Between the 2nd and 6th of December, the GTTP (Global Travel and Tourism Partnership) welcomed students and teachers from around the world to our annual research competition and awards, hosted by Amadeus and Starwood, at the Amadeus Executive Briefing Centre and Meridien Hotel Nice.
This year’s theme – Heritage Tourism – honoured GTTP’s 20th Anniversary celebrations and looked at how Heritage Tourism can attract more visitors and enhance the tourist experience in their respective countries.
Twenty students were selected as the 2016 Student Research Competition winners from over 2,000 entries. Over the two days the students presented heritage tourism sites in their countries – Brazil, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Hungary, Jamaica, Kenya, Russia, South Africa, and Tanzania. Supported by their teachers the young people shared their research, little known facts about “off the beaten track” sites and their suggestions for improvements of tourism while also including interactive games to involve the audience.
In addition to the opportunity to represent their country, students met with peers from around the globe, experienced different cultures, benefitted from the facilities of Amadeus’ high-tech customer briefing centre and were also given a tour of a world class hotel where they learned first-hand about work in travel and tourism.
Michel Taride, Chairman of the GTTPAdvisory Board and Group President, Hertz International commented, “It was very inspiring for all the attendees – students, teachers, directors and Partners alike – to see all these young people presenting a piece of their cultural heritage with pride and passion as part of professional case studies.
This unique event gives great confidence in terms of the future talent that will represent or even lead the Travel and Tourism industry and I am very proud of the work that GTTP does to support these brilliant students.”
The GTTP research competitions are devised to encourage the development of skills these young people will need in their careers, including critical thinking, team collaboration, research, writing and speaking. In addition, they are required to explore and reflect upon topics important to the long-term development of the travel and tourism industry, such as sustainability and technology.
This event supports GTTP’s mission to inspire and enable young people to build careers in Travel and Tourism and we are proud to know that over 2 million students have participated in GTTP programs around the world.
As a GTTP Board Member, I was inspired by the professionalism of these students. The huge effort that went into their research projects was apparent and their ability to delight the audience with facts, animation and humour – not easy when not in your native language – was equally inspiring.
Six of the projects focused on the history of indigenous people from Tanzania, Canada, Brazil, Jamaica, South Africa and Kenya. The blight of slavery and apartheid is an important reminder for current and future generations. The Jamaican message regarding that island’s ethnic mix “Out of many one people” is a timely reminder that we all have a rich genetic history, an important lesson in today’s world.
A quote from the Russian team perfectly summarises a year of preparation culminating in an enriching four day event in Nice, “each place has a story to tell.”
How do you start building a professional Travel & Tourism career in the hospitality industry?
If you are Brando Tang, a graduate hotel trainee at the W Hotel Hong Kong, the short answer is: you get a diploma at a community college with travel and tourism studies, then a management degree at a university while working hard at various hotels to help pay the university fees and gain experience. Then you get hired at the age of 20 as a trainee at W Hotels to learn all aspects of the business.
But where and when does the interest in Travel & Tourism come from?
It is always interesting to hear how people find their careers, so we asked Brando.
Here is what he told the GTTP Blog:
A few years ago, at the age of 16, Brando was a student at the Kwun Tong Government Secondary School in Hong Kong. There he was enrolled in the Tourism and Hospitality Studies (THS) program, which is anchored by the course provided by GTTP Hong Hong.
Brando explained that the THS program is composed of five modules including: Introduction to Tourism, Introduction to Hospitality, Destination Geography, Customer Relations & Services, and Trend & Issues in the Tourism and Hospitality Industry.
“THS is not just a single academic subject focused on theoretical concepts,” he said. “It covers a wide range of knowledge such as geography, history and humanities. Moreover, part of the syllabus also encapsulates some essential skills in the business world. Not only does the program’s breadth of coverage make it more interesting for the students to study, but also it widens the horizons of students’ understanding of the tourism and hospitality industry.
“The school’s THS program included materials called Passport to The World designed by the GTTP. It has been widely adopted as supplementary learning materials and teaching materials. It opened my eyes to the hospitality industry in other parts of the world.
