencing today, threatening people and planet. Today it is 1.31°C (34.36°F) above pre-industrial levels. We are running out of time and we must urgently reduce our carbon emissions NOW. With scarcity of time and budgets, response to each of these interconnected threats should be coordinated in ways that could also improve the other threats. Sustainability* with accountability and transparency, carbon neutrality and the 17 Global Goals must be the cornerstone of the coordinated global recovery response by governments, key agencies, companies and individuals. IT MUST BE NOW is our determined call-to-urgent-action, our trumpet call, our rallying cry! Launched on Earth Day 2017, is a platform with a mission to boldly advance sustainability, to transform the impact and future of travel to be a force for good, for people and for our planet. As travellers, we should use the power of our wallet, our vote and our influence to drive urgent change by only supporting responsible companies (airlines, tour operators, hotels, resorts, etc) that are commitment to sustainability* with accountability and transparency; and our internal radar should be tuned to detect greenwash. As the first generation to know we are destroying our planet and the last that can do anything to save it, we must be the generation that join the fight. We are the solution and we all have a role to play to save our environment, our communities and ourselves. It must be NOW! *NOW defines sustainability as development and action that take total responsibility of communities and the environment to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The goal is to be carbon neutral and support the 17 Global Goals with accountability and transparency.

Just How Healthy are Spas?

Credit: Reto Guntli / The Alpina Gstaad

Many of us flock to hotel spas to relax, regroup and recharge in the name of wellbeing – but just how ‘well’ are these spas themselves, and are their practices at odds with a sustainable future for both people and planet? If we want to move beyond eco friendly hotels and green travel to embrace sustainable travel practices that are altogether more benign, it’s a subject we just cannot ignore. The word SPA stands for Sanus Per Aquum, or health through water, and traditionally referred to a simple healing place that had a natural source of mineral water. Though its definition has been joyfully stretched over the years to refer to any kinds of wellness offering, a place should only really use the word if it has a bona fide ‘wet area’ with facilities such as a steam room, a hammam, various types of sauna, a jacuzzi, whirlpools or hot tubs, a swimming pool, rain showers and so on. Clearly, such spas use supreme amounts of water and energy to function on a daily basis, yet they are often the last department in a hotel to become sustainable. The planet needs spas that use solar, water or windpowered alternatives to electricity, that have effective waste management programmes, that embrace water conservation initiatives such as recycling of grey water from laundry and showers. It needs spas to use energy efficient light bulbs, low-flow shower heads, sustainable materials such as bamboo and toxic free paints – even to create green roofs or on-site sustainable gardens. Yet too many hotels are not embracing these exciting opportunities for their spas, despite the fact that by reducing importing, waste and energy costs they will help to save a spa money in the long term – and offer their guests a more enriching, health-giving experience. Unsustainable spas affect our own wellbeing as well as the planet’s, and whilst we might go into a steam room to sweat out our toxins, many spa wet areas are actually swimming in them. By their very nature facilities such as steam rooms or swimming pools can grow moulds quickly and breed all sorts of germs, yet they are often not cleaned as thoroughly on a daily basis as they should be – to save money, or simply because of staff or management incompetence. Jocelyn Pedersen, a Spa and Wellness Advisor with over 25 years of experience in the world of spa and wellness in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, says because of this situation it’s important to ask a spa questions before you book a session. ‘How can you know if a spa is not so healthy? The most important places to look at are the wet areas,’ says Pedersen. ‘Hygiene, sanitation and ventilation are crucial, since heat and poor water quality can be a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi, which also can be inhaled via contaminated mist. Sometimes the mould is actually visible, and you can smell a pungent odour. Check if there is a spa attendant present who is responsible for disinfecting and cleaning everything, and who checks the facilities at least every hour’. READ MORE

Credit: Reto Guntli

Now Sustainability Tool


is right along the line with our own philosophy and engagements for sustainability and responsible luxury in the hospitality industry.


and NOW share the same philosophy and we believe that we are at an urgent and defining moment and we must act now because ‘it is the right thing to do’.

