The thirteenth International Hospitality and Tourism Research Conference Switzerland was held over a two-day period in November 2014. The conference had two main themes. The first was ‘the challenges of changing products and changing patterns of demand for hospitality, tourism and events’. The second was ‘learners, industry and educational institutions: together preparing for futures in hospitality and tourism’. Over the course of two days, the conference brought together leading researchers from across the world, HTMi faculty and HTMi senior students, to discuss issues facing the future of the hospitality, tourism and events management industries. The conference had over thirty nationalities of young researchers in addition to internationally renowned academics and practitioners.

The opening address was given by HTMi’s Head of Research, Dr Ross Tinsley with emphasis on the importance of a well-rounded education in hospitality and tourism, meeting industry expectations but also emphasising broader educational goals. In this context, Dr Tinsley drew attention to the unique feature of HTMi Conferences in that they are student-focussed. They include a large number of students in their audiences and devote much time to providing a forum where students at BSc (Hons) and Masters levels can present their own research work and receive feedback from internationally renowned researchers.

In total, three presentations and a series of workshops were delivered to the conference by invited keynotes and guest presenters, as well as from our own staff. The conference keynote speaker was Dr Sushil Mohan (University of Brighton, England), who examined the case of coffee in the context of niche markets, the environment and social aspects. This included a critique of current labeling systems based on fair trade, rainforest alliance and organic. Next, Glenn Bowdin (Leeds Beckett University, England) focused on the increasing visibility and importance of the events professional. Our final presentation of the morning was by Maria Simone-Charteris (University of Ulster, Northern Ireland) which focussed on Northern Ireland and its transformation from a politically troubled and violent past to a destination opening up to increased tourism. This was framed through the changing symbolism of Northern Ireland’s political murals.

The afternoon workshops focussed on a wide range of topics addressing issues affecting contemporary hospitality, tourism and events. Katrin Melle (Director of Human Resources Europe, Africa and Middle East for Hyatt Hotels) drew upon her substantial experience on human resources in the hospitality industry. Martin Probst focussed on effective communication strategies for aspiring leaders. Dr No?lle O’Connor (Limerick Institute of Technology, Ireland), a familiar face at HTMi, held an engaging workshop on the global St Patrick’s Day as a powerful destination brand. Martin Probst (Leading Chef Academy, Australia) focussed on high-powered communication strategies in leadership and was an inspiring session. Maria Simone-Charteris (University of Ulster, Northern Ireland) used her workshop as an opportunity for students to interactively work on promoting Northern Ireland as a tourism destination. Finally and by no means least, we were very proud to have one of our own staff, Daniel Epifan (HTMi, Switzerland), holding a workshop on hotel design and aesthetics.

After the finishing of workshop the rest of the second day was devoted to HTMi student presentations, covering such diverse topics as authenticity, commodification and pilgrimage;an analysis of “In-House Guest Facebook” as part of e-marketing strategy in case of Hyatt Regency Hong Kong;an analysis of the motivations of male travelling specifically for beauty plastic surgery in South Korea; investigate public communication intents of blogging tools as a social media strategy: the case of Roger Smith Hotel, New York; anda preliminary investigation of procrastination among students in hotel and tourism education in Switzerland.

Overall, the conference was an exciting and stimulating event and presented many opportunities for discussion and networking amongst delegates, HTMi faculty and HTMi students.The fourteenth IHTRC Conference will take place in April 2015.

Dr Ross Tinsley, Head of Research| Editor IHTSJ