It’s the concluding episode of our feature series in which Professor Yves Schemeil, who lectures at Sciences Po Grenoble, has been asking us to ponder what the world might look like after this tumultuous year of 2020. This time he focuses on a topic close to all our hearts: hospitality. Words by Stuart Pallister.
Turning his focus towards the hospitality sector, Professor Yves Schemeil posed several questions, including: can capitalism be reformed? And will the hospitality industry recover from the current Covid-19 crisis?
It had taken hospitality centuries, he said, to be transformed from being a “benevolent (charitable) welcome into a profitable business”. But the time may have come to merge these two contradictory concepts and bring about a new concept; a synthesis “that would be very helpful for us”.
“If there is a new hospitality, this is because there is also a new economy.”
The opportunity to do so arises since, due to the pandemic, hosts can refuse guests they regard as potentially “dangerous”; either because they have a fever or appear to be ill.
“The new hospitality will be different,” Prof. Schemeil said. “Clients will no longer be kings and will have to respect the rules of hospitality.
“A new culture of hospitality will be adopted both by hosts and guests,” he added; one which will demand ‘acute’ respect and mutual tolerance. “So, the new hospitality will mean that behavior will change and distance will become the ultimate component of this puzzle. Travel will decrease and proximity (to a destination) will become a priority.
“If there is a new hospitality, this is because there is also a new economy. And that means capitalism is going to change. We have to rethink classical capitalism and possibly reshuffle or reform it.”
Capitalism in crisis
In outlining how capitalism had evolved over the past century, Prof. Schemeil touched upon so-called ‘casino’ capitalism: the currency speculation which led to the Asian financial crisis of 1997-8 and the subprime crisis which resulted in the global financial crisis of 2008-9.
Can capitalism be rescued? Prof. Schemeil pointed to safeguards such as corporate responsibility, business ethics and sustainability. Openness, accountability and cooperation between governments are also important principles which should be promoted, he argued. “Co-creation between the developed and developing worlds is the new mantra.”
Hospitality after 2020
Focusing on the future of hospitality and tourism in the final two sessions of the lecture series, Prof. Schemeil highlighted technological developments such as automation, holograms and virtual tours, as well as the sharing economy which includes Airbnb and Uber.
In addition to technological developments in the sector, Prof. Schemeil spoke of “an opportunity to make new choices about new destinations” – particularly in the southern hemisphere.
Prof. Schemeil also outlined several types of ‘special interest’ tourism that could thrive, including:
- Ecological (e.g. Costa Rica)
- Culinary (Michelin-starred restaurants plus food festivals)
- Sports (e.g. cycling or even digital sports)
- Aesthetic and artistic (architecture such as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao or the Louvre extension in Abu Dhabi)
- Religious (e.g. the Hajj to Mecca, or the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India)
- Heritage and memorial sites (sometimes referred to as ‘dark tourism’ if visiting the site of a massacre or tragic event)
- Health and wellness
In addition, he singled out several new destinations – Singapore, Oman, Abu Dhabi and Kenya – which, he said, had not been popular tourist destinations in the past but are now.
“So, the big question about hospitality and tourism during the Covid crisis and after 2020 is, will we be able to disconnect the development of the sector from economic growth? Because if we think we should have other things than growth – or we won’t have growth anymore – that’s the problem,” he noted.
“If there’s no growth, there’s no tourism and no hospitality”
However, if one looks at trade statistics and other indicators which reflect the movement of people, goods and services, he added, “that’s not the case”.
Prof. Schemeil concluded, “Globalization relies on growth and it benefits every region in the world. If there’s no growth, there’s no tourism and no hospitality. So, in a way, you cannot disconnect growth from trade, tourism and hospitality.
“But you have to reinvent tourism and hospitality nonetheless; because if we experience a very long economic recession or de-growth is promoted for political reasons, could hospitality and trade survive? The answer is yes, but it will have to adapt to a new context, for example, with new ways to receive tourists and guests.”
Not only should businesses in hospitality and other sectors be profitable, he said, but – hopefully – they will also be “fair, equitable and sustainable”.
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