Laughter and inside jokes opened the conference call as the judges, each established leaders in the hospitality industry, gathered together as old friends and comrades on a mission to select the top entries for Radical Innovation 2013. The challenge? Narrowing down three professional entries and one student entry from a pool of 70 solid, original ideas from 25 different countries.
John Hardy, founder and CEO of The John Hardy Group, led the discussion with candid honesty stimulated by the variety of concepts this year that made us understand hospitality from a renewed perspective. Other members of the jury include Claude Amar, president of The John Hardy Group International, Michael Medzigian, chairman/managing partner of Watermark Capital Partners, Jena Thornton, managing director of Eagle Rock Ventures, Simon Turner, president of global development at Starwood Hotels, James Woods, president and chief operating officer of The Bowls and Wing Chao, renowned master planner, architect and designer of Disney Parks. USA Today’s Hotel Check-In editor, Barbara DeLollis, also joined the conversation in preparation for moderating the panel at HD Expo in May.
Of all the topics discussed, the overarching theme was the balance between radical thinking and feasibility of the concepts. Which should we place more emphasis on? With a competition titled “Radical Innovation,” it is hard not to focus on the concepts that stood out on that front. We received some mind-blowing ones that bent the imagination. Here are just a few standouts:
· Grand Cancun, Michael Silvers, Richard Architecture + Design, Germany
o a recycling water plant that functions as an offshore multifunctional resort hotel
· Up Hotel, Humberto Conde, HRA-Lisboa, Portugal
o balloon-like rooms that allow guests to control the height of the floating experience
· Nomad, Jihyoon Yoon and Saeyoung Yoon, USA
o moving suite along a railway that can be docked onto a “tray” at the destination train station as a part of the bigger hospitality infrastructure
· Algae.tel, Illinois Institute of Technology, USA
o embraces biofuel technology by creating a lake cruising hospitality experience powered completely by algae and polluted lake wate
· Upsidedown Hotel, Gaia Bessone, Polytechnic of Milan, Italy
o built underground in abandoned galleries below the urban surface, it doesn’t affect the surrounding skyline in a significant way and it preserves the quality of the space
Other projects seemed just a few years away from becoming a reality:
· The Slim-Tel, Jerry Szwed, RTKL, JP Estopinan
o pre-fabricated portable modules that make the best use out of awkward, previously uncaptured spaces in between buildings
· Convergence, Caroline Fraser, Luca Valentini, Flora Olivieri, Italy
o an urban hotel designed to maximize interactions between guests and locals by merging their leisure, social and business needs and removing the barriers of usual functional spaces.
· Pop-Up Hotel, Eric Tan, Fabian Busse, Leon Lai, Nico Schlapps, PinkCloud.dk, USA
o transformation of empty Class A office spaces (e.g. midtown Manhattan) into hospitality spaces.
· The Studio-Pod, Michael Burch, University of Kansas, USA
o the ultimate work/live balance design, Studio-Pod creates a solution for students and professionals who spend most of their time in the studio
· Affordable Hotel, Yuliya Dzyuban, Ukraine
o improve financial, social and professional abilities residents of slum areas where accommodation and amenities is given in exchange for labor
Ultimately, the judges agreed that they have to factor in how the winning project is received by the audience. Will people be receptive to the ideas proposed? Will they be pushed to think about hospitality beyond the hotels they’ve stayed at? And most importantly, how does the winning project influence the industry for the better?
Curious? Stay tuned as we reveal the finalists of the 7th Radical Innovation in Hospitality Award later this week. They will go on to present their ideas at HD Expo in Las Vegas on May 16, 2013 in front of industry leaders who will then vote for the winning project.