The new generation of hospitality managers: The hospitaly heart keeps beating

Marie and Sam

For four years Meeting Magazine and Efficient Hotel Partner are followin six students of Hotelschool The Hague (Amsterdam Campus). Twice a year we ask them about their ambitions, their dreams and their vision for the hospitality industry. The second year of their studies ended in a series of setbacks and disappointments. They have now embarked on their third year. A tough year in which strategy is central and time keeps ticking.

Original Dutch Text: Marianne Kuiper, Efficient Hotel Partner/Music Meeting Lounge
English Translation: Jennifer Lam, Efficient Hotel Partner/Music Meeting Lounge (alumni HTH)

Despite the limited possibilities for students, Director of Alumni & Industry Relations Paul Griep has reason to stay positive. "After all, our student selection procedure focuses not only on their IQ and EQ, but also on their AQ," Paul explains. "That stands for Adaptability Quotient or adaptability. Research has shown that a strong correlation between EQ and AQ is a golden combination. Many of our students possess this combination, which means that they possess a high degree of forward-thinking, resilience and stability. Traits that pave the way to a top position." The AQ of our six students has been tried and tested this last year. Paul agrees: "We already know that this class will be even more capable of overcoming setbacks in the future. Their internship abroad had to be aborted abruptly, the MO block (in which they are allowed to lead the first-year students in the various outlets such as kitchen and reception, etc.) was moved online and the 'outdoor challenge' was cancelled. Imagine having to swallow so many disappointments, one after the other. But we also know that setbacks make people stronger. I predict a new generation. For this generation, beaten paths have been sprinkled with whimsical obstacles that they have to deal with."

How does the Hotelschool deal with the current situation? "We're not playing blind man's buff, we know exactly what's going on. One thing is for sure: you don't choose a hospitality school to sit behind your laptop all the time. But behind the scenes a lot is happening. There is intensive consultation with the government. In the meantime, in collaboration with the VU and the government, we have started a pilot to be able to reopen fully as soon as possible. The pilot consists of a two-part study; a survey to investigate the willingness to undergo rapid testing and the rapid tests themselves, for which the top floor of the Amsterdam campus has been converted into a testing facility. Participation in the survey and the rapid test is entirely voluntary. We would like to contribute to important research with this pilot. Moreover, we believe that the COVID-19 rapid testing facility at the HTH Amsterdam campus can play an important role in containing the number of infections and preventing outbreaks."

A project team has been created for students who are struggling with mental health problems. A fund has also been established for those with financial problems. "The biggest bottleneck is the fact that most of our international students have been forced to go back home. They can't afford housing in Amsterdam now that there are no more jobs in the hospitality industry and education takes place online. They can just do that at home. And unfortunately hybrid education is complicated by different time zones."


Despite these measures, our six students are faced with a cancelled internships and outdoor challenge and the leadership block is taking place entirely online. Will there be an opportunity to redo them? "That's hard to say at this point and depends on the Covid restrictions," says Paul. "There are in depth discussions with the organization of the World Cup in Qatar and the management of a large resort elsewhere in the world. In both cases, we would be able to secure internships for more than 150 students in the form of a partnership. This is super exciting and I sincerely hope that it will work out. For the leadership block, the outlets have to be open again, which is a matter of time. We find it very important to still be able to organize the 'outdoor challenge'. The outdoor challenge is intense and makes the students feel very proud when they have 'survived'. This part is almost always rated as most valuable by the students. Without exception, every student looks back on it with admiration during graduation. We just don't know yet whether it will be a voluntary do-over or if it will become compulsory."

Even if the internships, leadership block and outdoor challenge cannot be done again, students still face plenty of challenges. "The third year scores high on the ladder of appreciation. In this year, strategy and consultancy are the key focus. The students can apply for a so-called 'case company'. If you are selected, then your team will work on an assignment as professional consultants for a renowned company. In recent years we have been to Miami, Berlin and London with these teams." Finally, as creator and founder, Paul draws attention to his Sustainable Hospitality Challenge. This project is similar to the Solar Challenge. "In short: come up with ground-breaking solutions in the field of sustainability within the hospitality industry. Thirty-two (32) hotel schools worldwide are taking part and this year Hotelschool The Hague has made it to the semi-finals. It's going to be very exciting. The jury consists of 12 CEOs and the finals are in September in Dubai. For the next edition of this challenge, students can apply again in their third or fourth year and be selected. In the final year, a second internship takes place. For some this will be their first internship due to Covid. In short, a very exciting time awaits. Especially if more and more becomes possible and the crisis dies down."


For the time being, everyone has to buckle down and the only certainty is that of continuous change. You can resist it, stick to old patterns or adapt, see opportunities and seize them. Paul's vision of the AQ is beautiful, but do the students share the same vision? Or do they lie depressed in bed under the covers for days on end? To be able to look each other in the eye again without a screen in between them, the students (except for Razvan who is still in Romania) visit Efficient Hotel  Partner & Music Meeting Lounge one by one.

