Researcher in Profile: Gabor Forgacs
Where are you from and where/what did you study? Born and raised in Budapest, Hungary. Studied Hospitality and Tourism Management (undergrad) and Economics (graduate). It was not called Business Management in those years in East Bloc countries. Wrote my Doctoral Theses in 1977 on the profitability measurement issues of hotel investments. It was a first of its kind at that time so I had no literature review as there were no publications on discussing profitability or feasibility of state-owned assets, which hotels were in socialist countries like Hungary.
Why did you choose tourism and hospitality and why TRSM? I made a career shift after 20 years in hotel operations (most of that in management) in my new home country of Canada to face a new start in education. I chose Ryerson by default: it was the only undergraduate university program in town that offered a curriculum in my field of expertise.
How did you become a researcher? I never became one. I am a curious, inquisitive and ambitious academic: I enjoy being on top of my chosen field. This is a fast-paced field in an age of accelerated changes, so staying current involves constant learning and reading. In order to share my expertise I need to publish, develop new course material and do updates – these involve research. Research comes natural to those of us who earned terminal degrees. I have a lot of respect for researchers and I don’t feel I am good enough to call myself one; I just do research on the side.
Why is research in hospitality and tourism important? How do we prepare students for a future career unless we know everything there is to know about the current state of affairs in our field of specialty plus research the emerging issues that will shape the future?
What are you researching right now? How best to teach millennials who may not put much emphasis on retaining and memorizing information as everything important is constantly accessible through online connectivity? What is the role of an educator if knowledge or at least facts, data, news and information acquisition does not require a “sage on the stage” any longer? Do we need to play the role of a traffic cop on the information highway? How do we add value to education in a meaningful way by teaching critical thinking, reflection, context and engage students?
What do you think is the most controversial topic in hospitality and tourism right now? Service providers have a lot more information about their customers than ever before; they have more ways to connect with their guests than ever before and they need to find out how to harness the power of these wonderful developments and develop data driven strategies.
What does the Institute of Hospitality and Tourism Research mean to you? This is our home base.
How can you get students engaged in hospitality and tourism research? If I can get someone interested, he/she will do the research. I can’t want it for a student — he/she will need to want to be part of it. My job is to get them interested.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone considering a career in research, what would it be? If you believe exploration is exciting; if you believe knowledge is power; if you think understanding the reasons why something happens makes one smarter – I got a career option for you.
What are your major interests outside of HTMResearch? Very limited: I only care about good books, good music, visual arts, travel, and some sports: I play football (soccer here), paddle a kayak on a lake or river, and watching hockey.
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