Research impact

Find out how our research and impact fits with the wider university.

Research mission

We share the University of Surrey’s mission to drive positive technological, economic, social and environmental change in a world facing increasing challenges. We actively contribute to industry, commerce, government and civil society, and are committed to playing our part in solving society’s grand challenges. Our contribution to the University’s research vision for impact is realised through knowledge exchange activities, and by making new connections and building upon established relationships with established partners to make real and noticeable changes in society.

We've seen our research influence policy change, improve business tools in the tourism and hospitality industries and influence professional standards, guidelines and training. We pride ourselves in designing and delivering research which impacts on culture and society, economy, commerce and organisations, practitioner and professional services, the environment, health and welfare, public policy, law and services, and the food sector.

The strength of our impact is evidenced in the outcome of REF 2014 when the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management was recognised as having 100 per cent internationally excellent research, with 60 per cent of our impact considered world leading.

Who uses our research

We've built up long-term partnerships and collaborations with hugely influential organisations. We work with and for a number of organisations and the main end users of our research outcomes are industry, government bodies and various NGOs and Commissions falling largely within the tourism, hospitality and event sectors. We are committed to increase continuously the number and scope of such beneficiaries.

We have a range of external partners that we engage with on a regular basis through research, teaching, industry engagement and dissemination.

Building our impact

Our impact strategy focuses on embedding a culture of long-term impact in academic thinking and producing high quality impact. We work closely with our partners, collaborators, advisory board, and Centre for Research and Enterprise to deliver this.

Our work on impact is led by Dr Michael Humbracht and is supported by the research committee.

Our key areas of impact span our main research themes on sustainability and wellbeing, competitiveness in the visitor economy, the digital economy, human rights and major events.

These include:

Case studies

Forecasting tourism demand

An intelligent and interactive forecasting tool has benefited 370 tourism-related organisations in Asia. Imagine owning a hotel, theme park or an airline, and being able to forecast how many tourists will use your service in the upcoming busy season? Thanks to a research team at the University of Surrey, it turns out you can.

Commissioned by PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association), the University of Surrey, in collaboration with The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, have developed a web-based tool that forecasts inbound tourist arrivals, expenditures, hotel room nights and occupancy rates. This interactive forecasting system is the first and only of its kind in the world and has greatly benefited tourism-related organisations' strategic decision making and policy making.

To date, over 370 tourism-related organisations have subscribed to the system, including Cathay Pacific who expanded their cabin crew, pilots and ground staff to meet demand forecasted for their most popular destinations, and Hong Kong Disneyland, who since using this innovative forecasting tool have improved their level of guest satisfaction and achieved their first annual profit since the resort's opening.

Reducing social exclusion through participation in tourism

Research conducted by the University of Surrey results in improved information and support for socially excluded groups on day-trips and holidays. 127 million: That's how many people require accessible tourism in Europe. Prior to research conducted by the University of Surrey, this substantial figure was unknown.

Surrey's research also unearthed that existing schemes for accessible and social tourism were falling way short of their informational requirements, which led to the development of the first Europe-wide accessibility scheme Europe For All, plus a network of 'travel shops' in Belgium to help socially excluded groups overcome barriers in tourism participation.

Schemes like this have helped many disabled people and low-income groups access the information and support they need for an enjoyable and stress-free time away.

Surrey was also the leading research partner in FETE (First European Travel Experience), which gave 14 young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who'd never travelled before a chance to visit a non-neighbouring country for the first time.

On a wider level, Surrey's research has also contributed to the enhanced position of social tourism on the agenda of regional governments, while the Ministry of Tourism in Thailand is endeavouring to improve accessibility, starting with a pilot scheme in Bangkok.