Friday, October 26, 2012

4 questions with MM Planners

This week, we spoke with the Mussche family about their Koi project that took home the Grand Prize at Radical Innovation 2012. 
The team comprises of VĂ©ronique Mussche-Vanwetter, Alexandre Mussche, Nicolas Mussche, Maximilien Mussche and Marc Mussche. 

What prompted your team to create Koi?

The idea was basically generated around 2 major ideas:
- How to find prime locations in city centers where land is rare
- How to create new urban links for new urban uses other than cars

We try to wrestle with how the issues of tomorrow's hospitality can bring together, on one hand, the “hosting” and how, on the other hand, the “hosted” public where urban tissue links and hotel infrastructure becomes one and the same landmark – in other words, the “KOI” project.

How do you think people would react to the change to a world-famous landscape of the Eiffel Tower?

The integration of new elements in the urban regeneration and architectural evolution of historical cities has always been and will always be a significant landmark event illustrating the economic and artistic strength of societies at a certain point in their development.
When the Eiffel tower was built, lots of people wondered whether it should remain in the Parisian city landscape. Today, nobody can imagine Paris without the Eiffel tower. The same question took place when the Louvres Pyramid and the Beaubourg Art center were built, but they are now part of the Parisian landscape and its urban uses.

What does the grand prize win at Radical Innovation mean to your team and the future of your creations?

Being awarded the first prize meant a lot to us because we were recognized as a family team (both trans-generational and multi-professional). Mixing experience and creativity have been essential to produce a strong concept to answer today’s needs.

Do you see Koi becoming a reality? What obstacles do you have to overcome to make it happen?

Through daily contacts, known demands and major urban projects, we feel that the “KOI” concept is a real answer to hospitality and city problems. It has a great chance of becoming a reality, but the main challenge is obtaining of political authorization to occupy land on both sides of the rivers in major cities throughout the world. The “KOI” project is a partnership between private and public entities, where both parties have similar interests. Since most cities are currently building pedestrian bridges, we feel that by authorizing our project, public authorities would fulfill their need for such new urban links. These public authorities have advantages such as having a prime location where others cannot compete, interest from hotel groups and investors, as well as saving huge amounts of money (that would have been spent on land) when they invest in the bridge structure.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

4 questions with Miles McMullin

We caught up with Miles McMullin, student winner of Radical Innovation 2012, to find out more about his experience. 

How did your Hotel Administration background influence your thought and design process of REN Retreats?
I basically created a simple product I would love to see in the market. I saw a gap between the low-end hostel segment and the design focused boutique hotel segment, and thought I would mesh aspects of both to create a hybrid that would be affordable yet chic and sanitary. The Cornell School of Hotel Administration provides such an immense background of knowledge from all aspects of the industry, so it was stimulating to have the opportunity to apply a little of everything we learn to a unique concept.

Coming from a non-architecture and design background, what challenges did you face in crafting the concept?
I had some disadvantages initially when it came to creating the floor plan and other aspects of the design phase, but overall, I loved my concept so every setback was a challenge I loved to solve. I used my personal experience from working in many sectors of the industry in addition to following the latest trends to create what I thought was unique yet feasible for the industry. The most important part of the competition, in my opinion, was having a strong concept that matched some trends in the industry, so I crafted REN based on these ideals.

What are your thoughts on automated services vs. human relationships and interactions in the hospitality industry?
The buzz word constantly thrown around is "high tech, high touch," meaning there has to be a balance between the increase of technology and maintenance of great customer service. I believe in the high end segment of the market this is especially true. There will never be a replacement for human interaction and fabulous service for this market segment. However in the lower end segments, many customers would prefer to walk into the hotel and swipe into their room with their phone. They don't want or need a front desk agent asking them about their day and trip as they mostly value convenience, comfort, and cleanliness. For REN Retreats, I believe the systems I chose will not affect the guest's perceived service quality, but rather provide a level convenience that has never existed before.

What career path(s) do you have planned? Did Radical Innovation nudge you towards any particular direction or make you consider possible paths you’ve never thought of before?
I am currently contemplating a few career paths to pursue after college. I would love to be involved in a field that combines aspects of the beverage industry with hotel development. I feel a lot of the big hospitality companies are doing the same thing so it would be exciting to have the opportunity to bring some real innovation to the industry. The contest helped me reaffirm my love for creative concept development and showed me that there is a chance to break away from the competitive convergence currently happening in the hotel industry.

Friday, October 5, 2012

10 weeks to the starting date of submissions (Dec 14, 2012) for Radical Innovation 2013!

The 7th Annual Radical Innovation in Hospitality Award provides a platform for professional practitioners and students around the world to present their approach to radical innovation in the hospitality field.

The event will take place on the 16th of May 2013.