Interview with Regine von Stieglitz, president Board of Directors, Hotelschool The Hague.
What are the strengths of your school, what makes a student enrol with you rather than elsewhere?
At Hotelschool The Hague, we deliver a unique combination of theory, practice and research. This is how we distinguish ourselves from other hotel schools. Our real-life learning environment supports the integration of the three and we act in a significant and student-centred learning environment.
Additionally, we deliver a combination of development in three types of skills; an in-depth understanding of hospitality and critical thinking skills (Intelligence Quotient), highly developed personal and intercultural skills (Emotional Quotient), and resilience (Adversity Quotient).
These combinations make sure that Hotelschool The Hague can deliver the most sought-after hospitality graduates with five different but key profiles: Hospitality Leader, Hospitality Enthusiast, Specialist, Consultant, and Entrepreneur.
How has the profile of your students changed in recent years? (SPC, nationality, expectations, practices, needs etc.)
There have been slight statistical changes in our student profile in recent years. To name a few, we saw an 8% increase in applicants for our Bachelor programme compared to the previous year (2016/17 vs. 2017/18). 36.5% of these applicants were international students, representing more than 75 different nationalities.
Additionally, our student body is slowly shifting from generation Y (millennials) to generation Z. A generation which has grown up in a digital age meaning they process information faster, are used to multi-tasking, and are capable of learning things by themselves. In order to facilitate this generation, we need to re-think the way we recruit and teach. Therefore, one of our mottos is to be high-tech and high-touch; we go through a digital transformation to gain high-tech and combine this with our key strengths being customised training and support for our students to gain high-touch.
How do you work with hoteliers and restaurateurs to best meet their training needs?
Hospitality Consultancy gives Hotelschool The Hague the opportunity to commercialise its hospitality-related education offer. It opens a communication channel which can help with strengthening Hotelschool The Hague’s position as one of the top suppliers in hospitality education.
The online learning modules were aimed at offering blended learning through the existing collaboration with Lobster Ink. Online learning modules offer innovative education and the possibility of contributing to ‘Lifelong Learning’, which is consistent with Hotelschool The Hague’s vision. In the coming years, we wish to create a knowledge-sharing platform using interactive technology, named Hotelschool Everywhere, which could be used by our internal and external community. The platform would facilitate life-long learning for the industry and our employees, whilst giving our students the opportunity to expand their network.
Hospitality Consultancy can currently provide an extensive offer of training sessions at various levels via, among other things, ‘video-supported training content’. The training courses provide a practical learning experience in hotel management and include the development and implementation of an action plan with a clear and direct return on investment. The courses cover a period of three to seven weeks in all hotel related fields: Engineering Operations, Revenue Management, Finance Management, E-Commerce Management, Front Office Management, Housekeeping Management, F&B Management, Maintenance & Engineering Management, F&B Service, and Kitchen.
The feedback from our customers is very positive, the training offered has been highly appreciated. More than 80% of the participants indicated they found the training very useful during the evaluation.
What innovations have you introduced in recent years to meet the needs of students and recruiters? To meet the new practices of the hotel industry?
This year was an exciting year for us since we introduced a pre-master programme, an entrepreneurship specialisation, and expanded our Food Circularity Programme. These additions were made based on the needs within the industry but also on those of our students.
For the pre-master programme, we partnered with the Amsterdam Business School of the University of Amsterdam (UvA). Upon successfully completing the programme, students can directly begin following a MSc in Business Administration at the University of Amsterdam. Previously, our students needed to follow a pre-master programme after receiving their bachelor’s degree, which meant they had a six-month or year delay.
During the entrepreneurship specialisation our students are guided in transforming their entrepreneurial idea into a concrete business plan. This programme was created based on the increased interest in entrepreneurship amongst our (prospective) students and alumni.
We further developed our Food Circularity Programme, since we are increasingly concerned about food waste within and outside our industry. Together with a great team of students, employees, alumni and industry partners, we already created impact through: Food Rescue actions where we have saved over 40,000 kilos of food, the elimination of plastic disposables, reducing our coffee cup usage with more than 30% and by joining the SDG charter. Last year we introduced our P.A.T.E. programme (one of the finalists in last year’s Worldwide Hospitality Awards) and created even more impact with numerous impactful P.A.T.E. projects.
How do you imagine teaching hotel and restaurant skills tomorrow and the day after tomorrow?
Additionally, we recently made the choice to define the hospitality management discipline as a design-based discipline. Three clear design criteria for curriculum development were formulated in the form of (1) Play, (2) Personal and (3) Real in order to put this choice into practice. The hospitality industry is evolving rapidly; experimentation is the key to continuing to realise creative solutions and innovation. We want to train the next generation of hospitality leaders who are agile, flexible and resilient to embrace and tackle the opportunities and challenges within the hospitality industry.
