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UNWTO launches Hospitality Challenge

UNWTO launches Hospitality Challenge
UNWTO launches Hospitality Challenge
Written by Harry S. Johnson

In June 2020, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and Sommet Education launched the Hospitality Challenge. This was designed to identify ideas and individuals capable of accelerating the recovery of the tourism sector in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initiative has received almost 600 applications from all around the world. The 30 top finalists will be granted a full-board scholarship for Bachelor or Master’s degree-level courses at 30 different hospitality programs. All of them are hosted by Sommet’s internationally renowned institutions specialized in Hospitality and Culinary Arts: Glion Institute of Higher Education, Les Roches, and École Ducasse.

The scholarships are dedicated to accelerating the personal development of talented individuals who will build the Hospitality of Tomorrow. Bringing the submitted projects to life and increasing their chances of impacting the tourism sector has been the driving force of this challenge. The three most entrepreneurial projects among the 30 winners will receive seed money from Eurazeo, the leading global investment group to which Sommet Education belongs.

Out of the 600 applications, 39% were submitted from the Americas, followed by Europe (28%), Africa and the Middle East (both 18%), and Asia and the Pacific (15%).

Putting People and Planet First

The Hospitality Challenge focused on four categories. The Hotels and Hotel-Related Operations category was the most popular, receiving 41% of all applications, followed by the Luxury Travels, Goods and Services category (34%), then the Food and Beverage category (17%), and finally the Smart Real Estate category (8%). The breakdown of the different categories demonstrates a strong interest in improving the operational side of hotels through its social impact, with many projects aiming to reduce unemployment and the better management of hotel staff.

Among the four categories, four eminent trends have emerged: waste reduction and sustainability, jobs and education, safety and travel experience, as well as revenue and productivity. Almost 50% of the projects address Sustainable Development Goal 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth. Many projects also offer new perspectives on the COVID-19 response.

A large number of the high-quality projects promoting inclusivity and sustainability to reinvent the Hospitality of Tomorrow, also provides fresh ideas for the tourism sector. These will allow tourism to keep on contributing to overall socio-economic recovery.

Winners Announced in March 2021

UNWTO and Sommet Education would like to thank all the participants, innovators and entrepreneurs for their enthusiasm and contributions to the Hospitality Challenge, and to congratulate the 30 selected finalists.

UNWTO Secretary General, Zurab Pololikashvili said: “The tourism of tomorrow must embrace new ideas, new voices and the full diversity the sector has to offer. This competition highlights the best global tourism and hospitality has to offer. It shows how innovators from around the world can keep tourism, hospitality and travel at the very forefront of sustainable development and positive change for all.”

Benoît-Etienne Domenget, Sommet Education CEO adds “we are thrilled to welcome so many diversified talents in our institutions next year. The variety of backgrounds and profiles will source of creativity and bring fresh perspectives to all.”

Out of the following 30 selected finalists, the three winning projects will be announced in March 2021:

  • “Chartok” – Hotel Collaboration Software
  • “Coliving Hotels” – Medium and long-term shared housing rentals
  • “Digital Butler” – Personalized guest assistance
  • “Digital Concierge” – Digitalized guest experience
  • “FirstClasset” – Asset model and payment process
  • “Food safety and organic food production”
  • “GauVendi” – Retail system
  • “Go-Travel direct hotel booking club” – Data driven direct booking club
  • “Hogaru” – Cleaning and facility management provider
  • “Hosbot” – Digital Hospitality assistant
  • “Hospitality Onlearning” – Online Hospitality learning platform
  • “HUTS” – HR management support
  • “Join F&B” – Recruitment of disabled people service
  • “Komodore” – Guest management automation
  • “Lemonade Social” – Experience driven e-commerce
  • “Little Big Travel” – Experience travel provider
  • “Luxury Origin” – Immersive customizable luxury experience
  • “Mes Petites Feuilles” – Urban SmartFarming
  • “Olappa Linens” – Sustainable linen
  • “Recotrak” – Certification process for food donation
  • “Searchef” – Food & Beverage sharing platform
  • “Service Club Delivery” – Recruitment solution
  • “SiliconBali” – Youth employability
  • “Travel Seeds” – Sustainable on-line booking platform
  • “TrekSecure” – Covid contagion response application
  • “Tiptrip” – On-line guest comment management
  • “Viridescent” – Eco-friendly on-line booking platform
  • “Virtual Hospitality Research Platform” – Research Hospitality platform
  • “Woof Together” – Standards in pet-friendly hospitality
  • “Young Hotelier Network”- Social impact community integration