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Our first Multiplier Event organized

by the European University Cyprus

About the event

Initially intended to take place in Nicosia, Cyprus at the premises of our partner EUC, this online event aimed at introducing the Hotel Academy project as well as a first analysis of requirements for the implementation of digital tools in Hospitality Management.

In addition, discussions were held with different speakers from the hotel and tourism industry about the current challenges that the field is going through and how the use of virtual technology may come in aid. For more details, please see our summary below.

This event was free of charge and destined to trainees of hotel and tourism management, academics and teachers in the specific fields, experts from the hotel and tourism industries as well as the general public interested in the project's themes.


Welcome by Professor Andreas Efstathiou, EUC

Professor Andreas Efstathiou, Vice Rector of Research and External Affairs at European University Cyprus, has opened the conference day.

He reminds that the event was initially planned to be hosted physically in the University premises in Cyprus. Unfortunately, due to the current circumstances, it has not been possible, and we join online.

He has thanked all the organizers and wished a successful day to all the participants!

The presentations and debates have been animated and moderated by our hosts from EUC Christakis Sourouklis, Vice Chair, Department of Management & Marketing, Assistant Professor Management, Human Resources & Hospitality and Assistant Professor and Nikolaos Boukas, Associate Professor.

Jazmin Zaraik, project coordinator from Manzalab, has introduced the project.


She has presented some context elements, regarding the evolution and challenges the Hospitality sector has to face, such as the issue of human resources management: attracting talents, developing them and ensuring engagement and retention. This is particularly critical with the new generations and the new needs of guests.


The project aims at providing tools to address these issues and contribute to the development of employees’ competences.

Project introduction by Jazmin Zaraik, Manzalab

countries that have more flexibilities (eg: tourists can come to Spain by train or by car), Cyprus has suddenly loss all the tourists, as it happened during the 1991 crisis.

On the other hand, it is essential to train our staff to upgrade standards. To that perspective, moving to digital will contribute to more effective services, such as booking aeroplane, booking rooms, without the need for face to face interactions. Staffs should be trained to these new practices.

Digital and social media have a major role to play and the stakeholders should consider technology to restructure and think of how the crisis will make evolution for more effective and safe activities. Digital can help, for instance, preparing the travel online and allows to be at destination even before living home! It also helps creating safer traveling conditions, for instance with contact-less solution for check in/check out and payment.


It’s likely that the COVID will stay and we’ll have to learn how to live with it. Considering the essential role of tourism in the Cyprus economy, the impact is major, and we anticipate it will last beyond the COVID period. We have now to set the new foundations and restart, with new standards and new ways to travel.

Hospitality and Tourism in Cyprus and Post COVID Period, Challenges and Opportunities by Vassos Ioannou, Mediterranean Travel Agency

Vassos Ioannou has presented a paper in which he highlights all the impact of the COVID 19 crises on tourism activities and how the sector can face this situation.

He stressed out that research should aim at understanding better all the dimension, including psychological impact and involve all the stakeholders, including public authorities (government), and professionals (e.g.: tour operators, travel agencies, airline companies, hotels).

The main issue to date is to connect Cyprus with the rest of the world, as most transportations are currently stopped to reach the country. In contrast to other

André Courtin, from Academy Accor Europe, has provided us with some insights about how Accor group manages the current situation regarding staff training.

Accor group started in 1967 with the first Novotel and became Accor in 1983. Before the pandemic situation, the group used to open roughly 1 hotel every day. It’s not the case right now and activities are dramatically reduced. Business is restarting quite well in Asia and Middle East, but not yet in Europe and Americas.

Virtual Learning in the hospitality industry by André Courtin, Academy Accor Europe

With 300,000 employees worldwide, average 35 years old and high turnover, training is an important topic for Accor, addressed via 5 regional campus. Actually, the purpose is not teaching but about providing the environment to support training. Accor aims at making learning a way of life and creating value in everything done.

