Since launching our Spark innovation sphere a year ago, we’ve brought disruptive ideas to campus, supported ambitious start-ups and embedded innovation-related projects into our academic programs. And now Crans-Montana campus has gone to the next level, with the opening of a Hospitality Digital Center right in the heart of the main campus building…
What a buzz it was to have a big event on campus again! After staging a private function for students and staff a few days before, we then invited local dignitaries, the media and some of our Spark partners and friends, to join students and staff for the official inauguration of our new Hospitality Digital Center at Crans-Montana on 21 October.
We were especially pleased to greet Martial Kamerzin, representing our institutional partner, the Association of Communes of Crans-Montana (ACCM), which has supported Spark every step of the way. He was joined by Yves Rey, Chef de Service of Valais canton, with both VIP guests taking the stage alongside our Managing Director, Dr Christine Demen Meier, to welcome everyone to the inauguration.
As our photos show, this was a true Les Roches event, with the invitees witnessing the lively atmosphere in the lobby and main campus building as they moved around the event. One of the big draws was a new robot barista, which Spark partner Smyze has installed in our lobby. Designed to replace the traditional vending machine with something a little more ‘theatrical’, this innovative technology will be put through its paces by staff and students in the coming months, delivering valuable user data for Smyze.
Another Spark partner bringing interesting new tech to the event was OneVisage, who set up the first facial recognition check-in kiosk with GDPR compliance for our guests to try out. And we must also thank our friends at Univerre and Gregor Kuonen Wine, for supplying the superb wine and giving us a demo of their new smart bottle.
The final thanks go to our brilliant Spark Society students, who helped out during both the official inauguration and at the smaller event we held just for students and staff a few days before.
Summing up the event, Pablo J. Garcia, Director of Spark Crans-Montana, told us, “The inauguration of the Spark Hospitality Digital Center, a global and unique facility specialized in innovation and hospitality, was a magnificent moment to demonstrate that our Spark community – students, faculty, hospitality and tech companies, and public institutions – are already re-thinking and co-creating the future of this industry.”
Hospitality needs digital innovators. Our Master’s in Hospitality Strategy & Digital Transformation teaches you how to become one.
Inside the Hospitality Digital Center
So, what can you find in the new Spark Hospitality Digital Center? There are four specially-equipped rooms; two of them – the Development Centre and the Incubation Center – are designed to facilitate collaborative work and creativity. The other two serve as experimental laboratories. They are the Media Center, for communication, and the VR & Gaming Center, for virtual reality projects.
Inauguration guests were invited to tour the rooms, while receiving presentations from some of the companies that will be involved with them. Among the presenters were Vima and Nevomo. Through Spark, we are already collaborating with Vima to create a solution, supported by Artificial Intelligence, to better understand how hospitality employees are perceived by others, as well as how to ensure their well-being. And we are partnering with Nevomo to define and develop the future hospitality customer services/experiences for hyperloop and magrail transportation.
In the Incubation Center, meanwhile, we heard from two of the exciting student/alumni-led start-ups that we’re incubating through Spark: Searchef and Udeal.
Speaking at the inauguration, Dr Christine Demen Meier said, “The Spark innovation sphere is an educational tool that we have placed at the core of our programs. It is a driver of inspiration and emulation in terms of creativity, involving real academic challenges. Les Roches aims to encourage an entrepreneurial and innovative spirit in our students. This is a crucial teaching objective to achieve in order to train those who will be the future leaders of tomorrow’s hospitality industry.”
A year down the line, it feels like our exciting journey in hospitality innovation is really gathering speed. There will be a lot more innovations, academic projects and learning opportunities to come in the months ahead – watch this space!