The hotel of high values
Interview en exclusivité avec
Directeur Hilton Brussels city
Selected for the Special edition - Most Inspiring Hotels, Restaurants, Tourism destinations of a better 21st century
by Ingrid Vaileanu et PhD. Florin Paun
Interview Francophone: What is the role of the hotel innovation and its innovation ecosystems and strategies to create more shared value? What example exist already in the city?
Benjamin Tenius: In the past, hotels are have been regarded as prestigious spaces, dedicated particularly to upper classes. The price, facilities and services were things that only people with a sizeable income can afford. It was the place where community as well as society had their meetings. At the time it was, the “place to be and be seen”. Nowadays hotels have to cater to individuals from numerous backgrounds that all require different levels of innovation in terms of pricing, facilities, services. Today, Hotels have to reinvent themselves to adjust to the majority of guests. Nowadays, hotels biggest question is, how will we cater for which guest in the future and what is hospitality in the future. Hotels are often situated in the city centre but also at the heart of communities; necessary innovations for hotels become potentially very complex. Since around 20 years, the hospitality industry has been at an increasingly fast rate been in touch with technological innovation and digitalisation. Hotels already have a strong digital distribution, with over 50% of the inventory sold via the web. Today to create more value, hotels need to have a stronger digital and physical footprint.
They have to become a more active part of their respective communities.
Interview Francophone: What is your activity or project that makes you the most proud, considering these common objectives for the cities contributing to a better 21stcentury?
Benjamin Tenius: One of our projects contributing to a better tomorrow is the food management. Food waste has become a big issue in developed countries, whilst some countries are still struggling equal distribution of food. Hospitality is one of the sectors that have a potential high level of food waste. Unfortunately, a lot of this food perfectly fine with human consumption, but remains after the buffet closes for instance. We have decided to collaborate with Too Good to Go in order to reduce this perfectly good food. The process of it is all food that have not been sold, will be packed in boxes and sold via the application Too Good to Go, where anyone can buy it for small money. It helps to reduce food waste but it allows our community to have access to an economic, often healthy, meal.
We strongly believe that hotels have a huge impact on the environment also in packaging material. It is important for us to first refuse, then reduce before we reuse or recycle. Although waste industries do not yet provide all solutions in all locations to these problems we independently aim to reduce the food print where we can thus forcing our suppliers up the value chain to seek themselves for greener solutions.
Here in our property, we encourage our employees to wash their cup and re-use it. We enforce recycling properly sorting into the correct bin. We provide to our guests packaging that is biodegradable where possible and not harmful for the environment. It is an indirect way for our client to help us on these efforts to address environmental issues. At every step in the process of delivering service, we have to reflect whether we thought about reducing impact on the environment.
Interview Francophone: What is the biggest challenge for the city and the hotels of the 21st century?
Benjamin Tenius: Being based the Place Rogier, we are proud to being situated in the de facto capital of Europe and, in the heart of the capital of Belgium. Amongst all challenges, one of the biggest might be the vision of the city and which part the hotel industry will play. The vision of the future must incorporate amongst many other aspects security, cleanliness, innovation and accessibility. Brussels, though being on a good path is behind other cities in many other European countries. The hotel industry has the potential to become one of the biggest strengths of the city’s economy, as tourism can be one of the key areas of development for the city. Therefore, it is essential for a united goal, a common vision and mission in order to improve further our society. This will lead to a attracting larger numbers of visitors and people that wish to drive this vision, eventually improving quality of life of all citizen.
Interview Francophone: What are the solutions and personalities that could be envisaged to respond to this challenge?
Benjamin Tenius: To respond to this challenge every individual but also major stakeholders have to agree on this common Vision and Mission. Politicians need to foster vast collaborative energies in order drive this dream forward. Politics have to focus to create identity and unity just as the Motto of Belgium says since the beginning of the country’s existence ‘Unity makes Strength’. Belgians need also to reinvent their pride and be innovative about which role they want to play in the community of nations.
Interview Francophone: How could be encouraged a village spirit in the centre of cities which seem to evaluate towards more and more individualism. How to open the cities to others without losing this specificity of the city and what is the role of the visionary hotel managers?
Benjamin Tenius: To encourage a village spirit in the centre of the cities, people are required to share the same ethics and values. This could lead to people satisfaction in terms of sharing cultural values with individuals from other parts of the world.
As innovative, visionary hoteliers, we want to be at the heart of this development by being a home for basic needs such as shelter and food but also to more elaborate areas of the Maslow’s pyramid of needs. Let us strengthen what makes this city special and welcome the world to taste it, try it, be inspired by it and maybe linger a little longer and help to build it.
Let us build on existing services, such as our 24/7 presence of our team members and extend this platform to neighbours, communities, businesses and tourists alike. Maybe we will again become the nucleus and “the place to be” only now with the addition of “the place to live and invent future”.