Most training activities were face to face before the crisis, but the format had to be adapted to the circumstances. It has been the opportunity to accelerate the implementation of a digital learning platform named as INES, the new INtegrated Engagement System. Already available in 12 different languages, INES comprises 3 main components:

  • Talent acquisition

  • Talent management

  • Learning and Development: onboarding and retention

The idea is to provide access anytime, anywhere to the knowledge, via a mobile phone application. The application is used by 3 categories of contributors: Human Resources, namely the T&C (Talent and Culture), the Managers, and the Employees.

Using this app, employees not only access knowledge but also create and share knowledge with their peers on the dedicated campus. For instance, a bartender has an idea for a new cocktail? He can make a short video and publish it on the food and beverage campus!

Accor aims at promoting “Heartists” and Emotional intelligence: employees need to touch the heart of the guests and take into account their new needs. The world of travel & tourism is not the same anymore and it is all about experiences. People (especially millennials) are looking for meaning and have the desire to be responsible consumers.

The Leadership Competencies development program for Emerging, Professional and Executive leaders of the group, used to be blended before COVID period, has been adapted to the current situation, traveling and face to face meeting limitations. To be fast and efficient, the content has been analysed and split into 2 categories: theoretical knowledge, transformed in e-learning and know-how/behavior, that was worth a more interactive format, like virtual classrooms. Accor used already existing content, whenever it was possible, for instance by leveraging of external resources, and developed new content when needed.

Stefan Jung, research assistant and Helge Fischer, project manager has summarized the main findings. The presentation is organised around 3 key words: Virtual Reality, Framework, and Meta analysis.

Stefan has identified the scientific model described by Euler and Seufert as the main scientific background of the analysis. Accordingly, the analysis has considered 4 main dimensions, namely Technology, Organisation, Economy, Culture to propose a framework for implementation of VR for training in the field of hospitality.

Several positive aspects have been identified, including the fact that VR can support cooperation when used with several participants. Single sessions can be organised for more explicit learning (quizzes, etc.). Both settings generally offer the possibility for a more active pedagogy, with improvement of the learning outcome compared to passive tools. VR and digitalisation appear interesting while face to face meetings are limited. The technologies rapidly evolve, and the prices reduce: VR offers a wide range of advantages, like simulation, wireless settings and allow to develop natural gesture interactions.

Yet, it is important to have several limits and warnings in mind when designing and implementing these technologies. Users should be given time to get used to this technology and relevant support and instructions should be provided, both to trainers and trainees. Any side effect should also be measured and avoided whenever possible. From the organisation point of view, teachers should consider how to integrate these technologies and evaluate the compatibility between new VR technologies and already existing technologies: coordination is essential and network issues, for instance, should be anticipated. The overall objective is to smoothly mix traditional learning methods and new technologies.

While VR is increasingly used in technological and scientific disciplines, we aim at using it in social sciences context: we plan to develop a scenario to train to crisis resolution, with the possibility to explore cultural aspects through the national and transnational learning cultures.

The current COVID situation offers an unprecedented context: home office and funds and resources to innovate and experiment, it is a great opportunity to work on the design, address limitations of digitalisation and balance pros and cons. Adoption of VR technologies goes faster than in past not only because of pandemic but also because VR technologies have the potential to make learning more active, that is a significant benefit!

Requirements for the implementation of digital tools in Hospitality management by Stefan Jung and Helge Fischer, FHD

As part of Hotel Academy project, FHD has conducted a state-of-the-art review of training and virtual reality. 

Jazmin has started this session with the presentation of the digital tools provided by Manzalab: Teemew VR for collaboration and interaction, possibly with remote users and Teemew mobile, a microlearning application that can support the VR application.

Clément has then pursued with the presentation of the concept of Virtual presence and how it is developed in immersive experiences like Teemew VR. Such experiences find their origins in economic reasons: need to cut on travel costs, but also ecologic reasons: need to reduce carbon footprint.

