By Georges Panayotis

Since the industrial revolution, many fundamental innovations have transformed the working world and led to the strong development of the societies in which they were born.

The model of Fordism, based on a virtuous cycle of improved mass production, resulting in markedly improved results and therefore better remuneration for employees, was the first step towards drastic changes in the working world. The quality circles introduced in Japan in the 1960s by Kaoru Ishikawa, and which arrived in Europe in the 1980s, have allowed the Land of the Rising Sun, through mastery of manufacturing and strict quality control, to develop exponentially in terms of productivity and to considerably expand their catchment area due to the quality and competitiveness of the products offered. In the United States, once again, another milestone was reached with the development of Silicon Valley, the cradle of the digital industry, which has been transformed through the fertile ground of the electronics industry. Apple was born in 1976, Amazon in 1984 and Booking in 1996; in short, the digital empire did not grow over night.

Humans are the driving force behind all these transformations. Well-trained operational staff are sentinels who can help companies adapt their strategy, development plans, products to underlying trends…. While quality continuing education is essential to the good health of groups, the same is true for initial training. Schools and universities have offered training for several decades and even more than 100 years for some; but have they all kept abreast of changes in professions, the skills and needs of our companies in order to train tomorrow's professionals so they can contribute something through their vision, knowledge, dynamism and passion to the groups they will join? The question deserves to be asked.

Likewise, hoteliers should not remain spectators of the changes taking place within their trades and environments, they should embrace them. They must also give their employees the opportunity to incubate projects that could become the strength of groups tomorrow. Some have understood it, such as Marriott with its Testbed program. Marriott has been encouraging start-ups to come to their doorstep since last year through a competition organized with the possibility of testing their concept in Marriott hotels in Europe or the Lab Canvas for catering. The French group AccorHotels has been investing in digital for 4 years now by buying high-potential companies and hiring executives who are experienced in digital technology. They are developing partnerships to bring digital technology into their properties, such as the Business Check project in conjunction with Linkedin, which enables business travelers to connect with one another at the group's properties. It is also introducing chatbots through the PhilWelcome application, which communicates with the group's clients in French and English. The sale of part of its assets will enable AccorHotels to boost its investments in the park's development and intensify its digital efforts.

No one knows his or her job and its needs better than a hotelier to direct young start-ups to develop products, interfaces, software and whatever else is needed to facilitate the work of operational staff, decision making and even create a real competitive advantage by creating a "wow" effect to boost an offer that may be outdated and far from cutting edge. By cultivating difference and excellence, new products and new concepts will emerge that will be able to conquer tomorrow's clientele.