New Management Model:
Hospitality and Gaming
Chinese & English │Tony Lai (Stringer)
Photo │Eric Tam & Jack Ho, with some provided by the Faculty of Business Administration
It has been 12 years since the University of Macau (UM) set up the Hospitality and Gaming Management programme and the Institute for the Study of Commercial Gaming (ISCG), taking up the responsibilities of nurturing talent and offering policy advice in the related fields for the city. As the Macao government is now encouraging casino operators to develop non-gaming elements, as well as promoting the upward mobility of locals, what role can UM play in this new policy initiative?
Sic Bo, wheel of fortune, baccarat, blackjack and Caribbean Stud poker—students of the bachelor programme in Hospitality and Gaming Management no longer need to visit casinos to understand the operations of these types of table games. Walking a few steps to the Gaming Laboratory on the campus will deliver them almost the same experience.
Dr Amy So Siu Ian, programme director of Hospitality and Gaming Management, says ISCG set up the new facility after moving to the new campus last year. Designed as a mock casino, the laboratory not only serves as a venue for the training of industry practitioners, but it is also where the students of the Hospitality and Gaming Management programme meet for their classes. ‘This gives the students an opportunity to apply what they have learned from textbooks, a valuable experience for many students who age below 21, the legal age of entry to casinos,’ Dr So explains.
Macao has entered a new era since the liberalisation of the gaming market in 2002. As the leading higher education institute in the city, UM established the Hospitality and Gaming Management programme in 2003 in view of the increasing demand for education in related fields. It was formerly known as the Gaming Management programme, providing only casino-related courses. However, both Macao and the entire gaming industry are developing in a direction that emphasizes integrated resorts—in which the casino is only one of the elements, in addition to food and beverage, and exhibitions and conventions— so the programme underwent a revamp seven years ago and has since allowed the students to choose to focus on either the Gaming Management or Hospitality Management Streams.
Dr Amy So Siu Ian
Flexible and Creative Curriculum
‘Our curriculum is relatively flexible. The programmes of other schools only focus on one area and their students could only pursue their career in that particular field after graduation,’ Dr So says. ‘But our graduates of the Gaming Management Stream can opt for a career in the hotel industry, whereas our graduates of the Hospitality Management Stream can choose management jobs in casino-related
Dr So emphasises that closely following the latest industry practices is another major feature of the programme: The programme regularly invites industry leaders to give talks to the students, who can visit and have internship opportunities in the integrated resorts and other companies in the industry.
After moving to the new campus, the design of the programme is also more interactive. There is a new MICE Laboratory, which serves as a platform for the students to apply the theories they have learned and utilise their creativity, Dr So says. At the UM Open Day held in this March, the students of the Hospitality and Gaming Management programme used paper airplanes as the main theme for the set-up of the laboratory, promoting their courses to prospective students, their parents and the public. The highlight of the set-up was the installation of a large-scale paper airplane in the laboratory, symbolising that the programme would take the students to new heights. Another new facility, Hospitality Laboratory, will be in full operation soon, featuring a ballroom, a learning kitchen, and a learning bar, to enrich the learning experiences of the students.
The new Gaming Laboratory of the Institute for the Study of Commercial Gaming is designed as a mock casino.
Providing Training and Advancing Upward Mobility of Locals
There are now eight staff members teaching the core subjects of the Hospitality and Gaming Management progamme and the annual enrolment of students varies between 60 and 70. The graduates generally work in the areas of casino, hotel and convention—the first few classes have already been promoted to senior managers or higher positions in their companies. ‘Our programme emphasises on critical thinking and management skills, which could help the students to advance upward mobility in their careers, as there are different kinds of problems the industry leaders have to solve every day,’ Dr So says. ‘We also set up the master programme of International Integrated Resort Management three years ago, focusing on management skills, to nurture more local talent in response to the latest development of Macao.’
Besides urging the gaming operators to actively advance the upward mobility of the locals, the Macao government also hopes the gaming employees, especially casino croupiers, can receive more training to enhance their quality. Davis Fong Ka Chio, director of UM’s ISCG, says they offer two one-year programmes—Diploma of Casino Management and Advanced Diploma in Gaming Management—targeting the industry practitioners who have not completed higher education, and more than 500 practitioners have finished the diploma programmes. ISCG has also been invited by the gaming operators to organise seminars or short-term courses for their employees. ‘Upward mobility is a major direction of career development, but enhancing the personal skills of the workers is more important than promotion,’ Prof Fong remarks.
