Outstending Magazine #2 – Hotel Management School Leeuwarden

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September 2023

Creating what’s next by

Innovation Design Based Education tackles real-life issues in the professional field Alumni on their innovation “My HMS network is a great benefit” Puck Wilbers’ lessons on how to innovate in hospitality


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HMS Students on Design Based Education – “So much better than learning from a book and taking a test.”


Mark de Jong, Executive Dean in Bali, sees HMS students grow during their Grand Tour.


7. Dario Wolfsen, Global Senior Property Director at Kitopi 17. Linde Borger, Regional Manager at Hotels for Trees 26. Maartje Nelissen, Founder of Plant FWD 31. Floris van Wijngaarden, Owner of Way To Cool 37. Michiel de Vor, Co-founder of RUNNR.ai el “our co ve r mod

4. Foreword – By Academy Director Marco ten Hoor; 6, 16. Did you know...? – News and facts about HMS; 32. Facts & figures – About HMS’ Digital Agenda; 34. Alumni in... Healthcare

COLOPHON – Outstending is the annual magazine for the alumni and partners of Hotel Management School NHL Stenden. Concept & Realisation: Marloes Tervoort – MT redactionele content Copy Editor: Iris Koomen Translation: NHL Stenden Vertaaldienst Copy Editor & Proofreader: Julia Gorodecky Art Director: Martijn Blokland Marketing & Communication: Pascale de Wijs – Likewise Hotel Management School NHL Stenden Communications: Stephanie van Oorschot, Charlotte Knol Contributors: Caroline Dircken, Firma Fluks, Kim van der Meulen, Dingena Mol, Bram Patraeus, Kees van de Veen, Ronnie Zeemering (ZeemeringMedia) . Printer: Veldhuis Media BV Circulation: 2,500 Contact: Hotel Management School NHL Stenden, Rengerslaan 8–10, 8917 DD Leeuwarden; +31 (0) 88 991 7000 Follow us on Instagram: @hotelschoolleeuwarden and @alumni_hms





The most important trends on innovation in the hospitality industry.

Lessons from... Puck Wilbers “A constantly changing hospitality sector calls for entrepreneurs who regenerate and innovate.”


Interview – Guido Lips Head of Guest & Cultural Experience at City ID – ”Innovation should be applied in places where it is beneficial.”


Vienna in 24 hours Discover the city with HMS student Kamilla Kovács.

Creating what’s next



Progression and innovation have become ingrained in our DNA


Creating what’s next 2023: a year that lent itself to so much when it came to the numerous science fiction films of my youth. 2023: a year that sounded so far in the future that it captured the imagination of scriptwriters and enabled them to do so much with it. Flying cars, robots in the house, chips in your head. Fortunately, it was all still a long way off and things didn’t move so fast. What we didn’t realise then, however, is that the law of exponential growth came into play as soon as we started digitising the world. The digital evolution started quietly in the ’80s with CDs, a personal computer that you could become accustomed to for years, and the introduction of email. But now, we have entered the Web 3.0 era and developments and innovations are taking place at a rapid pace. Internet applications are more coordinated and integrated. Think of smart cars, augmented reality and the much-discussed openAI. What does all this mean for our education and hospitality sector? Basically, we have to realise that digitisation is no longer a means, but the foundation on which our lives are organised. It has penetrated into the very capillaries of our everyday. Today, education is simply no longer possible without a digital foundation, and the hospitality industry is also transforming completely with the availability of big data and a digital customer journey. This flow of innovations and changes requires a different basic mindset from both education and the industry. One that we, as Hotel Management School NHL Stenden, already implemented years ago: of curiosity, adaptiveness and innovativeness. Not being afraid of changes, but embracing them as soon as possible. Seeing opportunities instead of threats. Being open time and time again to the new reality. OpenAI and everything that results from it will be fairly evident in education in the coming period. Personalisation of the customer journey is taking off in the industry and to what extent do we introduce touchless technology? And of course, innovations with regards to sustainability – such as plant-based food, CO2 reduction and green energy – are high on all agendas. In short, innovation is unstoppable and will occupy an increasingly larger place in all our lives, which is why so much attention is being paid to this in this issue of Outstending. Innovation is here to stay, so let’s – as industry, students and education combined – embrace, research and shape this together. We’re ready for it. Marco ten Hoor Academy Director Hotel Management School NHL Stenden

Creating what’s next


did you know...?



Young Talent Awards

With their exceptional talents, intellect and determination, our students engaged in several competitions that pushed the boundaries of their abilities. These contests not only provided a platform for them to showcase their talents but also fostered an environment of collaboration, learning and personal growth.

Students Ganga Cesca, Caspar von Velzen and Barbara Samu are the winners of the Young Talent Award 2022, a prestigious global student competition organised by Hospitality ON. The competition seeks to recognise outstanding initiatives in the hospitality sector, with a specific focus on designing a fresh recruitment programme for Hilton. The team presented their impressive plans and a prototype called ‘Swipe right for Hilton’, which captured the judges’ attention. During the Award Ceremony at InterContinental Paris Le Grand, the trio were also awarded with an internship at Hilton Headquarters, marking a significant step in their professional development.

NXT GM Challenge Alumna Lynn Woltjes (L), who graduated in 2020, was announced as the winner of the fifth edition of the NXT GM Challenge in January. The challenge, organised by HotelloTOP and NH Hotel Group Part of Minor, provides a platform for young hospitality talents such as Lynn to develop their skills, face challenges and grow both on a personal and professional level. Lynn will assume the role of General Manager at NH Schiller and NH Caransa for a year, two prominent hotels located in the heart of Amsterdam. Throughout her tenure, she will receive exceptional support from seasoned industry professionals, enabling her to excel in her new position.

Talent of the Year Award Student Jean Auguste van Willigen has been bestowed with the prestigious title of ‘Talent of the Year 2023’. This esteemed recognition is presented annually at the Future Hotello event, which precedes the yearly HotelloTOP Year Event at RAI Amsterdam. The award honours a student or recent Hotello graduate who has demonstrated exceptional performance. Jean Auguste owns Abientoo Coffee, and he focuses on promoting responsible coffee consumption through the sale of refurbished quality coffee machines. It was Jean Auguste’s authentic and entrepreneurial spirit that made him stand out among the contestants and secured him the victory.

“An authentic spirit made him stand out”


Students and alumni of Hotel Management School NHL Stenden (HMS) are the ultimate game changers in the field. What innovations do HMS alumni embrace and how do they drive innovation in their specialisation?

text Firma Fluks

Dario Wolfsen (31) Graduated in: 2014 Position: Global Senior Property Director at Kitopi in Dubai Kitopi in short: Cooking for several restaurants in one smart kitchen.



The kitchen of the future Preparing tasty dishes for several restaurants in one innovative, fully automated kitchen. That’s Dario Wolfsen’s dream for the future. Where did the idea for Kitopi come from?

“It originated in 2018 from the idea that restaurants that offer home delivery only have a limited sales area. When you order food, you don’t see where it is prepared, so you might as well prepare it at a different location than the restaurant itself. And if you prepare dishes for several restaurants in one kitchen, you can serve lots more customers. That’s how the first ‘cloud kitchen’ came to be five years ago. Today, Kitopi comprises 100 kitchens, 150 Kitopi-owned restaurants and 5,000 employees (‘Kitopians’) in 5 countries in the Middle East, supported by a tech hub in Poland and a robotics R&D centre in Denmark.”

What’s so innovative about Kitopi?

“Kitopi completely changes the inefficient practice of traditional kitchens. Kitopi chefs run an entire restaurant in a kitchen of just 4.5m2. Moreover, only one kitchen is needed to prepare meals for up to 45 restaurants. Flexibility is therefore critical, because demand in this competitive market calls for a varied range of dishes. We also ensure this flexibility in our own restaurants, because the lifespan of a new concept is becoming increasingly shorter. Thanks to their smart design, our restaurants can be converted from, for instance, a sushi bar into a pizzeria within two days and with a budget of €10,000.”

How do you see the future of Kitopi?

