Alumni and current participants from EADA’s Master in Tourism & Hospitality Management and Master in Sustainable Business & Innovation acted as consultants for Hilton in the project ‘Sustainable Hotel Room’. Divided into mixed teams (from both master programmes), they presented creative and innovative ideas to Joachim Hartl, who is Area Manager Iberian Peninsula & General Manager at Hilton Diagonal Mar Barcelona. One of them is Alexandra Berendes, a current participant in this master programme, who shares her experience in this great challenge.
How was it for you acting as a “consultant” for Hilton?
The consulting project for the Hilton was an extremely interesting challenge! It was nice to be able to develop our own ideas for a project with such a global scope and then get the chance to present them to the General Manager of Hilton Joachim Hartl. The task was not only very relevant and connected to our master studies, but also something that interests me personally, which made it a great experience.
The short timeframe in which we had to deliver the result kept us incredibly busy but also helped us to focus on the fundamental elements to create a good presentation: creative ideas and substance.
How was the experience to work in interdisciplinary teams? What have you learnt?
During my previous work experience, I often had the pleasure of working as part of interdisciplinary teams, so I was able to leverage this and apply it to this project.
One of the things I liked most about these interdisciplinary teams was the diversity of personal and professional experiences that everyone brought to the table. In our case, we were not only students of the Tourism and Hospitality Master as well as the Master in Sustainable Business & Innovation at EADA, but also came from three different countries (India, Iceland and Germany). We started with an open brainstorming session and immediately noticed how different our individual approach was from everyone else’s.
What should a sustainable room look like in the future?
We focussed on different key elements: materials, reduction of energy consumption, CO2 emissions and waste, customer experience and partnerships. A basic step is to use natural, ethical and locally sourced materials for furniture, fabrics, and interior design of the room.
Another low hanging fruit is to reduce plastic waste as much as possible. I’m thinking, for example, about the plastic wrapping around soaps and shampoo or the classic hotel toothbrush. There are great sustainable alternatives like castor oil or recycled plastic that can be used instead.
Going one step further, the reduction of energy and water consumption, as well as CO2 emissions and waste, is a key part of a more sustainable hotel room. Things like smart occupancy sensors, recycled concrete, grey water systems or Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage play an important role. Beyond many ideas in this direction, a major part of a hotel stay is, of course, the guests’ experience, which we wanted to redesign in a more sustainable way with the help of bicycles, sustainable city guides, or green gift displays for a little souvenir to take home.
What were the main challenges in this project?
I think there were two main challenges in this project. Firstly, the short timeframe between kick-off and delivery, which put us under quite a bit of pressure. Secondly, even though that’s a great thing to complain about, finding ideas that had not already been implemented by the Hilton or at least planned and embedded in their 2030 ambition for travel with purpose.
Is sustainability the way out of Covid and back to the ‘new normal’?
I don’t think that sustainability is necessarily the way out of COVID, but it’s undeniable that the last few months have been a much needed wake-up-call for a large portion of the world about the importance of topics related to sustainability. This was evident in the significantly positive impact we were able to observe when suddenly the whole world stood still.
This year has changed the way we perceive work, commutes or travelling, and will continue to have an impact on the behaviour of people all over the globe. We will certainly resume certain habits we had beforehand, but some things and, more importantly, some considerations will stay with us for good.