When Mikaela met the local Tourism industry in Bournemouth



You have probably heard the word ‘icebreaker’ once or twice over the course of your first years at college, university, or even at your new job. Its meaning is widely perceived as being a way of introduction of yourself as well as an interaction with all the new people in the same room with the same reason of being there as you are.

Being a part of the Bournemouth Tourism Awards Launch event at Bournemouth University on 21stSeptember this year was a real icebreaker in every way for me, and I believe for everyone else at the event and here are a few of my observations and impressions from the event, and how I interpret the word ‘icebreaker’.

Dorset is one of the most exciting and dynamic counties in England, it is a destination which attracts worldwide visitors and hosts a diverse range of events throughout the year, for all ages and demographics.

Bournemouth in particular has an amazing and vibrant atmosphere, which leaves many of its tourists wanting to come back again whenever they have a chance. It creates the sense of comfort of being at home for its residents with the pride of having an award-winning beach and fantastic events enviable of people who are not as blessed to be surrounded by award winning beaches, tree lined paths and green areas, not to mention some of the best hotels and restaurants and the added benefit of a little more sun during the year.

The Bournemouth Tourism Awards is a way of saying, ‘Thank you’ to all of the amazing talented people and businesses from the Tourism and Hospitality industry which is one of our town’s best assets. It is also an opportunity to give businesses a moment to “shine” and showcase what they are good at, to be able to be at the top of the tourists’ most preferred destinations, we need to make sure we are providing a great variety and quality of services. This is why it is very important to raise awareness and nominate and to vote for those whom we consider worthy of an admired Bournemouth Tourism Award. The awards are delivered by the amazing ROUTEpr marketing and events team in association with The Bournemouth Tourism Management Board.

The quality and variety of services the awards cover means there is a category for every business to enter, and as a community, we are the people that need to vote and express our opinions, write reviews and give ideas.

So, if you loved the service or the restaurant you visited last night or you know someone with a great personality, an environment business or a great afternoon tea then nominate them and the BTAs can then tell them how great they are! If you enjoyed the P1 Powerboat racing on the beach brought to you by the Coastal BID then share it and nominate them at www.tourism-awards.co.uk/bournemouth or direct to the nomination form https://routepr.typeform.com/to/hx8s9D – it’s so easy!

Going back to that ‘icebreaker’ process, if you are too scared to try something new, or to speak to someone you have never met before or you have heard/read stories about, you need to think again. Nowadays to be successful, one of the key skills you need to have is social skills, this is not expressed by just stating that you have been at the same event where “Someone that works in that company” has also been, it is about standing up and going to talk to that person, finding out what he or she does and how they’ve got to where they are today and this is what I had the chance to do thanks to ROUTEpr and the Bournemouth University at the launch of the BTAs.

For me it was a privilege not only to represent such a great team of students and staff members from Tourism, but the whole of Bournemouth University in front of local dignitaries and business leaders, and to help organise the event in the new Fusion Building, which is state of art and a great showcase for BU and for Bournemouth. I had the chance to meet and greet all the guests, which included sponsors, The Mayor of Bournemouth Cllr Edward Coope and Mayoress Mrs Janet Coope, as well as the Mayors and Deputy Mayors from Wimborne, Christchurch and the Chairman of East Dorset District Council. As a Tourism Management student, learning a lot about any kind of business from Tourism and Hospitality to Marketing, PR and Events Management, this was a huge amount of experience.

I must admit I have always considered myself as being a bit clumsy, thus always getting nervous when I have to serve guests, which is maybe due to the fact that I never really spent time learning how to do it from the professionals. Luckily, I had Jackie Phillipson, the Director of ROUTEpr, one of the organisers of the event together with her husband Richard, on hand to help us and guide us. In a short time I  learnt how to properly open wine bottles (trust me, it can be painful for a newbie) and to look like I have been serving guests for years, not to mention how to meet and greet guests, think on my feet, use my initiative and more!

The event put the spotlight on us the students, right there in front of top names from the world of the Tourism and Hospitality businesses and also the award sponsors.

Organisational elements are vital for everything we do in life, such as this event. My icebreaker moment was when at the beginning of the event, as I came in to the reception room to get ready and take my post serving wine, I saw some students and Jackie concerned we didn’t have enough ice for drinks, I immediately thought on my feet and suggested we use the Ground Up café at the Student Centre, not far away from where we were, so I asked for permission to quickly run and ask them for some ice, and I came back with a bucketful.

After the event I was noticed for going the extra mile and it made me realise that paying attention and caring really matter. I am a firm believer that good customer service is very important and you need to care and pay attention to what your customers want.  Proving yourself to be reliable, dedicated and respectable, as well as going that extra mile can all work to your advantage.  The Bournemouth Tourism Awards launch event for us students was like a job opportunity and market initiative – it enabled us to all engage, communicate, network, observe and learn.  We also got to learn what business people are looking for, this put everything we have learnt in lectures into use, and also to see and to learn from the professionals how they engage and operate.

It was pleasure to assist Templar Wines, Pothecary Gin and the other sponsors with their displays, not to mention a chance to taste the superb wines and The Pothecary Gin at the end of the evening and to celebrate with a toast for all of our hard work! I also met the Operations Manager of the Hotel Miramar are Tihomir Iakimov (introduced as Theo) who it turns out is Bulgarian like me – that was another unexpected ice-breaker moment.  I enjoyed understanding and gaining the experience of a classy launch event which delivers a chance to network and bond with people who represent their brands and businesses, and of course making the most out of the situation you are in, which could eventually help you to choose or create your own ROUTE in life.

I broke the ice by getting to know ROUTEpr and work with Jackie, Richard, Laura and the team and went from a scared student with little experience into showing that I can be attentive, open-minded, communicate, and not be afraid to offer my help and advice and speak out!

Special thanks to the team at ROUTEpr for giving me that chance to shine and to break the ice, you have given me optimism and essential experience for the future!

Mikaela Yurukova (Tourism and Hospitality Student at Bournemouth University)

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