Digital tools and virtual presence by Clement Merville and Jazmin Zaraik, Manzalab

The “Presence” has been originally defined by the researcher Mel Slater in 2009 as “the very sense of physical presence in a virtual environment”.

Clément explained that 3 elements contribute to the Virtual presence:

  • The Spatial Presence, which relies as much as possible on real elements, familiar.

  • The Self Presence, i.e. the incarnation, the feeling you have a body in the virtual environment. Different shapes can be used but it is better if the avatar is looking like you. Yet, we can decide to use another aspect to generate empathy toward a particular person or category of persons (e.g. a kid, a patient, a client).

  • The Co-Presence, which comprises the spatial co-presence, spatialized sound, and non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communication is essential as 45% of the information is perceived this way.

The constant evolution of technologies will support the reinforcement of all these dimensions to create increasingly realistic immersive experiences. The future is XR: continuous experience between VR and AR. It will also be enriched with Artificial Intelligence. The digital conference in 2030: each partner will hear the speakers in their own language and see perfect lips synchronisation thanks to live translation and avatar animation!

Vassos Ioannous has prolonged the presentation of his analysis of the current situation, the role of digital technologies in the current context and the expected impact beyond the COVID crisis.

As previously underlined, the use of technologies has a significant role to play to avoid personal contact: booking, payment, check in and check out, etc… It starts from home with the possibility of experience a virtual visit. Overall, digital technologies contribute to the arising of safer and easier traveling to bring back tourists. This is the new world; we have to learn! Yet, we should not forget the “personal touch”: digital technologies must allow rendering the local specificities.

Hospitality & Tourism and use of Technology (Digital tools, Social Media-Virtual Lerning) Pre & Post Covid Period by Vassos Ioannou, Mediterranean Travel Agency

Christos Kyriakidis, general manager at Rely Management Consulting, came to share with us his optimistic view on the current situation. Project development post-covid will be challenging, yet there is an optimistic approach by the owners/developers since there are good building terms by the governments but also an ongoing interest and support by international brands.

He has started the session with the introduction of the concept of Copeability, i.e. the coping skills for life’s challenges, particularly relevant nowadays, as Fear and Suspicion are major issues. To cope with fear and suspicion, Christos highlights 5 key factors in traveling: Safety, Health, Hygiene, Brands and Value.

Hospitality & Tourism Projects Development, Pre and Post Covid Period by Christos Kyriakidis, Rely Management Consulting

In this context, as mentioned by Vassos, technologies, especially digital technologies, and Internet of Things, are significant contributors to Safety innovation. It is certain that the future of tourism will strongly rely on digital and technological discoveries such as the use of chatbots to make reservations, mobility patterns to manage visitor flows, artificial intelligence, the IoT, 5G, service oriented robotic, etc. These innovations are going to shape the new tourist experience. Flexibility will be another keyword of the future of tourism. New practices and policies are expected in nearly every aspect of the guest’s experience, such as cancellation

policies, service rates or schedule modifications.


Four groups account for 50% of the hotel construction projects worldwide. Mariott, Hilton, Accor, Intercontinental Hotels Groups. The global pipeline has grown for 9 consecutive years in Cyprus and it is interesting to note that no significant impact of the crisis has been noticed in 2020 and the hotel construction in Cyprus is maintained. Among the ongoing projects, 50% are supported by international groups.

What about the next years? The vaccine launch in 2021 is considered a key to allow the activities to come back to normal, 2022: activities are back on recovery road, 2023: activities climb and finally, 2024: activities are totally back to normal. This means that an investor to a hotel  development project must look into the pandemic as an opportunity to start construction on favourable terms by the governments: starting early 2021 with approximately 36 months development lead to a perfect timing for opening in 2024 with a hotel integrating all highest quality standards to meet guests needs regarding Safety, 

precautions, Health matters, Hygiene standards, Brand security and Value for Money. And Branding of the project will be a key success factor to lead the market, being part of a greater family that takes care of its members but mostly, gives security to the guests.

