Looking to the future with ……..Kurt Macher, General Manager, Shangri-La The Shard, London & Innovation & Luxury Customer
We, the Gleichenberg Tourism Schools, want to encourage our pupils and students to take their future into their own hands and to shape and improve it according to their own wishes. Because the ability to do this is the most valuable asset that the young generation possesses.
In our series “Looking to the
future with…” we invite visionaries, role models and key players of today to give us an insight into their personal vision of our future.
In the current edition, TSBG graduate Kurt Macher, General Manager of London’s luxury hotel Shangri-La The Shard tells us something about his visions for the future.
Dear Kurt, you have already worked and lived in many places and are what is understood by a citizen of the world. Accordingly, you have seen a lot. How does someone with such a wealth of experience see the future – optimistically or pessimistically and why?
Even though there are challenges in the world right now I am optimistic about the future. Covid was a reset for the hospitality industry as more and more companies are now trying to care more for their employees‘ work life balance – this is a great outcome from covid . The challenges with energy bills, supply chain issues and inflation, etc. Is going to encourage hospitality businesses to be more innovative and also more sustainable, to manage things in a more balanced way
We are living in difficult times right now – changing values, climate catastrophe, the difficult economic situation and much more. There are also major upheavals in our industry. Where do you see the biggest challenges and but also opportunities in tourism and gastronomy in the next few years?
Labour issues, inflation and sustainability are big challenges in the years to come. Experience-led hospitality is a big opportunity – while things are tough, hotels and hospitality businesses are in a position to provide much needed escapism to guests. In the future, finding more sustainable ways to run hospitality businesses and driving a positive impact in the local and wider community will be a big opportunity as it is something guests are increasingly looking for when selecting where to spend their money. Becoming more diverse and open to hiring staff members from all walks of life, different industries as well – to overcome the labour challenges and create a sense of community.
You are responsible for innovation and luxury customer experience in the Shangri-La Group. Could you please briefly explain what exactly you are dealing with?
For each Shangri-La property in the Middle East, India, Indian Ocean & Americas region, I have implemented an innovation champion who is part of the hotel team. Through each champion, we are creating a culture of innovation within each hotel, encouraging team members to share ideas and thoughts on new experiences, and sharing best practices We are working on 1 big innovation idea we can implement next year in all our hotels. I try to go to conferences and follow companies that are innovative leaders to get inspired and continuously influence my hotel and other hotels in the region.
How will we be able to inspire guests in the future? Will the guest of the future be different from the current guest? And if so, in what form?
Giving guests escapism and creating feel good experiences will continuously be a big trend. Curated, immersive experiences that transport guests to a different world. Metaverse – VR will be a big trend in the future. Art will become more digital, escapist . Roaring Twenties – after covid, this decade will be known as the Roaring Twenties – celebrations and making up for lost time. Resurgence of city breaks – city hotels are going to have a comeback as people choose to spend time in the city instead of more rural, wilderness destinations . Bringing communities in – in the future, communities will be more self-contained and need to support one another more, as sustainability and supply chain, etc become more of an issue.
Our world has become very fast-paced and if we read the signs correctly, this will continue in the near future. Digitalisation provides the technical framework for this. In such a world, having time and taking time has become a luxury. What does this trend mean for tourism and for the culture of hospitality in the future?
In the future, the human touch will become more of a premium service in luxury five star hotels, as 3 and 4 star hotels become more and more automated by robots and technology. As there are more increases in salaries and shortage of labour, robots and automation will become increasingly important to fill gaps . Guests will also be keen to take time to relax and disconnect during their stays – digital detox . Also saving time doing small everyday tasks will become important – Alexa style voice technology in rooms, etc, telling to close blinds, curtains, lights on and off, etc. Sleeping well – sleep programmes, etc. Luxury hotels might become even more influential in regards to doing good for the local and wider community
The luxury hotel industry, in which you have been extremely successful for years, is particularly employee-intensive, and top-trained professionals are in particular demand. But it is precisely the young generation that is becoming less and less. Is tourism no longer attractive for young people? And how do you think this will develop further?
Hotels will need to become more innovative in how to attract and train young people . There will need to be more specialist fields within hospitality where young people can grow their career. Governments have a big role to play to promote apprenticeship programmes, where they get a degree out of working for a hotel and not just going to university
How can we inspire young people to train in tourism in the future, how can we motivate them?
Apprenticeships will grow in value as people prefer to train on the job instead of going to university. In hospitality, hotels need to have programmes and training in place to enable them to employ young inexperienced workers
What advice would you give to our students on how to approach their career planning and how to manage to look positively into the future and master it?
The key is to figure out what your passion is, having motivation and being determined to succeed. Try working in lots of different areas of a hotel and then think about where you want to grow your career – F&B, rooms, becoming a specialist? Try to get some international opportunities to live and work in different cities and locations, to figure out what you’re most passionate about.
Thank you very much for the interview!