Hotel Management (Hoger Hotel Onderwijs)

Hotel Management (Hoger Hotel Onderwijs)

Published by Robert Coelen op Monday 9 January
© 2019

The Stenden University of Applied Sciences Grand Tour

Stenden University of Applied Sciences has designed a novel and innovative form of international mobility known as the Grand Tour. In this form of international mobility students who are following a programme at SUAS can move to another campus to continue either their core curriculum or partake in elective (minor) modules. SUAS has campuses in The Netherlands (principal location) and in South Africa, Qatar, Indonesia, and Thailand. At all these locations the core curriculum of the Hotel Management (HM) programme is being conducted as well as a number of minor modules that take particular advantage of the local cultural context.

The essence of the best practice is that in the development of (particularly) the competence dealing with intercultural skills remains under control of SUAS since the core curriculum and the minor modules are developed by SUAS. This ensures a tight integration of all modules and retention of the learning lines that are developed for the relevant competences. This in contrast to the mobility that is carried out under traditional exchange programmes, where the sending institute has less control over the continuation of learning lines.

Research conducted at SUAS has established that students who participate in the Grand Tour Programme do significantly enhance their intercultural skills, thereby establishing that international mobility within the educational paradigms of SUAS does achieve towards the intercultural competence as defined for the HM programme.

The translation of this competence in phase (year) and module objectives demonstrates clearly that it is easier for students to achieve some of the objectives whilst being immersed in a foreign culture. The nature of these objectives are such that the immersion itself provides students with ready examples of why and how things are different due to a variant culture. The recent acquisition of a second learning hotel in a foreign culture enhances the ability of SUAS to deliver identical immersive practical experiences to further enhance the development of intercultural competence.


The Hotel Management Programme at Stenden University of Applied Sciences (SUAS) aims to produce managers and leaders for hospitality in the 21st century. To meet this objective HM aims to ensure graduates achieve all the nationally agreed competences. In addition, the HM programme has incorporated two generic competences. One of these (Competence 12), is the subject of this good practice submission:

" Effectively identify and handle cultural differences within an international team in hospitality management "
This (and other) competence(s) are translated into phase (year) objectives and further into module objectives. The phase objectives of this competence are:

• Phase 1.12 Familiarises himself with the theme of intercultural society and can empathise with individual and intercultural diversity and people with various backgrounds;
• Phase 2.12 Can create a link between ethical (intercultural and international themes and the culture of an organisation and explain the added value of cultural or individual diversity;
• Phase 3.12 Is willing and able to handle intercultural differences effectively and can explain why paying attention to the moral side of the business culture is an indispensible part of (intercultural) management;
• Phase 4.12 Effectively identify and handle cultural differences within an international team in hospitality management.

Whilst in general there may be many such translations from internationalisation objectives, the special way in which SUAS is able to execute aspects of this objective makes it in our opinion best practice. Many institutes of higher learning practice international exchange as a way to expose their students to other cultures. In doing so, they must rely on the exchange partner to provide the translations of objectives that fit within the relevant competence to be developed. Undoubtedly, may of the objectives are achieved if only through the immersion of the student in another cultural context. The special way in which SUAS is able to achieve this immersion whilst having full control of the translation of the competence in phase and module objectives is by way of its so called Grand Tour. The Grand Tour programme makes use of the International Branch Campuses (IBC’s) of SUAS, located in Qatar, South Africa, Indonesia, and Thailand. In the Grand Tour programme students avail themselves of core modules or elective (minor) modules at another, foreign, location of SUAS for one semester. Because SUAS has developed these modules a higher level of control is achieved in reaching the objectives that are translated from the competence.

At each IBC students are introduced to the local culture by means of an induction programme. Since the students will study within the educational paradigms of SUAS, the induction can focus on the local cultural context and give students therefore a more comprehensive cultural induction than would otherwise be possible (cf. exchange programme setting) in the same time frame.

At each of these campuses the IHM programme is conducted in essentially the same way as in the Netherlands, save for local adaptations due to the prevailing culture, legal context, or logistical adaptations. This results in IHM students being able to take parts of the core curriculum at other locations.

