Crisis-driven innovation: From reactive measures to new sustainable tourism services in the wake of the pandemic

What is the project about?
– As we know, the pandemic has had a major impact on the hospitality industry. At the same time, the crisis has provided the opportunity to put new ideas to the test, many companies have shown a great ability to adjust and innovate. We will examine three perspectives in the wake of the pandemic: changed and new consumer behaviours, how innovative services are created and various aspects of sustainable business. The purpose is to develop tools for innovation work that companies in the industry should be able to use.
Why does the hospitality industry need this?
– The hospitality industry is now faced with getting back on its feet. To cope with this, we must understand the changed behaviour of consumers and new habits in the wake of the pandemic; we will not go back to “business as usual”. What, for example, do the new trends “staycation” and “holistay” mean and will customers have different expectations of availability and supply in the future? This restart must also be sustainable. Companies in the hospitality industry are often small or micro businesses with marginal resources to invest in their own on-going innovation. They need easily accessible knowledge about what works from a customer perspective and about what is economically and environmentally sustainable. 
What are you going to do?
– The project involves researchers from three different areas: consumer behaviour, digital service innovation and sustainable business, a relatively unusual constellation in hospitality industry research. We will gather data through case studies and interviews with entrepreneurs and consumer surveys both in Sweden and abroad. To assist us, we have a reference group with representatives from industry companies and organisations. In the last phase of the project, we will conduct several experimental workshops, so-called design sprints, where we explore problems and solutions with the goal of amalgamating them in recommendations and tools.
What will your big challenges be?
– First and foremost, the pandemic itself, as we do not know the extent to which companies are able to take part and set aside time for us. It may be a challenge for us to put our three perspectives together, the interdisciplinary constellation is new to us.
What do you hope to achieve?
– We hope to produce good examples of innovation processes and new services that multiple companies in the hospitality industry will be able to learn from. Through this, the project can contribute to increased expertise in proactive and pioneering innovation work and to strengthen both the hospitality industry’s attractiveness and the transition to sustainable service development. 
Reference group at project start
Annelie Persson, Region Västerbotten Tourism, Project manager for “The digital step”
Annika Fredriksson, Swedish Lapland Visitors Board, CEO
Henrik Steberg, Development manager Destination development Sörmland, Project manager for “Digitalisation and advice for rapid recovery in the hospitality industry”
Ann-Katrin Dolium, Unionen, Sustainability Expert

Project facts


Crisis-driven innovation: From reactive measures to new sustainable tourism services in the wake of the pandemic

Research organization

Luleå University of Technology

Project Manager

Maria Ek Styvén


Åsa Ericson and Thomas Zobel


March 2022 – Feb. 2024


SEK 1,600,000

Läs om projektet på svenska »

Maria Ek Styvén

Professor of Marketing

Åsa Ericson, Professor of Information Systems

Thomas Zobel, Professor of Environmental Management