“I enjoyed very much studying this subject over my 3-year senior secondary school years.”
Question: How did you benefit from that course?
Brando: The course allowed me to acquire the basic understanding of the tourism system which is a pillar of the global world, and specifically enhanced my awareness of the important role of tourism and hospitality industry in Hong Kong. The course also sparked my interest in pursuing my post-secondary study in the tourism and hospitality program.
Much more importantly, it aroused my curiosity about working in the hotel sector.
Why do you think GTTP is a successful program in your school and in Hong Kong?
The GTTP provides a good platform for Hong Kong students to connect with the world and to gain global vision.
What do you like most about the GTTP?
I like how the GTTP continually sponsors three global competitions every year and how the organization gathers students and teachers from around the world to share ideas in relation to tourism and hospitality studies.
In fact, among all 180 local secondary schools in Hong Kong, rarely has there been such an international scale competition involving the collaboration with both industry practitioners and educators from the University level.
It is so great that students can gain international exposure and are able to conduct an in-depth study topic in their own countries that is highly topical within the knowledge and practice of tourism and hospitality industry.
For example, the 2010 GTTP Research Award Competition featured the case study theme of “Green Tourism.” Our team chose Tai Po, a district area of Hong Kong, to examine the possibilities of developing it as a place to promote green tourism in Hong Kong.
What did you like most about the GTTP Research Award Student/Teacher Conference in Munich?
Not only did the conference allow me to share my research findings with all those international counterparts, but also it cultivated my enthusiasm in tourism and hospitality studies.
Le Meridien Munich offered all delegates an exclusive opportunity to explore an array of “back of house” areas that are critical to the operation. By having such a visit, I came to understand that there is a bustle of activity behind the glitz in the hotel. Furthermore, Le Meridien Munich gave a lecture to share the updates of the hotel’s green and sustainable practices.
In addition, I am so grateful that the GTTP had arranged a city tour to the delegates so that we could explore the city’s culture and history. Moreover, the GTTP had also arranged a nice dinner in Munich’s Old Town, with all those committed industry partners (e.g. representatives from American Express, Starwood hotels and other industry partners), which allowed us to learn more deeply from their success story while at the same time enjoying a taste of genuine Bavarian cuisine.
Pictured above: Brando with fellow student research award winners at the 2010 student/teacher conference in Munich
What do you remember most about the GTTP Research competition?
In the very beginning, I participated in the research award competition mainly for fun and my interest in the topic of green tourism, and I never thought that I could represent Hong Kong to attend such an international conference. The moment that the result was announced I was really in shock. I never thought I could have won the competition.
I also remember a quote from my supervisor, Ms Tammy Lee – Your strength isn’t held by you alone, but also by the people who march with you. Honestly, I felt inadequate in the preparation of the research study. I often believe that I was not competitive in comparison with other students. Nevertheless, thanks to Ms Lee’s continual support and guidance, I started to get on the right track. I learned how to collect and analyze data, and to draw a conclusion and recommendation for the study. At last, I could even handle a 30-min oral presentation in front of all students coming from different countries. What a big change in my life!
On the other hand, the GTTP Research competition brought an invaluable eye-opener for me. The competition offered me a rare opportunity to travel. To be honest, it was my first-time experience of taking a long haul flight. I have been only travelled within China and the nearby Asian countries.
Do you stay in touch with any of the students you met at the conference?
I am in touch with Mr. Jezeel Martin, from GTTP Jamaica. Thanks to the technological advancements, the world is getting smaller through the connection of the Internet. I have been in touch with him via Facebook and Instagram. It is always amusing that the Internet allows us to stay connected, chat live, and share pictures.
Another student is Mr. Tom Chan, from Hong Kong, my group mate who worked together with me for the GTTP Research Award competition. Even right now, we keep a close contact although he chooses now to work in different professions other than the hospitality industry.
What do you hope your next assignment will be at W Hotel?