We have gathered 4 experts to answer 3 questions:

Question #1: How did hoteliers and the formation experience and feel this period of transition?

Andre Courtin (AC): The current crisis is a catastrophe, a big issue. We expected activities to restart in September, but it is not the case in Europe and we are closing again the hotels. The major issue is that people do not travel anymore! For some rare hotels that are still opened, Accor has applied to “All safe” label created with the certification office Bureau Veritas. This label relies of the Training of Accor hotel employees and represents a guaranty for the guest that they can come and be safe, e.g. How to keep smiling with the mask, how to handle guests unsatisfaction, etc…

Round Table

Vassos Ioannou (VI): We train the staff to the new rules, in all hotel divisions. For instance, Room division: new process upon arrival and checking, put glasses, but also Announcement, information, e.g. the traditional “Welcome envelope” is moving digital. Disinfection and cleaning process are applied, Schedule departure and arrival to allow fresh air in the room. In the Restaurant: the tables are separated, scheduling different hours, different sections for different groups, families. The Swimming pools are reorganised: 2 meters between each bed, families, nationalities are separated. The main objective is to allow immediate identification of contact in case of infection and avoid infection transmission and expansion.

Christos Kyriakidis (CK): The main goal is to ensure providing guests with security and trust.

Question #2: What are the effects of COVID in Learning and Development?

AC: We had to adapt quickly, we are in a VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous), amplified with the pandemic. Accor revenues dropped down by 75%, the issue is to survive and there is no money for training: any training should be cheap, with no traveling, no face to face meeting. Resources were concerted as much as we could on e-learning and online sessions with training facilitators. All over the world, we need to change our mind, set and adapt to VUCA world to survive. In China, “crisis” means “risk” AND “opportunity”: we need to adapt to take the opportunity and grow again.

VI: Going digital is part of the solution but some employees may lack digital knowledge. E.g. a chamber made may be used to Facebook but not used to use much technology elsewhere – even though she is the best chamber made. We must train them! Employees can be separated into 2 groups for training purpose: techno friendly and not friendly. In the current context, we learn better, i.e.: we better identify the target and how to save money, jobs and our business.

CK: Learning should never stop; we have to continue. Employees need to progress to gain competitiveness. We have to consider new services, new ways of doing (check in, out, door man…), all of which induces needs for additional training, but also needs for optimised training, relying on a combination of Trainers in the hotel to train the employees, internal training, and digital training.

Question #3: What are the uses of digital tools in this new context?

AC: The use of platforms such as TEAMS and ZOOM have strongly developed in the past months. In terms of Learning and development tool, Zoom is the most appropriate for virtual class, offering white board, breakout rooms, etc. very much appropriated for training. Zoom has increased by +300% increase. E-learning requires a platform able to reach as much persons as possible. The main obstacle is for people that are not tech aware, even if they have a smartphone: we have to make them adapt to use the new tools. What will be the next tools? We need to permanently be aware and adapt.

VI: Digital tools are the only future that we have. We have tools, we adapt, it’s going to change and improve rapidly. We have to adjust all the time. This is true for all participants of the sector including travel agencies, tour operators and airlines.

Antonio Roldan-Ponce (ARP): It is interesting to see how different kind of hotels can adopt different strategies to face the crisis and adapt to circumstances. Adaptation includes operations and strategy. As an example, the commercialisation routes have evolved and we observe a transition to more direct way of service commercialisation, instead of the usual tour operator route. This has a direct impact on training and learning aspect: we have to train to new procedure, but also to improve training procedure. Use of digital tools has wide impact, such as revenue management, allowing to react with more flexibility and efficiency to customer needs. Such changes came to remain and long-term positive impact for the training of employees are to be expected.


CK: Integrating digital technologies is easier when it is done from start, during the hotel construction itself. Projects that are currently being developed will natively integrate the use of digital software.

Additional question: What about the competitors?

AC: We know they are in the same situation and try to be agile. Their current position regarding training digitalisation depends on the existing platform they had before the crisis and their respective digitalisation maturity.

