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Behind the Case

Christmas is getting closer and the first round for The Sustainable Hospitality Challenge has started. This year the students could choose between the three topics of Future Brand, Future Real Estate and Hospitality of Tomorrow.

As the participants have been working hard to fulfil the requirements, and to innovate their chosen scope, we asked the team behind the case for some insights and tips.

This time we would like to introduce you to Marie Derycke and Claire van Haarst, from Hotel Management School Maastricht. They competed in last year’s SHC (formerly known as Genio) and were part of the case development team this year.

Marie Derycke

I'm a student from the Hotel Management School Maastricht, and I'm passionate about sustainability, and how the hospitality industry can take steps to shape the new normal

Claire van Haarst

Energetic, easy-going and always in for a laugh. I love to cook and sometimes bake for my friends while having a good glass of wine! I love to have long walks from the streets of Maastricht with a good cup of coffee and great company!

What motivated you to develop the case?

Marie: I was super eager to develop my conceptual and creative skills and set up a framework to have students contributing to the research on sustainable hospitality. Moreover, I was super excited to join the SHC team and work together with so many inspiring coaches and peers.

Claire: I believe that we are tackling some real important issues with the challenge. Also, having participated in the previous challenge gave me so much energy, I would like others to feel as inspired as I was. Especially with COVID-19, I believe it is important to keep having these challenges and talk about the issues we’re facing today.

What makes the case unique?

Marie: I love how it's like a big puzzle: have all these pillars complementing each other and make one story.

Claire: Tackling 3 different and current topics is something I’m really looking forward to. Also, the different rounds with different deliverables is very interesting. Because all of the topics are really in the ‘now’, I’m excited to see what solutions the students come up with and what their approach towards the problem is.

How did you come up with the ideas and why do you think they are of value to the hospitality industry?

Marie: When we were thinking about 'hospitality of the future’ and taking into account that the SHC is all about daring, dreaming big and being innovative; it was logical for us to come up with something that is really challenging. Having students work out concepts for both brands, real estate and community involvement was for us a logical next step as well, since we all believe these are the true pillars of hospitality, and they are all key to redevelop and repurpose in a more sustainable way going forward.

Claire: Sustainability is an issue where we cannot go around these days. However, there are many other facets to sustainability and how we should adapt to it as an industry. Coming up with smart solutions for future proof cities are things we cannot live without anymore. We have to stop living in the now and build for a better future of tomorrow. The hospitality industry has always been one of the industries that can easily adapt to new trends and developments and that is the fun part of this case: everything is possible!

Why 2050?

Marie: If you can dream, you can do it! Our student hospitality generation will be the hospitality leaders in 2050, so let's see what we can come up with now to implement in 2050!

Claire: We didn’t want to think about tomorrow, next year or even the next 5 years. We wanted to challenge the students and have them come up with the most exciting and revolutionary projects we’ve seen so far. We believe that the craziest ideas are the ideas that will inspire the most and will shape the future of tomorrow!

How your journey has been in developing the case? What have you learned from it?

Marie: I really learned so much about hospitality trends, managing stakeholder expectations, and combining the creative with the practical

Claire: It has been an amazing opportunity being on the other side of the table this time. Thinking of ways to inspire the students and coming up with ways to stimulate creation has been amazing. What I have learned: nothing is to crazy, go outside of your comfort zone!

How do you see COVID-19 affecting the future of sustainable hospitality and your personal career? Does it redefine your future?

Marie: I think it will really drive change for the better. This year was a big year of reflection, and you can already see so many creative solutions to difficult problems emerging. COVID has inherently also really raised the question to what extent tourism, and namely overtourism, compromises our health, wellbeing and environment for the sake of profit. I think to build back to "business as usual", the hospitality will have to step up and help redefine a more sustainable and inclusive new normal. Personally, COVID has both created new opportunities but also narrowed my freedom of movement. For internships, for example, opportunities were more scarce, but of course it has encouraged me to become more resourceful!

Claire: I think COVID-19 has given us a wake-up moment. It’s time for some real change. We need to come up with smart and sustainable solutions to traveling and hospitality. Luckily, we’re an industry that can easily adapt and loves to look for new solutions to difficult problems. Although, COVID had had a real impact on the industry as a whole, I know we’re going to get through it, even though times are tough now. COVID will definitely redefine our futures, it’s the way we will respond to it that will make a change!

Why is sustainability important to you personally? And how it is shown in your daily life?

Marie: I strongly believe sustainability is the fairest way of viewing the world, a true driving force to become more inclusive, empathic and seeing the bigger picture. I try to be very conscious about my food choices, travel choices and fashion choices, and find the time to educate myself about this topic as much as I can. By contributing to great things like SHC, I try to remain engaged with and on the forefront of true change-makers in sustainability.

Claire: Sustainability is important to me because if we keep on living like we do, the future will look very different. Sustainability to me is also very fun, since it stimulates coming up with innovative solutions and it stimulates creative thinking! For me sustainability is all about making the effort to choose for a better option. For example, go to your local market instead of a big supermarket chain to buy your groceries. Or choose a sustainable clothing alternative. For me it’s just making better choices, learning day by day.

What would be your tip for this year’s competitors?

Marie: Enjoy it to the fullest! Before you know it, the best week of your life will be over :)

Claire: Don’t be afraid to go the extra mile, as I said before nothing is to crazy! And most importantly: just have fun!!!

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