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An insight into our International Hotel Development & Finance specialization by Catalina Moisescu, Specialization Coordinator

Breaking new ground in hospitality finance

With the rapid emergence of new hotel concepts, and in response to the high demand for hospitality finance expertise, Glion Institute of Higher Education launched the International Hotel Development & Finance specialization in February 2018.

The specialization is headed by Jonathan Humphries, a hospitality expert with over 20 years of experience in hotels, consulting and development. Jonathan boasts a proven track record in conducting education courses in hotel planning, development, investment and asset management. He has anticipated the latest trends in the hospitality finance industry and, together with Glion, developed an innovative format, which combines an intensive theoretical academic curriculum with a practical and stimulating approach.

Designed to fill a significant gap in the current hospitality finance academic landscape and enhance academic knowledge and career progression, the specialization reflects Glion’s commitment to equip Semester 7 students with relevant and superior professional skills as they prepare to enter the industry. The courses focus on hotel asset management, hotel feasibility, hotel finance and valuation, and global resort development. It provides students with the skills to analyze critical success factors in asset management, and to develop new concepts and products.

Students will leave with a creative mindset to go out and create new product solutions in the marketplace.” Jonathan Humphries, Head of Specialization

But what makes this program so unique and highly demanded in the hospitality sector? What is the added value for students? “Glion is the first institution in Europe to put together such a comprehensive specialization in international hotel development, concept creation, asset management and hotel finance,” Jonathan said. “The idea is to provide two aspects: first is to look at the industry from the owner’s perspective, to look at the investors, the players and the business models that exist. The second is around development and creating new concepts, brands and products. The added value for students on the program is that they are introduced to the different industry players and professionals, and they will understand the importance of maximizing the asset value and driving profits for the owner.”

A one-of-a-kind curriculum – five courses, four lecturers and over 20 leading industry players

The first cohort of students has recently finished the 135-hour program, divided into five interrelated courses taught by leading experts: Jonathan Humphries, Katharine Le Quesne, John Litzenberger and Borivoj Vokrinek. In addition, during the program, leading industry players have provided students with insight into best practice, bringing experience and expertise from around the world.

“The idea is to leave the students with a toolbox and a set of frameworks that they can apply to any given situation.” Jonathan Humphries, Head of Specialization

1. Hotel Asset Management Introduction offers an insight into global ownership and brand expansion strategies, as well as data and performance benchmarking. The educational focus on asset management has been complemented by several guest speakers and lecturers: Nicholas Northam, Managing Director UK at Interstate Hotels & Resorts; Oliver Judge, Senior Director of Asset Management at Park Hotels & Resorts; Jochen Schaefer Suren, Partner and Head of Hotel and Leisure Investments at Internos Global Investors; Jonathan Langston, co-founder of HotStats, one of the fastest-growing data companies in the world, who explained to the students the benefits of best practice benchmarking; Axel Steinbach, Senior Analyst and Natalie Weisz, Research & Analysis Manager at STR, one of the biggest performance data companies in terms of RevPAR, ADR and occupancy, showed students how to analyze market trends and benchmark hotels and assets.

It was a privilege to be invited to give input to the International Hotel Development and Asset Management specialization. At HotStats, we developed a comprehensive session on operational profit and loss benchmarking, including creating a specific HotStats website for the students to access. This website used dummy data but gave a real-life feel to how line-by-line P&L analysis contributes to enhanced profit performance and returns to owners. I think it really helped to put theory into practice. What was most gratifying was the energy, enthusiasm and commitment which the students gave to the really challenging class exercise – who knew benchmarking could turn out to be so much fun? Jonathan Langston, co-founder of HotStats

2. Hotel Feasibility and International Development was divided into three modules:

  1. Creating differentiated hotel concepts, taught by Jonathan Humphries
  2. Market planning and feasibility, taught by Borivoj Vokrinek;
  3. Negotiating the best development deal, taught by Jonathan as well.

As part of Course 2, students could learn from and pitch their ideas on creating hotel concepts directly to Wissam Chelala, Vice-President, Development Planning & Feasibility Europe at Marriott International, who shared his extensive international experience with the class.

