2023 in Professorship RIU X ESCPA never ending love story

It seems yesterday that ESCP Business School signed a Professorship agreement with RIU Hotels & Resorts to work on hospitality CSR and social investment. However, we have just successfully concluded the second year of working together, and it has been a truly reflective and productive process of co-working, which will lay solid foundations for further work in the coming years. 2023? has been marked by two lines of action that, even if they have been different, have generated synergies between them.

The first one has been about the RIU Method, which has been deeply and systematically reviewed and rethought in order to achieve systematization and standardization and be able to provide training on project management for RIU CSR staff. The second action line has revolved around research, research and research! And investigation into what? On collaborative scientific knowledge structures and sustainable development in destinations. Read on to find out exactly what we have done in each of these work streams!

Student in classroom RIU

Transformative Initiatives: The Evolution of RIU Method and Sustainable Development in Collaboration with ESCP

With regard to the first action line, we have successfully developed two International Consulting Projects (ICP´s) with ESCP students-teams. One of them was about the RIU Method systematization & standardization, which was titled “Designing a Proposal for the Standardization of Processes and Tools for the RIU Method”. It was run by students from the MSc in Digital Project Management & Consulting and resulted in a detailed analysis of the RIU Method and its processes and tools (identification of duplicates, inefficiencies and improvement areas), in the form of a specific outcome: a Method Master proposal for the RIU Method.

The second one was performed along with students from the MSc in Hospitality & Tourism Management, who had the objective to turn around circular economy Balearic standards and regulations and how to apply them by the RIU Hotels & Resorts. This project, entitled “Drawing Angles in a Circle: Applying Circular Economy Principles to Hotels through the Design of an Operational Proposal for RIU Hotels in the Balearic Islands”, led to a reference framework on circular economy for the Balearic islands as well as applied hotel sheets for circularity plans.

International Consulting Projects: Enhancing RIU Methodology and Circular Economy Practices in Balearic Islands

The abovementioned output of the first ICP on the RIU Method was an astonishing input for other works performed within the framework of this professorship. In particular, thanks to these students' efforts, the ESCP professorship team was able to systematically review the RIU Method and thus design and provide a 1-day training for the RIU CSR department staff. This workshop took place in July, 2023 in Madrid with the invaluable collaboration of Prof. José Ramón Cobo.

Student in classroom RIU with Prof. José Ramón Cobo

The content was intense as ESCP and RIU professorship team worked with a very comprehensive program, consisting of the following issues:

  • RIU Method recap & review to agree on improvements
  • Co-definition of definite RIU CSR strategy, lines and programs
  • Design of an agreed new flow chart for the RIU Method, and new processes and tools
  • Project Management introduction
  • Establishment of next steps for the redesign of the RIU Method phases

On the basis of that workshop results and agreements, the professorship team has spent the rest of the year developing new tools for the RIU Method, in particular, for: Phase 1) Diagnosis; Stage E.1) Pre-Identification; Sub-stages E.1.1) and E.1.2) about RIU countries and destinations diagnosis. And, if all goes according to plan, in early 2023 we will be able to start testing, refining and validating them!

ESCP & RIU Workshop 2023: Redesigning the RIU Method for Effective CSR Strategies

On the other hand, and strongly connected with the previous actions described, we keep on working on research and innovation, as our “academic consulting missions” have this essence of applied scientific knowledge. In this sense, the ESCP professorship team has continued studying and understanding collaborative scientific knowledge structures in order to conceptualize a participatory unit for the improvement of sustainability and social investment in the hotel sector.

The effort has paid off, as you will see below in connection with academic dissemination! In addition, we have analyzed RIU destinations analysis from the perspective of the sustainability standards and the Triple Bottom Line and the social investment with the aim of not only categorizing destinations in terms of development, but also to foster a better social investment strategy. The result? A development map of RIU destinations that is also useful for the first steps of the RIU Method and, consequently, the first action line. Here we see again the unquantifiable value of synergies!

Innovative Tools for RIU Method: Progressing Towards Sustainable Practices in 2023

Since one of the ESCP guiding principles is that there is no investigation without dissemination, the ESCPxRIU professorship devotes parts of its efforts to communicate what they do and therefore impact on the society, by trying to inspire good practices and look for new traveling companions. This way, our main scientific contributions, have been two:

  1. Participation in the 7th World Research Summit for Hospitality and Tourism (December 8-11, 2023), organized in Florida by Elsevier and UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management and supported by the most internationally prestigious journals on tourism and hospitality. There we presented a poster conference about how the aforementioned collaborative scientific knowledge structures can promote resilience, responsibility and regeneration in the hospitality sector. Also, we have submitted a paper for a prestigious scientific journal, which is currently under the second round of the review. And, finally, we were invited to participate in a publishing book project.
  2. Paper accepted to be published on the PASOS journal titled: “El Método RIU: las realidades de destino como punto de partida y meta, en el camino de la RSC hotelera"

ESCPxRIU Professorship: Bridging Collaborative Scientific Knowledge and Sustainability in Hospitality

But to leave a mark in the society, it is crucial to communicate for wider audiences, and not only for scientific-academic spheres. That’s why we undertake generalist communication actions, such as the participation in the presentation of the RIU 2022 Sustainability Report in Palma de Mallorca, in July 2023, as well as other dissemination actions like the the participation in FITUR Forums, or attending to The Second Symposium on Teaching & Curriculum Development in Sustainability- Entrepreneurship, hosted by ESCP Business School and the UN Environment Programme in Paris (June 12-13, 2023)

Academic Dissemination and Impact: ESCP & RIU's Contributions to the World Research Summit

Last but not least, ESCP & RIU started in the last 3 months of the year, a new relationship that expands beyond the framework of the professorship. By designing and implementing an academic consultancy mission to Isla de Sal (Cabo Verde), with a complete agenda of field work developed on Oct 2023, drive the pre-identification of potential synergies with stakeholders on the destination that, aligned with the Social Investment Strategy of the company, could participate in the design and implementation of new “multi-stakeholders alliances".

The aim will be to respond to the social, environmental and economic challenges of the tourist destination of Sal Island (Cape Verde) with a sustainable and circular approach. We trust that the seeds of this ambitious sowing will take root, and that the pre-identified proposals will be realized over the next few years.

All things considered, what can we say but that 2023 has left us with a great taste in our mouths: the taste of hope that everything that comes to be consolidated continues to go forward… and the taste of the desire for new ideas to grow! We hope that this 2024 will bring a smile to this professorship and that we will be able to celebrate it with you!