Sustainable Hospitality Challenge forges partnership for a sustainable planet

Publish February 13, 2021
finance & economytourism

The Sustainable Hospitality Alliance has teamed up with events organiser Bench, forging a beneficial partnership for all those involved in the Sustainable Hospitality Challenge. This collaboration is about pushing the boundaries of innovation to create value-added solutions for a more sustainable world.

The Sustainable Hospitality Challenge (SHC) is a Hotelschool The Hague initiative that aims to enhance the evolution of sustainable hospitality. Launched six years ago as the ‘Genio Worldwide Innovation Summit’, the challenge has now moved to a new direction embracing sustainability as the recurring theme. SHC addresses the urgency of the climate crisis and the direct impact it has on travel and tourism – an impact that has engaged all participants to contribute with innovative solutions. Today, more than 60 students from 30 global top-tier hospitality business schools share their ideas for a better Planet!

The stage is set with international hotel school students being invited to develop sustainable solutions in the fields of Future Brand, Future Real Estate and Hospitality of Tomorrow, which they pitch to a prominent jury of senior industry leadership and hospitality CEOs.

The idea behind the SHC initiative was to elevate the student journey and put innovation at the forefront of the industry ecosystem. Paul Griep, Director of Industry Relations at Hotelschool The Hague and the driving force behind the challenge said; “This is the largest student sustainability challenge in our industry. Our mission is similar to the World Solar Challenge where ideas and solutions presented by the students are adapted and used in the real world.”

Now an exciting new partnership between Bench will bring a new dimension to the challenge. “We are honoured to partner with such a global industry events organiser that will showcase innovative talents and will introduce a new edge to this challenge”, Griep said. “This initiative presents a unique opportunity for the next generation of hospitality leaders to build sustainable solutions with a global outreach and outcome.”

On occasion of this partnership, Jonathan Worsley, Chairman of Bench, said: “Showcasing an international pool of talent, eager to present innovative ideas on a global stage is the most rewarding part of the alliance. Bringing together a generation of creative change-makers and the investment community will shape the cradle of innovation and will lead us to a more sustainable world. We can do this only when collaborating and listening to the new generation.”

A leading supporter of the challenge is Wolfgang M. Neumann, chairman of the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance – a global forum of industry CEOs who are committed to a resilient and sustainable future - who is also chairman of the Board of Trustees of Hotelschool The Hague. He said: “Responsible travel recovery, impactful leadership and resilience in all planet-affecting initiatives are critical for the industry and the planet. All decision-makers need to collectively ensure that together we support the future leaders in building sustainable growth.”

Marloes Knippenberg, CEO of Kerten Hospitality who is also a Co-Chair of SHC, believes that the student challenge has been created by the students and for the students. “Multiple inventions have evolved as a result of a challenge and our industry is no stranger to experiencing fast-forward progress only by connecting the business world with Generation Z that pioneers the most innovative ideas. New concepts need to be visible to the business and investment communities – a vital role that not only leads to opportunities for many but accelerates the speed of development in our industry and supports a mindset-reset towards a more sustainable world.”

To qualify for the SHC, all teams delivered their first report describing their innovative ideas in November 2020. Previews of some of those reports can be found on website. The quarter-final and semi-final will take place online on March 31, leaving just three teams in the final which will take place at the Arabian Hospitality Investment Conference (AHIC) later this year. Top tier industry CEOs will be judging and awarding the winning team.

Sustainable Hospitality Alliance

The Sustainable Hospitality Alliance brings together engaged hospitality companies and uses the collective power of the industry to deliver impact locally and on a global scale. They work with leading hospitality companies and strategic partners to address key challenges affecting our planet and its people, and develop free practical resources and programmes to enable the wider industry to operate responsibly and grow sustainably. Their members make up 25 per cent of the global hotel industry by rooms and include 14 world-leading hotel companies with a combined reach of over 30,000 properties and 4.5 million rooms.


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