In addition, IBC’s are encouraged to develop minor (elective) modules that augment the core curriculum and relate especially to the local environment. Thus, in South Africa IHM students are able to take the minors Wildlife Management (to develop environmental awareness) and Lodge Management for example. It requires little insight to realise that Lodge Management was invented in South Africa as a way to look after guests on Game Reserves. Equally, to be able to understand man’s impact on the environment, Wildlife Management, conducted in a major game reserve, presents an ideal and locally relevant opportunity.

The objectives of the Wildlife Management module that pertain to Phase objective 3.12 (as well as to some extent 1.12 and 2.12) are shown in the table below.

Module objective
10. Analyse South Africa, including culture, politics, statistics, geography and climate, history, economy, tourism, ecotourism and conservation
16. Understand the role of (South African) legislation in sustainable wildlife management

The objectives of Lodge Management go a step further and address the same competence with several objectives as shown below.

Module objective
1. Understand South Africa’s culture, politics, demographics, geography and climate, history, economy, tourism, ecotourism and conservation
2. Understand social, economic and legal constraints as they are applicable to the lodge operation in South Africa
3. Understand the impact of the lodge industry on the natural environment in South Africa and legal implications in place to minimise this impact
4. Understand the concept of sustainable development and ecological- and environmental friendly practises with regards to the industry in South Africa and how they can be applied to lodges
13. Understand local (S.A.) health and safety rules and regulations with regard to food production and service
15. Understand typical South African food from various cultures

Equally, the minor Spa & Health Management minor modules are conducted at our locations in South East Asia. The world’s pre-eminent Spa and Health facilities are located there and the nature of this business has its roots in oriental medicine.

The Minor Modules Event Management (1 and/or 2) are conducted at all locations and at each location students are confronted with experts from the particular locale. These experts engage with students as if they were clients. The interactions between students and these experts embed many of aspects of intercultural communication and specifically address the phase objective 3.12 (see above). This phase objective is translated into module objectives as shown in the table below.

Phase objective Module objective
3.12 Is willing and able to handle intercultural differences effectively and can explain why paying attention to the moral side of the business culture is an indispensable part of (intercultural) management.
12. Is able to apply the 7 habits of Stephen Covey. Can sell ideas, solutions and events to specialist as well as non-specialists
9. Is able to negotiate with all stakeholders
21. Can transform, improve and innovate existing products and services (Event Management 2)
22. Is able to integrate trends and social developments into concepts and programs (Event Management 2)
28. Is able to build up and maintain a network

Participation in parts of the programme of IHM conducted at the IBC’s places the students in a variety of cultural contexts. The introduction to the various cultures is a set part of the induction program and, where relevant, these cultural aspects are part of the programme once again during the conduct of both core curricular modules as well as the minors.

Thus, taking the module Strategic Operations Management, a phase 3 module from the core curriculum, in a foreign location would enhance the module objectives that pertain to phase objective 3.12 considerably. The table below shows these objectives.

Module objective
4. Manage a department in Stenden University Hotel or another affiliated company, setting clear goals, organising staff, providing feedback, controlling and evaluating the performance, maintaining and securing the ISO- 9001 quality standards
5. Effectively and productively manage cultural diversity
6. Promote sustainable success in service business through value driven leadership
7. Work effectively in a team

Equally, a student who takes the phase 2 modules Controlling and Evaluating (C&E) or Planning at a foreign location would find it easier to achieve module objective 16 (of C&E) or module objective 14 (of Planning) as shown in the table below.

Module objective
16. Describe the aspects of intercultural management found in the different hospitality management roles.

14. Identify cultural barriers and cultural bias in the daily operations and to demonstrate how to cope with these

Virtually all students conduct Phase 1 at their home campus, although occasionally, especially foreign students, can start these at a different location than where they will graduate.

Every module in Phase 1 contributes to phase objectives in relation to competence 12 as shown in the table below (see phase 1.12 objective above). Ensuring therefore that the basis for further development is laid appropriately in Phase 1. The reflection on these basic operations at a later stage in the programme, when in a foreign location will enhance the understanding of these module objectives related to competence 12.

Module Food & Beverage – Phase 1
Module objective
3. Demonstrate a professional and hospitable attitude; recognize own and others’ core qualities and pitfalls, and use reflection in order to - allow others - develop.

