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Robot hotels and morbid day trips – tourism expert Nick highlights the more unusual industry innovations

Date 23.09.2016

Think of a holiday and the chances are a beach and the sun would be the first things to pop into your head.

But ask a hospitality and tourism student at the University of Northampton, and robot-run hotels and trips to gruesome scenes of mass murder might figure in their thoughts.

“Tourism is a fascinating industry which is forever evolving, and some of the trends are quite amazing,” said Nick Naumov, who joined the University as Lecturer in Hospitality and Tourism Management in September.

“Niche tourism is very much a growing area. There’s medical tourism, where somebody will travel to another country purely for medical care, eco-tourism is a big thing, and a fairly new phenomenon is dark tourism. This sees travellers head to places that are historically associated with death or tragedy – for example, Ground Zero in New York, or concentration camps in Eastern Europe.

“Advances in technology are also big news, with hospitality in particular experiencing some fascinating innovations. You’ll find quite a few new hotels will let you control your room’s temperature, curtains and doors using your mobile phone.

“In Japan, there’s a hotel staffed by robots. While the technology at the moment means the hotel still needs humans to maintain the robots and generally help with problems, one big advantage for future hoteliers is that they could be fluent in nine or 10 languages – and although they are expensive to buy, you don’t need to pay them a salary.

“So while those people who are bilingual will today find they have an advantage over other job-seekers wanting to work in a hotel, they could become less attractive if a robot can do their work for them.”

No matter how far technology advances, Nick is sure the affable, personal attention only humans can provide means graduates in tourism and hospitality will always be very much in demand.

“I started studying hospitality at school in Bulgaria when I was 14, spent five years working towards my degree, and since then I have worked in elite hotels, travel agencies, in airports and worked in education,” he said.

“Experience and openness to innovation can take you a long way in this industry, and I am really happy to be able to pass on mine to the students here, which will help them to forge a successful career.”

Nick added: “While some traditional industries are dying, or have already died off, tourism and hospitality will always be in demand.

“The British Hospitality Association has predicted that the UK could create 300,000 new jobs in the industry by 2020* – the demand is massive and I cannot think of a better, more exciting or fulfilling career.”

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