HoteliersGuild is proud to support NOW in our Strategic Alliance! Frank M. Pfaller President, HoteliersGuild | CoutureHospitalityConcept

t h g i nI s


Through The Female Gaze: How Women In Hospitality Are Changing The Narrative from Angelina Villa-Clarke Journalist & HoteliersGuild Media Supporter

Type to enter text


From a hotel celebrating the accomplishments of women to female-run wineries, women are making their mark in the once-male-dominated worlds of hospitality. Set to open this summer, in Washington DC, Hotel Zena is proclaiming to be the world’s first hotel dedicated to female empowerment. A bold new cultural hub, it is the first of its kind, and was set up to celebrate female empowerment through provocative art, design and exciting and relevant programming.

Putting women on top of the world: Hotel Zena's rooftop pool (CREDIT: HOTEL ZENA) “Located in Washington DC’s Logan Circle, the 191-room hotel will be an ode to feminine strength, celebrated by all genders, races and sexualities, and a haven for the liberated forward thinker,” says president and CEO, Jon Bortz. It may not be owned by a woman – it is part of the

“Hotel Zena Hotel Zena's aesthetic is infused with art. (CREDIT: HOTEL ZENA) Viceroy portfolio – but Bortz says: will be first hospitality establishment solely dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments of women.” As Washington, DC is one of the most culturally diverse cities with a female majority population, the hotel’s opening ties in perfectly with the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. Meanwhile, in Lexington, Kentucky, chef Ouita Michel is leading the charge with her dominance of the restaurant scene. With eight restaurants across Central KY, she has elevated Lexington to the national spotlight, and has served as a guest judge on the popular Top Chef (Season 16), which was filmed throughout the city.

Lexington is also home to other culinary hot spots led by women, including Dudley’s on Short, the city’s longest-running, independently-owned restaurant helmed by Debbie Long, and Tortillería y Taquería Ramírez, where Mexican-born Laura Ramirez’s award-winning fare has travellers from across the country at her doorstep every day. A male-dominated world for hundreds of years, the wine industry is also beginning to change with a rise in femaleowned wineries and female winemakers. Making their mark with a trailblazing approach to making quality wines, two women at the helm – Maggie Harrison of Antica Terra in O r e g o n a n d A s h l e y Hepworth of Joseph Phelps Vineyards in Napa Valley – are gaining a reputation for their great passion, in-depth knowledge and a singular approach to viticulture at their respective wineries. Talking to Forbes, they both reveal their unique perspectives on the industry.

Maggie Harrison at Antica Terra, (CREDIT: BLUE WINDOW CREATIVE) Maggie Harrison, owner and winemaker at Antica Terra, started her career as first assistant winemaker at Elaine and Manfred Krankl’s Sine Qua Non. After apprenticing for eight harvests, she struck out on her own in 2004, starting a small syrah project called Lillian in Santa Barbara, a place she never intended to leave. When she was first invited to become the winemaker at Antica Terra in Oregon, she emphatically refused. But she eventually agreed to take a look at the vineyard, thinking she was merely offering her opinion about the quality of the site. As soon as she arrived among the oaks, she found herself, phone in hand, explaining to her husband that they would be moving to Oregon. Here, she reveals more world of travel and her effect of the pandemic.

about her passion, the thoughts on the after-

Antica Terra's vineyards. (CREDIT: BLUE WINDOW CREATIVE) Do you think you can bring something different to the wine industry as a female winemaker? I bring the same thing to our industry as I bring to my work: the understanding that it’s possible. I don’t think that being a woman makes me a better winemaker, I think that being allergic to compromise – not in human relationships, but in work – makes me a better winemaker. Too often, we allow ourselves to stop at impossible when, if you really look at it, almost anything is possible. It may be really hard or inefficient or expensive or inconvenient – but not impossible. If I can, simply by being woman, be a reminder that it’s possible; that’s a pretty good place to start.

