“I am currently sitting on the lovely balcony at Rosy Guesthouse overlooking Royal Palace gardens and watching the Siem Reap ‘rush hour’.”

Not a bad way to describe a business trip by anyone’s standards. Despite the serene image, however, Steve Lowy, the founder of umihotels, was in Cambodia to get some serious work done.

The World Youth Student & Educational Travel Confederation (WYSETC) and two of its associations recently set up a skills exchange program which helps a hostel in a developing country improve its business offering with the guidance of an established operator.

The ISTC Skills Exchange and its first participants in the program – umihotels of England and Rosy Guesthouse in Cambodia – recently wrapped up nearly two weeks of on-site and off-site work to get Rosy’s operations into great shape and ready for travelers and backpackers from around the world.

When travel groups head to lesser-developed countries, the excitement can be offset with some real challenges – booking issues, communication problems, unclear websites. Even just getting there can bring headaches to everyone involved. Getting a region or a specific operator more modernized and ready to handle individuals and tours better without sacrificing the charms that draw people there in the first place can only be beneficial.

Laura Daly, the association manager of WYSETC’s STAY WYSE organization (which co-launched the program with the International Student Travel Confederation), said the experience was a great one all around: “It was one of those rare win-win-win situations – umi really enjoyed being in Cambodia and making a real impact on the hostel and the community as a whole; Rosy’s benefitted greatly from Steve’s experience and advice, and travelers always benefit when a country and its businesses can offer better service.”

The project also supports the ongoing trend of globalization and collaboration in the travel industry. Technology makes it easier to connect company A to company B, no matter where they are in the world. Companies are increasingly LinkedIn, Liked and re-Tweeted, so it fits that the best practices of an operator who has long been established in big markets can be largely duplicated with a small player in a place like Cambodia.

“We have learned a lot from Steve and hope that his assistance and guidance will help us to develop our business and connect more with the wider community of others working in the same field as well as develop our links with the charities which we have chosen to support; we had previously been running the guesthouse as a single unit without much outside interaction,” said Rachel Band, general manager at Rosy Guesthouse.

To read more about the recent ISTC Skills Exchange, head to the blog at www.istc.wordpress.com.