How important is “innovation” for hospitality business? 

22 February 2024

Writer: Ravidhut Boonyakierti, Director of Public Relations Department, Dusit Thani College 

Source: The Bangkok Insight (www.thebangkokinsight.com) 


Nowadays, the word “innovation” is widely used with the perception toward it as technological advancement or inventions. However, it has various definitions in many dimensions beyond that. The National Innovation Agency (Public Organization) or NIA defines innovation as “new concepts or inventions which are the results of profound knowledge and creativity that benefit the economy and the society”. For businesses, the word “new concepts or inventions” does not limit only scientific or technological innovation but includes product design, service design, business models, or novel ideas for the development of work paradigm and management.  

Recently, I had an opportunity to join an MoU signing ceremony announcing the collaboration between Master of Business Administration Program at Dusit Thani College and National Innovation Agency (Public Organization) or NIA. In this event, there was a talk session under the topic Forging new entrepreneurs with innovative mindset”, featuring Mr. TaePariwat Wongsamran, Director of Entrepreneur and Enterprise at National Innovation Agency (Public Organization), as one of the speakers (Mr. Tae is also a guest lecturer in Master of Business Administration Program at Dusit Thani College). I learned more about “innovation” from this talk, especially the point of how important innovation is for hospitality business. 

In summary, since consumer behaviors have changed over time, innovation is implemented in order to advance competitiveness and add values of the products. Products nowadays are not a simple trade anymore; they rely on various “sellable” factors. Meanwhile, innovation does not have to be technologies like others are perceived. 

Similarly, in hospitality business, Mr. Tae raised food and other delivery services as an example that the service gained popularity during the spread of Covid-19 since customers refrained from leaving their residence. Although delivery platforms are not using advanced or complicated technology, they meet the needs of users by complementing their platforms with all services needed for businesses to deliver products to consumers. Another innovation of business model is the collaboration between LINE MAN (a delivery platform) and Wongnai (a food review platform), allowing Wongnai visitors to complete meal orders from the restaurant they read food reviews by a single click that links to LINE MAN.  

The key idea of creating innovation is understanding the consumers. A business needs to select the right targets and know their insights. Instead of considering only target’s gender, age, marital status, and demographics, the business should specify the needs of the prospects. As an example, a group of Dusit Thani College’s MBA students invented an icecream made from short-tail crickets, defining the main targets are people who look for protein from insects. It is possible that other groups of customers might not be interested in this product, so it must meet the needs of the specific targets by understanding their insights to serve the best for them. After knowing the customers is the time to pick up the right innovative ingredients. 

One of the current trends that all hospitality businesses must take into account is sustainability. Tourists nowadays care more about climate change, so they try to avoid high carbon-emitting businesses and services which affect the ecosystem. That is why we see more green hotels and green flights. To be a green hotel, it requires more than a sticker saying “Please save the water” at the wash basin. All of the actions must be taken into account. The business has to look into all processes holistically from a start to an end whether any of them create negative effects to the environment. This include even the transports which are used to bring ingredients to the Catering department. The type of truck, what fuel it uses, how much carbon the truck makes are all to be considered. Therefore, the interesting part for hospitality businesses is what innovations they are going to come up with for this issue. It does not mean they must create a new formula of fuel, but the innovation can be the ideas of new procedures or practices.   

For innovations in restaurants, this example might be so ubiquitous that people do not realize it is an innovation – table reservation system. The facility has currently been put more importance on in many restaurants as it provides accurate services, accommodates customers with ease, and is able to collect customers’ data. The development of reservation system is considered a service innovation that creates more value to the core business. 

Until this paragraph, I believe you can see how important innovation is for hospitality business (all businesses actually). To conclude, if you change your waitpeople’s outfit from wearing anything casual to a uniform and the change elevates your place as well as the income, that can be considered the kickstarter of “innovation” in your business. 



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