What stands your winery apart from others? What sets our winery apart is our collective blind faith that the best work will give rise to the best result. It’s more a question of intimacy than of intention. We sort grapes with gloves off, to feel the character of the berries – we smell each cluster for freshness. We never use a press program. We often press for eight, 12, 20 hours, tasting the juice as it expresses itself, as we manually increase pressure, moving the wine, warm, directly into barrel, bucket by bucket. Never settling, never consolidating, allowing each unique expression to be shepherded into barrel in its singularity. We check the ferments of our tanks with our whole forearms, and stack barrels not higher than a human can touch. We use all our senses to gain intimacy with what we grew, because any minute away from the fruit, the juice or the wine represents a loss in intimacy, a loss of knowledge. We use our brains, hearts, and bodies to make decisions. These decisions often take us to the more labor-intensive, the more expensive and the harder solutions. But, we trust that doing the best thing, and that the result will be the most beautiful wines that were possible from those fields. Will the post-Covid world affect the way we travel and enjoy culinary experiences? I think one of things we stand to gain from this moment is a clearer understanding of what we’d already lost: what a fragile and complex ecosystem these industries are and what an absolute privilege it is to be a part of it. If we get to travel with ease again, I hope that we view each opportunity with the awe and excited anticipation it deserves. If the many small farms and restaurants weather this storm, I also hope we will remember that their mere existence is not borne of convenience, but of respect for what it means to create space at the table for all of us. I hope we will be more mindful of how we spend our money – if we have it spend. We should look at bringing our custom to the people running businesses and creating experiences that create security and prosperity for their employees, connection in their communities and space for the highest possible level of care in their work. Antica Terra has been 'making a difference' with various initiatives during the pandemic – is this important to you and why? We are a small winery and while we can – and are – addressing issues of inclusivity, diversity and ecosystem fragility within our four walls, it is just as important for us to find ways to affect change on a broader scale. All of our philanthropic work has been an extension of that desire. We want to be good partners to support good work. To date, we have raised more than US$50,000 to support first responders, independent restaurants and the millions of people they employ. We have also raised an additional $6,000 in our first of a forever series of auctions in support of LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities and have begun a year-long BIPOC fellowship with 16 active fellows in our first year. It is not easy for businesses to navigate this crucial moment in our collective history, just as it is difficult for all of us as individuals. This is a moment of deep pain and uncertainty, reflection, education, innovation and action. We have to keep our eyes open, our hearts open, allow ourselves to be vulnerable and culpable. We have work to do. It is our call at Antica Terra and Lillian — as I think it’s all of our calls — to live with sincerity, to act from a place of faith in the human spirit, leaning into growth and betterment. It is one more tiny act of courage, one more way we can join the resistance. In winemaking, the answer is ‘nothing’, with an asterisk and a wink. The time horizon for winemaking is so long – we are talking generations. There is the temptation to be eclectic, to

make chenin blanc or a timorasso, or everything else. But I have just one life, this one chance to write a chapter of true importance in this story we’ve only just begun to tell. I will keep my head down, gratefully and forever, perfecting and refining on repeat, for as long as I can hold the pruning shears or the bucket of wine in my hand, as long as these legs will hold me at the sorting table, as long as I can smell the ferment rising from the vats. This year, the extra time we have been given to spend in our vineyard is the most exciting and rejuvenating gift. I am usually on so many planes this time of year. The projects we have set in motion during this time – the fruit trees planted, the species introduced, the animals, the compost building – will impact the quality of this company forever. Because of Covid, we sadly had to cancel our private concert and tasting with yMusic, but this, along with our designer-in-residence program, and a dinner we co-hosted in Adrien Rosenfeld’s gallery, are the first examples of the way we are expanding our programming and our own conceptualization of the business. I have been deeply honoured by the artists and institutions who have found resonance in what we are doing. We have been approached to collaborate on projects, both intimate and grand in scale, which has been a natural and exciting progression of the work we do in the cellar. Combinatorial creativity allows us to grow exponentially while still staying so small. It’s the kind of growth that feels expansive instead of cumbersome, the magnification of spirit that allows us to continue to rise.

Ashley Hepworth, winemaker at Joseph Phelps. (CREDIT: JOSEPH PHELPS)

Ashley Hepworth, winemaker at Joseph Phelps Vineyards, meanwhile, went to work at the prestigious brand in 1999, with a palate honed by working in restaurant kitchens. During her time in the restaurant world, she became friendly with sommeliers – and this ultimately led her to apply for a harvest intern position at Joseph Phelps Vineyards. After working the harvest of 1999, she stayed on as a cellar worker. It was, she says, a “from-theground-up experience” which she wouldn’t trade for anything. From there Ashley went on to become a lab technician and enologist at the winery, and in 2004 she was named associate winemaker, overseeing all day-to-day winemaking operations. In 2005 Ashley had the opportunity to expand her winemaking horizons when she took a ‘mini’ sabbatical to work a harvest in Bordeaux, at Chateau Angelus in St. Emilion. She earned a Winemaking Certificate from the Viticulture and Enology Department at the University of

California at Davis in 2006, and in 2008 she was promoted to winemaker at Joseph Phelps Vineyards. Ashley’s approach to winemaking at Joseph Phelps is deceptively simple: let the vineyards and the vintages speak for themselves. Here, for Forbes, I speak to her about wine, travel and the effect of the pandemic.