Module Guest Experience – Phase 1
Module objective
3. Recognise the wishes and needs of (international) guests from different backgrounds by their verbal and non-verbal communication and respond to these in an adequate way in various situations.
5. Minimise problems due to the cultural differences and cultures influences on people when they change their cultural environment.

Module Rooms Division – Phase 1
Module objective
3. Demonstrate professional skills in executing (basic) standard operational procedures (SOP’s) and the use of specific equipment within the Rooms Division departments and facilities.
4. Show hospitable behaviour and attitude towards guests which is characterised by:
- Hospitable and commercial behaviour in various languages;
- Representative presentation;
- Guest friendliness.

Module Resources – phase 1
Module objective
9. Explain the concept of (company) culture and the concept of (universal core) values that contribute to the care of human beings and the world.
10. Recognise students own norms and values, understand that these are culturally biased and understand the different motives and visions of managing diversity.
19. Apply different PBL related/intercultural communication skills

Favourable and demonstrable effect on the quality of education

It is important to note at the outset that by virtue of the fact that students do not have to familiarise themselves with the institutional culture insofar as this relates to the conduct of education and examinations. The adaptation to the new environment does therefore not include having to cope with a different institutional culture and is therefore easier (cf. exchange programmes). This gives students more energy to direct at the cultural differences as they are experienced in the learning and living environment.

There has been some study of the effect of the Grand Tour programme on culture shock and it can be said that culture shock in a severe form is not experienced by all participants, though they can be placed in the four phases of the Gullahorn W-curve.

The competence 12 has been translated into actionable objectives that fit within the process model of intercultural competence of Deardorf (2006) in which students go through cycles of development that include the phases (starting) of attitudes, knowledge and comprehension, internal outcome, and finally external outcome (which aligns with our competence) in which students demonstrate effective and appropriate communication and behaviour in an intercultural setting.

The competence 12 has been defined for the Grand Tour into 7 sub-competences that relate to the ability to:

• Gain valuable knowledge of different cultures
• Embrace cultural diversity and nature
• Interact with local habitants and create relationships and networks
• Expand the personal and professional development
• Improve language skills and communicate with local society
• Develop interpersonal skills
• Apply the international experience in any situation

Maring (2010) found that all students (in her sample) who participated in the Grand Tour programme developed their abilities in the seven sub-competences as defined above. The level to which they developed the various abilities was influenced by the type of module, length of stay, and the expectations and attitude of the students towards the foreign culture.

Loman (2009) , utilising a different model for the analysis of competence (Ward, 2001 ) arrived at the same conclusion. The Grand Tour programme had a major impact on the development of intercultural competences.

Whilst these studies did not compare the extent of changes compared to a regular exchange experience, the did establish that, even though students did not move outside the educational paradigms of SUAS, they did develop enhanced intercultural competences.

The best practice element therefore is focussed on the level of control SUAS has over the development of competence 12 due to the heightened control of the programme of the students in a different cultural setting.

A number of module/phase objectives to be achieved are intuitively more attainable in foreign locations. Thus, module objective 16 of Controlling and Evaluating, in which students are required to describe the aspects of intercultural management found in the different hospitality management roles, are easier to be completed given that these students will have experienced aspects of these at their home campus in Phase 1. Although they have been at the receiving end of the effects of management roles in phase 1, by being immersed in a different culture in Phase 2, they will notice the intercultural aspects more readily. Equally, having to identify cultural barriers and cultural bias in the daily operations and to demonstrate how to cope with these is easier through the same mobility. Especially since daily operations will still be fresh in their minds from Phase 1.

The Phase 3 objectives are of a higher order but again it is readily understood that the objectives of the Minor Module Event Management in a foreign setting will by virtue of the location force students to cope with objectives 9 and 12 (“ Is able to apply the 7 habits of Stephen Covey. Can sell ideas, solutions and events to specialist as well as non-specialists”; and “Is able to negotiate with all stakeholders”). The added intercultural dimensions of objectives 21, 22, and 28 (“Can transform, improve and innovate existing products and services”; “Is able to integrate trends and social developments into concepts and programs”; and “Is able to build up and maintain a network”) given that they are conducted with ‘real world’ interface will further challenge students in the conduct of the module.

