Many young hospitality professionals spend years working in the field, earning valuable industry experience that will prepare them to eventually become general managers of hotels, resorts, restaurants, and cruise lines. However, new technology and best practices, set to be introduced at the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida, aim to jumpstart upper management careers in the hospitality industry.

The innovative Performance Management Intelligence (PMI) software suite, created by d2o, a global hospitality technology company, will allow UCF Rosen College students to serve as virtual General Managers (GMs) of a real-life hotel.

Through a cloud-based environment, students will receive real-time data from an actual hotel. Students will then use this data to manage their own virtual hotels, including budgeting and revenue forecasting, staffing and scheduling, food purchasing, daily occupancy, stock level control, and more.

“It’s the closest thing to hands-on experience. This state-of-the-art technology will allow our students to apply theories to resolve the same real-world business issues that general managers face on a daily basis,” said Dr. Abraham Pizam, dean of UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management. “Our students will gain market-ready management skills in a fun, innovative, and engaging manner. Bottom-line – they’ll become better hotel GMs, and more marketable graduates.”

The college will select 20 students from a pool of applicants to participate in the program, which begins March 18, 2013. The initial 20 virtual GMs will have a two-day boot camp to learn the concept and software before competing, with the support of a personal coach, against each other for the most successfully operated hotel.

Prizes will be awarded to the top competing student managers and the most successful virtual GM will receive an all-expense-paid trip to Norway to tour the actual hotel, as well as visit d2o’s headquarters.

In addition to prizes, each participant will gain valuable management skills, plus a certificate of Dynamic Performance Management Excellence, which will be valuable to students’ resumes.

UCF’s Rosen College is the first academic institution in the United States to use d2o’s revolutionary technology designed to enable hoteliers to proactively manage in a highly dynamic environment. The d2o process helps shape leaders who think differently and manage collaboratively by sharing information and managing future outcomes.  Managing labor and F&B resources in real-time, managers can prevent productivity loss and deliver more sustainable profitability across departments.

“We chose UCF’s Rosen College to pilot this program in the U.S. because they already had an outstanding reputation for successfully blending theoretical principles and real-world applications,” said Kjell Gangdal, d2o’s vice president of education. “We are thrilled to work with such a great academic institution and we are excited to see the students learning the philosophy and best practices of managing proactively using our solution.”