How should a sustainable room look like in the future? This is the challenge posed to current participants and Alumni from Master in Tourism & Hospitality Management and Master in Sustainable Business & Innovation in October. Divided into mixed teams (from both master programmes), they acted as consultants for Hilton by exposing creative and innovative ideas regarding a sustainable hotel room. We talk about it with Hilton’s project leader, Joachim Hartl, who is Area General Manager Iberian Peninsula & General Manager Hilton Diagonal Mar Barcelona.
How this initiative came about? What are your expectations?
This come from an internal initiative from Hilton management network where we would like to discuss and make arise new innovative ideas from different topics. One of this work groups that I leader is about innovation, so I though was a perfect opportunity to search outside of common channels and audience what can enrich our discussions where one main subjects was sustainability. So the aim to connect with EADA Business School and work in collaboration with its students was exactly this, attract fresh and new thinking that can support us to find innovative ideas.
What do you value most by doing this co-creation of ideas with EADA?
One of the requirements was completely freedom and creativity. Do not put frames, guidelines or so much background in the project briefing because we really want to go for “out of the box” ideas. And it has worked very well, lots of unknown ideas, materials or processes arose during the project presentations. In addition, it is also about looking at our business from a different angle, generationally as well as through the eyes of our future guests.
What is Hilton’s commitment to sustainability?
It is know that sustainability has become an important decision maker for consumers, several studies confirms that a brand with a clear sustainable and social responsibility creates more engagement than one that does not have or does not communicate it. Of course, this has extended to hospitality industry, so now we as a community are more aware about the impact of our actions. In addition, sustainability is in Hilton’s DNA and part of our values, because we are at people service, so we feel the responsibility to contribute to make the world a better place to travel and live. Our company approach to sustainability look at the environment and community as well, so we work on local initiatives to develop young talent, promote diversity & inclusion or cooperating in activities with social entities to support the most vulnerable groups.
Could you give us any example of thos collaborative initiatives?
For instance, we are partner of Trinijove collaborating in different areas as with their social program of selective waste collection or “Escola Futbol Inclusiu” an annual program for kids and adolescents from vulnerable families. Also with Generalitat de Catalunya through “Empowering the Future” with training and hiring projects for young students, or participating in different actions for the global program Women@Hilton to support gender diversity and empower our women leadership. For that reason in Hilton, we took the commitment to double our investment in social impact and cut our environmental footprint in half for 2030.
In what way sustainability is one of the key factors to overcome the current Covid-crisis?
This is something we should keep focusing on because it is our future, as I told you before it is something that concerns about anyone of us in the world.
It is our global home, so cannot be subject to business consequences, and of course this means to reinvent or redirect your actions because obviously, your investment will decrease, but we still keep taking care of our planet in weakness times with innovative and fresh new ideas. That was exactly we pretend to arrive to with this project collaboration. I also believe that sustainable environmental goals and practices have been influenced and slowed down during the crisis and will resurface and speed up faster once the population has managed to get over COVID hence even more important to be a leader in this field.
What are the main lessons learned from this crisis and also the main challenges to face from now on?
The main lesson is that you have to react quickly and creative, reinvent yourself from the basics and consider any new idea of business that arrives. I mean, we should reinvent our businesses, think out of the box and be very analytic in each piece of business that can come. Now we have the great challenge to make our industry strong again. I believe this crisis resets our industry and the thinking of every single component of the Tourism & Hospitality sector. This crisis offers an opportunity on every level to innovate, change and improve our business model.