The great hall at the winery. (CREDIT: JOSEPH PHELPS) Do you think you can bring something different to the wine industry as a female winemaker? I think the best winemakers have integrity, high standards, compassion, patience and a drive for excellence. I don’t necessarily think that is a male or female thing, but female winemakers have to work harder to get what they want. The opportunities do not present themselves easily. Our drive and passion has to be strong. What stands your winery apart from others? I am so honoured to be a part of the Joseph Phelps Vineyards legacy. With close to 50 years of winemaking, our consistency sets us apart. Our estate vineyards throughout Napa Valley give us the freedom to create wines like Insignia. Each vintage gives us incredible grapes from St. Helena south through Rutherford and Stags Leap, to Oak Knoll and southern Napa to create something very special. Will the post-covid world affect the way we travel and enjoy culinary experiences? As someone who loves food and travel, I don’t know what 2021 and beyond will bring. I do know that we will all still enjoy wine and good food together – even if we are six feet apart. Please, wear a mask! A little road trip vacation with my family followed by harvest! Despite everything going on in the world, the vines do carry on. This is shaping up to be an amazing vintage. Weather patterns in Napa Valley are tracking toward 2007 – an historic vintage. I’m really excited by what we are seeing when we walk the vineyards each week.


NobleCauses in Times of Covid from Paul Bruce-Brand General Manager of Ellerman Cape Town



UCOOK and Sustainable Farming

During this Covid 19 pandemic, South Africa, like other countries across the world, is grappling with the exceptionally tough balancing act of trying to keep our citizens safe and healthy, whilst also keeping our economy alive. Currently, the issue of hunger is a massive concern. Aside from the threat of contracting Corona virus, hunger is the greatest threat to millions of South Africans. The Human Sciences Research Council has found that during this lock down, between 45% and 65% of people are battling to pay bills and feed their families. We have had the opportunity of witnessing first hand, food being delivered to hungry school children in Khayelitsha, and the thing that made the biggest impression on us was the palpable sense of love, community and hope that exists there despite endemic poverty. Certain community members had taken it upon themselves to co-ordinate the provision of meals to the most vulnerable. While hungry kids waited patiently with their little lunch boxes, a group of elderly women had been tasked to serve them food, ensuring that the process was as hygienic as possible, and that good social distancing was being maintained. The projects “Foreseeing a hunger crisis a re w o r k i n g a c c o rd i n g t o guidelines laid down by the far worse than we were World Central Kitchen. Since our first visit to the townships we have spread our prepared for, UCOOK reach to other foundations- Be the Difference and Wesbank launched the Food Fund. Feeding Project along with the Long-Term Sustainable Projects. It’s single objective was to Ellerman House has teamed up with UCOOK to raise funds to continue in this great cause with a sustainable plan. Every seed is feed as many people as tended to by a Farmer. possible. The farmers in When COVID-19 hit South Africa, and many were uncertain our network stood at the as to where they would get their next meal, it was farmers who ready, and with their help, provided the assurance we needed. Young and old, farmers took to their lands to harvest and plant again, as they knew we were able to redirect that many people without jobs would soon be going hungry. produce towards those Foreseeing a hunger crisis far worse than we were prepared who needed it most.!” for, UCOOK launched the Food Fund. It’s single objective was to feed as many people as possible. The farmers in our network stood at the ready, and with their help, we were able to redirect produce towards those who needed it most. In just a short amount of time, we provided nutrient dense food parcels to over a million people, and in doing so, addressed a very prevalent need. The first few months of the pandemic will forever be marked as a time of big questions, powerful debates and hopeful sentiments. At the core of these conversations lay food -- the fractures within the food system had been exposed. For many, this marked an opportunity for action and long-awaited change. Academics wrote daily, musing over the likeness of a global shift in the way we interact with food. Activists leapt to their feet in anticipation of the food revolution they had long awaited. Community members gathered, putting aside their differences, to support each other in a transition towards a localised food system. But we humans are adaptable, sometimes too much so. As lockdown began to ease in South Africa, many people regained a false sense of security. Turns out this ‘new normal’ is not so different after all. We cannot forget who the real heroes in this story are. The ones who did not falter, who did not flinch in the sight of danger. The unsung heroes are the men and women who day in, and day out, are tending to the seeds that will feed future generations. These are the people who now, more than ever, need our help to thrive. Looking forward, the UCOOK Food Fund is committed to working directly with farmers to ensure that they are provided with the best possible opportunities to grow their businesses. Through tailored, one-on-one training programmes, we are investing in enterprise development to improve the long-term sustainability of