I want to continually grow to be an all-rounded person and take up more new challenges and responsibilities in the years to come. Possibly I would like to participate in cross-training between different hotel departments, such as the rooms division department and marketing. Besides, I would like to take up job placement opportunities in other cities or countries. Being a young man, I am really eager to try different things in my young age.
What are your further career plans?
For my short term career goals, I want to build a strong foundation and to show up my commitment to the hospitality industry, working for a company that I respect, such as W Hong Kong, for a prolonged period.
For my long term career goals, I want get more in-depth understanding of the industry as a whole so that I can accumulate more solid work experience to use as a springboard to different hotel management positions (e.g. work from supervisory level to managerial level in the future).
What do you like about the Hospitality industry?
It is all about diversity and opportunity. The hospitality industry has given me the opportunity to meet and socialize with other people with different cultural backgrounds, different ages, personalities and ethnicities.
Moreover, the industry allows me to develop myself, both in terms of profession and as a person. The industry always presents a strong commitment to bring out the best for the young people through intensive training, career progression opportunity and personal development. Therefore, I believe that I could make use of the dynamic international setting and seize any opportunities provided by the hospitality industry now and in the future.
Anastasia Kovinskaia graduated from Moscow School 1228 in 2015 and is a student at Moscow State University. Below, Anastasia recounts her experiences with the GTTP.
In 2013 I had the chance to participate in the Global Travel and Tourism Partnership Research Conference in Monaco where, as a winning national team, we had the honor to represent my country on an international level.
There were a lot of participants from different parts of the world: Great Britain, Hungary, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, South Africa and Brazil.
The topic of the competition and of the conference was Culinary Tourism. We had to write a case, and that was not as easy as it seemed because we had studied the subject of our project in all aspects, had analyzed information and had prepared our presentation (see photos about Kolumna and Pastilla). We were extremely happy and proud to become the winning team.
Our award was participation in the amazing annual GTTP student/teacher conference, which lasted just 5 days but was enough to change me a lot. I made a lot of friends and still keep in touch with them. We were able to share the love of our countries with each other.
On the last day we had a gala dinner where we were able to meet Global Partners from the world’s leading corporations and to learn about their ways to success. Global Partners gladly communicated with us, answering our questions and showing interest in our projects. It was really great that they were sincerely interested in helping us expand our horizons and develop new skills.
The GTTP conference allowed me to understand the cultural values of different countries, and better understand mentality of other nations. This experience had a great influence on me because I was able to feel myself as part of the world. I understood that the interaction of different people and cultures is very important and necessary for our modern society. People should be tolerant with each other.
Every country, every nation has its own unique and unrepeatable history and it’s important that people from other countries respect it and wish to become closer. Travel and Tourism is an extremely effective way to achieve this goal, and governments have to interact and be in progress together, helping each other promote culture, ideals, and values and bring people together. And I understood that I wanted to contribute to it.
In meeting with Global Partners – successful and influential people, teachers and students from other countries, adopting their experience, discovering something new, I realized that it is possible to be a part of this system, and that is closely connected to my interest in politics and belief in its ability to use “soft power” and be a means of mutual understanding, so people could live in peace.
That was how my participation in the GTTP conference helped me make a choice of the next level of education and my professional career. So after graduating I entered the Department of World Politics at Moscow State University.
The Monaco Conference helped me understand what I really want to achieve in life. I have been enriched by new knowledge and learnt a lot about cultural heritage of different nations. GTTP helped me to find my way in life and I am really thankful to organizers and sponsors for this awesome opportunity.
On Jan 26th this year, my boss, Natalia Morozova, General Manager for CWT Russia, forwarded me a letter with the subject “GTTP Russia 20th Anniversary event February 16 and 17” with her comment: “FYI, let’s talk later.”
The subject was represented by a chain of emails that started from the one by Dr. Nancy Needham to GTTP Board Members (among whom was CWT Head of Responsible Business Françoise Grumberg) about the GTTP 20th anniversary event in Moscow. At this event run by GTTP Russia, students would be given a challenge and a limited amount of time to develop a viable business concept related to Heritage Tourism. She was looking for support from GTTP Industry Partner employees to serve as volunteer advisors to the students as they developed their ideas into a concept paper on the first day and to judge the teams and select the winners on the second.
