The first year of Professorship ESCPxRIU
The first offsprings of a truly Love Story!

It has been almost a year since the school had the pleasure of signing an agreement with RIU Hotels & Resorts to undertake a professorship on hotel CSR. It seems like yesterday and yet so much has happened to us! It has been a journey full of fruits (some of them planned and others totally unexpected) that have brought many joys to the team in charge of this project. And, as joys are made to be shared, we want to talk to you about them and invite you to discover what we at ESCP Business School have done with the invaluable company of RIU Hotels & Resorts.

To begin with, it is worth recalling everything we set out to do at the beginning of our journey, and which we set out in our Action Plan for 2022, to outline the results we have achieved.

Firstly, we implemented four International Consulting Projects (ICPs) with students from the MSc in Hospitality & Tourism Management (MHM), MSc in Marketing and Digital Media (MDM), and MBA in International Management (MBA) programmes. With the first two ICPs, done with students from the MHM Master's programme, we were even able to land in Palma de Mallorca (RIU Hotels & Resorts headquarters), where the students tested their research and proposals with the RIU team, both from the CSR area and from other departments. Within the framework of these two ICPs, one team of students worked on identifying proposals to be implemented in the sustainable purchasing processes in the hotels. The second team carried out a diagnosis of the CSR of RIU Hotels & Resorts, obtaining a comparative analysis of the same with respect to the CSR of the hotel sector in Spain, and a drum of "improvement proposals" for the company. We invite you to see photos, videos and other anecdotes of the experience of both teams in this post.

A team of students is working on identifying proposals to be implemented in the sustainable purchasing processes in the hotels

The conclusions of this last ICP were so valuable that they served to articulate the content of the next two ICPs we conducted: one on possible universal indicators/KPIs to measure the real impact of RIU's social investment, which was carried out by two MBA students, and which was conceived as a way to begin to provide answers to ambitious questions such as: Are there universal indicators - simple and complex - that can be adapted to measure the long-term impacts of its social investment projects, regardless of their particularities? Or is it possible to design a formula for measuring the impact of social investment with a universal vocation, through a specific index?

The other ICP, with MDM students, consisted of an analysis and the development of proposals around the brand territory for RIU's CSR area. More information on these two projects can be found here.

The four ICP projects were part of the "AD-HOC Academic CRS consulting Missions: Sustainability In ACT-I-ON" work stream, but they were not the only component. This included a "fifth” Academic Consulting Mission, this time by the ESCP professorship team, on how to design and implement a standardised monitoring system for RIU's CSR projects, incorporated into the RIU Method. This consultancy, known as RIU-SSIP - "Sistema de Seguimiento e Impacto de Proyectos-destino", was carried out in parallel to the ICPs and tested in the field; specifically, in Cancun (Quintana Roo, Mexico), together with the RIU team, and the destination stakeholders. In this way, the ESCP team travelled to work hand in hand with RIU's CSR partners in the destination. The objective was to create, in a collaborative/participatory manner, both the processes and the monitoring tools, which could be replicated in the rest of the destination projects. There were fifteen days of bilateral co-design workshops and project visits, whose main conclusions can be found in this post. From this field work, some work processes were born, based on tools that, once back home, the ESCP team has continued testing through twenty-two online workshops, with social investment projects in Mexico. A hard but inspiring work that is coming to an end as these lines are being written, which has provided SSIP lessons, processes and tools for all of us.

Save the Children Mx Team

In the words of our partners:

"The SSIP-RIU tools have been a very valuable input that will help us to better manage the Ludotecas project in Cancun and Playa del Carmen and, moreover, the intervention has generated a change in the life of the project." (Save the Children Mx)

"The SSIP-RIU process and its derived tools are very practical for us because they have not only helped us to measure the progress of the project but have also allowed us to learn more about project management, which will help us in our day-to-day work and in obtaining more resources for our task in the comprehensive care of child cancer patients" (Fundación Aitana).

"The SSIP-RIU tools are a great instrument for the annual report, as they allow us to report on the progress and impact of the project in a simple, systematized and comparable way" (Oceanus, A.C.).

Fundación Aitana Team

Alongside the aforementioned line of work was the line entitled "Exploring and designing LEARNING COMMUNITIES: "Start spreading the news...!", under which the ESCP team planned to carry out a mapping of all RIU's CSR data and to explore the creation of a scientific dissemination unit on hotel CSR. Needless to say, a very important resource for this line of work was the ICP on RIU's CSR diagnosis. This ICP laid the foundations that allowed the ESCP team to continue researching, mapping and reviewing the state of the art of scientific-academic research on hotel CSR and its dissemination. What is being researched on hotel CSR at a national and European level? What types of knowledge structures exist? Which are the most suitable? How to generate synergies between all the actors involved? These and other questions are being asked by the ESCP team and the RIU CSR team with the intention of creating a prototype for the creation of a knowledge structure that can have a favourable impact on the promotion and consolidation of social investment undertaken by the hotel sector. Aware as we all are of the ambition of this project, its materialisation will require more months of work, which is why we will foreseeably continue to focus on this issue in the following year of professorship.


And, as there is no research without dissemination and diffusion, all the work described above has been accompanied by great efforts of both general and academic communication. Indeed, in addition to the posts and articles on our progress (shared with the ESCP community through this website and others such as the JBSay Institute, and with the RIU Hotels & Resorts community), the ESCP team, together with the RIU team, have been present in important tourism forums to talk about the RIU method: at the 2022 UNWTO Sustainable Destinations Summit (Mallorca), the X International Tourism Forum Maspalomas Costa Canaria (Canary Islands), the International Social Tourism Organization (ISTO) 2022 World Congress and the II International Congress of Inland Tourism of Andalusia.

But the most important thing in this first year of the Professorship was what happened unexpectedly: what we did not plan and yet materialised. The main one was the creation of a fourth ICP, not foreseen when the Action Plan was defined. We are referring to the already mentioned ICP on how to measure the impact of social investment, the social ROI analysis.

Also unforeseen and extremely welcome were the invitations we received to participate in the UNWTO and ISTO events. In fact, at the ISTO conference, we were able to share some of the conclusions of the work carried out throughout the year and this has given rise to a synergic relationship with ISTO members for the creation of working groups on reporting and indicators of social investment in the tourism sector.

As you can see, it was a "3 F's" year: frenetic, fruitful and fabulous, which has filled us with ideas that will feed and guide the work plan for the coming years. Don't lose track of us!