Otago Polytechnic
CORP staff RachelByars 005
Attracting Chinese visitors

Rachel Byars

Safety, cleanliness and staff friendliness: According to Rachel Byars, Principal Lecturer in Tourism at Otago Polytechnic’s College of Enterprise and Development, this is the winning formula for hoteliers seeking to attract Chinese travellers.

Hotels and accommodation have long been both Rachel’s teaching and personal interests. After observing the rapid rise in Chinese visitors to New Zealand over the past two to five years, and inspired by Dunedin’s sister city relationship with Shanghai, Rachel set out to discover the factors that influence Chinese visitor selection of accommodation in New Zealand to further inform her teaching practice.

One of the things Rachel was keen to discover was whether there was an increasing move towards more independent self-drive holidays for Chinese visitors. Her results showed that, overwhelmingly, 89 per cent of Chinese visitors came as part of a tour group staying at pre-booked accommodation in chain hotels.

Despite this, signs of change may be on the horizon. Of the tourists surveyed, most said they would be looking to come back to New Zealand again, this time on a more independent holiday.

“As part of my research I also interviewed accommodation operators in Dunedin and Queenstown. My desire is to help local businesses gain an understanding of this specific visitor segment’s needs so they can match what they provide to the requirements of their visitors,” says Rachel.

“I discovered that having signage or pamphlets in Mandarin or Cantonese would be a huge drawcard for these visitors as would living up to the concept of manaakitanga; a personalised connection approach.”


Byars, R. (2015) Factors that influence Chinese visitor selection of accommodation in New Zealand. 13th Asia Pacific Forum for Graduate Students' Research in Tourism Conference in conjunction with 14th Asia Pacfic Forum Conference 10-12 June, Auckland, New Zealand.

CORP staff EvaGluyas 001
Breaking out of silos

Eva Gluyas

Imagine a new opportunity, challenge the status quo, interact and empathise with the customer, prototype, test, evaluate and then reiterate. This is the philosophy of Eva Gluyas, Commercial Strategist and Manager of workSpace, Otago Polytechnic’s business solutions enterprise.

Four years ago, Eva and colleagues Steve Silvey, Ruth Appleby and Gavin Clark, had a vision to create six-week intensive entrepreneurial ‘boot camps’ called SEED (Student Enterprise Experience in Dunedin) for a small group of highly-motivated participants.

Although the boot camps included a taught element, they were not a traditional course, instead relying heavily on self-learning, self-exploration and experiential action. Unlike start-up weekends, the focus was on creating collaborative networking as opposed to a competitive environment using empathy mapping, user-centred design thinking and lean business principles.

“What we noticed over the course of these SEED events was that they really changed the way the individuals thought about problems and opportunities,” Eva notes. “Having participants from a variety of disciplines including marketing, commerce, design, IT, medicine, chemistry, law and others enabled great things to happen where the edges of these disciplines met.”

The results of the follow-up surveys showed that as a result of the boot camps, perceived entrepreneurial ability and knowledge significantly improved. In addition, the number of participants who indicated they would like to undertake further formal study in entrepreneurship doubled from the time of starting the course.

“This research prepares students for a changing global employment context in which traditional salaried jobs are slowly being phased out and self-reliant income generation will soon become the normal employment situation. What we did was show people how to adapt and make that leap by thinking wider and breaking out of narrow lenses,” says Eva.


Cornwall, J., Kirkwood, J., Clark, J., Silvey, S., Appleby, R., Wolkenhauer, M., Panjabi, J., Gluyas, E., Brain, C. & Abbott, M. (2015) Can a short intensive course affect entrepreneurial ability, knowledge and intent, or further entrepreneurial study? An assessment of the SEED programme, Dunedin, New Zealand. Industry and Higher Education, Volume 29, Number 5, October 2015, pp. 397- 404(8).

CORP staff LesleyGill 007
A question of ethics

Lesley Gill

When Lesley Gill introduced a business ethics project to her third-year ‘Business and Society’ paper, she received an enthusiastic and thought-provoking response from her students.

“I wanted to create a synthesis between what we teach and what we practice,” explains Lesley, a Principal Lecturer in business ethics in the School of Applied Business, “and to include an assignment that added a layer of research to the paper – so I picked a business ethics journal, gave the students the submission criteria, and asked them to research and write a 4500 word journal article on a global business issue.”

The results were impressive.  From Egotism and Accountability, to Corporate Betrayal, the Law of Justice, Ethical Practice and Capitalism – the students tackled complex business ethics issues. Gill presented her class with the journal’s ‘Call for Papers’, which highlighted the predicament of learning from the global financial crisis, and addressing the role of business ethics, or the lack of it. To prepare for their assignment, students studied the Enron case-study and the philosophies of Plato, Marx and Weber, among others, in order to build up a portfolio on the different perspectives relating to ethics, and how these theories have influenced contemporary business principles and practice.

This project’s goal was to get the students to take part in ‘experiential’ and ‘constructionist’ learning. Students get a chance to integrate theory and practice and construct their own learning from the materials given to them. “It was a great learning curve, and it helps students who would like to take academic learning further,” Lesley says. “It gave them the tools to become emerging authors themselves.”

Lesley believes that we should challenge students so that they know their own core values before entering the work place. That way they can then make “informed” decisions about what action to take, if faced with a business ethics dilemma. This assignment challenged the students’ own personal ethics, because “you can’t study this subject without taking yourself out of the equation.”

The business ethics paper looks at public, private and core beliefs. Lesley wanted to put “a practical spin” on a subject that can have far reaching consequences. If students realise that they are only responsible for their own behaviour, they are much better prepared for the workplace. “Many of those in management have a degree,” Lesley concludes. “So, what did we do to help them become more ethical? We owe our students this kind of preparation.”