“We aim to grow in the Middle East and also expand worldwide. In order to branch out into Europe and the US with their higher personnel costs, the kitchens need to be more automated. So we are investing hugely in robotisation, with the aim of creating a fully self-operating kitchen, run by robots with the assistance of humans. We want to continue to challenge ourselves and be at the forefront. My personal goal is to develop the kitchen of the future, in which we deliver the most automated and highest-quality food for all possible cuisines.”

Do you have any tips for other people who have an innovative idea?

“Go for it. Don’t get stuck in analyses, just take action. Time is of the essence. Not everything will be perfect straight away, but before you know it you’ll be five steps ahead of everyone else. The great thing about working for a start-up is that it stimulates the innovative mindset. That’s why our CEO’s door is always open to anyone who has an idea and you stand a good chance of actually implementing it. Your idea might fail, but you learn a lot along the way.”

Creating what’s next


An instructive plunge into the business world


innovation text Firma Fluks images Dingena Mol

Tackling real-life issues in the professional field: that is the essence of Design Based Education, the new teaching method provided at Hotel Management School NHL Stenden (HMS). Here’s a glimpse into a class where third-year students are working on various challenges on behalf of D&B The Facility Group.



esign Based Education (DBE) is based on tackling challenges and solving practical issues. Since September 2020, students have been learning and working in groups, tackling challenges put forward by organisations. Lecturer and account manager Gerrit Vriesema is enthusiastic about the educational innovation. He is the pivot between the groups of students and the clients. “It’s great and also instructive that students work on a company’s real-life issues and come up with practical and usable solutions.”

Students see things from a fresh perspective

Students work in groups of four or five on one company challenge. And as facilities company D&B The Facility Group submitted five challenges all at once, an entire class could work on this organisation’s issues. Gerrit mentions several reasons why companies want to participate in this type of education. “They may not have the time to work on a research question themselves. Or they want a new, fresh perspective that students can provide,” he says. “But it’s also because they enjoy working with students.” These reasons are also true for D&B The Facility Group, whose operations lie within prime real estate and ambitious corporations in the Randstad (the urban agglomeration in the west of the Netherlands), with 10,000 employees working in hospitality, facility management, security, cleaning, mobility and catering. Michel Pan, Director Business Strategy, and Melissa Kooke, Concept Development Manager of D&B The Facility Group and HMS alumna, took five groups of students under their wing. Michel fl inched at the idea of supervising an entire class for 15 whole weeks. “It seemed very labour-intensive to me at first, but it turned out be okay,” he says. “The advantage of working with so many students at the same time is that some of them really stand out. Some groups produced really good results. Experience shows that setting up and explaining the assignment to the students takes up a lot of time. After that, the groups work fairly independently, although we do hold weekly consultations and as an organisation we also have to provide interim feedback.”

Urgent topics that aren’t addressed

The five challenges that D&B The Facility Group presented concerned carbon footprint reduction, an onboarding plan for

Melissa Kooke from D&B The Facility Group

Michel Pan from D&B The Facility Group

new staff, an innovative security solution with a focus on technology, event hosting, and horizontal career opportunities within the company’s various departments. “Our challenges are urgent issues which we ourselves don’t have enough time to tackle and investigate,” explains Michel. The students also look beyond the current services, such as when working on the challenge for the Event Host. “Normally, our services are aimed at long-term contracts, but in the future we would also like to host events as part of our hospitality services,” explains Melissa. “What is the

About Design Based Education With the implementation of DBE in September 2020, HMS has rigorously innovated the education it provides. The underlying educational philosophy is based on Design Thinking, which involves taking a creative approach to practical issues in order to come up with an innovative solution. Consequently, the study programme is in even better tune with the business world. Students learn through a challenge, following the five steps of Design Thinking: understanding the challenge (Empathise), articulating the problem to be solved (Define), brainstorming possible solutions (Ideate), designing a prototype to test the solution (Prototype), and improving and continuing to test the solution (Test). In addition, students take various in-depth modules that correspond with the challenge they are dealing with.

Creating what’s next


GROUP 1 – CHALLENGE: Carbon Footprint Reduction


Student Daan Kromhout: “Our assignment was to discover how D&B The Facility Group can reduce its CO₂ emissions by 25 percent. It was a tough challenge, because the company consists of six different services and you have to know the exact emission figures for each of them. Those figures weren’t available and we were unable to conduct our own measurements in the six weeks we had at our disposal. So in the end, we concentrated on two business units: cleaning and facility management. Our final product is an advisory report for the managers of all business units, so that D&B can plot one clear course with respect to sustainability. That’s important, because if you want to change things in an organisation, you have to change the rules or policies before everyone accepts the change. The school gave us a helping hand whenever we got off track. Our group worked really well together. It wasn’t always easy, but everyone did a good job. We also enjoyed working together in a variety of cafés in Leeuwarden. Getting to see what my classmates are like in a professional capacity was really something. I was quite surprised. By collaborating you can benefit from everyone’s strengths and competence. That’s the good thing about Design Based Education. It takes your competence as a student as a basis and then links up with it in an interactive and creative way.”

best way to organise this service? The students look into that question. They also look at trends and come up with advice on how we can market that service and how we can recruit staff.”

Inspiring for a broader professional field

At the start of the project, Michel gave a business presentation on D&B. “The students were a bit puzzled at first. After all, they’re hotel school students and we’re a facilities company. But we’re looking for young people who have an eye for hospitality, because our approach to providing services has a lot in common with that of the hotel industry. I hope we inspire the students to consider working in facilities when they graduate.” After the start-up phase, a number of students were able to spend a day in the World Trade Center in Amsterdam to see how a such huge building is run.

Consulting experts

The students work on the challenges in a workshop environment. They do not attend class lectures, “although every student is offered tailored expert sessions to broaden certain knowledge,” says Gerrit. “There are expert groups on all kinds of subjects, such as marketing, research, strategy, finance, sustainability and risk management. I encourage students to follow a specific expert

session, depending on what they need in order to tackle a challenge. That could be a discussion with a lecturer or a mini-lecture.” The students themselves are responsible for getting that infor­ mation. “However, in the final assessment we do check whether they followed this advice,” explains Gerrit. “Suppose students struggle with finances and they don’t make use of an expert session with a finance lecturer, then I will naturally point this out to them.”

Subject matter sinks in better

DBE lays the responsibilities on the students themselves, which stimulates ownership and the students learn more and faster, explains Gerrit. “By figuring things out yourself and accumulating knowledge, things sink in much better,” he says. “Here at school we offer an active learning environment where you learn by doing in project groups.” Furthermore, developing competencies that dovetail well with the professional field has another major advantage. “Students quickly discover which aspect of hospitality suits them. It is enlightening for them to get a handson idea of actual practice early on in their education.”

Pleasant mutual contact

Carrying out a large project for an organisation can seem over-


GROUP 2 – CHALLENGE: An onboarding programme for

new employees

Student Stijn van Lokven: “Our final product is Culture Connect: an onboarding programme including an introduction day for new D&B The Facility Group employees, during which they can also make contact with each other. The questionnaire, which we sent out to employees, showed that attending the current staff association events at work can feel like a big step for some because they normally never visit that location. Holding the introduction programme there can remove that barrier. When analysing the survey, it became clear that the company has a high turnover rate. We examined several exit interviews and the common thread was that the employees saw no career opportunities. Consequently, we want to use Culture Connect to introduce new employees to the various business units right from day one, to show them that advancement is an option. Our contact with the client was pleasant. They explained exactly what was expected of us and so we had a clear idea of what we were working towards. And our group members cooperated well with each other. We’ve already known each other for a while, so we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and we complement each other. We’re really pleased with the end result. By conducting thorough research, we were able to make good progress, on the basis of which the company can move forward. This new approach to learning is so much better than learning from a book and taking a test. It was really cool to be given the opportunity to carry out this project for a real company.”

whelming and abstract, but the students are given clear, bespoke frameworks. It is precisely the difference per challenge, project group and client that makes it challenging for Gerrit. “My job has only become more enjoyable thanks to Design Based Education. I help the students get started on managing the project, but I also monitor them with respect to the theory, content and client communication.” The latter is very important, because good cooperation between the students and the client produces an inspiring dynamic, enabling students to get the most out of it. Good collaboration between students also appears to be a formula for success. Creating what’s next

GROUP 3 - CHALLENGE: A wider career perspective within the company Student Remco van Sliedregt: “Our challenge was all about the possibility for employees to change departments. During the research phase, we discovered that trust, personal growth and clear communication on the part of management are critical aspects in that respect. Therefore, it’s important for HR employees to be aware of the employees’ wishes. In our final product we recommend asking questions regarding employee satisfaction and holding personal interviews. Our final idea also includes a quiz, which new employees can use to indicate which topics they find important and what their interests are. With this approach of working on a project for a company, I took this assignment very seriously and learnt a lot from it. Our group members worked well together. I discovered that it’s important to plan and agree on what we would hand in and when. Right from Year 1, we work at school with group contracts in which we record agreements with each other. In our group’s contract we mainly described when we would communicate with each other and within what timeframe we had to respond. This challenge makes me think that working in an HR department would suit me. So I plan to apply for an internship in an HR position next year, whereas I used to believe that Food & Beverages was right for me.”