3. Hotel Finance & Valuation, taught by Borivoj Vokrinek, focused on evaluating hotel projects and KPIs, and considered how value is measured and where are values headed. Russell Kett, Chairman at HVS, a world-renowned consulting company that created the best practice valuation model for the industry, answered these questions and introduced the HVS valuation methodology. Elke Geieregger-Collardeau, Director of Real Estate Finance at Raiffeisen Bank International, provided students with first-hand insight into the world of real estate finance.

I visited the hotel school at Glion for the first time recently and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of interacting with some very bright, articulate and numerate students. They understood hotel investment and the European hotel market, and had a thirst for knowledge and advancement. They were receptive to my lecture about the principles of hotel valuation and are just the sort of people that we like to think are attracted to join HVS. Russell Kett, Chairman HVS

4. Global Resort Development, taught by industry experts Katharine Le Quesne and John Litzenberger, gave students a comprehensive overview on master planning, product categories, performance and critical success factors in resort development. The course was further complemented by leading experts Mariana Palmeiro, Head of Wellness to Business Executive Education at Glion Institute of Higher Education; Muriel Muirden, Executive Vice-President and Managing Director of Strategy at WATG, who spoke about dynamics and trends in resort development; and Eric A. Balet, delegate to the Board at Televerbier, who provided an overview of Verbier, a renowned ski resort in Switzerland.

In this newly-created module, students learn what makes resorts so complex and fascinating by putting theory into practice and discovering the latest trends and success factors in resort development. Katharine Le Quesne, Head of Resorts Specialization, GIHE

5. EMEA Hotel Market Insight was the final module of the specialization. The students had an amazing two-day field trip to Amsterdam, visiting ground-breaking new hotel concepts and meeting with leading hospitality experts. Students gained an empirical insight into Amsterdam’s exciting and entrepreneurial hospitality market. This included innovative hostels such as Generator Hostel, luxury hotels such as Conservatorium Hotel, extended-stay products such as Residence Inn by Marriott and Zoku, and Booking.com, one of the world’s largest online travel service providers. World-renowned hospitality leaders shared their knowledge and experience with the students, including John Wagner, Director and Owner at Cycas Hospitality, during meetings at Residence Inn by Marriott and Moxy; Christopher A. Ford, Senior Vice- President Asset Management at HOST Hotels and Resorts, during a visit to Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.

Students have a completely different perspective of the industry when they finish the Specialization. They are able to engage with all kinds of different challenges and problems both from an analytical and creative mindset. The idea is to leave them with a toolbox and a set of frameworks that they can apply to any given situation. Jonathan Humphries, Head of Specialization

What do our students have to say?

  • “This semester changed my perception about hotels and made me want to work in the hotel industry, whereas before I was planning to do something else with my career.” Urangoo Enkhtuvshin
  • “The synergy between theoretical and practical learning in this specialization is well-executed and involving.” Hakim El Fechtali
  • “An enriching pathway which provides students with an outstanding opportunity to learn both through theory and meeting with numerous worldwide industry leaders. A complete overview of hotel development practices which makes students aware of key elements of the industry. The learning process is developed and conducted by current industry practitioners, who teach current updates of the market whilst having an incredible network.” Astrid Gimel
  • “A real step into the professional life. That’s what we call education.” Shumpei Moriyama

We often find that it is through onsite activities and out-of-class hotel market insight that students further develop their knowledge and skills, enabling them to unlock new ideas down the road to prepare for their own leadership roles in the future.

In a recently published article, Waritta Lawachaiyothin, one of our International Hotel Development and Finance students, wrote this in regards to the Amsterdam field trip:

“We had an amazing opportunity to visit and attend presentations from various hotels, as well as established travel e-commerce and real estate companies. This gave us in-depth knowledge of the companies’ origins, current strategies, and future development plans. It was an unforgettable experience for both myself and my colleagues.”

Find out more by visiting our website.

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About the author

Glion Institute of Higher Education
Glion Institute of Higher Education is a private Swiss institution offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in hospitality, luxury and event management to an international student body across three campuses in Switzerland and London, UK.
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