As it often happens, Nancy’s e-mail found its way through corporate communication channels first to Anne Esling, EMEA HR Head for CWT, then to Walter Ruggli, CWT Business Head for Switzerland and Eastern Europe, then to Natalia Morozova, CWT GM for Russia and ended up in my mail box.
I am HR head for CWT in Russia and at that moment I was swamped with end of year activities: performance appraisals, goals settings, compensation reviews.
Never had I thought the email that looked like more work than fun would develop into a wonderful experience of meeting great people and taking part in a great event.
Step one was to get some understanding of what was that required of us. I got in touch with Dr. Nina Kuznetsova, who represents GTTP in Russia, and learnt more about the Global and Travel Tourism Partnership, a multi-country educational program to introduce students to career opportunities in Travel & Tourism with half a million students in thirteen countries, supported and sponsored by leading international companies – Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Amadeus, American Express, Delta Airlines, dnata, Enterprise Holdings, Eurostar, The Hertz Corporation, Hogg Robinson Group, KDS, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, and Travelport
At the First Stage of the GTTP Research Competition students would work in teams of five under very tight deadlines in order to develop and present a solution for the tournament challenge related to Heritage Tourism. The challenge would be revealed on the first day of the competition (February 16th), and teamwork would start. The students would develop their solutions (ideas and concept papers) during the rest of the day. On the 2nd day (February 17th) teams would present their solutions to a panel of judges and their peers.
Nancy and Nina wanted some volunteer – experts from CWT for Day 1 and judges for Day 2.
I spoke with our CWT Russia Leadership Team about the event asked for volunteers. I presented it as a wonderful opportunity for our employees to go out there and share their knowledge and expertise – a great development opportunity, indeed.
Since Moscow was going through a bout of ‘flu some people who volunteered fell victims to the illness, but they were promptly replaced with others.
On Feb 16 our team of 10 people arrived at the event. Olga Dolgova, Elena Solovieva, Alla Lapina, Natalia Nedashkovskaya, Anastasia Andreeva, Olga Fedorova – from CWT Travel Services, Nadezhda Sizova from CWT M&E, Yulia Agashina from CWT HR, and Albina Golikova from CWT legal were right on time to share their expertise and knowledge with GPPT students.
We were met by Nina, who gave a warm welcome and briefing. It was also nice to get to know our fellow travelers from Travelport.
We split in teams of two and met up with students.
Personally there were three things that struck me as interesting: 1) real appreciation of local heritage places by all participants 2) not very clear understanding of challenges to put some projects into practice (I am saying it only because I am over 40 and not a dreamer any longer 🙂 ) and 3) difference in business acumen between school and university students.
Nadezhda Sizova, CWT Russia Sales Manager, said:
“I was invited as a Business Travel Expert to help students with projects, share my opinions and ideas. Before taking part in the event I was not sure why rich and successful people do teaching.
Now I can say that it was a wings-growing experience. Open, positive, talented kids are our future. There were a lot of great projects. The one I liked most – tour of Russia’s Caucasus for people with hearing difficulties.”
Anastasia Andreeva, CWT Russia Travel Services Outplant Superviser shared:
“I understood the objective of the event as identification of young talent, and an attempt make young people think and act independently.
I totally loved the way it was organized, and of course I loved the kids.”
On day 2, three CWT reps joined the jury panel and spent the whole day reading through the briefs, observing live presentations.
We had a difficult time selecting the best three, as all were great.
All in all it was really positive experience for us. We loved every minute of it. By Feb 18th everyone in CWT Russia knew about the event.
And I am sure that for any future event Nina will have to do a casting among CWT volunteers.
By Elizabeth Aston, Advisor, Industry Affairs, Amadeus IT Group (pictured)
Reprinted from the Amadeus blog with permission from Amadeus.
The future of the travel industry is in good hands if the recent Global Travel & Tourism Partnership (GTTP) conference held at the Amadeus research and development centre in Sophia Antipolis last month is an indicator of times to come.
