Over the last few months we’ve been learning about our business partners and this week it’s the turn of University of Surrey. As a new academic year gets underway, we managed to grab a few minutes with Professor Iis Tussyadiah who is Professor of Intelligent Systems in Service and Head of Department of Hospitality. We wanted to learn more about the biggest issues facing hospitality right now.
What’s special about the University of Surrey?
Surrey is one of the UK’s strongest professional, scientific, and technological universities. I am proud to be part of the team to deliver transformational impact on society and shape the future digital economy through world class research and innovation. Here at the University, I have the privilege to work alongside exceptional colleagues and build strong partnerships with business and communities. I am immensely proud of the students that we attract from the UK and internationally.
Tell us about your greatest success.
I am President of the International Federation for IT and Travel & Tourism (IFITT) and I am really pleased to be able to bring ENTER2020 Conference, IFITT’s signature event, to University of Surrey in January 2020. It will bring together academics, industry, and destination managers from all over the world to shape the future of travel and technology.
The theme of the conference is ‘’Responsible eTourism’’ and we will explore ways technologies can ensure positive impacts of tourism on society, the economy, and the environment. I am excited to welcome ENTER2020 participants to Surrey in January. You can find out more about the event at http://enter2020.ifitt.org.
What are your hopes for the hospitality industry?
We are facing grand challenges in society that directly impact the industry, be it technological advances. In particular, what has been referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, ageing society, political pressures, etc. I hope for an agile and forward-looking industry, adapting well to changes, while staying true to its roots of providing friendly service and memorable experiences.
What’s the biggest challenge for the industry right now?
My current research area is transformation in the travel and hospitality industry from automation through artificial intelligence and robotics. We are starting to see an impact from the replacement of tasks and skills for current and future workforce, as well as customer expectation and behaviour. So, I see this as an important challenge. Another big challenge is climate change. The industry needs to contribute to this by thinking of new ways to operate more responsibly.
How can the industry attract more people to see hospitality as a valuable career choice?
Both academia and industry should get better at showcasing the career opportunities and the experiences a career in hospitality provides. More importantly, I think we should work together to retain the talented people we attract. Better work life balance, better support and added value through smart educational development opportunities. The Surrey Senior Leaders Master’s Degree Apprenticeship is an example of what we can do to empower people as they work.
What do you think people need to succeed in hospitality?
Passion and an appetite to innovate and embrace fast and everchanging environments.
What do you think makes the hospitality industry so special to work in?
Its people and its diverse offerings. It is fun and vibrant. From fast-food to luxury destinations, we are in the business of making people discover and enjoy themselves and have memorable experiences.
The University of Surrey is an Institute of Hospitality Business Partner, why did you decide to get involved?
We recognise the need for academia and industry to work together. We pride ourselves on offering undergraduate, postgraduate, research and executive education courses that are both academically rigorous and anchored in the real world. We recommend our students to become members of the Institute, go out-there and network and learn from the industry.