Humber’s ViewPOINT addresses technology, disruption

Alister Mathieson, vice-president, Advancement & External Affairs, Humber College, welcomes guests to the Barrett Centre for Technology Innovation.
Alister Mathieson, vice-president, Advancement & External Affairs, Humber College, welcomes guests to the Barrett Centre for Technology Innovation.

TORONTO — Humber College’s ViewPOINT celebration, held Mon. May 6 at the college, attracted 300 hospitality industry leaders to celebrate collaboration, technology and disruption at the new Barrett Centre for Technology Innovation. 

The Barrett Centre for Technology Innovation

The first portion of the evening included a tour of the Barrett Centre, which is designed to inspire innovation, support skills development and promote science, technology, engineering, art and math outreach with industry and community partners. Named after Bob Barrett, president and CEO of Polytainers, who provided funding and inspiration for the project, it officially opened with a celebration last month.

One of the student-designed hotel rooms.
One of the student-designed hotel rooms.

The new centre provides Humber with ways to collaborate with industry, and ways for different faculties at the college to work together. One of the projects is design of three hotels rooms, involving students in Design, Project Management and Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism programs. 

Gopal Rao, Humber College, event organizer.
Gopal Rao, Humber College, event organizer.

“The hotel suites fulfill three purposes,” said Gopal Rao of Humber College’s HRT program and organizer of the event. “First, they provide accommodation for people visiting the hotel. Second, this will be a living laboratory. And third, we will bring industry in and do analytics, including non-traditional parties like Rivera [Inc., Retirement Living].”

The hotel rooms were designed around concepts that include texture, nature, sustainability, and in the case of one room, accessibility. Innovations include bed frames made of concrete, and stone walls that can change colour according to mood.

One innovation that caught the attention of many people on the tour, was the steam closets, donated by LG, that appeared in every room.  At a cost of $3,000-$4,000, these steam closets help guests keep their clothes look fresh and free of wrinkles. 

Automated Navigation Vehicle (ANV) at Humber College could one day help transport luggage or pick up room service trays.
Automated Navigation Vehicle (ANV) at Humber College could one day help transport luggage or pick up room service trays.

The hotel rooms were not the only innovations featured on the tour; there was an independent data centre, not connected to the Humber system, that can provide analytics for industry. There were panel displays showing projects the students have done for Grocery Gateway/Longo’s, which broadened from their initial mandate to redesign the grocery delivery company’s website to appeal to millennials. There was also an automated navigation vehicle that could eventually be used to cart luggage to hotel rooms or pick up room service trays.

Waging battle through the heart, not the wallet

David Goldstein, Destination Canada.
David Goldstein, Destination Canada.

Following the tour, about 300 guests filled the North Campus Lecture Theatre for the conference part of the event.

David Goldstein of Destination Canada spoke about the tourism marketing organization’s fundamental shift in how they market Canada. He said that the vast majority of Destination Canada’s activities target international visitors, and those guests spend two to three times what domestic travellers spend. 

Goldstein told attendees that we are in a golden age of tourism, where global tourism is growing twice as fast as overall global economic growth. “There has never been a better time to sell Canada,” he said. He added that 2018 was the best year ever for Canadian tourism, topping the previous record set in 2002, with 21.13 million tourists arriving here last year. 

Marketing of destination tourism has evolved over the years. In the early 2000s, organizations talked about people coming to Niagara Falls and taking a picture. From 2006-2018, they talked about “experiential travel,” where people coming to Niagara Falls would take pictures of the Falls with them in it. Now, those organizations are looking at “transformative travel,” said Goldstein. 

“That means, put the camera down and do something that will involve and change you,” he said. This type of marketing means putting the dream in front of people so they can picture themselves inside the frame.

“The battle we wage is not through the wallet, but through the heart,” Goldstein noted.

COMING NEXT ISSUE:

Technology and Disruption Panel at Viewpoint 2019