The 2nd International Research Conference, organised by César Ritz Colleges Switzerland, took place on Monday, 9th May in Brig, in the Swiss Canton of Valais. The event brought together over 100 professionals, lecturers and students, along with representatives of the schools and academic partners from the Washington State University and University of Derby at the Brig Campus. It provided an excellent opportunity to showcase the work and research of the academic community of Swiss Education Group and network with peers.
Built around the theme “Past, present and future- How legacy shapes the future of our industries. Core values in the modern world” the day began with a keynote speech by Dr Veronica Lange, Global Head of Innovation at UBS Chief Technology Office, who spoke about how the digital revolution is changing the face of banking and the challenge of adapting to what today’s customers want.
It was followed by a combination of qualitative research, high-profile speeches ranging from hosting guests with dementia, through reinventing industrial sites as tourist attractions, to creating the right olfactory environment for customers, poster sessions and workshops on specific topics, all evolving around the central theme on how the offering needs to be adjusted to the wishes and needs of the future generations while staying true to the core values of Swiss hospitality tradition.
Creating a memorable guest experience
A focus group discussion addressed the issues of guest experience and customer relations and what is needed to maintain five-star standards in hospitality. Michel Ferla, former Deputy Director of Swiss Tourism, underlined the importance of understanding customers and responding sensitively to their needs. Tuomas Laakso, Vice President International Hotel Development Marriott International & The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company Zurich, approached the question from a hotel perspective. In fact, the needs of hotel guests basically remain the same, however, the experience varies greatly depending on the person and context and needs to be designed individually.
The conference was rounded off with a panel discussion, also in the presence of a representative of the Washington State University, summarizing the topics discussed throughout the day, and expanding into the future of the educational scene, where students now also expect an individualized experience.
Learning from each other
This meeting also emphasized career development, by including representatives from the industry. Students had the opportunity to gain an insight into the expectations of the professionals, as well as the specific requirements for a career with a major hotel group or cruise ship.
Lecturers also came at their expense with different training sessions aimed at optimizing language courses and improve learning and assessment techniques, supported by the Swiss Education Group’s academic partner, the University of Derby.
UBS Awards – Honouring the best
UBS, Swiss Education Group’s official partner, sponsored four awards:
- 1st Prize for the best full paper presentation: Evelina Gillard, Lecturer, César Ritz Colleges, Brig campus The human capital specificity to multiple firms in interfirm alliances: empirical evidence from hotel franchising.
- 2nd Prize for the best full paper presentation: Thorsten Merkle, lecturer César Ritz Colleges, Brig Campus, Ilias Vlachos, Jim Keane Passengers’ food and beverage outlet choices in commercial airports: an empiric inquiry.
- Best student poster: Andreea Bodea, Lara Sullivan, Louise Johansson, Alexandru Bora, students, César Ritz Colleges, Brig Campus Staff training as a method to improve the experience of physically disabled guests: Swiss leisure hotels.
- Best student project: Julia Eveberg, Julja Thomas, students, IHTTI Neuchatel Design project “Love the J”