The development of intercultural competence, as described by competence 12 has been the subject of a number of studies at Stenden University of Applied Sciences. The most important findings of these studies are reproduced here. Collectively they demonstrate the strong development of intercultural competence amongst Grand Tour Students.

It is important to note that recently SUAS has taken control of the management of a hotel not dissimilar to that in Leeuwarden. This has permitted us to mimic the learning environment of Leeuwarden in South Africa to an even higher degree than before. The effect on internationally mobile students in respect of Phase 2 and Phase 3 modules will therefore be enhanced. Whilst Phase 2 objectives will be more readily achieved in almost any setting, Phase 3 module objectives are more readily attainable if SUAS has a higher level of control over the conduct of activities in a hotel.

Thus, whereas in an affiliated hotel Phase 3 students doing their practical experience will most usually be given shadow positions, in a SUAS managed hotel the students are fulfilling the position, with an experienced hotel manager taking on more of a coaching role. This represents a subtle shift in the balance of responsibilities. Given that we now have one foreign location with the possibility of immersing students as we do in Leeuwarden, this represents one further aspect of the best practice we can now deliver to our students: a learning environment in a foreign location over which SUAS has maximal control.

Constraints or limitations and unique features

As with any form of international mobility there are constraints. For one, the locations that are available, and thus the cultural contexts, are limited to one of five countries. This would represent a limitation for students who are interested in a particular culture not available amongst the IBC’s. It does of course not detract from the general development of intercultural competences.

The development of additional minor modules depends on the availability of local academic staff with the appropriate expertise or the willingness of SUAS staff from other campuses to temporarily be mobilised to deliver the educational content. SUAS is working to decrease this constraint by developing additional degree programmes at the IBC’s thereby widening the academic expertise in situ. In addition, SUAS is developing a structured staff exchange programme, which in part will alleviate this constraint.

The Grand Tour programme does not offer enough for students who wish to study particular content that is not available in study programmes at the IBC’s. International exchange (also practiced at SUAS) is the most appropriate avenue for these students.

The constraint in long-term staff mobility relates mainly to the willingness of staff (and their families) to relocate to another campus. This is no different than with staff exchange between partner institutes. However, the ability to find suitable ‘pairs’ of staff (who teach in the same program) at least alleviates the pressure on teaching staff resources as both staff take over one another’s duties in that respect.

The unique features of this programme are the ability to mobilise students within the paradigms of SUAS education and thereby retaining strong control over the learning lines in respect of the development of competences as set out in the Professional Competence Profile. In addition, such mobility does not introduce the additional stressor for students to have to cope with another institutional culture, thereby giving more time to absorb the local cultural context in all its facets.

The learning objectives of the modules in respect of the intercultural competence can be retained in sharp focus and the benefits of immersion in another culture maximised for the objectives.

Exchange characteristics & opportunities

Presently, we are not aware of any institute of higher education practicing this form of student mobility. Whilst a number of American institutes practice the so-called “Island Program” this is not the same as the Grand Tour programme. The major differences are that in island programmes generally staff from the home institution travel with students. This reduces the opportunity for students to learn from academics with a different cultural background. In terms of the Dutch context, there is no other HEI that practices Grand Tour, even though one other institution has an IBC.

Thus, the practice of Grand Tour could be offered by at least one other HEI. SUAS is presently assessing the possibilities of other Higher Education Institutes (HEI’s) making use of the IBC’s for the purpose of student mobility. Indeed, SUAS is also assessing the development of joint minor modules with other HEI’s at IBC’s. Either of these developments could lead to duplication of the practice and extend the use of our IBC’s for the benefit of Dutch higher education in general.

Links and supporting documents

09 JAN


Level: Bachelor
Orientation: Professional

Standard: Teaching and Learning
Assessment Result:

Type: The programme was NOT assessed against the NVAO framework "BKInt"

Contact information

Contact: Robert Coelen
Contact e-mail: robert.coelen(plaats the 'at' sign hier)
Institution: Stenden University of Applied Sciences
Country: The Netherlands


From the foregoing it is obvious that the principal resource in this programme is the existence of branch campuses and all the attendant benefits as well as requirements from these operations.