“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.” - C.S. Lewis
One of the required courses as part of our studies is Hospitality Managerial Accounting. Aside from following the textbook and sharing recent case studies from prominent hotel consulting companies, Professor Bob Kastner forces us to learn from experience, specifically through Cornell Hotel Administration Simulation Exercise (CHASE).
This program creates a virtual hotel market complete with seasonality, different customer segments and its own stock market. Each team of four to five students is then in charge of managing their own hotel in this market, competing with other teams for the most room nights sold, the largest profits and the most satisfied guests. As the hotel managers, we are able to determine room rates, marketing and advertising budgets for each particular segment, wages and number of employees, among other variables. Ultimately, by strategically making decisions, each team is able to determine whether it will be budget or upscale hotel in the market and the type of service that each hotel will provide for its respective guests.
When asked about what he expects his students to draw from their experience with CHASE, Professor Kastner highlights the benefits stemming from working in a team and practicing key decision-making that we may experience in the real world.
“The CHASE was originally developed to provide a group dynamic or team building exercise for students and hotel industry participants to engage in topics related to decision making for hotels at the unit level. The use of CHASE in the Hospitality Managerial Accounting course is for students to practice the various managerial topics discussed during the course such as decision-making and the analysis and interpretation of financial information.”He also explains the valuable insight and practice that can be gained from working with the various financial statements and believes that this virtual exercise complements the Financial Accounting course that students take in their first trimester at IMHI.
“When teaching the Financial Accounting course it is difficult to convey the idea that the financial statements are animated. One of the best things about using the CHASE is that it animates the Income Statement and the Balance Sheet through the quarterly report feedback and provides repetition for students to practice and improve their analytical skills."Part of the difficulty of this exercise comes in anticipating changes in the market and the decisions of one’s competitors… Just like in the real world. It is through experiencing the different challenges and setbacks that can occur in this virtual world that we have been able to gain a greater understanding of what may await us after graduation. Living the ups and downs and facing the consequences of our mistakes in this game teaches us valuable lessons that will stick with us well into the future.