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20 years of the Worldwide Hospitality Awards

For the 20th anniversary of the Worldwide Hospitality Awards, I would like to share a story with you. The history of our fine industry. Let us set off on a journey that begins in Mont Athos in the 7th century.

Those who live there today continue to enjoy lodgings and dining that belong to a centuries-old tradition. It was the beginning of hospitality in Europe. Later, with the development of economic exchanges throughout the old continent, inns and hotels flourished.

For many long years the hotel industry saw very little change. The exhausted traveler was welcomed, and pleased to find a bed and something to eat.

Then, a little more than 50 years ago, the hospitality pioneers came along. For the 20th Worldwide Hospitality Awards ceremony  Paul Dubrule and Gérard Pélisson - two pioneering sector giants - received the  Lifetime Achievement Award. Without these two leaders the accommodations landscape in Europe would have a totally different face. During that era, which was not so long ago, independent hoteliers saw the arrival of chain brands as a threat.

Moving forward in our journey we reach the present era when finance and digital technology first shook things up and then pushed us to transform and reinvent ourselves. Such  transformation was also indispensable for our planet which is suffering from our cumbersome presence. There is much anticipation to see how our sector will go forward with respect to sustainable growth .

When will our marvelous journey come to a halt? Nearly two years ago, Elon Musk sent a Tesla into orbit around the sun. Since then our sector has taken giant steps forward.

Mobility is an area where hospitality will be central in the years to come. It will be infused and will spread throughout the network of service businesses.

Our fine ecosystem no longer consists of hotels alone, but also campgrounds, residences, rentals, co-living, co-working, home sharing, hostels, hybrid accommodations, cruises, etc… The world of hospitality has entered a full-fledged  revolution. When you observe the major interest in our industry being expressed  by mastodons such as Google, Amazon, Ali Baba, CTrip, as well as  Booking, Airbnb… it is clear that hoteliers, in the end, will have no other choice than to partner with these giants.

Hotel services are developed in front of and with the client. It is necessary to constantly put the human back at the center of our businesses. Until now, we have invested in training our collaborators, in learning and knowledge, in execution, transmission, and management. Now we will have to accompany them to help them develop and express all their humanity.

But there is one thing artificial intelligence will probably never be able to equal: what the Greeks called phantasia. This is our  exceptional  capacity to dream, to  imagine, to feel joy, to improvise, to oppose… in short create the conditions for progress.

By combining human intelligence and artificial intelligence, we will allow our industry to enrich its soul and avoid the catastrophes that lie in wait. Out of this good balance between intelligence and phantasia will rise our capacity to turn dreams into reality.

Immediately upon birth Hermes leapt from his cradle to travel the world and embark upon many adventures. Aristotle qualified him as the “most human and most liberal of the gods”. Since Antiquity, it is he who has been the God of travel and hospitality. He is also the messenger between the different universes, connecting worlds, and that is also the mission of the  Worldwide Hospitality Awards.

We must, at all costs, preserve this vital force that Hermes exudes, and this is why, for the 20th Worldwide Hospitality Awards ceremony, we have come full circle, back to our origins and revived the trophy he so inspired.

There may be several possible roads to follow, but the only way to take them is with audacity, tenacity and inventiveness!

Happy birthday to the Worldwide Hospitality Awards!

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