Hotel Undergraduates Shift With the Industry
Towards Business Intelligence
Internationally Known Robert Morris University Uses
Internships, Business Intelligence Software to Teach
Strategic Management; Professor Predicts Wireless
Will Become Hotel Industry Standard

March 2002 - For the past six years, when Dr. Denis Rudd wanted to convince 150 undergraduate students in the Hospitality and Tourism Management program at Robert Morris University that losing one guest results in eight more customers slipping away, he had no way to prove it.  Showing the relationship between action and reaction remained theoretical. Rudd wanted to introduce an experiential element to balance traditional hotel strategy theory and to hopefully imprint upon students’ minds the consequences of actions in financial, accounting, and customer service areas.

To do that, this winter Rudd introduced business intelligence software that uses data from 25 operating hotel properties, and a new, integrated curriculum to the department.  He hopes the move will improve the quality of education, give graduates a competitive advantage in the job market, and result in better customer service in the hotel and tourism industries.

“I teach in parables and anecdotes.  The main benefit of the business intelligence software is that students can visualize financial accounting functions to go along with my examples.  They can see the data change on screen, and see it go to different levels all the way down to base data,” said Dr. Rudd, Professor and Director of Hospitality and Tourism Management.  The department uses Execuvue®, an enterprise business intelligence application that stimulates “what if” queries by quickly attaching to and – on demand – organizing any desired combination of operational, accounting, quality control, and industry data, such as Smith Travel, with drag and drop Windows simplicity, from Pittsburgh-based Aptech Computer Systems, Inc

For example, Rudd cited the ability to look at occupancy rates at the Hilton Corporation. Through a series of screens he looked at all of Hilton’s hotels, it’s top-of-line hotels in the Northeastern United States, the top-of line properties in New England and, finally, occupancy rates for top-of-line Hilton hotels in Boston “from the same report without having to move around.” 

Execuvue®, accessed online or via the school’s computer lab, will be the hub of eight classes required for graduation from the Hospitality and Tourism program in Robert Morris University’s new integrated curriculum.  Previously, students gained hospitality and tourism computer expertise in a single term of Computer Information Systems classes.  Required classes in which Execuvue® will be used are:

1. Introductory class to hospitality and tourism, which covers front desk operations with six hours of hands-on time.  Execuvue® will show students ratios of occupancy with food costs and other measures.
2. Executive development at a strategic level.  Execuvue® will be used to dissect strategic case studies including Walt Disney, Hilton Hotels, Ritz Carlton, KFC, LaQuinta Hotel Operations, and The Cunard Line.
3. Tourism management.  Economic factors in the public and private sectors of tourism will be covered.
4. Computer information systems for hospitality and tourism. Students will look at other systems for front office operations, travel, and strategy such as Apollo, Sabre,  and Worldspan.
5. Finance.  Execuvue® will be used to examine and understand financial statements.
6. Introduction to casino and gaming systems.  Web-enriched formats will be the focus.
7. Cost control systems.  Students will generate and analyze real-time financial reports.
8. Marketing.  Execuvue® will be used to study and analyze trends and Key Performance Indicators.

“By the time they graduate, we plan on the students being very proficient in leading edge business intelligence software tools and computer operating skills,” said Dr. Rudd, who also noted the hotel industry as a whole is shifting from operational efficiency to business intelligence and wireless platforms.  He predicts the speed of transmitting data wirelessly will drive the need for business intelligence tools to quickly decipher the data.

“When Sysco comes in, they have their laptops and their Palms.  Everything they do is on their system and they wire it in.  If the food purveyors are using wireless platforms, everyone will be using it,” predicts Rudd.  “With wireless platforms, information will become instantaneous, actionable, more accurate, and more cost effective.”

According to Rudd, Robert Morris University will offer a graduate degree program in Hospitality and Tourism Management by next year, blending theory and practical experience with technical tools of the two industries.

About Robert Morris University

Robert Morris University, founded in 1921, is one of the leading universities in the Pittsburgh region and is now among the largest private institutions of higher learning in Pennsylvania.

There are nearly 5,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from 30 states and 20 countries enrolled at Robert Morris University’s two campuses. The 230-acre Moon Township campus is home to more than 2,500 commuter students and 1,000 residential students.  The Pittsburgh Center provides classroom and library facilities for approximately 1,500 students and is located in the heart of the "Golden Triangle," the city's metropolitan business center and the 11th largest concentration of Fortune 500 corporate headquarters in the United States. 

All graduates of the University’s Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management are employed.  Bachelor-level hiring organizations include, Eat-N-Park, Parkhurst, Kings, Crown Plaza, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Hyatt Regency Hotel, Marriott Corp., Starwood Resorts, Prime Hospitality, Interstate Hotels Corp., MGM Grand Hotel, Four Seaons US, Sheraton Station Square, Hilton Head, Sodexho, US Air, Aramark, Wyndham Hotel, Circus Circus Casinos.

Internships are an integral component of the Robert Morris University academic program. Students gain meaningful knowledge through on-the-job experiences with corporations, businesses, and industries in the region.  In the business school’s Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, students are required to complete course work and three externships in a hospitality and tourism related industry.  Externship III requires 450 hours in a college approved paid supervisory or management trainee position.  



Denis P. Rudd, Ed.D. 
Robert Morris University
881 Narrows Run Road 
Moon Township, PA 15108-1189  
Phone: 412.262-8636

Aptech Computer Systems, Inc.
135 Delta Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15238
(800) 245-0720 or (412) 963-7440

Also See Survival Tactics; New Technology Directions Surface in Business Intelligence Survey / November 2001 
Aptech Opens Business Intelligence Door for Small to Mid-sized Management Firms / October 2001 

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