Student teams from hundreds of schools competed to represent their countries at the conference, but only 22 students from 11 GTTP member countries were selected to present their research findings on ‘Sustainable Adventure Tourism’. The up and coming travel industry leaders were tasked with investigating whether adventure tourism has a strong attraction for visitors to their country, and what further sustainability actions should be adopted by the market, using local travel industry role models as case studies.
The students presented topics across a broad spectrum of sustainable adventure activities ranging from high tech outdoor activities in Hungary, to paragliding in Jamaica, to tropical rain forest bio-diversity activities in Kenya and to the Russian project “accessible cycling tours” based on real student needs at their college on the Volga River.
Students from Brazil (pictured above) presented an especially interesting project focused on the award winning Park of Dreams, which not only ticks the three pillars of sustainability, but goes beyond to include accessibility as a key differentiator. All the facilities, rooms, and adventure activities are fully adapted for accessibility, including the zip line and white-water rafting. Not only is all their food organic and grown on site with a full organic waste programme (including a worm farm!), they even recycle old materials for art on the walls and reuse old objects for new purposes e.g. an old door becomes a table!
As in previous years the high level of English language competency, the extensive research conducted, the presentation and animation skills and general humour of the students did not fail to impress.
The students always present each other with gifts from their home country and there was a very touching moment when one of the students from China presented all the attendees with hand-painted silk fans painted by her father, who is an artist.
For many of these students it was their first time travelling outside of their home country, but judging by the high quality of their work, their confidence and ambition, it certainly will not be the last time. With such clarity and vision we should feel comfortable that the future of travel is in good hands indeed.
The GTTP educates secondary and vocational school students about careers in travel and tourism in more than 5,600 schools around the world. As a GTTP Global Partner, Amadeus hosted the conference. Starwood Hotels & Resorts, another GTTP Global Partner, provided meals and hotel rooms at Le Méridien, Nice, while Delta Airlines donated air travel tickets for the students and teachers.
Sumey Cabello Le Roux was a South African Winner of the Global Travel and Tourism Partnership Research Award in 2002 while a student at Duineveld High School in Upington in the Northern Cape Province. She and her fellow South African winner Leandra Brand presented their research on the Nama people, a vanishing culture, at the GTTP’s annual student/teacher conference, which was held in Nice, France that year.
Sumey, who is now 30, tells us how she went from high school to a senior hotel management job in 12 years via 53 countries.
After graduating from Duineveld High School in 2003, I completed a 2 and a half year international diploma in Hospitality Studies at the Institute of Culinary Arts in Stellenbosch not far from Cape Town. As part of my practical work experience, I was placed at Reuben’s Restaurant in Franschhoek for 3 months. After completing my studies I was offered a full time job at Reuben’s as Restaurant Manager. I worked at there for almost 2 years and learnt so much about the hospitality industry.
However, I always wanted to travel and see the world. I hoped to get an opportunity to work on cruise ships and applied through an agency. I was very fortunate to be hired by one of the most well-known luxury cruise companies, Crystal Cruises. They are a 6-star cruise company with only 2 ships. I was assigned to Crystal Serenity. I started my first contract as a server and was gradually promoted to a Petty Officer.
I traveled the globe (53 countries in total) for almost 6 years and had the time of my life. We sailed a 120 day world cruise every year, spent the summer in the Mediterranean and finished off the year in the Caribbean. Waking up in Italy today, tomorrow in the Greek Islands, the day there after in Spain… what better way to travel the world, experience different cultures and work in a 6-star environment?
I returned to South Africa in 2012 after having spent 6 years cruising the world. I began working for a hotel and restaurant group in Cape Town which caters for international clientele. I started as a manager, was promoted to general manager and then area manager within 3 years.
Looking back, I can confirm that the GTTP had a strong influence on my career choice. After our trip to France in 2002 for the student/teacher conference, I knew I wanted to travel and to see the world, meet great people and learn about different cultures. The GTTP encouraged and motivated young people like myself to pursue careers in tourism and to strive for bigger and better opportunities. The exposure in France made me realise our country of South Africa has so much to offer and we need to expose that to the world. It made me proud to be a South African and I wanted to help preserve our heritage and make others take pride in our beautiful country.