CK: We are all going in the same direction, from the same line, hoping everything will be back to normal by end 2021. We have to consider positive aspects and the strong benefits that adoption of digital tools will bring. The winner of the situation will be the learning on new services. Hotel owners and project developers in Cyprus are very interested by plans for international structure and looking for flexibility, giving the right tools and making things happen. People are wondering if they should continue or not. We are here to say: yes, go on, build your hotel and everything will be ready when things are back to normal.

ARP: It is good to see the optimism. What will be “new normality”? How operations will be impacted, for instance on the commercialisation level? The crisis deeply impacts tour operation, investors are interested in ways to create new revenue: integrate new services, e.g.: organisation of event, rent rooms for hours. Such new services will define the “new normal”, and we have few months to complete the revolution.

VI: Everybody has the same goal, but we should balance Global vs Local: everything cannot be implemented everywhere, and cultural differences must be considered.

MBA ESG: All hotels took care of their customers with digital tools, but some forgot to train with digital tools. We are doing a lot of remote learning. For instance: we organise hackathons, with students that will later join big international hotel groups. It is pretty new, 1 year old, but expanding! Hotels are focusing on the guest but not forgetting the employees.

Additional question: The use of digital tools is increasing today because we cannot do otherwise. What will happen when we can again do otherwise?

VI: They arrive and will stay, in business and in family. We will come back to face to face lovely, but digital will remain.

ARP: Digital tools are impacting commercialisation process, things are different now and we have to change. For instance, regarding relationship with social media and experiences: we have to learn to commercialise services and to 

that end, social media can be used for segmentation, neuromarketing tools can be used to redefine marketing activities: observe, understand and share customer experiences. Digital tools are supporting an operative revolution and the impact in the future will be even bigger, it is just the start.

AC: If tomorrow there are more possibilities for face to face interactions, it will come back, as it is the case when human beings cannot do something, and this practice become possible again. Hospitality will come back to normal because people need to travel, to go out, but it will not be as it was before. It will be the same for training: we will come back to face to face training but digital will remain, e.g. 2 days training face to face will be tomorrow blended with 1 day face to face + 1 day online. It will allow the access to psychologic assistance: people are more fragile, and tomorrow they will need coaching, they may have the opportunity to find individual coaching with an online platform, without the need to go to the city. Coaching will be the new training tomorrow to accompany the employees, and managers.

Maik Arnold, Vice president for studies Teaching and Continuing Education, and Stefan Jung, Research assistant, from FHD, have organised a workshop about Digital Leadership in Hospitality. 

Since the 1990s, change management has received considerable attention as the new paradigm for the management of organisational transformations as well as behavioural and motivational changes. As such, constant changes caused by the advancing technical revolution in IT as well as by disruptive and innovative business models have become the new “normality” also in the Hospitality sector. Against this background, this workshop discussed the questions of how the digital change could be designed, implemented, and sustainably developed, of what principles of leading such changes could be  relied on, and of what leadership the change agents in such a process

Digital Leadership in the Hospitality Industry by Maik Arnold and Stefan Jung, FHD

require specific skills and competencies. Eventually, the paper leads to a discussion and reflection of a sustainable framework for digital change management at the level of the individual change agents and the organisation itself.

Presentation of Digital tools for the management of Human Resources, Julien Caporal, Manzalab

Julien, Head of Pedagogy at Manzalab, has started the session with the presentation of scientific background underlying the benefits of immersion and the use of technologies, including the previous works of Mayer and Dehaene.


From an economic point of view, the use of serious gaming is also an interesting option compatible with the implementation of blended learning programs and reduction of costs.

He then shared some feedback from the implementation of a blended program to train front desk employees. Most feedback mention that the approach is good for basics and for any kind of employees in the hotel, not only front desk team. Implementation is feasible both in large groups and small entities.


