Industry Update
Press Release13 November 2020

Sustainability equals impactful innovation and social change initiated by NextGen

Investors are preparing for allocation of capital with long-term ESG –focused RoI

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Sustainable Hospitality Challenge (SHC).

The next generation of hospitality game-changers, who are passionate and dedicated to reinvent a more sustainable world, are the future drivers of our laggard industry caused by today's seismic global scenario, says Paul Griep, Director of Industry & Alumni Relations at Hotelschool The Hague who is also the creator and driver of the Sustainable Hospitality Challenge (SHC).


Launched by Hotelschool The Hague and known as an innovation challenge in the academic space, SHC empowers students from schools globally to present creative projects on the dual topic of sustainability and innovation. Then, a jury of senior leaders and CEOs of global giants, who, in turn have the opportunity to introduce the hospitality ideas into the real world challenges the 30- teams. Multidisciplinary and multigenerational group eager to drive a positive outcome for the whole Ecosystem connecting young deserving innovators with accelerators and incubators whose social investment capabilities would turn a concept into an impactful project in real life.

The Evolution with global ally-ships

Due to its mission and growth, SHC has transformed into a global brainstorm platform that continuously pushes the envelope of innovation forging partnerships with the industry's flagship entities - International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF) and the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance that connect the most known C-Suite industry names as mentors, supporters and implementers.

According to Alexi Khajavi, head of IHIF and President Hospitality and Travel at Questex - custodians of the world's largest community of hospitality investors, as the social and environmental awareness is rapidly changing, capital is on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance as governments and investors need to prepare for a significant re-allocation of capital. "Where money moves is where the economy moves, and where jobs and industries move," Khajavi said adding that the importance of sustainability is a moral obligation and a financial obligation that also creates a financial opportunity.

By embracing the shift towards Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) impact, Khajavi sums the core tenet of his team's role as follows: "We have to anticipate the needs of the investment community and inform them of sustainability initiatives incorporating ESG standards, how to become more sustainable and how to measure sustainability within their mandates by connecting them to investment opportunities."

With access to almost a trillion Euro assets under management, Questex is the ideal partner to help bring together the best of both: driven and passionate students from the best hospitality schools together with the money decision-makers. "That combination is magical," Khajavi says elaborating that sustainability no longer needs to be treated as an amenity or an ancillary but as a core to the business.

Marloes Knippenberg, CEO of Kerten Hospitality who is also a Royal ambassador and co-chair of the initiative, shares the same opinion when it comes to sustainability being a contributor to the marketplace matrix: sustainability, profitability, employment and shareholders' return within the business community.

A firm believer in the new generation's power to make a difference with their innovative ideas and drive, Knippenberg argues that "an authentic sustainability vision will have real impact if we do something together and connect the academia world and the young brains to the corporate world, the business leadership, to really accomplish something BIG." For her, sustainability goes beyond plastic straws and water conservation and closer to an ESG investments projected to bring long-term return. "It's about the transparency of supply chain, responsible growth, supporting new generations and creating employment opportunities and delivering on all projects jointly with investors who are prompted to add sustainability guidelines to their business plans and portfolio growths."

How it all started?

Launched in 2014, the post-Covid tremors have shifted the tide and brought an evolution to the SHC initiative. Today, SHC has been re-positioned as the bridge between People and Profit, in the mission to deliver a more sustainable Planet for all. "Sometimes we underestimate the power of the new generation who are leading the change with their innovative thinking," explains Griep who is also the initiator of the challenge. This was his primary motif to create something with and for students that would have a meaningful cause, ensuring that the 'student journey' remains at the forefront of the whole challenge.

In addition to ambassadors Khajavi and Knippenberg, jury members and other ambassadors also include Wolfgang M. Neumann, Chairman of Board of Trustees at Hotelschool The Hague and former CEO of Rezidor, Milan Arandelovic, COO of Aroundtown, Peter Cole, CEO of Design Hotels and Dirk Bakker CEO of Colliers, who are all going to support the future challenges. In alignment with the UN Global Development Goals, SHC is a think tank partner to like-minded Top Tier institutions seeking impact and authentic outcome-driven change who are ready and eager to strategically shape the future of the hospitality industry.

Hubs for innovation that resemble living labs building a sustainable Ecosystem for living, working and socialising is where the future of "genuine" sustainability lies and which, in the words of Griep, sits with the power of the young hospitality leaders who have 2030 mindset. "This is the core value proposition of the SHC initiative that keeps on growing globally introducing bold ideas that challenge the status quo," said Griep ahead of the first qualifying round that is to select the best 20 innovative ideas from global schools.

IMPACT: Beyond Environment, Society and Economies

Delivering positive impact within the context of the world being reset in a bid to make a sustainable transition, has placed the real socioeconomic impact as a key facet of the challenge. Outcome-driven solutions to the pressing hospitality problems are addressed by students, who are then presented to likeminded entities sharing the option to align sustainable investment funds who embrace into real life.

Built upon the foundation of the initiative's commitment to keep the student journey at the epicentre of the future sustainability discussion, SHC is in the pursuit of a Better wellbeing as well as finance return as economies continue to face the urgent need to redefine a new purpose for a healthy business environment and sustainable future. "SHC is not another CSR project but an initiative that adds real value to all," says Griep introducing the real socioeconomic impact in brief: "Students implementing the projects engage more employees, help increase the profitability of a brand and create a pool of opportunities for investors whilst delivering more sustainable options for a better world."

Griep stresses that the key proposition is to highlight how to generate long-term sustainable value for all stakeholders, students and the corporate world. Students are the heart and soul of this futuristic direction. "This is the key agenda item that we have all come to address at this challenge. Until the synergy is created, impact will be constraint within opinion pieces and student research. It's high time to replace rhetoric with action," he concludes.

About Hotelschool The Hague

Hotelschool The Hague was founded in 1929, making it one of the oldest independent hotel schools in the world. Since 1929, Hotelschool The Hague has been renowned for its education and innovative research and is ranked among the Top 5 Hospitality Management Schools in the World. The school has two campuses, one in The Hague and one in Amsterdam with over 2900 students and 200 employees. Since 2014 Hotelschool The Hague has been the best public Hotelschool in the Netherlands, according to the Dutch National Student Survey. Hotelschool The Hague offers the best Master in Business Administration in the Netherlands, according to Keuzegids Master 2019. Graduates of Hotelschool The Hague occupy leading positions in the hospitality industry all over the world.

Stella V Toor
Senior Coordinator of SHC
Phone: +49 176 70058382
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