Since the GTTP, my life changed completely. I was more focused on my future career and how to achieve my goals. We met wonderful people in France – friends for life. Everything was so professionally organised and to represent South Africa on an international platform made me very proud of my country. It also made me realise that all of us have a role to play in promoting tourism in our respective countries.
I made many friends at the 2002 GTTP conference and when I visited Ireland, I met up with one of them. We had coffee and it was great to share good memories. We have both traveled extensively so we could share all our favorite places in the world.
Passion can take you very far, if you can dream it you can achieve it. Never give up on your dreams.
Our industry is very demanding and you have to be very dedicated. Work hard at school – the rewards are endless.
In this industry you can meet interesting people, experience amazing cultures and history, visit wonderful countries. A career in the tourism and hospitality industry is hard work but is at the same time very rewarding!!!
When I returned to South Africa in 2012, I married the love of my life. My husband Manuel is from Chile and we decided to settle in the beautiful city of Cape Town in South Africa. We are both working in the hospitality industry. Manuel is a wine director and sommelier for one of South Africa’s most luxurious boutique hotels.
In October 2014 we became the proud parents of Myla Carmen, our beautiful daughter, now just over a year old. She is the biggest blessing and motherhood is very special. I took some time off to spend with our daughter and am looking forward to be back in the industry very soon.
Maria Bykova is 25 with a job that is a little like a car: lots of moving parts. Her role is “Sales Manager, Groups & Events” for the Hotel Baltschug Kempinski, a Five Star hotel in the center of Moscow. The establishment is part of the Kempinski group, which owns or manages 75 luxury hotels, mostly in Europe and Asia.
Maria deals with companies planning to hold events at the hotel, such as all-day conferences, board meetings, breakfast meetings, training sessions, awards ceremonies, cocktail parties, or team building. Clients come from all over the world and naturally have high standards given the hotel’s 5-star rating.
“When planning an event, clients will visit us for a site inspection. I show them the hotel and describe our advantages in comparison to other hotels,” explained Maria.
“After their visit, I send our offer via email with all the information. Then I call the client to check if our offer is received and if there are any questions.
“If everything is confirmed, I discuss all the details with the client, such as the set-up, timing, and menus.
“A week prior to the event I send a function sheet to all involved departments. Then a day in advance I pass all the information to the banquet department and they are in charge of the client on the day of the event.
“ When the event is over, we close it with the accounting department and invite the client for feedback. If there are any issues, we want to know about them in order to prevent similar things in future and to maintain a high level of luxury service.”
Clear, comprehensive, and accurate communications is vital to Maria’s work, and indeed practically any job in the tourism industry. That is why the GTTP emphasizes activities that require practicing communications skills, such as the Student Research Competition.
It was representing Russia in the Research Competition Student/Teacher Conference near Frankfurt, Germany, in 2005, that led Maria to the hotel industry.
Attending the Conference was a turning point in her life.
“At that time I was thinking about a career in IT, but after the conference I realized I would rather work with people and that my knowledge of English and computers could be very helpful,” said Maria.
“The students’ Case Studies and the presentations were amazing. Everybody did their best presenting their countries and explaining what they could do to develop tourism which is very important for us all because it really brings people together. We experienced it first hand at the conference. There were students from different countries and it was exciting to learn about different cultures from peers – not from books or films,” she added.
After she graduated from high school, Maria attended the Plekhanov Russian Economics University in Moscow, one of the top five business schools in the country. Here she earned a degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management.
Along the way she had summer jobs for five years working for the Gulfstream Club, an operator of tours. She also spent a few months working in the visa application center that handles requests for visas by Russians travelling to Sweden and Norway before joining Baltschug Kempinski in January 2013. Her job was Sales Coordinator, specializing in groups and events.
By the end of the year she had been promoted to Sales Executive in the same group. Twelve months later, in December 2014, she was promoted to her present job.