Gerrit’s experience is that the vast majority of students don’t mind working in groups. “They often achieve a good end result if they collaborate well. Naturally, some collaborations aren’t as troublefree as one would wish, but students learn from that too. Our study programme prepares students for real life, which constantly requires people to collaborate. I’m of the opinion that you can learn from positive and negative experiences.”

12 GROUP 5 – CHALLENGE: The event host

GROUP 4 – CHALLENGE: Technological solution for security Student Jesse Lammertink: “Technology is quite a broad subject. We therefore spent quite a long time deciding on a suitable focus. The tour we were given of D&B The Facility Group in Amsterdam eventually pointed us in the direction of ethics. We were given an access pass to open doors and which registered all our movements. There was much more to it than we initially thought. We wondered what data is registered and what people think of that. Technology is developing fast, but what about privacy legislation? It appeared that little research had been conducted into ethics within D&B, and so we thought this was an interesting social issue. The initial challenge was more about replacing security guards with technology, so this was quite a big adjustment. We therefore had to take a step back and start over again. We didn’t mind, because we were happy to be able to delve into a subject that D&B would like to know more about. Unfortunately, due to some fellow student’s family circumstances, we have not yet been able to present our final product. The client has been sympathetic and has given us more time to finalise the challenge. Fortunately, we’re well on track and expect to complete the final product soon and to everyone’s satisfaction.”

Student Kim Jorink: “Our challenge was to write a business plan for an extra service, namely hosting events, within the Hospitality label of D&B The Facility Group. We preferred to elaborate our business plan right down to the last detail, but Melissa and Gerrit said we should keep feasibility in mind and not be too ambitious. Their advice helped us funnel all our ideas and fine-tune the final product. We had an international student in our project group and that was an asset. We have learnt a lot from each other, because everyone looks at things from a different perspective. Sometimes I found it hard to reach and involve everyone, but we discussed that and our collaboration improved. We gained a lot of knowledge for this project in a short period of time. Working on challenges in a practical environment takes you out of your comfort zone and makes you look beyond the hotel’s reception desk. Our final presentation went very well. We amazed ourselves at what we were able to achieve.”

” DBE lays the responsibilities on the students themselves, which stimulates ownership”

interview text Pascale de Wijs & Marloes Tervoort



“Students can learn a lot from the Balinese culture” Just as Ibiza and Bonaire were ‘discovered’ several decades ago, the beautiful and welcoming island of Bali seems increasingly accessible and popular with many Dutch people – despite the 15-hour flight to get there. It is also one of NHL Stenden’s Grand Tour destinations. In his capacity as Executive Dean, Hotel Management School NHL Stenden (HMS) alumnus Mark de Jong is responsible for supervising HMS students. “I see them grow during their time here.” Creating what’s next

Grand Tour students, UNTRIM staff and NHL Stenden board members during a visit to Bali Grand.



Sunday morning walk at Seminyak Beach.


he casualness with which Balinese people make everyone feel welcome can be called hostmanship avant la lettre. It is only logical that HMS decided to establish one of its Grand Tour destinations there in as far back as 2009. The Netherlands never seems too far away in Bali. Pictures of Amsterdam canals are posted on the wall of Universitas Triatma Mulya (UNTRIM) International and if you listen closely, you’ll hear the unmistakably Dutch accent of two students giving a passionate presentation in English to an audience of two.

Growing popularity

In their third year, HMS students can study minors at one of NHL Stenden’s Grand Tour partner locations in South Africa, Thailand or Bali. The Bali location is popular, with increasing student numbers since its establishment. When the Grand Tour was introduced, approximately 200 students travelled to the island. Today, in 2023, that number has grown to approximately 650 students. “They are NHL Stenden students from various study programmes, but mostly HMS,” explains Mark.

Balinese topics

This is partly because of Bali’s popularity, but the number and content of the minors that students can sign up for definitely have something to do with it. “We now offer eight different minors. As a basic principle, the minors that students can choose to take on their Grand Tour are as closely aligned as possible to the culture of the environment in which they study, wherever that may be in the world,” says Mark. The programme of the Grand Tour in Bali

includes minors such as Mindful Leadership, Spa Business Strategy, Outdoor Leadership in Adventure Tourism, and Healthy and Happy Ageing. “We can learn a lot from the Asian countries with respect to hostmanship, mindfulness and rituals,” says Mark. “These are topics and skills that often lie outside of our Western comfort zone, but that is precisely why they are so instructive and popular among a new, young generation. It’s a generation that wants to do things differently and will do things differently, while absorbing the positive things the world has to offer.”

Unique Bali

Living and working in Bali, Mark has seen many changes there since 2012. “Tourism has grown tremendously in certain places and nowadays there are a lot of digital nomads. Even so, you can still find stunningly beautiful, quiet spots here.” The variety in tourism, combined with the Balinese service culture, makes Bali an interesting place, he says. “Indonesian culture is characterised by a very pleasant, natural balance in providing hospitality. Everyone, from server and housekeeper to manager, smoothly and sedately strive to make their guests’ every wish come true. And at all levels too, from backpackers to guests of luxury, five-star hotels and everything in between. Students learn a lot from that.”


Mark’s mission with the Grand Tour in Bali is twofold. “I want to provide quality education for the international students who come to Bali, but also for talented Balinese students,” he explains. “The international students learn all about hostmanship


Mark with his partner Diaz.

Grand Tour students on a local culture exploration field trip.

About Mark de Jong: From working on the Dutch island of Schiermonnikoog to Bali

Mark during one of the UNTRIM charity events.

Campus building exterior (front).

and special soft skills on campus. Additionally, we offer the Balinese students more knowledge and leadership skills. This ties in well with the study programme in the Netherlands. For example, Design Based Education has been introduced in Bali as well and students learn in workshops instead of classrooms. It’s a great way for students to learn from each other and an excellent example of inclusiveness.”

Local collaboration

“When international students choose to study in Bali in their third year, we pay great attention to providing the right guidance. Balinese employees support and guide international students with practical matters such as visas, doctor’s visits and transportation. They assist in arranging accommodation and necessary documentation, including for transport. We encourage students not to use scooters as in Bali we drive on the left side of the road and traffic here can be described as chaotic. So all in all, it’s a safe way to learn to stand on their own two feet.”

