Recently, the NYU SPS Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality Innovation Hub (HI Hub) and partner Tech4TH Solutions came together to launch the first annual ‘The 4TH Idea - Design Thinking Idea Hackathon’ where students from the Tisch Center participated in a week-long exercise which tested their ability to think outside the box and find creative solutions to real world problems in the hospitality industry.
Led by Reshma Budhia, co-founder of Toss the Coin, an independent marketing company, author of the book “I AM”, and design thinking specialist, students were taught the principles of Design Thinking and the idea of Return on Imagination. Through an ideation session, students had the opportunity to put those principles into practice and were asked to propose “user stories” and “how might we” solutions to real world challenges that hospitality professionals typically face, such as, “How can we make it easier for hotels to get to know their guests and their needs better?”. Throughout the session, Budhia reminded students that “What’s real was imagined once”, as she pushed them to think of solutions that go beyond what is currently possible, to find the ‘4TH Idea’.
In preparation for the final session of the Idea Hackathon, students were placed into groups and asked to meet with professionals from three hotels, the W New York Union Square, the Hyatt Union Square New York, and the Loews Regency New York Hotel. Each group received a unique challenge to think about throughout their hotel visit and were asked to propose their best ‘4TH Idea’ solutions to a panel of industry professionals, including Jacob Messina, Senior Vice President of Technology and Innovation at MCR Hotels, Daniel Kornick, Chief Information Officer at Loews Hotels & Co, Jason Shames, CEO & Co-founder of Skipper as well as NYU Adjunct Professor, Elizabeth Haas Edersheim, NYU Adjunct Professor and Senior Advisor to the NYU SPS Dean, and Markus Schreyer, Chief Development Officer at Proper Hospitality.
Each group was ultimately judged by their creativity and power of their imagination, even if the proposed solutions cannot be implemented in reality. In the end, the winning team was awarded for their wild, out of the box solutions to the issue of sustainability across a hotel property, suggesting the use of a “recompost” machine that accelerates the decomposition of materials using nitrates and small amounts of magnesium and calcium as well as the use of linen waste turned into manure for the hotel’s rooftop garden.
Students left the session with a newfound way of thinking when it comes to solving issues in their future career fields, striving for the 4TH Idea. “You ARE creative”, Budhia reminds students.