Unveiling the Transformative Power of VR at Hotelschool The Hague

by Che Govender, Hotelschool The Hague, The Netherlands.

In the ever-evolving landscape of higher education, navigating financial, political, and technological challenges has become a formidable task. At Hotelschool The Hague, a commitment to staying at the forefront of innovation has led to a groundbreaking journey into the captivating world of Virtual Reality, In particular 360 degree video VR.

Stepping into the Virtual Realm

For students at Hotelschool The Hague, their first encounter with VR in education was nothing short of a revelation. Equipped with cardboard VR glasses and a smartphone for a course on Business Transformation, they stepped into an office of a branch manager at a fictitious coffee company crafted through a 360-degree video aimed at building their skills in dealing with resistance to change. Suddenly, students found themselves face-to-face with a real manager, tasked with the challenge of convincing him to implement training initiatives within his branch to enhance customer service across the company. What unfolded was a realistic learning environment designed to put learners under real-life pressure to test their critical-thinking and decision-making in order to prepare them for similar situations in the future. The immersive nature of VR allowed them to learn from mistakes without the fear of judgment, making the educational journey both authentic and enjoyable. In addition, as students, they also got to experience VR scenarios with higher-quality glasses like the Pico Neo 4 Enterprise headsets, which made the VR environment even more realistic.

Unveiling the Impact of VR on Hospitality Education

Praneschen (Che) Govender, the VR/AR in education lecturer at Hotelschool the Hague, in cooperation with Warp VR, takes the lead in incorporating VR and AR into the curriculum. Alongside colleagues, they have been driving the integration of immersive technologies into over eight courses since the pandemic created the need for learners to experience real-life learning from their own homes.

Classes using 360 VR usually begin at an immersive classroom experience, followed by structured reflection using an experiential learning model. The aim is to connect virtual reality with theories covered in class and allow learners to visualise concepts and context to extract meaning from experiences which are turned into learning opportunities through critical in-class reflection and group coaching sessions.

With 10 PICO headsets in their arsenal, experiences are shared in real-time through screen casting to Digi boards, fostering collaborative energy in live group reflections. Che is on a mission to extend this initiative to other departments at school, utilizing train the trainer sessions for lecturers on how to create VR/AR content, informal workshops, presentations, and collaborations with industry partners.

As part of the Transformative Hospitality Education and Tech Abilities (THETA) Erasmus + research project, training manuals have been developed to empower both staff and students to create their own immersive content. And students enrolled in the minor of “Future of Work” have already experienced creating their own immersive prototypes using Design-based Research. They collaborated with an actual hotel (the Hyatt & the Hilton) to develop a VR onboarding training prototype to digitalize standard operating procedures for new staff. This immersive experience guides individuals on setting up a meeting room and provides detailed instructions for housekeeping staff on the nuances of maintaining a hotel room and was well-received by industry.

Initial research findings from VR/AR prototypes tested as part of the THETA project show a preference for highly interactive experiences with a touch of gamification. A highlight is a 360° video on handling difficult guests, it’s engaging and provides a backstage pass to real-world scenarios, preparing individuals for future role challenges.

The application of 360 VR at Hotelschool The Hague to place learners in situations to apply their soft skills, practice standard operating procedure as well as develop prototypes for research have emphasized the transformative potential of VR in education, offering a secure environment for students to learn from mistakes and navigate situations that may be challenging or impractical in real life. The integration of 360-degree video VR is set to deepen its roots in the curriculum at Hotelschool The Hague, promising students an even more enriched and dynamic learning experience.

Thorsten van den Booren, student at Hotelschool The Hague*: As I am a student at Hotelschool The Hague, I can only agree with the use of VR. It is a super cool learning tool. It makes me feel like I’m really in the situations we’re studying, and that boosts my confidence for the real deal. The interactive elements in VR lessons and quick feedback make learning way more fun and useful. It’s not just the tech, it’s changing how we learn for the better! *

Shaping the Future of Learning

Hotelschool The Hague stands at the forefront of an educational revolution, where VR filters through diverse courses in the curriculum, enhancing not only the learning experience but shaping the future of education itself.  As Che shares this experience, get ready for a transformative journey into immersive learning at Hotelschool The Hague. Together, they’re not just embracing the future; they’re actively shaping it.

Figure 1. The BEE Aware 360 experience to provide awareness on importance of bees to the environment

Figure 2. 360 experience on Dealing with a Difficult Guest in Warp VR


Che Govender, Hotelschool The Hague, The Netherlands.