The leaders of Glion’s three new Master’s programs offer their insights into the headline-making moves from Marriott International, Accor and Airbnb, which are shaking up the world of hospitality.

The old order in hospitality is no more. Disruptive new players, digital technologies, changing lifestyles and bold new ventures by established industry giants are causing unprecedented convulsions in the marketplace.

There’s arguably never been a more enticing opportunity for entrepreneurs and innovators to grab a share of the global hospitality business. At the same time, the synergies between hospitality and its related sectors, including luxury, finance and real estate, have become clearer than ever.

With three new Master’s programs set to welcome their first student cohorts to Glion this September, it makes sense to view some of the more eye-catching market developments through the prism of the industry specializations they cover.

Marriott doubles down on homesharing

Among the most interesting moves is the decision by Marriott International – the world’s largest hotel group – to accelerate the rollout of its home rental business with the creation of Homes & Villas by Marriott. This marks a clear move into the territory of arch-disruptor Airbnb.

The new offering’s luxury focus – wealthy customers can even rent a castle in Ireland for $10,000 a night – caught the eye of Dr. Nicoletta Giusti, Program Director for the new MSc in Luxury and Guest Experience.

She says, “The luxury positioning is a way to differentiate this offer from the more everyday properties typically found on Airbnb and other home rental platforms. It also plays to the hotelier’s expertise in delivering a consistent customer promise. This is important because luxury is an experiential industry and offers the gold standard in customer experience.”

The move also tracks some of the interconnected trends that are reshaping the luxury industry today. WGSN, one of the most influential trend forecasters in the industry, has placed “Designing Emotion” among its visions for the future. At the same time, emotional intelligence has been earmarked as a key employment competence in the workplace of tomorrow.

“Far from being limited to the job market, emotional intelligence – combined with the new orientation towards sustainability, inclusivity and transformational experiences – is already reshaping the luxury world,” says Nicoletta.

“Designing emotions, creating curated – and therefore memorable – experiences, will be at the heart of business in all the luxury sectors, starting from hospitality and travel. The word ‘standard’ will be definitively banned from the vocabulary; and this ban will become a challenge for luxury hotel chains, where the construction of a guest experience is intrinsically based on standards.

“By creating a ‘feels like home’ experience across the world, but with an emphasis on exclusive, luxury housing, Marriott can be seen to be merging these new and old core businesses – designing emotions and memories. The Grand Hotel is now the whole world.”

Fighting back on opposition soil

Marie-France Derderian, Program Director of the new MSc in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, welcomes the boldness of major hospitality players in entering the territory of the disruptors. Another example of this is the recent announcement by Accor of a major expansion program for its co-working subsidiary Wojo.

“The hotel chains need to react to the competition from the home rental and co-working segments. Hospitality groups such as Marriott and Accor understand that they must innovate; firstly to retain their customers and secondly to attract new ones, by offering new experiences to meet the constantly evolving needs and expectations of their guests,” she says.

Needless to say, Airbnb hasn’t stood by and simply observed the ‘premiumization’ of homesharing. In a classic example of entrepreneurship and innovation, it has partnered with RXR Realty, one of New York’s largest real estate owners, with a proposal to create luxury rental apartments within one of the world’s most celebrated addresses: 75 Rockefeller Plaza.

Marie-France adds, “Assuming it receives its required approvals, this innovative move will allow Airbnb to go to the next level, from the sharing economy to the experience economy.

Charting the rise of ‘Real Estate as a Service’

The partnership of digital platform and real estate developer also underlines the fundamental role that bricks and mortar buildings play in delivering the hospitality experience – whether traditional hotels, co-working spaces or homesharing.

Dr. Emmanuel Jurczenko, Program Director for the MSc in Finance, Real Estate and Hotel Development, highlights one of the key by-products of this evolution: the growth of ‘Real Estate as a Service’.

He explains, “Real Estate as a Service is a paradigm shift in the real estate sector, whereby real estate is no longer seen as a product, or ownership of spaces, but as a service.”

“We’ve seen this pioneered by companies such as WeWork; but now Airbnb is also expanding into services, not least through its acquisition last year of the French concierge services/property management firm Luckey Homes.”

For Emmanuel, Real Estate as a Service reflects the evolution of demand towards co-living and co-working. He adds, “The expansion of Airbnb to property management is an example of the significance of Real Estate as a Service. It underlines the need for industry professionals to fully understand the role of service in a real estate asset.

Expanding our Master’s portfolio

Although this feature provides a snapshot of an industry in flux, for a truly in-depth immersion into key industry topics it takes the intensive and detailed approach of a Master’s degree.

Click the links below to find out more about each of Glion’s MSc programs, and discover what they could do to accelerate your career:

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About the author

Glion Institute of Higher Education
Glion Institute of Higher Education is a private Swiss institution offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in hospitality, luxury and event management to an international student body across three campuses in Switzerland and London, UK.
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