Participants highlight that such programme could also be used in the field of IT, including by the university. EUC team illustrates with the use of “My EUC”, a mobile app used by all the students with their own mobile, and providing questionnaires, quiz, personalisation test.

From a cognitive point of view, consolidation of knowledge requires emotion and repetition. To that respect, smartphone appears relevant as it can be used in combination with an immersive VR experience: before, during and after.

Ancre 1

Virtual Learning in the hospitality industry by André Courtin, Academy Accor Europe

Digital tools and virtual presence by Clement Merville, Manzalab

Hospitality & Tourism Projects Development, Pre and Post Covid Period by Christos Kyriakidis, Rely Management Consultants

Digital Leadership in the Hospitality Industry by Maik Arnold and Stefan Jung, FHD

additional references: 

Arnold, M. (2020). Change Management Education in Social Work Degree Programmes in Germany: Bridging the Gap Between Management Science and Professional Practice. In Sajid, S.M., Baikady, R., Sheng-li, C., & Sakaguchi, H. (Eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Global Social Work Education (pp. 101-117). London, New York et al.: Palgrave Macmillan. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-39966-5_7 

Rost, K., Hölzle, K., & Gemünden, H.G. (2007). Promotors or champions? Pros and cons of role specialisation for economic process. Schmalenbach Business Review, 59(4), 340–363. article on researchgate


André is Senior Leader Learning and Development at Academy Accor Europe. For the past 15 years, André has been a professional in L&D committed to training and all initiatives aimed at developing skills and performance at Accor. With operational experience in companies and learning project management, he is interested in developing the strategy for blended learning projects, from design to evaluation and facilitation (digital and face to face). See more


Clément is Manzalab Group's CEO. As a computer engineer and graduate of HEC, Clément has anticipated new uses of videogames, particularly in the field of training as a powerful learning vector. With the creation of Manzalab, he developped a recognized powerhouse based on its signature values: vision, authenticity, passion for innovation and the pleasure of working with talented people in a pleasant and fun environment.

See more - Contact Clément


Natural leader, strategic thinker, trusted, ethical, and hardworking, Vhristos has broad 25-year international experience in Hotel, Hospitality, Catering and Management.

He has worked in Europe, Middle East and Africa for high-profile projects of established hotel chains.

He has founded Rely Management Consultants in 2020, seeing the pandemic as opportunity to develop Hotel projects.  

See more - Contact Christos


Julien is Manzalab Group's Pedagogical Director. He has been passionately dedicated to new organizational and learning practices for 22 years. With a PhD degree in computer science, hypermedia and digital cartography, this visionary is completely dedicated to the Web and customized training systems in e-learning, blended learning and serious games.

See more - Contact Julien



Professor of International Economics & International Management and Head of Department Tourism & Event Management at Dresden University of Applied Sciences. His research has been on the understanding of innovation networks and their effect on economic and business development. He was also Managing Director and COO of several companies related to tourism.

See more - Contact Antonio


Currently Professor for Social Work Management and Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Transfer at the University of Applied Science in Dresden, Germany. Since 2012, Dr Maik Arnold is a research associate at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies, United Kingdom, and research fellow at the Samvada Centre for Research Ressources, New Delhi. His research interests include Digital Education and Leadership, among others.

See more and more - Contact Maik


Vassos is Managing Director at 24/7 Mediterranean Travel Agency Ltd, Cyprus.

He has worked for 40-years in Hospitality & Tourism industry at various positions, including Hotel General Manager, Tour Operator, Travel Agent and Consultant, in Accounting, Sales & Marketing, Product and Contracting. 

He holds a Master of Business Administration in Hospitality Management, among other diplomas.

See more - Contact Vassos


Stefan Jung joined the Research team of the state-approved university Fachhochschule Dresden, FHD, Germany as Research Assistant.

He is involved in several projects including Hotel Academy.

He has participated to the initial analysis and the definition of requirements and didactical framework. He focused the analysis on the use of digital technologies, especially Virtual Reality, in the field of Tourism and Hospitality.

See more - Contact Stefan

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