University News

IFTM’s ‘learning through research’ approach celebrated at Tourism Education Student Summit

中文摘要 / Summary in Chinese

Most of the IFTM English-language bachelor’s degree programmes give students the chance to develop either a research-based thesis of their own or an individual research project. Such pieces of independent investigatory work are typically produced in the final year of a degree, enabling senior undergraduates to focus on a subject that they find particularly interesting.

IFTM recognises the quality of undergraduate research through hosting annually the Tourism Education Student Summit. The event – introduced in 2016 – helps to promote the best research produced by students, and enables finalists and industry representatives to link up. During the summit, students discuss their research with panels made up of industry executives and government officials.

“The summit was a great opportunity for me to accumulate experience, and also to improve my public speaking skills,” says student Sophia Yang Yingqi. She took part in the 2022 Tourism Education Student Summit, held on 1 June. She presented her piece of research titled “Understanding Customers’ Intention to Stay in Hotels Adopting Environmentally Sustainable Development Practices”. Sophia’s work received one of the 9 ‘Best Paper’ awards announced at the summit.

Sophia, who is in her final year on the Hotel Management Bachelor’s Degree Programme, thinks industry executives also benefit from attending the event. They “get to know some interesting and useful strategies” proposed by students, with which local companies can experiment. “This brings benefits to the whole sector,” she says.

The 2022 Tourism Education Student Summit was supported by integrated resort operator Galaxy Entertainment Group. It took place at the JW Marriott Hotel Macau. A total of 47 undergraduates in Year 4 delivered presentations during the day-long event.

The in-person summit was – for a second consecutive year –simultaneously streamed online, meaning it could reach a global audience.

Positive experience

Since academic year 2015/2016, a research thesis or project has been mandatory for Bachelor of Science candidates enrolled on English-language programmes at IFTM. The research requirement for undergraduate study helps equip students with the knowledge and skills to identify problems, to monitor trends and to make informed decisions.

At each Tourism Education Student Summit, selected students deliver presentations based on the research findings of their respective graduation research thesis or project.

Lovi Lyu Jiayi, in the final year of the English-language stream of the Tourism Retail and Marketing Bachelor’s Degree Programme, also presented her research at this year’s summit. Her work was titled “The Effect of Pop-up Store’s Retailscape on Chinese Young Tourists’ Patronage Intentions Towards Luxury Shopping”, and also received a ‘Best Paper’ award.

Lovi says taking part in the summit is a good experience for IFTM students. Going on stage and delivering a presentation for a panel featuring top industry executives helps participants gain experience in public speaking, she states.

The event also allows students to learn from research produced by fellow IFTM undergraduates. “Some students delivered presentations on sports… something different from my bachelor’s degree programme,” Lovi points out.

Industry executives who participated in the Tourism Education Student Summit praised the quality of the student presentations. Each panel assessing the submissions had a moderator from IFTM and a selection of industry professionals. Panel members provided commentary and feedback to each of the participating students.

Ms. Mary Mendoza, Managing Director at hospitality consulting firm The Platinum Ltd, was on one of the panels. She praises the innovative approaches displayed in the student research presented. Ms. Mendoza, an alumna of IFTM, says the summit provides a good platform for industry executives to learn more about the next generation of tourism and hospitality professionals.

This year’s Tourism Education Student Summit featured 3 keynote speeches. An academic keynote was delivered by Prof. Bao Jigang, Founding Dean of the School of Tourism Management at Sun Yat-sen University in neighbouring Guangdong Province. He discussed a project related to poverty alleviation in Azheke, Yunnan Province, making use of tourism to improve the livelihoods of locals.

Mr. James Koratzopoulos, Executive Vice President of Hotel and MICE Operations at Galaxy Entertainment Group, was one of the industry keynote speakers. The seasoned professional shared with the audience insights on hospitality operations, and introduced Galaxy Entertainment Group’s new Cotai project which will include more non-gaming and ancillary facilities in the future.

The other industry keynote speaker was Ms. Joanne Chan, Hotel Manager of Banyan Tree Macau. She was the first local to head a hotel achieving a ‘5-star’ rating as issued by the prestigious Forbes Travel Guide. During her talk, Ms. Chan reviewed her career development, and talked about the importance of hospitality workers having an international outlook.