KU Winter School: Students as hotel managers in business game

Over 60 students from Germany, Slovakia, Estonia and Poland attended this year's KU Winter School. In a business game, they developed a fictitious tourism company over the course of a week in small groups. The goal: Outperforming their competitors in their economic activity. Students from various disciplines were able to benefit from each other's knowledge, get to know Bavaria and make international contacts. The project was supported by Studium.Pro, the association “IN Kontakt” and the European Union.

"The Winter School 'Management Simulation in Tourism' is a progressive and international learning format. The business game is a fascinating method of combining business know-how with creativity", explains Prof. Dr. Harald Pechlaner, Chairholder of Tourism and Head of the Center for Entrepreneurship at the KU. His Chair organized the event together with the Ingolstadt School of Management (WFI) and in cooperation with the KU's International Office. They were supported by lecturers from CBS International Business School (Germany), Comenius University Bratislava (Slovakia), Matej Bel University (Slovakia) and TalTech School of Business and Governance (Estonia).

During the one-week event, students had time to work in small interdisciplinary and international groups to take over and rebrand the fictitious hotel "Emerald Forest” and reorganize its marketing strategy. The teams were put together in a diverse way, describes Dr. Jutta Walz, Faculty Manager at the WFI and coach at the Winter School. "Each group included men and women, Bachelor's and Master's students and students from different disciplines such as business studies, tourism, international relations or English studies." All groups consisted of a mix of both German and international students. "I was very pleased that guest students from five universities and KU students from four different faculties were represented this time, so the simulation was even more diverse than last year. The creative potential of the student teams was impressive", says Walz.

Specially appointed student coaches and a student media team ensured an even greater dynamic within the simulation game. For student Pei Shyan, who is studying the Business Administration Master's degree in Digital Customer Experience & Service Design at the WFI and the Toulouse School of Management, it was precisely this dynamic that was so enriching about the event: "We manage everything simultaneously and learn how a real company works."

The basis for the simulation game was a virtual platform on which students could redesign their hotels in a game scenario. An algorithm then evaluated the profit achieved, and the coaches also assessed the effect of the investments made or the appropriateness of the pricing, for example. However, the students were not only able to gain new insights via the platform, but also during field trips: Among other things, the program included a tour of a real hotel. The participants acquired further theoretical knowledge through on-site workshops and the online input sessions that took place in Ingolstadt in the run-up to the week. "The new format as the first 'ERASMUS+ Blended Intensive Programme' at the KU has contributed to the good atmosphere within and between the diverse teams with virtual preliminary meetings of the participants from five European partner universities", describes Dr. Simon Märkl, Head of the KU International Office in Ingolstadt.

At the end of the week, one team's performance stood out in particular: The overall winner was the group that came up with the new hotel name "Schanzer Haven" and a slogan that can be translated as "Local taste, global success, endless pleasure!". The group scored with the idea of creating a strong local connection and thus a special feel-good atmosphere.