At 8:00 am on Monday, March 21st 2011, 45 delegates from 13 hospitality management schools from across the globe gathered at the Ecole hôtelière de Lausannne (EHL) to participate in this year’s Young Hoteliers Summit.
The Creativity Challenge, this year provided by The Rezidor Hotel Group and presented by Andrea Fell, Director of People Management for The Rezidor Hotel Group, read: “In a society that is moving towards virtual interaction, how do you keep a brand connected with its customers?” The delegates, who were put into mixed groups, immediately began to brainstorm and had only six hours in which to decide upon an inspired solution to the challenge. The groups would have the opportunity to propose their presentations in front of a jury comprised of Andrea Fell, Director of People Management, Jan Spooren, Director of People Development and Jacques Dubois, Chief Operating Ofiicer, all of whom were representatives of The Rezidor Hotel Group, as well as Hilary Murphy, Professor of Strategic IT and E-marketing at EHL. The winning team of the creativity challenge was rewarded with a one-week trip to the Rezidor Business School in Copenhagen for their LOTS business program.
Throughout the morning, the students were guided by Frederic Delley, Business Incubator Manager at INTEHL, who gave a workshop on “Rapid Problem-Solving Techniques”, as well as by coaching workshops from Rezidor representatives. The delegates and all other attendees of the summit where inspired by a motivational speech on “the road to success” by Mr. Kurt Ritter, President & CEO of The Rezidor Hotel Group and also an alumni of EHL. He shared his passion and experiences in the hospitality industry, to which he was already exposed to as a young boy and highlighted that it was “a profession of a million details, but yet not rocket science”.
Later in the day, delegates had the opportunity to attend a “Benchmarking & Market Shares – Success Indicators” workshop by STR Global, a Presidential Partner of the Summit, or a session lead by David Sadigh, Managing Partner & Co. founder of IC – Agency, on “why and how luxury brands should embrace social media”; all in the aim of generating ideas to their creativity challenge solutions.
In the evening, YHS participants were enthralled by Jean-Claude Biver’s speech, CEO of Hublot, who spoke about exploring different paths to finding your own individual passion: “Choose a job that you love and you will never have to work a day in your life” were the words that Mr. Biver chose, quoting Confucius.
Day 2 began with an invigorating panel discussion, “Are companies in line with Generation Y expectations”. The panel included Philippe Bijaoui from Hotel Missoni, Brian Ferguson from Expedia, Henrik Mansson from Mövenpick Hotels and Resorts and two students from EHL, with the Professor of Strategic Management of EHL, Dr. Demian Hodari as the moderator. This initiated a difference in opinion between generation X and generation Y attendees, as to how both parties can integrate in the same organization and bring triumph in the future.
Thomas Willms, Vice President and Regional Director for East and Central Europe, then addressed the topic of “Branding in the context of hospitality”. This emphasized the importance of brands in modern day lifestyles, and how companies should address this marketing tool as a crucial platform for differentiating and establishing themselves as leaders in the industry.
In an attempt to sustain and grow the value of the Young Hoteliers Summit, this year’s event witnessed the launch of the YHS association. This new entity will feature different activities in order to align the industry and hospitality students. YHS ultimately aspires to improve the opportunities of young talent in the hospitality industry by uncovering and sharing their perception. For more information please visit the official new website, yhsglobal.com. This site will be fully launched within the next few weeks.
The Young Hoteliers Summit 2011 has proven to be a sensation to all of its participants, organizers, and collaborators. This year’s event has established itself as not only a platform for hospitality students to problem solve current industry issues, but also to discuss trends and challenges faced when these graduates integrate into the industry, thus becoming a unique opportunity to exchange knowledge and ideas. Schools are already encouraged to send new delegates to participate in YHS 2012 for the opportunity to be part of this fantastic networking event.