Digitalization, yesterday’s news? No! Originally, this term discussed the use of data and algorithmic systems for new and improved processes, products, and business ideas. Today, however, it encompasses much more, making censorship in everyday life simply no longer possible. In comparison, the transition from the pre-Gutenberg era to the printing press was only a slightly confusing change, considering what the transition to the digital age and the creation of the internet has caused. For the hotel industry, often classified as traditional, the digital space holds great potential. And ahead of time, it is still not fully exploited.

Switzerland has always been known for its incredible innovation achievements, so much so that it is even titled the most innovative country in the world in the GII 2020 Innovation Ranking, followed by Sweden, the United States, and the United Kingdom. And although Switzerland ranks fifth in the global ranking of digital competitiveness, this looks different from an industry-specific perspective: according to TripTease, a third of independent hotels in Switzerland are technophobic, some of which have transformed their homepages to include a direct booking system to this day. Online Booking Agencies (OTAs) pose a significant technological threat to the hospitality industry, in which they collect fixed costs and commissions for their services. The graph below shows the market share of so-called OTAs in Switzerland compared to other European countries.

Technological progress is therefore one of the main reasons why many hotels are losing their competitive position to younger and more innovative companies. Large brands like Hilton Hotels & Resort and Marriott International, for example, have integrated chatbots that automate customer service and allow employees to focus more on interacting with guests. However, these hotel chains only make up 7.5% of the Swiss hotel market. In such large empires, entire digitalization teams are deployed, but what about hotels that do not have the same resources?

Through a student project initiated by HotellerieSuisse, the EHL Group, and the Thun Hotel School, it was observed that particularly many smaller companies in Switzerland are having trouble keeping up with ongoing digitization. According to discussions with independent businesses, this finding is due to a lack of resources to develop such strategies. However, to strengthen customer loyalty in the hospitality industry, guests must be provided with an unforgettable experience. With the introduction of advanced and powerful technologies, such as artificial intelligence, it has become easier to offer such an experience to guests at reasonable prices.

Especially tablets are considered a suitable medium for facilitating everyday life, while a digital database serves as a reference for hotel services, facilities, menus, etc. Voice-controlled controls are considered trendy and convenient for using hotel services such as housekeeping. Digitalization is thus making its way into all departments of the hotel, services, and even the physical product. Traditional services such as room and concierge services have been analyzed in recent years and recognized as marginal profit potential. Instead of eliminating the two mentioned tasks, the hotel industry is gradually trying to digitize these services in order to reduce labor costs.

To summarize, the study by universities makes the following clear: the Swiss hospitality industry is at a crossroads between keeping up with the changing world and preserving the familiar. To counter this and prepare the industry for the future, the Hospitality Booster was launched. About 25% of the projects submitted to the Booster aim to digitize the industry. Thus, the platform unites the hospitality network and aims to make innovation visible by simply and understandably showing the most important projects, taking a step towards digitalization.

Do you have a project idea / hurdle in everyday life that could be solved through technology? Then submit it via We are looking forward to a variety of approaches to bring the hotel industry up to date with digitization.