Cape Town’s food system. As yields increase, UCOOK will continue to purchase produce from this network, providing market access for farmers and a transparent supply chain for its customer base. Our farmer training programme is developed in partnership with the Philippi Economic Development Initiative (PEDI). With a focus on the informal food sector, it will promote the use of organic agriculture in order to transform food deserts into food havens. In addition, this programme will experiment with multi-stakeholder collaboration, and contribute towards data collection to inform food policy.

The ClickFoundation

The Click Foundation is a non-profit organisation that focuses on closing the gaps in education through technology. They do this by providing online self-paced English and numeracy literacy programs to underprivileged primary schools. The program has reach over 80 000 kids in 175 areas in 5 provinces. Since lock-down The Click Foundation broadened the foundation’s scope to include feeding needy communities through the Click Disaster Relief Fund. Now they focus one food parcels, PPE equipment and continuing with the e- learning. And so, Click has assisted with a start-up fund for MFM.

Be the Difference Foundation

Be the difference was established in Cape Town in May 2014 and is aimed at making a proactive difference within our communities that enables positive change. BTD is currently a self-funded foundation that relies on various monetary contributions from team members, once off sponsorship and donations from friends and family members. The foundation as a whole runs 3 different socio-economic programs such as: Nutritional Development, Educational Development and Development through Sports.. With the help of Springbok Hero, Cheslin Kolbe- The Foundation also takes 20 boys of the sports program on an educational camp every June Holiday.


On Thursday 30 April we launched our first Music for Meals Sessions and to date have featured the likes of Ard Matthew, Mike Rutherford, and Arno Carstens. Craig Hinds, Ross Learmonth and Majozi. On 30 October at 20H00 (SA time) the Music for Meals Concerts culminate in what will possibly be Africa’s biggest Streaming Event in history. The Live Streamed Concert will include the following musicians: Dave Matthews Tom Morello Vusi Mahlasela Lira Prime Circle Zolani Mahola The Parlotones Watershed Karen Zoid Springbok Nude Girls Ndlovu Youth Choir Ard Matthews Featuring Chef José Andrés These artists, along with many more are assisting us with a project which is very close to our hearts – providing immediate meals to needy communities and assisting with sustainable solutions to the hunger problem.

Ellerman House - Cape Town | featured in HoteliersGuild’s LookBook


! ild


The Concept of “Rewilding” from Luca FrancoCEO/ Principle LuxuryFrontiers


View [HERE]


y r o t S


Lessons Learned… from Herbert Laubichler-Pichler General Manager Alma Resort | Vietnam