Life experience

Because, says Mark, the biggest benefit of the Grand Tour, apart from the knowledge that students gain, is the life experience with which they return home after their period in Bali. “I see students mature and become more independent. By the time they leave, they are more inquisitive and enterprising, and they have gained an understanding of a different culture. I notice that students are often impressed by the way Balinese people welcome and treat them. That’s something they also take back home.” Creating what’s next

Mark de Jong (1972, Dokkum) gained his first hospitality experience while attending secondary school on Schiermonnikoog and enjoyed it. The Hoge Hotelschool Leeuwarden opened its doors in 1987, and in 1994, Mark decided to enrol there. He had no set plan, his motto being from an early age: ‘Don’t try to control too much, but recognise the opportunities that cross your path in life.’ So when the opportunity presented itself to do an internship in Bali for a year, Mark jumped at it. He liked it so much there that soon after graduating in 1999, he returned to Bali in 2000 to manage a small resort. The Downtown Villas and The Villas & Prana Spa organisation in Bali offered him a new career step in India. “Working in India wasn’t exactly a dream of mine,” says Mark, “but I accepted the position because I wanted to advance my career and this opportunity enabled me to do just that.” Three years later, he returned to his beloved Bali. He worked as General Manager at large-scale resorts, but smaller resorts were closer to his heart because of the more personal contact with team and guests. In 2012, Mark felt that his hospitality career was fulfilled. It was time for something new. He had already given guest lectures at UNTRIM International and discovered the joy and meaning of teaching a younger generation. When the opportunity came along that same year to become an academic coordinator, Mark grabbed it with both hands. He obtained his master’s degree and in 2014 he was appointed Executive Dean, a position he still holds and carries out with immense energy and dedication. Mark lives in Bali with his partner Diaz and their two dogs and two cats.

Grand Tour In the third year of their study programme, students can take minors at one of NHL Stenden’s Grand Tour partner locations in South Africa, Thailand or Bali. While broadening or deepening their knowledge, students also work on their personal development. For more information on the Grand Tour, go to nhlstenden.com/studeren-in-het-buitenland/ grand-tour


did you know...?


In a bid to help contribute to (re)forestation around the globe, Hotel Management School NHL Stenden (HMS) launched an initiative in April 2023 in which a tree is planted for every HMS graduate. The project is part of the school’s commitment to sustainability and contributing to a better world. The initiative was created in collaboration with our partner Hotels for Trees with alumna Linde Borger. So far, 497 trees have been planted and we look forward to adding many more.

Leadership Workshop WestCord Hotels on Recruiting and Retaining Gen Z Employees Strategic HRM lecturer Georges El Hajal facilitated a workshop designed for the top leaders and directors of WestCord Hotels. The workshop, which took place in April 2023, focused on the opportunities associated with attracting and retaining Gen Z employees, and the outcomes will support WestCord Hotels’ talent management initiatives. Moreover, the insights from the workshop contribute to refining our own HRM curriculum. This fantastic collaboration bridges the gap between education and the hospitality industry.

Middle East & Africa Future Leaders Challenge In January 2023, Hotel Management School NHL Stenden sponsored the Middle East & Africa Future Leaders Challenge in Dubai, which aims to connect hotel management schools and hospitality companies in the region. This year’s competition included 12 schools from various countries, and students worked in teams to develop strategies for talent acquisition and retention. It was a successful event that focused on talent development, creating new connections and meeting new people. We would like to pay tribute to the challenge’s initiator and our industry advisory board member Jochem-Jan Sleiffer, who sadly passed away in April. Jochem-Jan was a committed industry leader with a passion for education and hospitality talent. His energy and leadership inspired us all and he is sorely missed.

Gijsbregt Brouwer, food trendwatcher and co-founder of food platform de Buik

INSPIRATIONAL LECTURES This year, several industry partners engaged and inspired our students with guest lectures. Samia Guessabi-Colombijn and Valerie Hendrickx from Accor Northern Europe shared their knowledge about diversity and legal aspects within the hospitality industry. And Gijsbregt Brouwer, food trendwatcher and co-founder of food platform de Buik, visited us to share his vision on the trends in food, drinks and hospitality.


Students and alumni of Hotel Management School NHL Stenden (HMS) are the ultimate game changers in the field. What innovations do HMS alumni embrace and how do they drive innovation in their specialisation?

text Firma Fluks

17 Linde Borger (40) Graduated in: 2007 Position: Regional Manager at Hotels for Trees Hotels for Trees in short: one new tree is planted each time a guest chooses to skip the daily housekeeping.


Less cleaning, more trees Skipping your daily room cleaning is worth one new tree. It’s a concept that Linde Borger hopes will catch on in hotels around the world. Where did the idea for Hotels for Trees come from?

“Hotelier Floris Licht wondered why hotels provide daily housekeeping when guests might not need their room to be cleaned every single day. With that at in mind, he came up with the concept of one tree being planted for every day a guest chooses to skip the daily cleaning. He shared this idea with me and in the summer of 2021 we launched Hotels for Trees. Since then, 150 hotels have joined and we plant 400 new trees every day.”

What’s so innovative about Hotels for Trees?

“It’s an easy and tangible way to turn the hotel business into a greener industry. The way it works is very simple: every day, hoteliers enter into our system the number of rooms they weren’t required to clean and we ensure that our afforestation partner Trees for All plants the same number of trees. This is done on a global scale, but a couple of times each year we also go out with our Dutch partners to plant trees in the Netherlands. The fact that you can see on our website

how many trees each hotel has planted per day and year makes this concept very tangible. That’s important, because hotels do everything they can to make their business operations more sustainable, but their efforts are often far from the public gaze. Moreover, it saves cleaning costs and reduces the pressure on housekeeping that is plagued by staff shortages.”

Which of the skills that you acquired through your HMS study programme did you benefit from the most when developing Hotels for Trees?

“Presenting an idea, collaborating with various parties and taking action. But the most important thing is the network I built up during my studies. My classmates from back then are today’s decision-makers in the hotel industry. Hotel Management School Leeuwarden still figures hugely in my work: thanks to the recently establised alumni platform, I’m expanding my network even further. We’re even working together and HMS plants a tree for every graduate student.”

Creating what’s next

lessons from text Carolien Dircken images Wilma Glasbergen



The hospitality sector is marked by continuous change. So too are the wishes of the guests. This calls for entrepreneurs who regenerate and innovate within the sector. In five lessons, Puck Wilbers of HTC Advies explains an effective approach to achieving this.

lessons Respond promptly to the market

“Today’s hospitality sector is in need of change. Progressive entrepreneurs have used the COVID-19 period to develop plans and as a result, the hospitality industry has changed considerably since 2019. Guests’ demands are also changing. For example, they’re much more focused on eating healthily and mindfully, as well as on eating plantbased food, local products and products with a story. Sustainability is a bigger topic than it was several years ago, and so many catering innovations vie for recognition at the Horecava Innovation Awards. Examples include cooking with products deemed not suitable for sale, such as mussels considered to be too small, and sustainable packaging or products, such as straws made from fermented apples. Most entrepreneurs in the hospitality industry innovate reactively; they see the world changing around them and know it’s wise to change along with it. Or rather: they realise that they’ll be overtaken if they don’t.”

… but don’t innovate too early either

“In some instances, a smart innovation is introduced but the market isn’t ready for it yet. A good example here is the QR code for ordering in the catering industry. It was devised five years ago, but at the time

we found the idea too off-putting. Now they’re virtually everywhere, because staff shortages and COVID-19 have caused us to change our opinion. In the Netherlands, innovation mostly starts in one of the major cities, followed fairly quickly by the rest of the Randstad [the urban agglomeration in the west of the Netherlands] and only then by the rest of the Netherlands. In Amsterdam, for example, it is now normal practice for half the dishes listed on menus to be plant-based options. I recently stopped off for a bite to eat in Putten, a town in the province of Gelderland. The menu consisted mainly of ham and spare ribs, no vegetables. The mindset will eventually change everywhere, I’m sure, but at present, eating unlimited spare ribs is still incredibly popular in some places in the Netherlands. Is there sufficient demand for an innovative, plant-based concept beyond the Randstad? Absolutely! Is it smart to introduce a plant-based concept devised in the capital city in Putten at this point in time? I don’t think so.”

