While the Covid19 pandemic changed everything about the way we ate, travelled and shopped till now, the future hinges on innovation and sustainable practices that would impact our lifestyles beyond 2020. The travel and hospitality segment, especially the high-end sector with specialized services, is currently undergoing a massive digitization to catch up with current times. Recently, the Les Roches Marbella Global Hospitality Education became the living technological campus to launch the first innovation SPARK – a global project that brings experts in digital technologies, influencers, and innovators of the hospitality industry together under one sphere.

Innovations like SPARK are already helping with the automation and standardization of services in hospitality sector. (Photo: Les Roches Marbella)

 Conceived as a bidirectional platform and fueled by the talent of students, professionals, teachers and companies, the SPARK Innovation Sphere by Les Roches is, according to Carlos Díez de la Lastra, Managing Director of Les Roches Marbella (Spain).  With this ambitious innovation, the luxury hospitality brand Les Roches aims to excel and propel through threefold steps – Inspire, Ignite and Incubate. Under ‘inspire’ the experts create solutions and test to improve the future of hospitality through experiential technology. There will also be a space for brands, companies, and suppliers to share market trends and evaluate the impact of technology and innovation on business development under ‘ignite’. Lastly, a business incubator combining teachers and experts from different areas will help new entrepreneurs to turn their innovative ideas into a reality in the tourism sector via ‘incubate’.

Future of luxury and role of machines in hospitality: To know more about this innovative pioneer project and the future of luxury hospitality, we spoke to Susana Garrido, Director of SPARK Innovation Sphere and Digitality & General Education Program Manager and Senior Lecturer in Marketing at Les Roches Marbella. “The role of machines and technology permeates any segment of the hospitality industry,” highlights Ms Garrido and adds “Sometimes we think that luxury won’t be affected or influenced or impacted by it, but there are many angles to the luxury segment. Luxury may be based on something like extreme customization, and machines could help us gather information and develop the level of customization we are expecting. Or luxury could also be related to exclusivity or distance from other people, therefore machines could also help. Even on the creation of luxury pieces or materials or environments, technology and machines are and will continue to be necessary for that since they support the nurture the creation of ever-better materials and designs. It doesn’t matter which aspect of luxury hospitality we are discussing, and at least as long as the luxury segment still thrives on the same elements that is focused on nowadays, machines could play a very important role.”

Susana Garrido, Director of SPARK Innovation Sphere and Digitality & General Education Program Manager and Senior Lecturer in Marketing at Les Roches Marbella

Gold standard of hygienic and comfort: The changes that we are experiencing this year seem to be here to stay for a little while at least. “Customers of the hospitality industry need to feel safe when staying and traveling to and experiencing an establishment,” points out Ms Garrido. She says, “All new advancements in terms of hygiene are coming through researches that end up resulting in better or new technologies. Machines already helped us with the automation and standardization of services. Now, they can also help with the sanitation as they could reduce the contact with other people. The SPARK projects provide the place for hospitality experts to see what is possible in their businesses. It is the place where the hygiene experts can show their latest innovations for the hospitality professionals to see and bring them to their businesses. Spark is intended to be the showcasing ground for what is coming next into hospitality businesses.”

A robotic SPARK Innovation Sphere by Les Roches (Photo: Les Roches Marbella)

Education and innovation: In an effort to bring quality changes in hospitality and luxury sector, Les Roches is training the future generation of industry experts to learn and practice innovative robotics for the service sector. “Our students go through their studies having to use these technologies that we have available in campus. Besides testing the technologies, they will also have to work on projects related to their uses and applications. The goal is that they become so familiar that to them it is normal to expect to find these advancements in hotels when they go to work in the industry. Also, when they manage and own their own hospitality businesses. The idea is that those new advancements that we show become a standard in the industry as they get used and tested by our students that will adopt them when they manage, own and work in businesses in hospitality,” sums up Ms Garrido.

SPARK collaborations include Marbella’s City Hall and eight tech companies linked to robotics (Macco Robotics), automation and control of spaces (Enkoa), materials (Valyro), smart home automation (Miralay), smart security (Assa Abloy), furniture (ID projects), experience (Astroland), gastronomy (Natural Machines), and avant-garde tourism