Shaking up the codes of hospitality with #NextDisruptor 2021

This year, and for the second time, Les Roches launched the #NextDisruptor, an innovation-based competition aiming to find  high school students who are ready to shake up the codes of hospitality. The concept? Coming up with an innovative business idea that could disrupt the hotel, travel and tourism industry to be given a chance to share it with our experts!


NextDisruptor 2021 – the final Pitch Day

At the end of the summer, and following months of preparation and competition stages, three finalists were selected to present their disruptive business idea in front of our jury of six experts from the hospitality industry. High school students Ana Focsa, Fiona MacLagan and Thomas Powell were all given five minutes to pitch their unique concepts to the judges, following which the latter had 15 minutes to ask further questions about the ideas. 

From the ideas themselves and the problems to solve, to the competition, solutions and finances, the participants had the huge task of covering all aspects of the business plan to wow the jury. And they did not disappoint! All three finalists demonstrated strong confidence, entrepreneurial spirit, and great sense of hospitality.


The winning idea

By the end of the pitches, the winner was announced: Thomas Powell. A 19-year-old French and British dual-national, currently based in Singapore, Thomas secured the #NextDisruptor 2 title with his innovative idea, The Herbarium. The concept aims for a friendly, ecologically responsible boutique hotel, incorporating a rainforest experience. The Herbarium calls for a reconnection with nature in the heart of large urban centers, thereby generating less stress, more creativity, productivity and well-being for the guest – “a balancing of the senses”.

“I joined the #NextDisruptor competition to challenge myself, build on my self-esteem, and become more disciplined. I designed and came up with my business idea a long while ago, and thought it was a potentially good idea, one that could ‘disrupt’ the hospitality market. When the competition arose, I noticed it would be the perfect way of displaying it.” –Thomas Powell.

Thomas was granted a full scholarship to a Les Roches Bachelor’s degree in Global Hospitality Management at either the Crans-Montana campus in Switzerland or the Marbella campus in Spain. 

 In addition, he will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of being coached by Chip Conley, successful entrepreneur and pioneer in the boutique hotel industry, who notably accompanied the founders of Airbnb in transforming their fast-growing technology start-up into a global hotel brand.

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Two other impressive concepts

Fiona MacLagan, an 18-year-old Nepalese student living in the UK, came up with the idea of JYOTI, a project based on a vision of “Change for the Future”, believing that customers are looking for a new way of life,including a new way of experiencing travel in a peaceful and sustainable way. Fiona has in mind to develop a professional platform based in Nepal for the exchange of experiences, linking hospitality mentors with hospitality professionals and students.

Asapholo, the hologram concierge, is a project thought up by Ana Focsa, a 17-year-old student from Romania. Through a fusion of artificial intelligence and augmented reality, her solution changes the way customers interact with staff and equipment, responding to needs immediately and optimizing information. Most importantly, the system offers the instant holographic presence of human staff when needed.


The #NextDisruptor Jury for 2021 

Well done to everyone who took part in this year’s #NextDisruptor challenge!