Know your guest, think like your target audience

“In that respect, my most important lesson is: Know your target group. What type of person do you serve? Which concepts tie in with that type? Your innovation or innovative concept must be in line with the market and you must be able to get it across to your target group in order for it to catch on. It’s not just about having a good idea; all concept components must suit your specific target group. This also involves communicating in the right way. When you speak to everyone, you’re speaking to no one. HTC Advies has developed catering profiles. We know the preferences of guests in terms of ambience, design, menu, pricing, service and communication. Every catering profile is different and requires that these elements are configured correctly. Know your type of guest, adjust your concept accordingly, communicate about the innovation in a manner that is applicable to your guests. If you want to serve less meat, you need to know who your guests are. What kind of menu appeals to them? Do they want an accessible and recognisable concept? A good narrative with local products or a trendy menu with surprising dishes? These are good things to know before you replace the meat with vegetarian pasta or a cauliflower burger.”

lessons from


Creating what’s next

The woman behind the lessons Puck Wilbers is managing partner at HTC Advies, a consultancy firm with its own view on the hospitality & food service sector. The firm is also a partner of, and internship company for, Hotel Management School NHL Stenden. In her role, Puck manages the company, fulfils the role of expert in projects and is involved on a daily basis in developments in the industry. Puck has chaired the jury of the Horecava Innovation Awards for the past two years and, together with a professional jury, she assesses innovative products and ideas that make a difference in the hospitality sector.


Dare to invest in order to save

“Innovation almost always yields financial benefits. Especially if you play your cards right. The purchase price of raw materials has risen substantially. We are faced with very high inflation rates. Consequently, we can see a shift in the industry: it’s much more focused on smart purchasing and less waste, which also applies to energy. It’s a good time to invest in kitchen appliances with energy label A, even if they are more expensive to purchase. Energy-efficient equipment seems like a big investment, but consider the advantages. In view of the staff shortage, smart equipment can also make a difference: sometimes there is no need for an extra chef if you have an oven that can be programmed to enable everyone in the kitchen to prepare certain dishes. And with readymade cocktails you can save on the cost of a bartender in some cases. At the same time, this is an exciting development: guests are becoming more critical, they realised during the COVID-19 pandemic that they can also eat well at home and eating out must really provide added value, also in terms of experience. So again: know your guests, know what their preferences are. Make sure your setting fits: you can’t serve those ready-made cocktails in a luxury cocktail bar.”

Think big about small ideas

“Beyond Meat was last year’s big winner at the Horecava Innovation Awards because their 3D-printed vegan steak rivals the structure, look & feel, and taste of a steak. It’s clever and truly innovative. If you win, with such an innovative product, you’ll undoubtedly make an impact on the hospitality industry. And fast too. That doesn’t, however, mean that small ideas are less worthy. For example, a relatively simple idea was presented last year, namely the Wexit: an aerosol can containing water for spraying an ultra-fine mist on your patio. The high humidity drives wasps away, providing an animal-friendly solution to a common problem.”

”Know your target group. When you speak to everyone, you’re speaking to no one”

Get inspiration and examples from other industries

“You can always copy other industries if you plan to innovate. You can learn a lot from them. By setting up a catering concept based on influences from other sectors, you can quickly gain an innovative edge. Think of the art world or tech start-ups. We do that ourselves too, in a way. Our holding also owns Consumatics, with experts in neuromarketing and subconscious consumer behaviour. We’re happy to include their findings in our advice in the hospitality & food service sector. After all, neuromarketing is effective in that sector too. Take, for instance, the euro sign on the menu. Many catering businesses prefer to omit it, because that helps to generate higher spending. The euro sign literally hurts our brain, causing us to spend less. Music also has an effect on guest behaviour. Research shows, for example, that when you play mainstream music, such as Sky Radio, guests order the usual, more ordinary food, such as a healthy sandwich. If you play classical music, guests tend to make more luxurious choices, such as a luxury salad. And they often order a second cup of coffee because of the relaxed atmosphere.”



Innovation trends Innovations determine the future. Although we cannot always predict exactly how, we know that some developments will continue and have an impact. Here are the most important trends for the hospitality industry.

Creating what’s next


The rapid developments in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) make it possible to replace traditional human tasks with technology. The correct use of AI can save money, speed up and improve processes, prevent human errors and provide better service. The hospitality industry is the ultimate industry for this innovation. Take, for instance, AI-driven chatbots, virtual assistants, smart room technology for hotels, optimising processes in fast food restaurants, and delivery services.




SUSTAINABILITY With global focus on the urgent problem of climate change, more and more consumers are looking for organisations that put sustainability first. Think local production, plant-based food, CO2 reduction – anything that reduces the ecological footprint. Companies will progressively be judged on their sustainable ambitions and results, and will increasingly ensure they are measurable and transparent.

Creating what’s next





PERSONALISATION Personalisation is aimed at improving customer experiences and meeting their needs more effectively and in less time, making interactions between the company and its customers easier, while increasing customer satisfaction. Take, for instance, a customised menu based on personal preferences; a customised hotel experience, such as in-room technology; the use of data and provided personal preferences; and targeted marketing.


Virtual tours, checking in without the need for a reception desk or attendant, and controlling the curtains and lights in the hotel room with your smartphone. Touchless technology is becoming increasingly commonplace. The big advantage: people spend a lot of time on their smartphones, so adopting touchless technology, which is all about control and convenience, is easy.

Creating what’s next





Students and alumni of Hotel Management School NHL Stenden (HMS) are the ultimate game changers in the field. What innovations do HMS alumni embrace and how do they drive innovation in their specialisation?

Maartje Nelissen (35) Graduated in: 2009 Position: Founder of Plant FWD Plant FWD in short: The ultimate conference and platform for a stronger, more sustainable food system.


Accelerating the transition to more sustainable food Maartje Nelissen’s ambitious goal is to entice more consumers to eat a more plant-based diet by connecting the food sector. Where did the idea for Plant FWD come from?

“Last summer, my business partner Marcel and I discussed the transition to sustainable food systems. We wondered what we could do to accelerate the step towards more sustainable living. I own a catering company called The Food Line-Up. For many years now I’ve catered for major tech events, such as The Next Web conference. It draws 15,000 visitors and is the annual event for everyone in the tech sector to touch base with their network, listen to start-up pitches and discover innovations. There was nothing on that scale in the food sector. So we came up with an event to bring the food sector together in a group and build a platform to accelerate sustainable development. We called the event Plant FWD.”

What’s so innovative about Plant FWD?

“Mainly our explicit ambition with which we address our focus on more plant-based food. The first Plant FWD Conference was held in Spring 2023. We hoped

350 people would come, but in the end there were 800 attendees, including investors, policy makers, manufacturing companies and large companies such as Unilever, KLM, NS and Vermaat. We presented ambitious content that grates and inspires. For example, Vjèze Fur held a ‘big bread roll show’, a supermarket of the future was installed, and products were launched. Oatly presented plant-based soft ice-cream to the public, and Kipster, the world’s most sustainable chicken farm, launched its first plant-based egg.”

Which of the skills that you acquired through your HMS study programme did you benefit from the most when developing Plant FWD?

“Building up a strong network, because otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to realise the first conference in the way we did. I’m also glad that I learnt to plan well, that I was quickly given responsibility, and that I learnt to keep an eye on my own learning curve.”

interview text Kim van der Meulen images Bram Patraeus



”Innovation should be applied in places where it is beneficial” Creating what’s next



Every process can be improved, be more enjoyable and be more efficient, says Guido Lips. Guido is Head of Guest & Cultural Experience at City ID, the hotel group that owns the Amsterdam aparthotel BOAT&CO. But the fact that he loves innovation does not mean that he applies all tech trends without a second thought. “Our profession will never do without the human touch.”

What is your view on innovation in the hospitality sector?

“You have to remain curious and continue to innovate your product, service and software. Software in particular has been developing rapidly in recent years. For us, that means that we have to keep looking forward, because we build our own hotels. The technology we develop today will be three or four years old by the time we finish building a hotel. So we make sure we have a good backbone, a future-proof network that our hotel software can tap into. Artificial intelligence [AI] is also becoming increasingly more important for taking over tasks from our reception desk staff, for example, or for answering questions and determining hotel rates. We use it to innovate, to ensure we are easier to find online, for instance. But AI is never fully tailored to the needs of the hotel guests. Returning guests do not necessarily want the same experience as before. Maybe they stayed at a hotel for business, but now they have come with their family. Personalisation with the help of AI is more challenging if, like us, you have a very diverse target group. Hospitality revolves around the question: What

does this guest want right now? AI is a tool, never the solution. Our profession will never do without the human touch. That’s why we deliberately choose which innovations to use and which not to use.”