Lessons Learnt Managing a New Resort in the Time of COVID-19 When my team and I came together to open Alma’s doors for business on December 29 last year, we weren’t just celebrating our resort’s debut. We were particularly proud of the blood, sweat and tears we had poured into the 30-hectare resort’s pre-opening, that wasn’t just months but years in the making. And our enthusiasm for finally putting all of our preparations into action for our first guests was unbridled; we were pinning our hopes on 2020 being the best year yet of our hospitality careers. Vietnam reported its first case of COVID-19 on January 23. As the global pandemic took hold, Vietnam closed its borders to international arrivals from March 22 and, from April 1, implemented anti-COVID restrictions nationwide. People were told to stay indoors, curfews were introduced and businesses deemed non-essential were shuttered in a bid to stem the threat of the virus. Just over three months after opening our 580-room resort on Vietnam’s scenic Cam Ranh peninsula, we temporarily closed on April 5. Faced with an unprecedented situation, we opted to be as optimistic as possible about our closure, as it afforded us a unique opportunity we otherwise wouldn’t have had. We took advantage of the closure to truly scrutinize and alter Alma’s operations, services and guest experiences based on what we had initially learnt about our guests’ habits and preferences. Equipped with rich insights we didn’t have when we first opened on December 29, we were sanguine about making the resort better and more productive upon its reopening. Despite the mountains of research you do before a hotel opening, there are always things you think will appeal to the guests that don’t and vice versa. It’s much harder to change, for example, your culinary landscape when you’re busy attending to the daily operations of a resort. There were so many things we had to do and it was exciting, in a surreal way, as I never shy away from a challenge. In the long-term, we were determined to win based on how we handled the short-term. What proved to be a light at the end of the tunnel for our team was working tirelessly on improving the guest experience. For example, we not only combed through all of our menu items, looking at what dishes were selling and what were not, but we also overhauled entire dining concepts at numerous restaurants. Our beachfront restaurant Atlantis’s speciality morphed from Mediterranean cuisine to fresh, local seafood and excellent cuts of meat, and Asiana changed from a purely Japanese theme to modern Asian cuisine. Staff training has been a major priority, particularly COVID-19 training to ensure our staff are fully versed in all of our health and safety procedures. We think of our whole team as housekeepers and cleaners to combat the threat of the virus. During restrictions, we have used technology wherever possible to deliver training, such as English lessons through Zalo video calls to avoid group sessions and also help staff still feel connected, supported and that they belong to our community even though they were not physically present. We have also held refresher courses for standard operating procedures, and more system training in our various departments. When we reopened on May 31, we were yet again brimming with optimism. Vietnam had been hailed a success story the world over for its excellent handling of the pandemic, due to the authorities’ proactive containment strategy based on comprehensive testing, tracing and quarantining. We had already notched up several thousand room nights on the books before our reopening. In June, we reported an average occupancy rate of 57 percent across our 196 pavilions and 384 suites, welcoming an average of 1,867 guests daily, who stay four days each on average. The highest number of guests we welcomed on a single night in June was 2,364, equalling 79 percent occupancy. In July our average occupancy rate was 60 per cent as we welcomed 15,350 guests; on average per day 1,981 guests, who also stayed four days each on average.

With the borders in Vietnam still closed to international travel, we couldn’t believe the high demand for travel in Vietnam by the Vietnamese. After so much dour news worldwide, to see the resort fill up the way it did upon Alma’s reopening was more than encouraging as optimistic locals and expats wanted to explore their own backyard, albeit with a newfound appreciation for travel in light of the restrictions. Our resort’s guest numbers were buoyed by a huge demand for multigenerational travel, with our oversized accommodations, including our three-bedroom pavilions with their own private pools, catering to families of up to four generations. For August, we were set to welcome 10,260 guests; on average 1,323 guests daily, to also stay four days each on average. However, after 99 days straight of no community transmission of COVID-19 in Vietnam, and zero deaths from the virus, there was a flare-up of the virus in Danang in late July during the school holidays. Alma’s winning streak with solid occupancy ended abruptly, as mass testing began nationwide and restrictions were implemented in August in provinces throughout the country, including our province of Khanh Hoa. At the time of writing this on September 11, there were no new cases of community transmission in Vietnam for nine days straight and the authorities had eased social distancing restrictions in our province and across Vietnam. We’re relieved that life is returning to some normalcy and the Vietnamese are increasingly keen to travel again. Admittedly tackling COVID-19 and the utter devastation it has wreaked upon tourism and hospitality is not just a matter of donning rose-coloured glasses; the challenges it has thrown our way have been immense and have given us plenty of food for thought. Without a doubt the biggest challenge is the very real struggle of trying to keep our staff members’ jobs safe. Our staff mean the world to us; they are so significant not just in light of our resort’s operations and survival but also because they are the lifeblood of our local community and we need to try to ensure the people here have a future. If people experience too much instability in the tourism industry, they will find other, more secure jobs. When things get better for the tourism industry -- the tourism industry will inevitably recover one day, and we will need people again -- there will not be enough trained people. If hotels and resorts don’t take the issue of trying to retain staff seriously enough, they will be in trouble in the long-term. The hardest part for people working in the hospitality industry currently is the instability of it all, with occupancy levels see-sawing depending on what’s happening with COVID-19. When communicating with our staff, we have to explain the situation with empathy and assure them that we are trying our absolute best to generate as much business as possible wherever we can to try and keep as many staff as we can. While the staff are always courteous to our guests, I’ve noticed they really treat our guests like royalty because they know just how crucial our guests are to everyone’s survival. It’s an impossibly hard time for both employer and employee in the tourism and hospitality industries at present. Another big challenge is building confidence amongconsumers that we are a safe place to travel to. We have taken the threat of COVID-19 very seriously from its onset, initially introducing a host of health and safety measures to keep our guests, staff and the community safe. While we kept those initial measures in place, we then introduced a second round of stringent health and safety measures in response to the virus-flare up in Danang in late July, ranging from temporarily closing our 13-villa spa, 170sqm gym and yoga room, suspending buffet breakfast at our main restaurant Alma Garden and expanding our in-room dining menu, to requesting guests fill in a health declaration using a QR code and furnishing them with an electronic COVID-19 information kit upon check-in. The third biggest challenge is keeping our business alive through looking at reducing costs that do not affect our services and do not affect the health and safety of our staff and guests. We have had to look

