World Panel
Viewpoint 2 April 2020

COVID-19: A stress test for sustainable development in hospitality?

Sustainability in Hospitality

— 22 experts shared their view

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This viewpoint was created by
Willy Legrand, Professor of Hospitality Management at the IUBH International University
Henri Kuokkanen
Associate Professor at Institut Paul Bocuse

COVID-19 will wreak havoc in the hospitality industry, and some operators may have to cut all non-essential operations to survive. Unfortunately, I can see how sustainability initiatives could be categorized in this group, and moralizing this would seem unfair during a battle for survival. On the positive side, there will be survivors in the industry with stronger balance sheets. For them, the question is how customer preferences might change because of the crisis. In the short term, travel will likely decrease and expose excess capacity. The ability to offer the right experience to these fewer travelers will be crucial in attracting them. The question thus becomes whether, in the post- COVID-19 world, ethical and sustainable experiences matter more or less to customers than before. The unprecedented global crisis may well cause some of them to shift from appreciating mostly hedonistic experiences to preferring those that incorporate other-regarding values. This could create a source of competitive advantage for companies that seize the opportunity.

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