What do you choose not to use?

“As a small example, we don’t have a QR code for placing an order when sitting outside on the hotel terrace. This might enable guests to order their drink a bit faster, but is it of any added value to our product? No. It very quickly defeats personal contact, whereas that’s so important to us. Innovation should be used in places where it’s beneficial. In our hotel rooms we don’t provide tablets with which to open and close the curtains, nor an Alexa to control smart devices by voice commands. All American Hilton hotels have them in every room. It might change the guests’ experience, but the boring hardware, a soulless room, remains the same. We prefer to focus on a top product; technology is secondary. The City ID hotels will have a simple web app that guests can use on their smartphone to contact the front office or order room service, etc. It’s an existing tool that has been proven


to work and that we must embrace, because the communication options between hotel and guest have changed rapidly. We don’t have to be forerunners; we aren’t a tech hotel. But innovation and curiosity are in our DNA.”

Sustainability is another important point for you: CITY ID has been awarded a Green Key quality mark. How is sustainable innovation reflected in the hotels? “For us, sustainability is simply normal. We’ve installed 420 solar panels on the roof of BOAT&CO, we have insect hotels and local spots for bats, and our menus are printed on recycled paper made from

“Innovation should never be at the expense of comfort” tomato plant fibres. Food scraps are disposed of in a special bin in the kitchen; the organic waste is turned into compost and biogas. And our district, the Amsterdam Houthaven, has implemented thermal energy storage. The hotel is heated by means of stored residual heat and cooled by means of surface water taken from Amsterdam’s River IJ. We sometimes have to explain to our American and Asian guests, who are

used to air conditioning in every household, that the room has an average room temperature, which can be adjusted up or down by a maximum of three degrees Celsius. The room temperature can never be 15 degrees Celsius in summertime. When we explain that it’s for environmental reasons, they usually understand. We now use AI to monitor and predict energy consumption based on big data, such as expected sun hours and weather forecasts. We save energy that way. The automatic presence detection system that is being installed in all our hotels also helps to save energy. The lights only switch on when a guest enters the room and there’s no longer any need for a key card lock. Lastly, the supply chain is becoming increasingly more important. Where do products come from? Are they transported by electric car? We prefer to work with local suppliers. Guests expect that too. You want to drink local beer in a local hotel with a local role.”

What challenges do you face when it comes to innovation?

“We are both a hotel company and a construction company. Staying on the theme of sustainability here, the fact that we build our hotels ourselves offers many innovation opportunities. But construction also pollutes; concrete causes about nine percent of global CO2 emissions. At the same time, we believe it’s very important to use resources sparingly. Making a positive impact – on guests, each other and the environment – is even one of our core values. That’s why we are now building a hotel in London with a new type of recycled concrete, which is less polluting. Another important point is that innovation should never be at the expense of comfort. For example, the beds for our new hotels must meet our sustainability requirements, but they must also be comfortable. So we keep looking until we have found the ultimate solution.”

How do you ensure that City ID’s vision is supported throughout the company?

“We teach our employees our core values: pragmatic entrepreneurial, authentic, positive impact, ambitious and enjoying the journey. Sometimes ambition is seen as a negative thing, but it’s not just about getting the best out of your work. I explained that to a new crew yesterday; you can also have the daily ambition to cause someone to smile. And we provide internal workshops and training courses on our sustainability Creating what’s next




policy and our social responsibility. Recently, for example, we catered in a nursing home for elderly people with dementia – it was a pleasure and fun to do. In addition, I think an open corporate culture, in which everyone is offered a listening ear, is important. For example, we have a team of employees, no older than 30, who come up with all kinds of innovative ideas about service and hospitality, but also about working conditions. A kind of think tank, if you will. No idea is too crazy. We allow employees a certain amount of flexibility: service standards apply, but we don’t want to be a company that remotely restricts the freedom of our team members. Instead, our employees are allowed to shine; their creativity can provide an unforgettable experience. So interns are not given a definitive script. What matters is what they add;

About Guido Lips Guido Lips (1975, Arnhem) worked in the tourism sector after completing his studies at NHL Stenden before being appointed managing director at A-partments in 2007. This company rented out short-term luxury apartments, particularly to commercial businesses. In 2012, the concept was expanded to include Amsterdam ID Aparthotel, the first aparthotel in the capital. It was also the first hotel of City ID, the fast-growing hotel group of which Guido has been a partner since 2019. In addition to ID Aparthotel, City ID has two other establishments in Amsterdam: Twenty Eight and BOAT&CO, where Guido is Head of Guest & Cultural Experience. Hotels are also being built in London, Dublin and Lisbon. In November, City ID will announce its new name, which Guido is not at liberty to reveal yet.

they are the guests of the future. As a hotel owner, you should never think: ‘This is the way we did things in my day, so that’s the way things should be done now.’”

Many interns and alumni of Hotel Management School NHL Stenden (HMS) work at BOAT&CO. Why is that?

“We’re on very good terms with HMS. It’s a nononsense, innovative and problem-solving school. Students receive versatile and practical training, strongly focused on collaboration. That’s my personal experience and I notice it here at BOAT&CO as well. Everyone who studies or has studied at HMS has a proactive attitude and is down-to-earth. What also appeals to me is that internships cover ten months. When you work somewhere that long, you really have to make something of it, even if you don’t like it very much, although I do believe it’s our responsibility as a company to ensure interns enjoy their time here.”

What lessons did you learn during your own studies that you would you like to pass on to students?

“I don’t want to give lessons; I want students to be happy and balanced. And anyway, the new generation has a greater need for a good work-life balance. That is and always will be important, but so is immersing yourself in your work. So remain curious, embrace change and don’t be afraid to make choices. Do good and good will come to you. And dare to make mistakes. You learn from them. So don’t worry about failing; just enjoy the journey.”


Students and alumni of Hotel Management School NHL Stenden (HMS) are the ultimate game changers in the field. What innovations do HMS alumni embrace and how do they drive innovation in their specialisation?

text Firma Fluks


Floris van Wijngaarden (23) Graduated in: 2022 Position: Owner of Way To Cool Way To Cool in short: Preventing food waste with restaurantworthy frozen meals.


Freeze more, waste less Serving a frozen meal in a hotel may not seem that appealing but with Way To Cool, Floris van Wijngaarden aims to prove that frozen meals are not only tasty, they’re also a solution to food waste and staff shortages. Where did the idea for Way To Cool come from?

“My father, Jurgen van Wijngaarden, also an alumnus and owner of Vineyard Catering, came up with the idea during the COVID-19 pandemic, when all aspects of his catering company came to a standstill. He wanted to prevent food waste and keep his staff employed, and wondered if and how you could freeze meals without compromising on quality. We went on to develop that idea together and last year I established Way To Cool. Since then, we have created 18 different dishes, including beetroot curry with sweet potato cream, and gnocchi with beurre blanc sauce and legumes.”

What’s so innovative about Way To Cool?

“We prove that frozen meals are a high-quality product. We ensure that high quality by freezing fresh meals in a shock freezer at minus 40 degrees Celsius, thus preserving nutrients, flavour and texture. Today, several hotel chains offer Way To Cool products via

their hotel shop. Their guests can heat up their own meals, or order them as room service meals or à la carte in the restaurant. The advantage for hotels is that no kitchen staff are needed and they’re not left with surplus food, while guests can still get a nutritious meal at any time of the day.”

Which of the skills that you acquired through your HMS study programme did you benefit from the most when developing Way To Cool?

“Sustainability and innovation were interwoven in almost all of the HMS subjects, so I learnt a lot about them. Moreover, there was plenty of room for creativity and we were encouraged to put our ideas into practice. Most valuable was the practical experience I gained as an employee, supervisor and manager in a hotel setting. What I learnt there comes in handy during our production days when we produce a thousand meals in the kitchen and fill the containers all in one day.”

Creating what’s next

facts & figures text Marloes Tervoort



a d n e g A

Digitisation is an important matter for Hotel Management School NHL Stenden (HMS). Our staff and students continually work to come up with, and apply, new tools to improve our teaching and education and make it more enjoyable and appealing. For this purpose, we have an institution-wide Digital Agenda in place, comprising five topics.





