Langley College students takeover Holiday Inn for the ultimate work experience

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Checking in for the ultimate work experience opportunity, 30 students from Langley College, part of the Windsor Forest Colleges Group, spent a week running Holiday Inn Slough-Windsor in Church Street, as part of InterContinental Hotel Group’s (IHG’s) National Hotel Takeover in partnership with People 1st. A programme designed to encourage more young people to work in the hospitality industry.

The students ran a range of aspects across the hotel – from checking in guests at reception, to serving food and beverages, even running the housekeeping and room service.

They were all shadowed by hotel team members and had the opportunity to gain practical experience of running a busy, fully functioning hotel, to complement their studies and training at college.

The initiative was part of IHG® Academy. Through IHG Academy, IHG hotels (with brands including Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn Express) collaborate with educational providers and community groups to help local people build their hospitality skills and improve their employability. Since 2013, more than 47,000 people have benefitted from the IHG Academy across 2,133 programmes in 79 countries.

The students, who are all studying hospitality and catering or travel and tourism courses at Langley College, covered all roles, starting at the top with a student General Manager. They had to apply for the positions, as they would in real life, with applicants for the student General Manager and student Operations Manager roles even being interviewed by a panel of senior hotel staff. In turn, the student General Manager and student Operations Manager went on to recruit their own student Heads of Departments and remaining team positions.

Chrislyn Paul (21, from Langley), who is studying a foundation degree in tourism and hospitality management at Langley College, was appointed as Student General Manager for the week. She explains: "It has been amazing to be appointed as Student General Manager. I've learnt so much about running a hotel, I've learnt how to manage a team, think on your feet to solve problems, devise rotas, had to put together a presentation on metrics and been responsible for giving the staff briefing each morning. I think this experience has better prepared me for working in the industry. It has definitely changed me as a person. I've got so much more confidence and feel that I can achieve anything now if I push myself."

Langley College student Scott Biddle (19, from Burnhan) said: 'I've really enjoyed the experience and was thrilled to be chosen to be Student Operations Manager. I've even been coming in early for my shifts to make the most of my time here. The hotel staff and guests have been so friendly and supportive. It has been a really valuable insight into how a hotel is run, from management and finances to housekeeping. I think companies in other industries should do a takeover week to give other students this kind of opportunity."

During the week, the students looked after up to 800 breakfast covers and 700 restaurant covers in the evening. Carla Oliveira (18, from Windsor), who was student reception manager for the week, impressed the hotel so much she was offered a part-time job at the hotel, which she will combine with continuing her studies at the College.

Holiday Inn Slough - Windsor is among over 30 IHG hotels across the U.K. to participate in the hotel takeover, aimed at encouraging more people to choose careers in hospitality.

Richard Jackson, General Manager of Holiday Inn Slough-Windsor said: “We’re really delighted to be participating in the hotel takeover for the first time and having developed strong work experience links with Langley College, they were my obvious choice as partners. This is the 18th year this initiative has been running and it’s proven to be a hugely successful recruitment tool. Some of our best team members, even a former General Manager, participated in the takeover as students.”

Kate Gibson, Vice President - Corporate Responsibility, at IHG explains: “The National Hotel Takeover at 30 of our hotels in the UK this week has shown just how important it is for young people to get real life, on-the-job experience working in hospitality. We’ve seen students take on roles from General Manager to Head Chef with many of them displaying a natural talent for a future career in this field. The students that I visited at Holiday Inn Slough – Windsor have done such an incredible job and have really shown us what a bright future they have in hospitality.

“It's really important that we challenge some of the misconceptions young people have about a career in hospitality, and show them first-hand what it can be like. Our own global CEO Keith Barr started out in a restaurant kitchen so that goes to show how much potential there is for growth within the industry, and I hope more young people consider it as a future career path.”

For further information on travel and tourism courses, please click here or for more information on hospitality and catering courses, please click here

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