What are her career objectives?
“My short term objectives are personal growth and developing my working skills. Longer term I would like to have a higher management position so I can influence how the hotel industry evolves to meet new customer needs,” Maria said.
What advice would she give to people thinking about pursuing a career in Tourism/Hospitality?
“All I can say is that it is the most exciting career and it will always be in demand as more and more people are travelling now,” said Maria. “You will never feel bored because you meet a lot of new people while working.”
“To do your job well you have to study hard at a college or university,” she added, “and you must be careful about every little detail when dealing with people so as not to offend them by doing something which is absolutely appropriate in your country but can be quite the opposite in another one.”
“You must develop cultural awareness to be a success,” said Maria.
Interview with Katie Chong, a 2002 winner of the Global Travel and Tourism Partnership’s annual student research competition, representing Hong Kong.
Each year Katie Chong flies from Hong Kong to the Bordeaux region of France as a procurement (purchasing) manager for Jointek Fine Wines Limited, a key wine trading company in Asia. Her mission: help choose which of the new vintages of some of the most celebrated, serious names in the world of wine would most appeal to her company’s industry clients in Hong Kong and mainland China.
The vineyards Katie visits sound as if they should be set to classical music: Chateau Lafitte-Rothschild, Chateau Margaux, Chateau Latour, Chateau d’Yquem, and so on.
Her job includes conducting an initial evaluation of the wines. “Afterward, our management team gets together for tasting and analysis,” said Katie. This is serious business with a lot of money at stake, not to mention her company’s reputation. But fun, too. “What could be better than enjoying fabulous wines and/or good food during the business meetings?” she asks.
The road to the job that now takes Katie to Bordeaux each year started 12 years ago. She was 16. The path she took emphasized hard work; extended exposure to very different cultures; learning communications skills; exploring the world of work, and the Travel and Tourism Industry, first with the Global Travel and Tourism Partnership (GTTP) and then in academia.
Katie participated in the GTTP Program in her high school*. She and a fellow student Yen Li won a place to represent Hong Kong at the international GTTP competition in 2002. This took her to the annual student/teacher conference in Nice, the town in France that is one of the birthplaces of European tourism. Fellow competition winners from the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa also were there.
“The GTTP competition was the first time I was in touch with students around the world, and it opened my eyes to all those other cultures. I believe that was the start of my interest in travel,” Katie explained.
Katie’s next stop on the road to Bordeaux was Carbondale, Kansas, a three-hour drive from the geographical center of the United States and a long way from home. Katie was an Exchange Student for the 2003-2004 school year.
After Kansas, Suzhou, more than 11,000 air km (7,000 miles) away in Eastern China, awaited her. There she attended the China campus of Australia’s Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School. After graduating, Katie worked in a Shanghai hotel for a year and a half in food and beverage and the front desk, putting to work what she had studied.
Then it was time to go back home. Back in Hong Kong she made a 3 1/2 year detour into banking, working full time for a bank while also studying to earn her Bachelor of Business Studies from the National University of Ireland. She was a top student. But banking was not for her. The Travel & Tourism was.
“This industry is full of challenges and competition,” said Katie.
Now she works for Jointek, a wine importer that supplies hotels, restaurants, private clubs, nightclubs, supermarkets and retail stores. The company also operates about 100 of its own wine stores in major Chinese cities.
“I started work there in July 2010 as the personal assistant of the vice president responsible for procurement and sales,” said Katie. As a personal assistant Katie’s abilities and work ethic were demonstrated to her boss on a daily basis. That visibility helped her get promoted, explained Katie.
Traveling to France is just one part of her job. She is also involved in working on the company’s monthly special offers, new product launches, wine dinners and wine tastings and other promotional activities.
“I enjoy the people I meet from different cultures. The most important thing is that I love to share – share the experience, the food I like, the wines I tasted,” said Katie. She is focused on learning all aspects of her business, and her employer encourages her.
