BU held its first ever student and industry Hospitality Management Student Conference last week in London.
Over 90 students from the school of tourism travelled to the Kensington Hilton hotel in London, and were joined by around 30 students from West London College, where BU’s top-up hospitality degree is taught.
Final year students were excited about attending the event, hoping for it to provide an opportunity to increase employment prospects and network with potential employers.
Emily McMullan, a final year Tourism Management student said,
“I was interested in coming as I found out there would be a lot of employers from large hotels coming, and as I am going to be a graduate soon I have got to start looking for jobs and possibilities so I really saw today as an opportunity for future employment and networking.”
Students were able to listen to presentations and participate in a live Q&A with leading hospitality professionals from establishments such as Hilton worldwide Europe, Deloitte LLP, charity Hospitality action, and the Inter-Continent hotel group amongst others.
Two of the speakers were BU graduates, James Glover, Vice President of Food and Beverage for Hilton worldwide Europe and Trevor Childs Projects Manager at Ampersand.
James stated that “people and staff are the most important aspect of the business” and that Faulty Towers is the perfect example of how not to run a hotel, whilst complimenting Jamie Oliver as “epitomizing the modern day chef.”
He also commented on the current trend of guests having more knowledge, for example most customers have tasted a red Thai curry in Phuket, therefore expect an exact tasting one in your hotel.
Charles Kidd, head of learning and training delivery for Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa China and Australia for the Inter-Continent Hotel Group said he was keen to start working with BU grads,
“I think they are really passionate and give a really great foundation of learning and once you bring them into the working place they really have a great understanding of business.”
Students were pleased they attended the event, S. Yusupor, an MA Tourism and Hospitality Management student from Uzbekestan studying at BU said, “I cam to find out what is the future of the hospitality and touriusm industry what the plans are with other nationalities and senior management how they are planning to develop for the future of hospitality and tourism management.”
Three BU students have won the annual Master Innholders Competition, of which the award ceremony and conference will take place from the 16-17 January in The Hilton on Park Lane in London.
The competition was open to all Hospitality Management degree programmes within Europe, which required students to produce a 10 minute video on a subject of particular topical interest to the Master Innholders Society, this year being ‘Maintaining Sustainable Competitive Advantage’, with 12 teams from different Hospitality Degrees in the UK and overseas entering, but BU created the winning entry.
Julian Dombrowsky, Suzanne Parr and Eleanor Moore all final year Hospitality Management Students at BU, successfully brainstormed the winning video submission.
Julian is credited as the main producer of the film, although he maintains the brainstorming was a group effort,
“What we ended up doing is looking at the economy and looking at what was happening in the industry and we noticed these trends of high unemployment rate, especially youths, so we tried to see if we could come up with something, what may help tackle these issues.”
Other winning student Suzanne said the brainstorm was a heavily collaborative project,
“We threw loads of ideas together about what constitutes competitive advantage, eg a changing hotel over the seasons, tech etc but at the end of the day we thought the ideas could be stolen by other hotels so is not sustainable, what’s really hard to copy is people.”
The group focused on the idea of the German model of apprenticeships to educate and retain staff, as people cannot, like ideas, be cloned or imitated, Suzanne continued,
“In Germany you can do loads of apprenticeships as part of an education system, whereas in England we really need something like that as not all kids can afford to go to uni, so more apprenticeships would be fantastic, then other things like staff exchanges schemes, which happens in few fine dining hotels, could be introduced into other businesses as well.”
The topic was set by the Master Innholders and The Springboard Charity, to challenge final year students to advise how hotels can best gain sustained competitive advantage, aiming to celebrate the contributions made to hospitality management by creative students and their universities.
The event on Monday will be attended by over 500 senior members of the hospitality sector, including Lord Coe and Ufi Ibrahim, (CEO of the British Hospitality Association), to name a few. The main focus of the event is to discuss the challenges facing the economy how to cope with the demands of an ever changing economic climate.
Andy Boer, Associate Dean of Hospitality and Retail Management, said he was incredibly proud of the winning team of students, not just for beating BU’s main UK competitor, Surrey University, but European Competitor Lausanne Hotel School in Switzerland too,
“Our students have also managed to come in first or second position every year and maintained the highest performance of any Hospitality institution since the competition started 3 years ago. This consistency and high profile reflects both the professionalism of the students concerned but also the high esteem in which the Hospitality Programme is held by senior members of industry.”
Also known as the annual general managers conference, the three winning students will have to prepare a short presentation to accompany their winning video.
Speaking ahead of the conference both Julian and Suzanne are determined to quash their nerves in order to maximise the great networking opportunity that lies ahead of them. Julian said,
“I’m a bit nervous, understandably as there are high profile individuals attending, I’m sure we will be alright, and they will understand we are students!”
The prize is sponsored by the Lancaster group, with the wining BU student team rewarded with a chauffer driven experience to stay and eat at 3 different top London Hotels, with exclusive meetings with key staff at each.