into areas that can be streamlined. For example, when our occupancy isn’t too high, we have closed both of our towers that house our suites to save energy and water. Even if our guests have booked suites in our towers when they are closed, we have upgraded them to a pavilion, as we have 196 pavilions, a significant proportion of our inventory. Such moves also help the environment as well. Of the avalanche of lessons I’ve learnt during 2020, one of the most significant would have to be that whatever we did in the past -- that was always based on steady growth, with more ups than downs -- has to go out the window. As the era of COVID-19 is just so unusual, and so immense a problem, you can only think big and only think completely out of the box if you want to survive this era. If you think like you did during the “old normal” you just cannot cope with the “new normal”. You have to challenge all of the things you have learnt in the past and reinvent your knowledge, and then some. Another significant lesson is that we can never take anything for granted anymore. The industry as a whole is being forced to live with ongoing insecurity and instability. I’m confident there will be an effective vaccine but how long will it take before we get it? If you have a family and you have to go on unpaid leave for a long time, it’s a dire situation. I really empathise with the many talented people who have dedicated their lives to the tourism industry and have now lost everything. Another lesson, for major hospitality players in Vietnam or those looking to invest in Vietnam, would have to be that you can no longer say: “I will build a resort in Vietnam for international tourists”. As the global pandemic has taught the industry here the hard way, foreigners may not always be able to visit. There could be other issues other than a global pandemic that exposes the fragility of rampant globalisation, such as a key international market’s economy collapsing or a dispute between different countries. It’s crucial Vietnamese hotels and resorts are resilient by focusing primarily on the domestic market; it’s all we have, with Vietnam’s borders still closed and the global pandemic still unfolding. I think there are many meanings behind the challenges we currently face. First and foremost, you have to focus on your doorstep and ensure you have a very strong local base. That is imperative. You have to truly appeal to the domestic market and I believe we do so at Alma due to our incredible host of facilities, ranging from our 580 oversized suites and pavilions, 14 food and beverage outlets and a cascade of 12 beachfront swimming pools to other drawing cards including a science museum, 6000 square metre waterpark, 13-treatment room spa, art gallery, cinema, convention centre, amphitheatre, youth centre with virtual reality games, kid’s club, water sports centre, gymnasium and yoga room and an 18hole putting green. I genuinely believe Alma is an open house for everyone, particularly our local community. From the beginning, we are the only resort in our location that doesn’t have a wall around us; everything is open. We are here with open arms. We alsohave very affordable day passes giving locals and expats access to our infinity swimming pools, Splash Water Park and our beautiful stretch of Long Beach as well as food and beverage vouchers. I also think the hospitality industry is in desperate need of a different investment model. Alma is based on an excellent timeshare model, a first for Vietnam, that has helped seriously underscore our long-term survival. Our timeshare modeldoing relatively well in the current climate compared to themore traditional hotels and resorts. As I reflect on this rollercoaster ride of a year, I think of the proverb “smooth seas do not make skilful sailors”. You could liken COVID-19 to not only rough seas but a tsunami; a tsunami that has unleashed its fury on the tourism industry and brought it to its knees. The pandemic has irretrievably changed the hospitality landscape; there is “Before COVID-19” (BC) and “After COVID-19” (AC) and this has all sorts of implications we must learn from, some of which I have outlined above. Yet despite everything, tourism will eventually recover. That is inevitable. And I know that the hard lessons my team and I have learnt are making Alma all the more resilient and innovative “AC”.



