The hotel industry exists in a volatile environment where social, ecological, political and technological changes have a huge impact — which means it must evolve constantly. Many developments in this industry have been accelerated and intensified by the global pandemic. »The pandemic gave us an opportunity to look at how hotels should diversify their offerings through serviced apartments, co-living, and community concepts. Intersections with other markets like student housing need to be explored. FutureHotel provides the platform, data, and opportunity to explore the future and provide practical data-driven ideas to power our future growth and success«, says Armon Bar-Tur, CEO of BaseCamp Student. Liia Nou, CEO of Pandox SE, adds: »The hotel industry is constantly changing and it is necessary to stay on top of developments and increase future readiness, this is why we joined FutureHotel.« The industry now needs to redefine its role and relevance in a changed environment. Now, the FutureHotel innovation network, a joint research project, is taking on this task in its seventh research phase. Initiated and coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO, the network has served as a pioneer and trailblazer for the hotel industry since 2008, and aims to become a thought leader in hotel innovation. It combines in-depth scientific knowledge with scouting for trends that extend beyond the limits of the hotel industry through use cases and networking with like-minded innovators. This format enables the project participants to build up practical knowledge and exchange ideas on industry-specific topics within the community — as well as implementing this knowledge in practice.
The seventh phase concerns the following topics:
- A resilient hotel industry in a post-COVID world: The new role of hotels, innovative business models for the hotel industry, new forms of accommodation and types of hotels, changes in travel behaviors and innovative rewards and loyalty programs
- New work in the hotel industry: Concepts and solutions for sustainable working environments in hospitality, employee needs and incentive models in line with current requirements
- Smart Hotel: A connected, sustainable hotel with digitalized services and integrated systems, and use case design
- Sustainability and digitalization: Practical digital strategies for meeting sustainability standards, measurable results and the potential opportunities for achieving sustainability through digitalization
Breaking boundaries: forming new ideas through networks and a co-creative community
The kick-off meeting for the new phase of the project took place in Werksviertel-Mitte, an up-and-coming Munich district. “The Werksviertel is more than just a place where companies are located — and in the same way, the hotels there are also integrated into their social and architectural environments,” says Prof. Dr. Vanessa Borkmann, head of the Smart Urban Environments team at Fraunhofer IAO, who helped establish the FutureHotel network. This innovative urban landscape in Munich is an excellent example of outside-the-box thinking; it shows how concepts and ideas for solving challenges like those faced by the hotel industry are already being implemented in practice today. One example is hyperlocal food production, which not only serves to reduce emissions and transportation costs, but also fosters identity and creates bonds between the people who live there.
Into the real world: focusing on use cases and pilot projects
“It takes a long time to complete large-scale infrastructural projects, and they have long life cycles — however, the pace of our world just keeps on ramping up. That’s why it’s becoming all the more important to quickly turn ideas into prototypes — particularly when these ideas depend on societal developments and demands, as well as public support. For this reason, we are putting a special focus on practical applications and testing in real environments during this new phase,” explains Prof. Borkmann. The network already has a history of successfully implementing new ideas going back to 2008. For example, in 2012, a long-standing project partner developed and implemented a smart check-in process together with Fraunhofer IAO, thereby adapting to a changed market environment and establishing itself as a successful pioneer. “They developed these services in collaboration with Fraunhofer IAO, which took a lot of time and energy. But now the advantages are clear to everyone. Research pays off,” says Benedikt Komarek, manager and owner of Schani Hotels. In order to account for and develop uses cases from beyond the German-speaking world, this new research phase will see the FutureHotel innovation network open up to the international hotel industry. New network partners from Sweden, the United Kingdom, the USA and Greece, to name a few, will bring their ideas and experiences to bear in the FutureHotel project.