Artificial intelligence generates opportunities for education but requires careful consideration of where and how it is beneficial. THINK: the use of blockchain, metaverse, utopia and education set up in a similar way to Spotify.


based Learning


Blended Learning A mix of various teaching methods, such as face-to-face and ICT-based educational activities, teaching materials and tools.

THINK: a learning platform and a flexible, integrated physical and online environment. It’s all about the experience.

Experiential (or experience-based) learning gives students the opportunity to develop and practice knowledge and skills in a true-to-life, simulated environment.

THINK: the use of avatars,

serious gaming, Holobox and a 3D route planner through all our buildings.

facts & figures





& Learning Analytics


We increase our learning capacity by way of case studies, where we collect and use targeted data to optimise learning interventions.

We look beyond our national borders when developing education and growth.

THINK: a simple progression system, whereby students are given pointers based on academic performance.

THINK: an online platform for national

Learning Communities A Learning Community, consisting of six to eight students from different NHL Stenden study programmes and of different nationalities, is attached to each topic. Their motivation is tested in a round of application interviews and they receive financial compensation for their work if they participate in the community. Under the supervision of a coordinator, the students work for five months on a topicrelated issue. Upon completion, the Learning Community shares the acquired knowledge and results in a report. Solutions devised by Learning Communities can be rolled out across multiple academies. Creating what’s next


and international collaboration between school and professional practice.

Circle of Expertise A network consisting of internal and external experts supports the students in the Learning Community by sharing their knowledge and providing their time. New experts are involved for each new issue, thus increasing the potential of the Circle of Expertise. If you would like to participate in the Circle of Expertise or if you have any questions, please contact us via digital.innovation@nhlstenden.com.


alumni in... text Firma Fluks images Kees van de Veen


The ultimate place where hospitality can make a difference

Healthcare Feeling at home and completely at ease is particularly important in the healthcare sector. Because of the heavy workload, many healthcare institutes do not consider hospitality a priority. Which, according to researcher and Professor of Applied Sciences in Hospitality Studies Erwin Losekoot, is a shame because just the smallest amount of hospitality can have an amazing effect.


t is for good reason that the words ‘hospitality’ and ‘hospital’ are so similar. They have much in common and we have to go back in time to discover their origins, says Erwin Losekoot, Professor of Applied Sciences in Hospitality Studies at Hotel Management School NHL Stenden (HMS). “In the Middle Ages, during the Crusades, hostels were set up for sick and injured pilgrims,” he explains. “These forerunners of hospitals were mainly intended for poor people, because in those days the rich were cared for at home or they stayed with other wealthy households. The hostel’s care providers were often affiliated with a church or religious community and did not expect any compensation for the care they provided. Those hostels gradually developed into hospitals.”

Sense of solace

A clear difference between hospitals then and those of today is that they are now much more commercially oriented. As a result, certain things – especially in the field of hospitality – have fallen by the wayside. Erwin was co-researcher of a study called Hospitality in hospitals: The

importance of caring about the patient. This study endorses the importance of hospitality in healthcare. Patients who notice hospitality say that they are more likely to experience a sense of solace and they feel more at ease. “An example here is a patient who spent a long time in the hospital and suffered from insomnia,” explains Erwin. “She was desperate and did everything she could to sleep better. One night, someone who worked at the hospital walked past her bed. They started talking and the person put a blanket over her feet. That was far removed from medicines or a medical procedure. It was a small, kind gesture to help the patient, and she then fell asleep.”

More mutual trust

More hospitality in the hospital increases the well-being of the patients. “Devoting more time and attention to being hospitable and putting someone at ease creates a better bond between care staff and patients,” says Erwin. “Patients are then more inclined to say how they feel, they listen better and are more accepting. There is more mutual trust. Furthermore, it is a

After graduating from HMS in 2008, Lex Moerke (38) became a hotelier. Today, he is Horeca & Services manager at Nij Smellinghe hospital in Drachten.

“In healthcare, you can really mean something to someone” Dionne Deemter (30) graduated from HMS in 2015. She is Geriatric Rehabilitation Care and Healthcare (GRZ) facility manager at Vivium Zorggroep. “I decided on healthcare because of the volunteer work I did during my studies with elderly people with dementia. I realised that you can really mean something to someone and that hospitality can be found everywhere. I took care of breakfast and lunch in a closed ward of a care institute, and because I helped out, there was enough time left over to chat with the clients. The thing that touched me most is that you can lift someone’s spirits simply by giving them a moment of your time. After my studies, I came into contact with the facilities sector and that also appealed to me. That’s why I specifically started looking for a position in which I could combine both sectors and also convey my passion for hospitality. Hotel school graduates are a good addition to care, because I believe they are hands-on doers who aren’t afraid of hard work and for whom hospitality is a natural part of their job. That’s very useful in healthcare, which is client-centred and in which client satisfaction is extremely important.”

good thing for people who have to remain in hospital for a lengthy period of time to feel more at ease.” Erwin refers to an example of someone who had an unpleasant experience while in hospital. Not because something went wrong during surgery, but because of the doctor’s aloof behaviour. “The woman in question wanted to thank the doctor from her bed, but he remained standing with his back to her. She waited for him to turn

“After graduating, I bought a hotel in Makkum. In the hotel industry, I could give my passion for good food and beverages free rein. Eight years later, I wanted a new and bigger challenge. I noticed there was a vacancy at Nij Smellinghe that matched perfectly with what I was looking for. They were looking for someone from the hotel industry to set up a new restaurant and food concept. I sold my hotel and have been working at the hospital for seven years now, where I have developed a new food concept based on fresh food that is made to order. We’re now running an à la carte pilot in one department. The other hospital departments will join in later on. This is how we’re lifting hospitality and food in the hospital to a higher level. I can see many similarities between hospitals and hotels; you can use the same blueprint. The infrastructure is the same, with a reception desk and a kitchen, for example. At first I had to get used to the hospital business policy with all its laws and regulations. Fortunately, it’s in my nature to persevere and go for something, even if that sometimes means having to get through difficult procedures. I really learnt that hands-on mentality at the HMS. At the same time, the healthcare sector is a good employer. The collective labour agreement is favourable and if you work 40 hours a week, that’s more than full-time.”

“I can see many similarities between hospitals and hotels”

around, but he didn’t and left the room before she could say anything. She had a bad feeling about that for a long time, whereas it is so little effort for a doctor to turn around and give a moment of their time to relate with their patient.”

The importance of eating undisturbed

HMS students are conducting more and more research into issues related to hospitality in the healthcare sector. For examCreating what’s next

ple, a student in Sweden investigated how you can ensure that the elderly eat better. She soon discovered that the elderly eat especially well if they have their meals at fixed times and if they all sit down to eat at the same time. Mealtimes are then undisturbed, pleasant moments in their day. A good meal is important for the elderly, but a visit by a doctor or nursing staff often takes precedence and patients are disturbed during them.


alumni in...

Opportunities for the future

Erwin predicts that hospitality will become more important in healthcare in the future, and that offers many opportunities for HMS alumni. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, the catering industry came to an abrupt standstill,” he says. “At that


time, a number of hotels, such as the Van der Valk group, converted hotel rooms for COVID-19 sufferers who were not yet well enough to return home after hospitalisation. And more collaboration initiatives such as this are being developed between healthcare and hospitality. There are also

“I want to use my expertise to improve people’s quality of life in long-term care”

Wenda Linthorst (37) graduated from HMS in 2008. She is co-initiator and owner of Keukentijgers (Kitchen Tigers), a training agency for healthcare workers centred on valuable eating and drinking moments in long-term care. “After graduating from hotel management school, I specialised in neuromarketing and environmental psychology. I conducted research for a research agency for supermarkets, but also into malnutrition in healthcare. I realised that I got more satisfaction out of healthcare and so I wanted to use my expertise to improve people’s quality of life in long-term care. Keukentijgers helps healthcare professionals to make meals special, despite the limited time they have available. Hotel school graduates are perfectly suited to working in healthcare. They roll up their sleeves and have a broad business perspective. It’s an optimistic approach to introducing new ideas into the sector. With Keukentijgers and despite all protocols, we focus on small behavioural changes and see few obstacles. We do this by means of appealing themes and games to put better meals on the table. For example, the fresh and fruity theme includes a slot machine game, whereby residents guess which fruit is hidden under a tea towel. Actually, we try to turn everything into a party.”

all kinds of successful examples of apartment complexes abroad where the elderly live very comfortably, surrounded by facilities such as restaurants and sports clubs. Those complexes are not run by nurses or doctors, but by managers in the hospitality industry.”

