interview Valerie Nolte

Interview with Tourism alumna Valerie Nolte
It is nice when you can make the world a little bit better using data

Alumna Tourism Management



Sustainability and Artificial Intelligence combined in tourism. That is what makes Valerie Nolte's thesis so good. For this she was awarded with the Tourism Innovation Thesis Award. On 2 July, to her surprise, she received a €500 cheque from academy director Jos van der Sterren.

'Obviously I knew I had been nominated, but when I went to the campus this morning, I had no idea that I had won first prize,' a rejoiced Valerie says. 'I was completely surprised. Really. I am so happy!'

Good combination

'I think I have won first prize because I linked sustainability to Artificial Intelligence,' Valerie explains. 'I think this combination is still too uncommon in the context of tourism. The sustainability aspect is increasingly in focus, often it is about people who are embarrassed to fly and about how you can offer the same experience closer to home. I looked at what else is possible when it comes to sustainability in tourism by using Artificial Intelligence. It is that combination that makes it work.'

Cleaning robot

'One example of such an application is crowd management, where you can dial in the crowdedness of a certain place based on data. Another example is a robot which you can use in a hotel to optimise the cleaning route and as such make it more sustainable. I mostly talked to people who employ Artificial Intelligence at large companies such as Philips and Achmea. How do they use Artificial Intelligence to make their processes more sustainable?’

Machine Learning

'And I have translated this to for instance hotel applications. By using Machine Learning the towel exchange process for instance can be structured many times more efficient.  First you collect data from the various user groups. Maybe someone over 55 years old may want a clean towel every day and a young adult is happy with one towel every two or three days. These data will be processed by computer software which will recognise a pattern. Based on this the process can be structured in a smarter, and therefore more sustainable, manner.’

Dream job

'It is not that I am a techie or something or that I am really into IT. I do lean towards sustainability and I find the combination of the two very interesting. Isn't it nice that when you can put the data to good use you can make the world a little bit better? It is not my ambition to really continue in Artificial Intelligence. My dream job is being an event manager at a hotel in a special location. This does not have to be far away, Heeze Castle or Maurick Castle in Noord-Brabant seem wonderful. Due to the corona crisis I will have to be a bit patient for this. Maybe it is a good idea to take a serious look at the new master's programme in Strategic Events Management which BUas offers. I am positive. Everything is still open.'

Valerie and her thesis supervisor Marenna van Reijsen (right) and Jos van der Sterren (left)

Ellen van der Aa and Marleen Niederprüm tied for second place, they each receive a €250 cheque. Unfortunately they could not attend the award ceremony but they received their awards virtually!