Razvan shares his experiences through the now familiar digital means. "During Christmas, I went to Romania for a family visit. There I received the message from the Hotelschool that the classes would continue only online. I decided to stay. Here, the restaurants and stores have now reopened and more than half the population has been vaccinated. We have our freedom back. I am looking forward to the end of April, when I hope to return to Amsterdam. My hope is that (in all likelihood) I get to do my MO block live/offline at school again." Razvan is quite disciplined by nature but notices that he has to push himself extra hard during the online class period. "A tough challenge, but it actually works out pretty well."


Marie, on the other hand, struggles with online classes. "My house has become school, and school my house. I'm stuck between four walls that’s quite overwhelming. Fortunately, I share a flat with Sam, who provides a distraction and offers the necessary social interaction. My studies are going reasonably well. To stay motivated and not to stray, I make a daily schedule. Fortunately I was able to do 50% of my MO block live."
Sam tells us that she has fallen behind considerably with her studies and doubts whether she will take a block (half a year) delay. She also hesitated to go back to her parents in Spain. But in the end she stayed in Amsterdam. "Marie and I study at the kitchen table and that doesn't work. If one of us is presenting online, the other has to be quiet. I've now bought a desk, maybe that will help me get back on track." She also notes that contact with her fellow students has become quite diluted. "But I expect that will pick up once school reopens."

Mark also toyed with the idea of applying for a block delay. "I keep experiencing the feeling of a long summer holiday period in which you look forward to seeing your fellow students again. That period is taking too long now. My expectation is that I can make up part of my aborted internship. Next month I'm going to do a ten-week internship at De Eendracht restaurant, in my hometown Abcoude. But that is of course very different from a 5* hotel in Dublin. To be honest, I'm already looking forward to the fourth year in which the internship will again be an important part. I can't wait to put everything I've learned into practice. And of course I'm also looking forward to writing my thesis."

Fauve is perhaps the most unlucky of all. Whereas the others were still allowed to do half of the MO leadership block live, she has been glued to her laptop for months. As a result, she often has a headache. Despite the difficult circumstances, she does get high marks. She finds bright spots and distraction in decorating her flat. "A friend asked me if I wanted to become her roommate. Together we spent a lot of time looking for the right house (an almost impossible task in Amsterdam). I also had a lot of fun buying nice things. The kitchen is the focal point of our house and our friends (almost all of them ‘hotello’s’, with whom close friendships developed during our first year at the Skotel) often join us. That's how we stay in contact with each other." A highlight was her 21st dinner party together with her best 21 friends. Right in between the two lockdowns. "We're still raking it in!", she explains with a laugh.


Ex-Hotelschool student Tom is one of the friends who regularly joins in Fauve's kitchen. Unfortunately, he had to leave the Hotelschool last year and chose to study 'International Business' at the HvA. He is getting good grades. "I learned a lot during my first year at the Hotelschool. I only now realize how much I learned in that first year. Studying at the Hotelschool is much harder." The switch was apparently meant to be because Tom tells us that despite, or precisely because of, the corona crisis, entrepreneurship is on his mind. "I am always busy, my head is spinning with ideas and now I have more time to do something with these ideas. I am working with the owner of Plan West (forced to close because of the crisis) to come up with a plan for a Dark Kitchen. This is a new trend where the emphasis is on ordering, takeout and delivery. You are basically running a production kitchen without a restaurant. The concept we are betting on is AFC: Asian Fried Chicken. In addition, I am working with school on a project to create a handbook for older people who want to write their biography (for example, for people suffering from a form of dementia). There is no such handbook yet and we think this fills a need."

The only certainty that these students have now and in the future is the certainty of continuous change. You can resist it, stick with the old, or adapt and see the change as an opportunity! The six students are indeed in possession of a nice Adaptability Quotient (also called Adversity Quotient). Some more than others, but fortunately no one is laying depressed under the covers even though this fear is a hot topic. They keep an eye out for each other and when someone is experiencing a tough time mentally, there is enough power in the group to cheer that person up again. Tom's vision ties in with this: "We humans are social animals, but hotello's have that extra bit of craving for social contacts. That's where we get our energy from. Moreover, hotello's have a certain etiquette in behaviour, attitude and way of talking. With our big beating hospitality heart, we just want to make everyone happy." Remarkably, Tom talks in the we-form and still considers himself a hotello. This perhaps confirms the fact that you don't necessarily have to have studied at the Hotelschool to (later) make a career in the hospitality industry. But it also shows that this education offers an incredibly good foundation for further growth in any direction.

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Meeting Magazine nr1 2021

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