Mireille Remijnse (35) graduated from HMS in 2011. She is Care Manager at Dichterbij, a healthcare organisation for people with an intellectual disability. “During my internship at a consultancy company, I got a glimpse behind the scenes of all kinds of businesses, including healthcare organisations. The healthcare sector seemed interesting to me. Commercially oriented jobs are fine, but I get more satisfaction out of social work. I think working in healthcare is a logical step if you have a hospitality background. You focus on taking care of people and giving them peace of mind. This is of primary importance in healthcare and more secondary in the hospitality industry, from an enjoyment and relaxation point of view. As a manager, I facilitate nine different teams that organise housing, daytime activities and overnight care for people with a disability. I’m engaged in team development, finance and HR. I get the most satisfaction out of participation, seeing if we can manage to get people with a disability to participate in society. We arrange work for them in an organisation or in their own surroundings. At the HMS I learnt how to organise and implement. In healthcare in particular, quite a few plans are put on the shelf to collect dust. I try to develop and implement things. Hotel school graduates think in terms of solutions and possibilities, with a focus on what is still possible. That’s very valuable for people with a disability.”

“We think in terms of solutions, with a focus on what is still possible”


Students and alumni of Hotel Management School NHL Stenden (HMS) are the ultimate game changers in the field. What innovations do HMS alumni embrace and how do they drive innovation in their specialisation?

text Firma Fluks

Michiel de Vor (34) Graduated in: 2011 Position: Co-founder of RUNNR.ai RUNNR.ai in short: Communication between guests and hotels by means of artificial intelligence.



One communication channel for the entire travel industry What time can you check in? Is it possible to add breakfast to your booking? And, what fun things are there to do in the vicinity? If hotels use artificial intelligence to answer these questions, they’ll have more time to pay personal attention to their guests. Sufficient reason for Michiel de Vor to develop a smart communications channel. Where did the idea for RUNNR.ai come from?

“In the summer of 2022, I had a conversation with former colleagues about the increasing quality of artificial intelligence [AI] and how WhatsApp is getting more and more new features. Besides that, there’s a major shortage of personnel in the hotel industry. Bringing these developments together would be an asset to the hotel sector because communication between hotels and guests is often very fragmented: receptionists are asked the same question hundreds of times, guests receive emails, reviews go through another platform, and sometimes there’s a separate hotel app for booking a table in the restaurant. With RUNNR.ai, we’re developing – with the aid of AI – an automated communication layer between hotels and their guests.”

What’s so innovative about RUNNR.ai?

“We bring the hotel industry and the latest digital techniques together and automate communication so

that guests receive direct answers to their questions, which are immediately put into action. For example, the system can send hotel guests a WhatsApp message asking them if they want to book breakfast. If a guest says yes, the system ensures that the costs for breakfast are credited to the guest’s bill. This improves the guest experience while being an efficient procedure for hotels. It also generates extra revenue, because hotels can sell additional services and get a commission on bookings for attractions or taxis.”

Do you have any tips for other people who have an innovative idea?

“The most important thing is to be curious and open to innovation. Surrounding yourself with inspiring people who challenge you, who you can learn a lot from and who constantly cause you to improve is incredibly valuable. An important lesson I learnt is that by not giving up and by focusing on your goal, you’ll eventually achieve that goal.”

Creating what’s next

24 hrs



text Firma Fluks map maps-vienna.com



ABOUT KAMILLA Kamilla Kovács (23) is a Year 4 student at Hotel Management School NHL Stenden (HMS). As a child growing up in Budapest, Hungary, she dreamt of studying abroad. When HMS ambassadors visited her secondary school and explained how they learnt the hospitality trade in actual practice, she was completely sold. She found the first few months in Leeuwarden quite difficult because she didn’t know anyone there. But as she herself says: “Adventures don’t start until you step out of your comfort zone.” Her internship in Vienna gives Kamilla the opportunity to see her friends and family more frequently and to learn German. She is so wild about the city that she wants to stay there for a while longer after her studies.


Vienna has a lot to offer, says Hungarian Kamilla Kovács, who, in her final year, is doing an internship there and is now in the process of writing her Management Project. “I love the international character of Vienna, its history and the outdoors.” Here are Kamilla’s tips for 24 hours in Vienna.

9AM: BREAKFAST OR BRUNCH AT HILTON VIENNA DANUBE WATERFRONT “There are three Hilton Hotels in Vienna. I’m doing my internship at the Hilton Vienna Plaza, which is a small-scale, chic hotel. And then there’s a business hotel and the accessible and family-friendly Hilton Vienna Danube Waterfront hotel. It’s situated by the Danube and its terrace affords a magnificent view over the river. I’ve had brunch there a few times and am impressed with their menu, ranging from eggs Benedict to Austrian apple strudel.”

11AM: VIEWING ART IN THE ALBERTINA “Whenever my family and I visited Vienna, we always visited the Albertina museum and I still like going there today as an adult. Works by famous painters such as Monet, Picasso and Klimt are frequently on display there. I enjoy viewing works by artists from different countries and time periods. Here’s another great thing about museums in Vienna: students are often granted a discount or even free admittance.”








KAMILLA KOVÁCS 1PM: LUNCH AT MOTTO AM FLUSS “This café and restaurant is built in the shape of a ship and has several dining areas. My favourite spot is on the terrace above the deck, because it has the best view. On weekdays, they offer a budget-friendly menu. A starter and main course, for instance, costs around €13. The restaurant kitchen gets its produce from local suppliers and its cuisine is based on seasonal products. It’s best to book in advance.”


4. 5.



3. 6. 5PM: ADRENALINE KICK IN PRATER PARK “This is the largest park in Vienna. It has an amusement park, and you only pay for the attractions you visit. There’s something magical about it with all its lights. You can ride all kinds of rollercoasters, even one with eight loops. But there are also shooting galleries and haunted houses. I like the Prater Tower the most. It’s an attraction that propels you up to a heady height of 117 metres, from where you get a marvellous view over the entire city.”

2.30PM: OUTDOORS IN THE BURGGARTEN “Everything is within walking distance in Vienna. As you walk through the city, you come across all kinds of parks, which are called ‘gardens’. Burggarten is my favourite, because of its beautiful flower beds and lake. I like meeting up with friends there.”

3.30PM: STUDYING AND DRINKING AT BURG.RING1 “My favourite café is close to Burggarten. I love the old vintage style of burg.ring1. With its laid-back vibe, it’s a great place to study and once you’re done studying, you can enjoy traditional drinks there, like punsch, which is the Austrian version of mulled wine. Burg. ring1 serves punsch in a variety of flavours, including apple, pear and strawberry.”


9PM: COCKTAILS AT JOSEF “This café has two areas, one of which is the cocktail bar in the basement. The bartenders are exceptionally talented. They take part in cocktail competitions and always win prizes. The menu changes regularly so you never get tired of it. If you can’t find anything that appeals, you can let them know your favourite flavours and they’ll create a cocktail specially tailor-made for you.”


11PM: DANCING AT O-DER KLUB “O-der Klub has three dance halls. You can dance to electronic beats in the largest mainstream hall, and there’s also a techno hall and a hip-hop hall. The latter features light projections of art on the walls. The club is known for its themed parties, such as on Halloween – for which everyone gets dressed up – and I went to a masquerade ball there once. Other than that, O-der Klub has a dress code. It’s not very strict, but you won’t get in wearing sweatpants. If you want to go to O-der Klub, subscribe to their newsletter. It gets you on the guest list, and then you get a discount on the entrance fee or a free drink.”

Creating what’s next



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