Teaching innovation in hospitality and tourism education
Staged over the first two days of this month, the Times Higher Education Innovation & Impact Summit brought together leading academics and influential figures from the spheres of business and government from around the world.
Over the course of presentations, interviews, debates, discussions and networking events, delegates helped define the ways in which higher education institutions can promote the type of innovation that has the power to change society for the better.
It was appropriate, therefore, that The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), in its 80th anniversary year and with its impressive track record of doing work that tackles “real world” problems, hosted the Summit.
The day before the official start of the programme, PolyU even got an opportunity to showcase the ways in which its researchers and innovators are continuously pushing back the frontiers of knowledge. A series of pre-Summit workshops highlighted PolyU’s endeavours in four areas, including Space, aviation and railway; Sustainable Urban Development; Human-centered innovation; and Hospitality.
In the Hospitality workshop, delegates were given a guided tour of Hotel ICON. The world’s first purpose-built teaching-and-research hotel, Hotel ICON is wholly owned by PolyU. An extension of the University’s School of Hotel and Tourism Management (SHTM), the hotel completely integrates innovative teaching, learning and research in a full-service environment; and offers real-world, problem-based learning opportunities.
Among the facilities delegates got to see were: the SHTM’s Tourism Resource Centre; the Samsung Digital Lab; the school’s training restaurant, Bistro 1979; the Vinoteca Lab, where they got to sample some of the best wines from China; and the Western Food Production Lab.
What is special about these hospitality laboratories is that they not only allow students to apply, in the real world, the knowledge which they’ve acquired, but also to experiment with their own new ideas and innovations, whether these be in food and beverage, packaging or client servicing and marketing.
What’s more, those taking the tour learnt about SHTM’s three-pronged approach to teaching. The first is the school’s “targeted and diversified” curriculum, which is taught through practical training, simulations and role-play.
The internship programme, a six-month or part-time placement at Hotel ICON, is the second prong. For outstanding students, the Elite Management Programme provides opportunities to learn from senior hotel management staff on a one-to-one basis.
And finally, SHTM has a focus on research and innovation. At Hotel ICON, there are three dedicated “Tomorrow’s Guestrooms” for students, as well as for other PolyU departments, to develop and test new concepts in the areas of hotel design and management, innovative technologies and well-being.