Prof Davis Fong Ka Chio
Three Platform Functions of ISCG
Prof Fong says ISCG has been fully committed to its ‘three platform functions’ since establishment in 2003. The first function is learning platform, which provides the teaching staff and students a learning environment closely linked to the industry; the second is research platform, as ISCG has carried out some 20 research projects from problem gambling and responsible gaming to the socio-economic impacts of the gaming industry, most of which the government will look into before formulating any policies; the third one is an international exchange platform, which facilitates exchanges between Macao and other gaming jurisdictions, such as arranging visits for the students to other cities, ensuring the healthy development of the industry.
One of the visits ISCG arranges is the Study Mission to Las Vegas, which is held annually for third-year students of the Hospitality and Gaming Management programme. ‘Back in 2004 when I had not even finished my doctoral degree, UM sent me and another colleague to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for a semester to study and carry out research, which left me with an unforgettable experience. The operating model of Las Vegas, including its business scale, management, service level and diversified revenue structure, is what Macao or any tourist city could learn from,’ Prof Fong recalls. ‘After I came back to Macao, I had found out this trip had a lasting impact upon me. I wanted the students to go through the same experience as I did, so I later asked UM to arrange a study mission to Las Vegas every year.’
The MICE Laboratory serves as a platform for the students to apply the theories they have learned
Contributions to Healthy Development of Macao
In collaboration with the Social Welfare Bureau and the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau of Macao, ISCG launched for the first time a promotional campaign for Responsible Gambling in 2009, which has continued each year onwards to increase the public awareness of responsible gambling. Moreover, ISCG developed Responsible Gambling Kiosks in 2012, devices which are set up in casinos as a more interactive means to provide the information of responsible gambling for the public and the visitors through games and self-assessment tools.
‘Since the government proposed to develop Macao as a World Centre of Tourism and Leisure in 2011, we have started to carry out the Macao Visitor Profit Study each year,’ Prof Fong explains the goals of the survey. ‘Do visitors agree Macao has become a World Centre of Tourism and Leisure? Are there any changes in the demographics of the visitors? Are there any changes in the consumption pattern of the visitors? The survey covers many of these indicators to see how much more Macao has to do, and we will provide advice for the government based on the outcomes.’
Graduates of the Gaming Management Stream can opt for a career in the hotel industry
Gaming Industry Maintaining Upward Momentum despite
The government has recently commissioned ISCG to be in charge of a mid-term review of the gaming industry, which will see how well the gaming operators have implemented the terms of their gaming concessions or sub-concessions, their efforts in the development of non-gaming elements and their corporate social responsibility. Prof Fong agrees the gaming operators could put more efforts in the community participation, saying: ‘It’s not money that moves people the most but the people-to-people exchanges. So I hope the gaming operators will provide more opportunities for their employees to do volunteer work, helping those are in need in the society.’
Another local academic in gaming studies, Ricardo Chi Sen Siu, associate professor of business economics at UM’s Faculty of Business Administration, says taking care of the livelihoods of the employees and supporting the upward mobility of locals, as proposed by the government, are part of the social responsibilities the gaming operators should take on. ‘Strengthening the development of non-gaming elements to ensure the sustainable development of Macao also plays an important part in the corporate social responsibility of the gaming operators,’ he adds. ‘In the next five to ten years, the gaming industry, as the pillar sector here, should facilitate the development of nongaming elements so that it can maintain an upward momentum despite slowing growth.’
After a decade of rapid development creating one record after another, the gaming industry has entered an adjustment period and it is time now to reflect on its own operating model. ‘The gaming revenue of Macao has been too dependent on VIP rooms and gaming promoters. But the transparency of their operation is not high so it is time now to review the relevant rules,’ said Prof Siu, who also points out as Macao is pushing forward the development of non-gaming elements, together with the completion of several integrated resorts in the next few years, the demand for
professionals in related areas will surge.
Prof Ricardo Chi Sen Siu
Seizing Opportunities with Professionalism
‘There are many opportunities now compared with the time when I was still studying,’ says Dr So, adding it was even difficult to find internship opportunities here in the past. Meanwhile, Prof Fong believes the UM programme can help the students to grasp the opportunities by ‘equipping them with the relevant skills for their future career advancement’.
‘As long as you have a good attitude, it is not difficult for the new generation of Macao to achieve success in their careers. Our programme can give the students quality training of academic skills and critical thinking, and more importantly, we help them to develop professionalism,’ says Prof Siu. ‘Many graduates told me that they thought I was very strict in the past but they are now so glad I forced them to study hard.’
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