Artificial intelligence (AI) is a powerful tool and teachers and students are realising its potential now, says Reza Etemad-Sajadi, Associate Professor, EHL Hospitality Business School.

Calling ChatGPT a possible “game changer”, Reza says the AI chatbot — developed by OpenAI — is still in its early days of adoption in the hospitality industry. Concerns of job losses because of it cannot be ruled out either.

In an interview to businessline, Reza talks about adoption of ChatGPT in the industry and across hospitality business schools as well as the changing requirements of recruiters.



How big is ChatGPT and AI for the hospitality industry?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been around for some time now and its impact has been felt across sectors like manufacturing and finance. It had limited effect on hospitality, speciality in customer facing segments of the sector. However, ChatGPT has brought the focus back on AI and people are now anxious to see what impact it could have on the (hospitality) sector.

Right now, it’s early days but there’s fear and concern on one hand and some excitement on the other.


Can you elaborate on the last part?

Like all technology advancements, AI and ChatGPT are possible game changers. The fear of job loss, considering the pace at which ChatGPT is moving, is not ruled out. Private investments in AI are increasing and there are estimates that peg job losses are significantly high.

In terms of excitement, AI gives hoteliers an opportunity to try out new areas of customer service. For instance, you have a hotel run by robots in Japan, with practically zero human interaction and intervention.

Similarly, AI may allow guests more privacy by placing orders through in-room apps, interacting with chatbots, easy check-ins and so on. Simplifying central reservation systems could also happen and there are several touchpoints that needs to happen before entering a hotel that can be taken care of through AI.

But, it would also be interesting to see how guests interact with AI or chatbots, and their comfort levels with such interactions in the long run. Can just putting in select parameters of emotional quotient help improve socialising between humans and a system? Or do people get comfortable with such machine interactions in the long term?


How are business schools reacting to such changes?

In 2022, AI led to the evolution of education-tech in categories like VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality). This helped in creating virtual campuses or hybrid models of education and immersive learning experiences. While students globally were still grappling with Covid and its aftermath the hybrid learning came in handy. Now as the world moves ahead and ChatGPTs come into play, classroom experiences are getting reorganised. It can be used to generate more case studies or create multiple choice questions — two of the simplest usages.

Human interactions remain important, but at the same time, as teachers we need to embrace new teaching methods, be aware of how students use ChatGPTs in their papers, assignments and so on. The focus should be on finding solutions, adopting new technologies across courses, curricula and training methods, evaluation of students and so on.


So will recruiters also look for different or additional skill sets?

Yes, they could. Curricula and programmes should be ready to adapt to the ways in which professions evolve. And with AI adoption, it will transform the skills that recruiters look at across students.


But are you afraid that AI and ChatGPTs will replace teachers?

I don’t think so. A classroom and face-to-face interaction will stay attractive for a learning environment. Teachers have to new ways to inspire their students. The inspiration will come in real time in a classroom. It also depends on the academic level.

(The writer was in Lausanne, Switzerland, on invitation from EHL Hospitality Business School.)