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Op-Ed: In ‘The Day After’, Hospitality is the Future

Op-Ed by Sommet Education CEO Benoît-Etienne Domenget

“Decisions taken now will shape the hospitality of tomorrow.” – Sommet Education CEO Benoît-Etienne Domenget

Four months. Over 7.1 million people infected in all regions of the world and far too many losses. World Trade expected to fall by between 13% and 32%.

A massive 75 million jobs at risk as per the UN World Tourism Organization, a 20 to 30% expected drop in international tourist arrivals, 2.1 Trillion $ of GDP loss, with80% of small and medium-sized companies endangered.

The figures of the actual pandemic seem unreal and question all of us to our very core. Our lives and economies are impacted as rarely before.

Within this context, the Sommet Education community is no exception. Our campus operations are either closed or reduced to the minimum, offering shelter to our students who could not reach out to their families, while many of us are working at home.

Our teams have been striving tirelessly over the past weeks to ensure the maximum safety for all, and to enable our students to continue their studies with the same level of excellence.

In a matter of weeks, thanks to a dedicated on-line task force, we all switched to distant and online learning, producing thousands of videos on nearly all topics covering everything from mixology to finance or revenue management. Our faculty members have once again proven their incredible commitment to our students who are now connected to us from everywhere in the world.

Every day around the world, corporate, personal and collective initiatives are multiplying to support medical and hospital staff, who are more mobilized now than ever. The Chefs of our schools have joined forces to support and bring a bit of comfort to these health warriors.

“I feel honored and proud to be part of this agile team. Everywhere, our sense of responsibility, collective solidarity and creativity has never been so vibrant. The word “Hospitality” has never been so meaningful: empathy, generosity, sense of service… These words must and will endure ‘The Day After’.”

History tells us that this steep downturn will be followed by a strong rebound of the industry. Hospitality is one of the most resilient industries and has already demonstrated its ability to recover quickly, as it did after 9.11 and the 2008 crisis.

As a first sign of recovery, close to 90% of the hotels in China are now reopened, and China air traffic is running at above 40% of its capacity. Moreover, governments around the globe are preparing and starting to implement post-confinement strategies.

A rapid and strong rebound is possible. Decisions taken now will shape the recovery and global growth of tomorrow. We need to lay the foundations for a strong, sustained and socially inclusive recovery now. I am convinced that this crisis is the undesired spark that will help us reconcile visions of the world that have been opposed for far too long. Uncontrolled globalization without limits is not sustainable and nor is the temptation to withdraw or the pursuit of idealized economic deceleration.

We have the unique opportunity to create a “Day After” that is more balanced and more sustainable, and Hospitality will be one of its driving forces.

Hospitality is so much more than an industry. Hospitality at its core is the art of service, dedication to others, the quest for generosity, as well as openness to the world.

Hospitality, amounting to 10% of global GDP and accounting for one out of nine jobs worldwide, will be one of the main contributors to the rebound of the world economy and to job market recovery.

It is possible to combine the development of world exchanges, travel, access to leisure for the many, while being more respectful of resources, more engaged in nurturing local communities and businesses.
Managing this complexity is the challenge of our generation. Is it also our commitment towards the next generation.

Education institutions are already at the forefront of this transformation. Relying on Emotional Intelligence to manage complex environments, reinventing models, mastering the codes to better create new ones, and being committed to a sustainable future, are just a glimpse of what we teach and seek to instill in our students.

These are the many qualities the coming generation of leaders will need to succeed “The Day After”.

In “The Day After”, Hospitality is the future.

Benoît-Etienne Domenget
Chief Executive Officer, Sommet Education

Graduating from HEC business school in Paris, Benoît-Etienne Domenget started his career with Accor Group, managing different hotel properties before joining the corporate office as Senior Vice-President Development to head the group’s strategic development in Europe, Middle-East and Africa (EMEA) regions.
From 2011 to 2015, Benoit-Etienne acted as Managing Director of Accor Switzerland, leading the expansion of the brand portfolio in the Swiss market and directly supervising its 55 properties. He was then called to the helm of Michel Reybier Hospitality Group, including luxury hotels such as La Réserve and Victoria-Jungfrau Collection, vineyards and wellness businesses.
In January 2017, Benoît-Etienne was appointed CEO of the newly-formed Sommet Education, encompassing the prestigious Swiss hospitality management schools of Glion Institute of Higher Education and Les Roches Global Hospitality Education, as well as French culinary and pastry arts schools of DUCASSE Education, with campuses in Switzerland, France, Spain, UK and China. The group was founded following the institutions’ acquisition by French investment company Eurazeo.

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