The fourteenth International Hospitality and Tourism Research Conference Switzerland was held over a two-day period in April 2015. The conference had two main themes. The first was ‘the challenges of changing products and changing patterns of demand for hospitality and tourism. 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 Europe, HTMi faculty and HTMi senior students, to discuss issues facing the future of the hospitality and tourism. 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, Martin Jost who 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 international researchers.
In total, three presentations and a series of workshops were delivered by invited keynotes and guest presenters. The conference keynote speaker Steve Engelking, examined contemporary hospitality management and reinforced the need to make a difference in the industry, by taking a more holistic approach to management and leadership. Next, Mrs. Brenda McCarron from the Ulster University in Belfast, highlighted the need for hospitality organisations to focus on employee engagement, thus resulting in better performance, lower employee turnover, higher employee advocacy and greater business profits.Our final presentation of the morning was by Mrs. Patricia Cuevas Sarria (in cooperation with the University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain) which focussed on Spain and its transformation as a tourist destination. This was extended to include future trends and predictions in the tourism model with considerations of life expectancy, middle class consumers of emerging countries, new technologies, mobile societies, new family models and the creation of authentic experiences for tourists.
The rest of the second day was devoted to HTMi student presentations, covering such diverse topics as authenticity, experiential learning, online decision-making personality, empowerment and pilgrimage, just to mention a few. These papers reflected an increasing quality and diversity of hospitality, tourism and educational research and additionally contributed to a vast body of knowledge for the industry.
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 fifteenth IHTRC Conference will take place in November 2015.