Source: Accor

In the first episode of season two of the Heart of Hospitality podcast, Duncan O’Rourke, CEO Accor Northern Europe and host of the industry podcast, is joined by Natalia Bayona, Director of Innovation, Education and Investments at the World Tourism Organization, UNWTO. They discuss how education, technology and innovation can make a lasting change in the landscape of tourism, the importance of engaging local communities and building experiences locally and how by empowering the younger generation we will better shape the future of the sector.

Accor’s Heart of Hospitality campaign returns this week with a new podcast series and a wealth of hospitality worker case studies from across Europe, sharing the passion, craft, creativity and heart that fills the travel and hospitality sector. As the global staffing crisis continues, Accor is using its sector leadership in Europe to spotlight the industry, its people, opportunities and careers and champion hospitality as an economically crucial sector and a personally fulfilling career choice.

Duncan O’Rourke, CEO Accor Northern Europe said: “Travel and hospitality is fuelled by people. As the world reopens and recovery continues at an exceptional pace, people are once again travelling the world, experiencing different places and cultures, creating memories that will last a lifetime and extending their business beyond the virtual screen. It is people that make that possible, who craft those moments and welcome travellers all over the world. Hospitality and tourism contributes billions each year to global economies. It remains the employer of 1 in 10 people around the world. Far beyond this macro view, hospitality is all about people and the heart, craft and passion they demonstrate as they grow through their rewarding careers.”

On the latest episode of Accor’s Heart of Hospitality podcast, Duncan O’Rourke and Natalia Bayona talk about the importance of innovation; the role of technology in service, sustainability and education; the incredible value and power of education and the importance of leadership and development in global communities.

With a career spanning nearly two decades, Natalia Bayona rose quickly from a young, energetic and driven millennial joining the Department of Tourism of the Tourism Trade in her home-country of Columbia, to an international career championing education, innovation and sector investment around the world with the UNWTO.

“If you have the energy and if you want to learn different things, you can empower yourself to an amazing career,” says Natalia of her career and the opportunities in the tourism sector. “The best way to get educated is by travelling because it's the way you open your brain to cultures. Tourism is a driver of peace, enabling you to see how people from different cultures are joined together for the same cause.”

The episode celebrates the valuable voice and perspective of the youth, a demographic that contributes 50% of the global tourism workforce, and discusses the opportunities and importance of young people in the sector. “Innovation has to be led by the youth and we need to empower them in order to shape the future. Hospitality is the sector that employs the most number of youth, so it's a very young, dynamic and innovative sector. It is the most human economic sector, for people and by people. Because it is so human-centric you need to innovate every single moment because each human is different in the world.”

Natalia concludes, “That's the magic of tourism - it is very human and you can see the benefits immediately. It's not a thing of five years from now or five months from now. It's something that can change your life immediately, so I don't think any other sector can do that for you.”

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Natalia Bayona leads the innovation, education and investments strategy of UNWTO, the UN specialized agency for the promotion of sustainable tourism.

With a diverse background on politics, destination management and business, she has become the first innovation director at UNWTO, has introduced entrepreneurship and education as key factors for tourism and development, and has positioned UNWTO as an innovation benchmark within the wider United Nations system as recognized by the UN Chief Executive Board (CEB) in 2020.

Her work consists on identifying the most disruptive startups and investment projects and matching them with Member States and leading corporations. As an advocate of youth and technology, she seeks to make entrepreneurs grow for a promising future in all regions.

About Accor, a world-leading hospitality group

Accor is a world leading hospitality group consisting of 5,300 properties and 10,000 food and beverage venues throughout 110 countries. The group has one of the industry's most diverse and fully-integrated hospitality ecosystems encompassing more than 40 luxury, premium, midscale and economy hotel brands, entertainment and nightlife venues, restaurants and bars, branded private residences, shared accommodation properties, concierge services, co-working spaces and more. Accor's unmatched position in lifestyle hospitality – one of the fastest growing categories in the industry – is led by Ennismore, a joint venture, which Accor holds a majority shareholding. Ennismore is a creative hospitality company with a global collective of entrepreneurial and founder-built brands with purpose at their heart. Accor boasts an unrivalled portfolio of distinctive brands and more than 230,000 team members worldwide. Members benefit from the company's comprehensive loyalty program – ALL – Accor Live Limitless – a daily lifestyle companion that provides access to a wide variety of rewards, services and experiences. Through its global sustainability commitments (such as achieving Net Zero Carbon emissions by 2050, global elimination of single use plastics in its hotels' guest experience, etc.), Accor Solidarity, RiiSE and ALL Heartist Fund initiatives, the Group is focused on driving positive action through business ethics, responsible tourism, environmental sustainability, community engagement, diversity and inclusivity. Founded in 1967, Accor SA is headquartered in France and publicly listed on the Euronext Paris Stock Exchange (ISIN code: FR0000120404) and on the OTC Market (Ticket: ACCYY) in the United States. For more information visit or follow Accor on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.