The hospitality industry is developing into an Emotion Economy
The social values and lifestyle of hotel and restaurant guests are subject to continuous change with a direct impact on the hospitality industry. Emotions crystallize as one of the most important factors for the individual well-being of guests.
The focus is shifting further and further away from purely transactional services - the fulfilment of the general physical and psychological needs of guests such as food, safety and entertainment. There is also an increasing ambivalence. One evening, guests can dine in the most exclusive Michelin-starred gourmet restaurant and the next day they can pick up lunch at a food truck. By appealing to emotions and creating experiences, society is inevitably moving towards the creation of an individualized, emotional feel-good factor. Welcome to the Emotion Economy!
The competence to construct emotionally charged experiences
The hospitality industry must therefore create experience-oriented services that are associated with emotions. In order to create conscious and positive emotions for guests, the entire sensory spectrum must be activated, and verbal and non-verbal communication taken into account. Because only emotionally charged experiences succeed in anchoring themselves in the long-term memory of guests, creating guest satisfaction and loyalty and thus generating a decisive competitive advantage.
The ability to construct emotions by means of staging is therefore one of the increasingly important soft skills in the hotel and gastronomy industry. In addition to classic hosts, qualities such as empathy, communication talent and dramaturgical skills are in demand. In times of digitalization and automation, the hospitality industry employees of the future will need social and emotional intelligence in order to differentiate themselves. They will have to learn to cultivate their creativity, collaborative action, abstract and systemic thinking and complex communication skills. Holistically trained generalists with a high level of empathy and a broad range of soft skills will dominate future talent profiles in the hospitality industry. This presents hospitality management schools with the challenge of developing these emotional skills.
A restaurant serves as a digital classroom
At the SSTH hospitality management school in Passugg, the prototype restaurant Elysium uses the latest developments in digitization to create state-of-the-art framework conditions to prepare hotel management students in the best possible way for these new challenges. In the digital restaurant they learn to construct emotions. An art form, which stages exclusive gourmet cuisine using digital technology to construct a unique experience journey.
In the prototype restaurant Elysium, guests are invited on an immersive journey. Using the latest digital technology, they are transported into another world as all their senses are addressed. From the time guests arrive until they depart, with the support of the students, a storyline is told. The guests’ immersion in this multisensory experience ensures the emotions and memories that are created stay with guests long after they leave.
In the digital classroom, students learn up close that guests have emotionally charged experiences when a story is told, when they can immerse themselves in other worlds or when they are part of a production. The more senses that are addressed, the more intense the experience. The SSTH sees the school hotel as a training center and laboratory where students can discover new trends and gather their own expertise in creating emotionally charged guest experiences.
The multisensory, culinary journey
On the multisensory journey, the all five senses of the guests are addressed:
- Personal reception at check-in
- Staged and synchronized services by the students
- Fog and dry ice effects
- Haptic elements
- Multimedia projections on tables, plates & walls
- Light installations
- Each course is matched to the corresponding stage of the journey
- Matching music
- Sound effects to accompany the journey
- Speaker / Storyteller
- Use of different scent effects, coordinated with the storyline
The restaurant shows how, using animations, multimedia projections and sound effects, combined with classic services such as high-quality cuisine and innovative embedding in the given infrastructure, novel experiences can be created for the guests, which will delight them in the long term. This experience is always based on a storyline, and all sensory elements of the staging fit into the stages of the journey. Thanks to this experience, the students develop valuable soft skills that are highly demanded in the industry.