HOTS Business Simulation (Griffith University)


Marlene Pratt | Griffith University |

Key Features

  • Simulator: HOTS
  • Students: Undergraduate, internal students
  • Class Size: 150+
  • Assessment: Quizzes, business performance, reflective report, final exam
  • Pedagogy: Intensive delivery of lectures followed by simulation


Two degree programs use the HOTS simulation at Griffith University. These programs (not courses) are the Bachelor of Business in Hotel Management and Bachelor of International Tourism and Hotel Management.

The HOTS Simulation continues to be used in universities and hotel schools worldwide to teach students about hotel and hospitality management. We also continue to use the program to train and develop staff within the industry; these courses are always in high demand. (HOTS website, 2014,

Marlene highlights that her course has been designed to ensure ‘HOTS is the focus of the course’. This is because the HOTS simulation can ‘integrate knowledge from other courses that they’ve done in their degree program such as marketing, accounting, rooms division management, food and beverage management and human resources, suggests Marlene. Bringing other courses together makes this simulation ideal for teaching, learning and preparing students for the hospitality industry.

Learning Aims

The key learning objective of the course titled Hotel Service Operations Management is problem solving, which is the main focus of what the simulation actually encourages students to undertake, suggests Marlene. Developing decision making skills, group work skills by problem solving in teams, improving communication skills both written and oral are equally important. As many international students predominantly from South East Asia are enrolled, these students also develop more advanced English communication skills.


Griffith University strongly encourages students to attend lectures and tutorials in this course however all lectures are recorded and can be accessed at any time. Students should attend all HOTS computer laboratory classes but can also interact via Skype or Facebook if required.

2-4  hour lectures/seminars – weeks 1-13

Between two and four hour lecture blocks are used to communicate information that assists students with the HOTS simulation. It is an opportunity for students to form and communicate in groups which allows decisions to be made prior to the simulation. The lecturer can also give guidance regarding academic theory that will assist in the simulation decision making process.

1 hour simulation/tutorials

The HOTS simulation is undertaken on a weekly basis where students input their decisions based on the data and reports provided ‘monthly’ by the HOTS simulation. Students should have a plan prior to the simulation but have the ability to adapt depending on how other teams are performing.


The HOTS simulation has no set or fixed method of assessment. The creators of HOTS prefer that individual organisations decide on what works best for their establishments. Griffith University undertakes the following feedback and assessment tasks:

Assessment Responsibility Weight
Quizzes Individual 20%
Business Performance Team 10%
Reflective Report Individual 40%
Final Exam Individual 30%

Three quizzes in the first five weeks of the simulation to encourage students to read the material and become acquainted with the simulation.  Two quizzes are open book and one is closed book totalling 20% of their overall grade. Although the simulation is based on group work, the major report is an individual report worth 40% of their grade. This is to gauge the individual’s understanding of the simulation and ‘shows me they’ve understood mistakes that they might have made, issues that have occurred….and how they’ve improved their performance over the three years’ says Marlene. Participation and overall simulation performance is important and enhances the students’ competitive streak therefore 10% of assessment is dedicated to this area. The last 30% of the mark is reflected in the final exam which encompasses elements of the entire course.


HOTS has the ability to be delivered in a variety of ways depending on timetables and university requirements. At Griffith University there is the HOTS facilitators [tutors] which due to student numbers are numerous plus the lecturer. Marlene acknowledges that she has put together a HOTS Learning Guide that gives additional information to the HOTS User Guide and Background Documentation therefore does not need to rely heavily on supporting material or library resources for the simulation. This unit also utilises Blackboard as an online tool so information is available to students at all times. Recorded lectures and HOTS related documents can be reviewed easily plus email and posting group questions answered by the lecturer can also be easily accessed. Additional university services can be found at Learning@Griffith website.


Marlene believes simulations are ‘a really interesting way to challenge students and to get students to learn because they become engrossed and they don’t even realise how much they are learning by going to this problem solving exercise’. Attendance in tutorials is historically high due to students having a competitive nature, feeling part of a team, wanting to contribute and a desire to understand the content. HOTS can deliver an array of financial reports that students must base decisions of in a timely manner. This mimics what happens in industry therefore students gain a valuable experience in a controlled environment however their overall academic result relies on knowing the material. ‘Students often make comments at the end of semester valuation saying it was the best thing they’d done in their degree program’ which Marlene expresses is very rewarding as a lecturer.


Students are learning by integrating the lecture content with running a real hotel in order to improve their performance
Marlene Pratt, Griffith University