The Institute of Hospitality London Branch held their 9th Annual Student Learning and Development Forum at Central Working, Whitechapel yesterday. As Chairman for the London Branch it was my pleasure to be able to organise this event for our hospitality students. This years theme was “How to Become a Hospitality Entrepreneur”. With over 150 students invited from hospitality colleges throughout the UK students attended from the Edge Hotel School, City College Norwich, Glion Institute of Higher Education, Westminster Kingsway College, London College UCK and University of West London.
Prior to the event the students were sent some bonus material which was a podcast by Andrew Priestley, who is an award winning business coach and he shared his 8 business start up mistakes that cause business failure.
The day was started with a welcome from Grant Powell from Central Working as he explained about how as an Entrepreneurial Hub it helps to accelerate new businesses.
The first session was a panel discussion on “Why become a Hospitality Entrepreneur?” and on the panel we had Andrew Thompson from Blue Arrow, Christoph Hoffmann from Omni Facilities Management, Anthony Pender from Yummy Pubs and Jane Sunley from Purple Cubed. Some top tips they gave was to be extremely clear about what your business is going to do from the start, invest in a business mentor to help you along the way, and have an exit strategy.
It was then the turn for Russell Beck from Impellam Group to talk about the importance of innovating in order to stay ahead of your competition. He used the example of Blue Arrow’s Chef of the Year competition to demonstrate one of the ways Blue Arrow have added to what they do.
It was now the turn for our students to get active and they were allocated in to twelve groups where for their first workshop they had to come up with a business idea and think about the strategy and branding for this.
Then it was back together to listen to advice from Anthony Pender from Yummy Pubs as he explained how to grow your business and stressed the importance of living your values and keeping this consistent throughout your company as it grows. He said one of the biggest challenges for any company is how they look after their staff and showed how important this is.
Christoph Hoffmann from Omni Facilities Management then explained to the students about the importance of measuring success using Key Performance Indicators and used a housekeeping case study as an example of how this can be done.
The students then had a second workshop and building on their business idea they had to come up with some measurement criteria highlighting the KPIs they would use to see how successful their business would be. From this they then had to prepare a one minute business pitch about their business which they would be pitching at the end of the day to our industry employers. The prize which was a case of ale provided by Bespoke Breweries, was also a great example of how they innovated their micro brewery by making customised labels for their bottles of ale.
Then it was my turn to speak to the students about the secrets of business success. I firstly explained about the importance of customer service using statistics and case studies from the WorldHost Customer Service programme. I then explained that in order to run a successful business this was just one part of the business and many businesses focus on this so much that they neglect the other vital components that make up their business. I explained my model of which I have written about in my book Star Quality Hospitality – The Key to a Successful Business whereby you first have to look at the whole of your business, taking into account the values, branding, product and services, and then you can look at your customers which include your suppliers, staff and guests – all of which will impact on your profit.
It was then over to Sam Gardner from Purple Cubed who presented on why the people in your business are so important.
After that the limelight was back on our students where each group had one minute to pitch their business idea to our industry employers including Grant Powell from Central Working and Akash Patel from Tryum whose business is based at Central Working. Out of all the 12 business pitches it was Group 4 that won with their business idea and received their case of ale. Congratulations to Alina Welc from London College UCK, Elise Teves, Manish Arumugam, Silvana Lopez Pardo from Glion and Courney West and Leon Walder from City College Norwich.
Akash Patel from Tryum then ptiched his business to our students and gave some key advice that when pitching you need to let people know what is the problem that your company is there to solve.
The day then ended with Luke Teeling from London Marrott talking to our students about his experience on the Institute of Hospitality London Coaching Programme and how important it is to have a coach to help you to develop your career. He highlighted how his coach Derek Rostel from the Four Seasons Hotel, who is one of the Institute of Hospitality London’s Aspiring Manager winners had assisted him with his career development through the coaching programme last year when he was a student at the Edge Hotel School. Having graduated he then moved to London and now works as Assistant Club Lounge Manager at the Marriott London Grosvenor Square.
Overall the day was a great success and would not have been possible if it had not been for our sponsors of this event – Central Working, Omni Facilities Management and Blue Arrow and to all our industry employers that shared their experiences with our students.
Information on the other events that the Institute of Hospitality London Branch run can be found on their website.