One of the Most Important Roles of The Future… from Raquel Noboa CEO

50Shades of Greener


1 of the most important roles of the future: The Green Manager Industries and roles within those industries are an ever changing landscape. Who would have thought that Hotels and Restaurants, would need Green Managers in 2020? I know I didn’t! I became a Green Manager myself in 2012, when that title barely existed, and it was one of the most rewarding positions of my courier to date. Fast-forward 8 years, and appointing the right Green Manager is one of the most important decisions you will make from a HR point, that will affect your business over the next 5 years. Winter is coming and with that, a downfall on Hotel occupancy in Ireland and every country in the world. We are lucky to a point here, as the government has put in place a wage subsidy scheme, to help hospitality businesses pay their staff wages. But how are you going to use that scheme to it’s full advantage? If you have less customers will you reduce your employee’s hours? Will you let go some people that might be valuable to your team? The perfect storm has been created for you to re-think your business, there is one thing we now have: TIME. Time to up-skill Time to learn about sustainability Time to create a greener business You now have time to appoint the best Green Manager and kick start your business Green Programme. The perfect Green Manager does not need to be a stand alone job, it can be combined with another role, and it could be someone that is already working in your organization. Some key characteristics for this person should be: -

Someone that likes a new challenge


Someone that enjoys learning and up-skilling


Someone that enjoys working with numbers, analysing figures and reporting


Someone that is liked and respected across all departments of your Hotel

Once you have appointed the right person, you will need to support them in different ways -

Allow them to spend 1 day a week on their new role


Allow them to join a training programme that will help them kick start your business green journey fast and easy


Allow them to make decisions across all departments and organise in house training for all employees

While some business owners still fail to see the benefits of sustainability one thing is for sure, if your business is left behind, your competitors will flourish faster than you, your competitors will have access to the new market of green travellers, and your pocket will suffer the consequences. The Green wave is here to stay, society is asking for change, and it is a clever business decision to align your business to your customer values. So, if you were to appoint your new Green Manager today, who would it be? Is there someone in your organisation with the right characteristics? Could you spare them for 1 day a week from their current role to invest time on a Green Programme? As my grandmother used to use: Do not leave for tomorrow something you can do today.


nd a …

y l l a fin Illustrations: Matty Huynh

The Privileged Have Entered Their Escape Pods

Technology gave us the dream of a cocooned future. Now we’re living it.

Douglas Rushkoff

Take your time to read this here! Sep 1·10 min read

Many of us don’t like who we have become in this pandemic but feel little freedom to choose otherwise.

Officially, we may be wearing our masks to protect others, but it sure does feel appropriate to hide our faces when we’re engaging in so many self-interested, survivalist activities in the light of day — leveraging whatever privilege we may enjoy to stock and equip our homes so they can serve as makeshift bunkers, workplaces, private schools, and hermetically sealed entertainment centers. Sure, because I’m still being paid as a professor at CUNY (the City University of New York), I donated my government relief check to the local food pantry and am sending a significant portion of my income to friends who can no longer meet their basic expenses. But I also went and spent $500 on a big rubber pool for my daughter and our neighbors’ kids to use as the basis for a private makeshift summer camp. And I’ve seen similar inflatable blue bubbles all over town. “Don’t tell anyone,” one of my neighbors told me when he came over to borrow some chlorine tablets, “but we’re thinking to ride this whole thing out in Zurich, where the numbers are better.” His wife still has her European passport, and they both have jobs that can be done entirely remotely. They’d be joining scores of

people I know — not millionaires, but writers and marketers and consultants and web developers — who are resettling in Canada or Europe on the logic that their kids shouldn’t be sacrificed to their progressive parents’ sense of shame about escaping. When I challenge him on the ethics of bailing, he snaps back, “At least the elementary school will have two less bodies to space at six-foot intervals. I’m doing you a favor.” He can’t resist showing me the photo on his phone from the rental site. It was a gorgeous, solar-powered cabin on a remote hillside with the headline “Luxury Eco-Lodge.” He smiled. “I always wanted the kids to get a Waldorf education, and now they even have an online option.”

“Don’t tell anyone, but we’re thinking to ride this whole thing out in Zurich, where the numbers are better.”

It sounds idyllic. So much so that I can’t help but wonder if the threat of infection is less the reason for his newfound embrace of virtual insulation than it is the excuse. Read more

A HoteliersGuild initiative during the testing times of Covid-19 in support of our wonderful Chefs Read here: Volume I | Volume II | Volume III



Dedicated to people who are ma global luxury Lebensart. Inspirin discerning ho

aking outstanding contributions to the ng and educating a new generation of oteliers and exclusive service providers.



compiled with compliments by


Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.