May 2022

It has been a remarkable couple of years for the hospitality and travel industry. No corner of our world was unaffected by the pandemic. Name-brand global companies along with small businesses had to fight for survival and adapt to circumstances that often changed on a daily basis. As we adapt to the changed terrain, now is an excellent time to have a deep conversation with our team members, trusted partners and industry leaders about the future.

What we see ahead is incredibly exciting. Never have there been better tools to understand and connect with customers. Never have there been more ways to streamline supply chains and create more efficient organizations. And never before has the world been in more need of the joy, escape and human connection that the travel, hospitality and sports industries have to offer.

It took nearly a hundred years for the industrial revolution to shift work from fields to factories and fundamentally reshape human society. The transformation we are witnessing in this generation is no less monumental, but there is a difference: It’s happening faster and faster.

Today’s business leaders need to be well versed in subjects that hardly existed a generation ago. They must understand—and keep pace with—emerging influences such as blockchains, social media, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, collaboration software and cybersecurity.

This isn’t the first “Future of” project that we’ve embarked upon—we’ve previously examined Sports and Medicine—but it’s the first time we’re truly diving into what’s on the horizon for the hospitality industry as a whole. We’ve titled this report FORTH— yes, it’s a convenient acronym to talk about the future of recreation, travel and hospitality. But more importantly, it captures the momentum we’ll continue to see across our industries.

Why are we sharing the insights in this report outside of Delaware North? No one can see beyond the horizon with perfect clarity, but we believe that it is possible to improve our vantage point through wide-ranging, open and inclusive exploration. We invite you to join us in this one to ensure that our organizations are at the center of a vibrant conversation about the forces shaping the future. That is the goal of the FORTH project. We owe this effort to our communities, families, guests, and our team members, both present and future.

Jerry Jacobs Jr.
CEO, Delaware North

Lou Jacobs
CEO, Delaware North

Charlie Jacobs
CEO, Delaware North



The Path to Future-readiness

In 1987, the United Nations Brundtland Commission defined sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This report takes a similarly broad view on the definition of sustainability, one that encompasses environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations.

Globally, climate change is wreaking devastation on our natural ecosystems, leisure destinations and health. It will continue to affect the recreation, travel and hospitality industries, from how we spend our free time to where we travel, what we eat and where we stay.

Sustainability plays a pivotal role in how we plan for the future and how we navigate the forces of change that are shaping it. Organizations around the globe are embedding ESG priorities into their strategy and long-term planning in a quest to make their operations and value chains more resilient and future-ready.

1. New generations care.

Generations Z and Alpha are eager to align their lifestyle, travel and purchasing decisions with their values. Thanks to social media, organizations attempting to greenwash their environmental or social impact will be called out quickly and ruthlessly.

2. Climate neutrality is table stakes.

It is no longer enough to focus on mitigating current impacts of human activity. The next generations of travelers will demand that the businesses they engage with help repair damage done to the environment over decades. The circular economy will continue to gain momentum—as companies explore solutions beyond the traditional take/make/waste model and look for ways to bring materials back into the chain as valuable inputs after their usable lifetime.

3. Investors demand ESG upgrades.

The world’s biggest investors have realized that consumers expect industry to lead environmental repair and social change. Asset managers like BlackRock, T. Rowe Price and Vanguard are pushing management teams to embed sustainability considerations into strategy and future planning.