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Meet the Jury – Qualifying round

As the participants have worked hard to fulfil the requirements of the first qualifying round, and it is soon time to share the results with all of you.

Meanwhile we asked the Jury for some insights. This time we would like to introduce you to Erik Tengen. Erik was part of the jury during the qualifying round this year, more precisely for the Dimension 1: Future Sustainable Hospitality Brand.

Erik Tengen

Erik is Co-Founder at Oaky, a passionate tech-hotelier and crazy about music. Oaky is an award-winning upselling platform which allows hotels to enhance the guest experience and drive profit through automated, personalised upselling. My speciality is to make other people enthusiastic and to dare. What makes me genuinely happy is when people tell me that after having talked to me – they want to break free of old habits and give their own visions a try.

What makes the SHC unique?

It brings together Hotelschool students across the globe to work towards a sustainable future of hospitality

How do brands influence sustainability? And what will be the evolution post 2020?

In the future, as topics such as sustainability, wellbeing and community will play a bigger role - the hospitality brands that I think will thrive are those that are able to convey a feeling of purpose alongside creating memorable experiences for its’ guests.

In what way do you think the customer journey is influenced by COVID-19? Will that lead to long-term changes?

COVID-19 has fast-forwarded the adoption of technology from the entire hotel industry, all the way from owners to guests. Older people are taking pictures of QR codes like never before, and guests have become accustomed to contactless services. The next frontier in guest comfort and experience is going to come from technology. Smoother, seamless interactions that are reliable without being intrusive.

On which aspect should the students focus during their journey developing a sustainable brand?

Ultimately the guest is paying all of our bills and is the driver of a sustainable industry. Therefore, I think the sustainable brand of the future needs to have the future guest experience at its heart and figuring out smart ways to meet guest needs while at the same time decreasing overhead costs for the hotel operations.

How important is selling an experience and expectations when creating a new brand?

In my experience, you can only truly deliver on your idea for a new brand by making other people as enthusiastic about it as you are. In the start it’s all about selling the future of the brand experience and setting the right expectations so that when you get stakeholders onboard to work it out, you’re able to meet the expectations you’ve set out.

What do you do at Oaky to contribute to sustainability?

We at Oaky are driven help hotels create a sustainable business in which they consistently can deliver great guest experiences and thereby drive more profit. Automated Upselling, which is what Oaky does, can be summarised very aptly and simply as “storytelling”. One concrete example of sustainable upselling come from our hotels that had high housekeeping costs and started upselling a deal of turning down housekeeping and getting a free pizza in return 🍕 The ratio is 10/1 in terms of cost I.e. if the room cost €10 to clean and the pizza cost €1 to make, ultimately the hotel makes a €9 bottom line saving off of everyone that opts into this (of which there are many). All while also making a positive impact on the environment, the end of the story.

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

One of my core values is kindness to oneself, others and the environment. I try to live by that mantra every day.

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

As you shape your ideas, be open to take inspiration from the world around you, but make sure you hold fast to what you really believe in.

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