Play is a cross-cultural and universal concept which everybody understands. Most importantly, play involves a playful mind-set being adopted to allow for (2) constant experimentation, (3) embracement of mistakes / failure by creating a safe and playful learning environment, (4) creativity and innovation and (5) gamified learning experiences both on and offline, which foster engagement, but social interactions too.
In a world which is changing at such a rapid pace, everything we teach should be different from machines. The concept of personal is therefore about (1) making the education fit the student’s individual needs (2) enabling the student to become the best version of himself by finding out what his true values are and how to care for the world.
In a rapidly changing world, we must keep our industry focus, but also adopt a broader focus to engage with a larger set of stakeholders, vital to build a sustainable future and create hospitable futures together. Keeping REAL means we have an external focus to (1) create real-life learning experiences, (2) contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by moving societal goals forward, (3) form partnerships with various parties (e.g., companies, other universities, institutions) and an internal focus to (4) keep our course budgets, time allocations and workload realistic for both students and staff.
The hotel and restaurant business has evolved considerably in recent years with the arrival of digital tools that have changed the lives of customers and professionals alike. How do you support people already working in the hotel and restaurant industry as part of continuing training?
As mentioned earlier, we offer e-learning modules for industry and have the ambition to create a knowledge-sharing platform named Hotelschool Everywhere in the coming years. Besides these two tools, we also share knowledge with our industry via our Hospitality Research Centre and our Learning Communities.
Our Hospitality Research Centre conducts research through which they generate insights and uncover potential industry trends. This knowledge is then shared with the industry and general public via our online channels and events. Examples of such events are the International Symposium and the AQ Resilience Conference. The purpose of the International Symposium is to bring scholars and industry leaders together to share insights on hospitality innovation. The AQ Resilience Conference will take place on the 26th of September during which we will challenge participating students, staff and industry representatives to define what AQ means to hospitality leaders and how they can improve their own skills.
Additionally, our Hospitality Research Centre also shares their knowledge with our Learning Communities; which are co-operative learning environments which bring together our lecturers, students, and industry during events. One example of such a learning community is our Human Resource Management (HRM) community. The HRM learning Community is a co-creation platform involving students, alumnus, industry partners, lectures and researchers promoting a shared understanding of HR. It centres around quarterly receptions held in partner hotels where an established academic and experienced practitioner raises awareness of topical issues to be discussed within the community. Its main contribution is to breakdown traditional pedagogical mentality, by partitively including all stakeholders rather than adopting a traditional classroom style which primarily centres on an interaction between a lecturer and students.
As a school, you are subject to a half-yearly or even annual rhythm and have strict regulatory obligations to fulfil, how can you be responsive and innovative in this context?
I very much believe that where there’s a will, there’s a way! We must innovate within a certain framework, but we believe our curriculum gives us enough freedom to be responsive to (industry) trends. This is possible by having the right structure within our organisation, using real-life case studies, and by working closely with our Hospitality Research Centre.
At Hotelschool The Hague, we have a Curriculum Innovation Committee, which strives to renew our curriculum continuously. By going through a cycle of analysing our strategic choices, designing a curriculum fitting those choices, and then implementing them into our curriculum. In addition to this committee, we also have an organisation optimisation planned, during which we will transition into a more self-organising culture. Which in turn will make it easier for our lecturers and instructors to make changes to our curriculum.
The case studies are created together with companies based on ongoing and real-life challenges they encounter. An example of such a case study, is when our students worked together with Instock, a Dutch restaurant that works with rescued food, to find a solution to better match customers’ demand whilst also aiming for zero waste and meaningful value chains. Additionally, our students have two placement opportunities within the bachelor programme, during which they immerse themselves within a company. Throughout their placements, they get to be responsive to on-going trends within the company and co-create innovative solutions.
We also collaborate very closely with our Hospitality Research Centre in terms of innovation and trends: The idea is to research, implement, evaluate, research, implement and so on. This way, we make sure we are evolving in parallel with current trends and practices.
What are your development objectives and ambitions from a qualitative and quantitative point of view?
We have three strategic objectives for the coming years;
- to be a top three hospitality business school in the world,
- making a direct contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs),
- and intensifying our educational community.
We intend to achieve a leading position in hospitality education top three by implementing innovative and adaptive educational programmes, by focusing on high quality of all employees who have a strong expertise and a personality that meet our culture. We also intend to implement higher quality in processes, which will include agile, feasible, simple and coordinated procedures. The second objective is to make further positive and enhanced contributions to the UN-SDGs by expanding the cooperation with relevant stakeholders. A great example of this is our Food Circularity Programme which I mentioned earlier as well. Lastly, we strive to intensify and further flourish our community by intensifying our connections and networks.
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