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Students Prepare for Careers in Growing Experience Economy

Dr. Spring H. Han, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Management, has been at the Higher School of Economics since 2012. Her current research interests focus on the hotel industry. She recently spoke with the HSE news service about her teaching and research, as well as the students she advises in a new programme called ‘Experience Economy: Hospitality and Tourism Management’.

— What do you consider the most promising areas in the hospitality and tourism management sector?

— As in other business sectors, technology, social media, and sustainability are emerging issues.

First, due to the increased use of technology-based innovations in all services, the customer experience and customer satisfaction will be directly influenced by various technologies in this industry. The ‘Lodging Technology Study 2014’ reports that the luxury hotel segment is planning to invest $7.5 million in technology. Second,technological advances relating to social media mean that customers feel freer to describe their experiences. With the proliferation of online customer review systems, social media plays a dominant role in many aspects of the industry. In particular, customer-generated reviews have transformed consumer decision making in the hospitality and tourism industry by making information widely available about ‘experience goods,’ such as a hotel stay or a meal at a restaurant. Finally, needless to say, sustainability in the hospitality and tourism sector is a hugely important trend. Sustainability issues, including climate change, air pollution and global warming, are likely to increase in importance from the perspective of both visitors and their hosts.

— How would you evaluate your students and their ambitions?

— Russia has a long tradition of domestic travel, and it has recently opened its territory to international tourism. As a result, the hospitality industry is developing and the tourism market is rapidly growing.  I see my students as having lots of potential, and they are ready to become new leaders in this field. Our Master’s programme, ‘Experience Economy: Hospitality and Tourism Management,’ not only provides academic knowledge but also practical skills that students can acquire to help them analyze and solve problems. I believe the education from this programme will be helpful for students pursuing a life-long career that allows them to make the most of their professional strengths.

 Russia has a long tradition of domestic travel, and it has recently opened its territory to international tourism. As a result, the hospitality industry is developing and the tourism market is rapidly growing.  I see my students as having lots of potential, and they are ready to become new leaders in this field.

Spring H. Han
Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Management

— Why do you think there is such interest in the programme, and what have HSE students managed to contribute?

— Russia’s infrastructure development for the hospitality and tourism industry has been growing rapidly. Domestic and international companies alike are entering the market. In line with this trend, university students and graduates who seek employment at international companies are modifying their educational strategies and building knowledge in our Master’s programme. Furthermore, many of our students are considering going to the next stage of their education, most notably, the Ph.D. programme.

Recently three students — Anastasia Salina, Natalia Polkanova, and Tatiana Rysina — took part in major international conferences where they presented their research papers. Anastasia, a student whom I advise on a Master’s thesis, has been working on destination marketing related issues. She recently won the best paper award at the 76th TOSOK International Tourism Conference that was held July 2-4, 2014 in Gangneung, South Korea. The main goal of this annual conference is to provide opportunities to bring together international researchers, educators, government officers, industry practitioners and graduate students interested in tourism, leisure, and hospitality management and share the latest research, methodologies, and case studies focused on hospitality & tourism. An interesting story about Anastasia is that I let her call me ‘Sunsangnim’ (선생님), which means ‘mentor’ in Korean.

At the 4th International Conference on Tourism Management and Related Issues, which was held in Rome on September 18-19,Natalia presented her research on content analysis, and Tatiana presented her social network research. Both presentations were very well received at this event, which is organized by the European Institute for Advanced Studies in Management. Among other topics, the conference covered areas like destination management, hospitality management, congress management, air transportation management, archeological sites management, and urban and regional tourism planning.

I firmly believe that success is certain to follow these students in any field given their enthusiasm and efforts. 

— You are an expert in the experience economy. What would you recommend to people who are just consumers of services in the tourism and hospitality industry?

— Life’s journey is all about experience. I think the key is really to focus on what you are doing in your leisure time and on making the decision to engage in those experiences. It does not matter how much you have in your budget. You will be able to find thousands of options to enjoy within your budget range. I think it is much more important to think about who you are with, rather than how expensive something is to do or where to go. A warm and cuddly experience with your loved ones will make you happy.

Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for the HSE News Service

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