It is difficult to underestimate the influence that the GTTP has had on Katie’s life. “After the GTTP’s student/teacher conference in France, I found myself become more outgoing, more willing to take on challenges. Seemingly impossible things, like being selected for the GTTP Conference, can be possible.”
What advice will you give people who want to pursue a career in the industry, Katie was asked.
“Try it before judging. It may not be easy but you will have so much fun in it!”
* To see the teenage student work that led to Katie’s career, click on “GTTP Research Competition and Award,” then click on Archives, then scroll down to 2002-Hong Kong. The research presentation is about Hong Kong’s “Walled Villages,” part of the country’s rich cultural heritage. Katie was a student of the Lok Sin Tong Young Ko Hsiao Lin Secondary School.
By Martin O’Brien
Former Programme Leader – Service Industries Kingston College*
Owing to our continued and supportive connection with the Global Travel and Tourism Partnership, Kingston College and Hertz Car Rental have been able to offer fantastic work placement opportunities to seven of the College’s students earlier this year.
Students worked in different departments of the Hertz car rental operations at London Heathrow Airport, with the support of staff members, and the feedback has been very positive. Kingston College asked Annabelle Lynch (Level 2 Travel & Tourism) what she thought of the placement and we were thrilled with her responses:
What did you think of the placement?
“It was a really good placement with friendly people. The support from the staff members was excellent with constant guidance that helped me in the week.”
What has the placement taught you?
“The main things that I have learnt relate to customer service and the importance of where a business is located. Throughout the week my confidence also grew.”
Would you recommend this placement to other students?
“Absolutely. I really enjoyed it, especially working in the returns department checking the cars that came back in.”
“I would like to say thank you to Hertz for hosting me in this placement, it was a great experience and I would love to have the opportunity to work there in the future”
Students have been given the opportunity to work in a number of different departments and have an insight into how a real travel and tourism business operates. Our students now have a greater understanding of how customer service can affect a business and the importance of establishing relationships with customers.
Kingston College would once again like to thank Hertz and the GTTP for their continued support and dedication. It is opportunities like this that enrich the journey of a student and helps make them more employable when they leave education.
* About Kingston College
Based in South West London, UK, Kingston College is a major provider of further education for post-secondary students. Its Service Department offers Level 1-3 travel and tourism courses aimed at students aged 16-19. The goal of the college’s work experience program is to expose students to a travel and tourism related working environment and to work as part of a professional team.
Kingston College has been affiliated with the Global Travel and Tourism Partnership for several years, and two of its students represented the UK at the 2012 GTTP Student/Teacher Conference in Monaco. The College works closely with the GTTP UK Director Claire Steiner to maintain their industry knowledge and relevance for the students.
Gemma Haywood was a UK winner of the Global Travel and Tourism Partnership Research Award in 2010 while a student at Cornwall College St Austell*. She and her fellow UK winner Josie Greatorex presented at the GTTP’s annual student/teacher conference, which was held in Munich that year.
In this interview, Gemma shares a taste of the adventures she’s been up to since then, including exciting travel in South America and now pursuing a Tourism Management degree at Bournemouth University. She also explains how the GTTP sparked her interest in travel and tourism as a career.
Gemma, what have you been up to since the GTTP student/teacher conference in 2010?
On returning from the conference, I finished my diploma in Travel and Tourism with distinctions and completed my Duke of Edinburgh Award Gold.
After this, I decided I wanted to explore and see the world so I packed my backpack for South America! It was such an amazing experience – I was lucky enough to stay with a host family in Costa Rica to learn Spanish, volunteer with street children in Cusco, climb a volcano in Chile and visit the Iguaçu falls in Argentina, meeting so many lovely people along the way. I then packed my bags once more and I am now studying Tourism Management at Bournemouth University.
How did the GTTP help influence your career choice?
Greatly! I have always had an interest in travel but the GTTP opened my eyes to all of the different possibilities available within the industry that I had never come across before. The conference helped me decide that I wanted to go to university to pursue these possibilities and find a job that would allow me to meet and work with people of different nationalities and cultures; a part of the GTTP conference I very much enjoyed.
What are you hoping to do once you have finished your degree?
Good question! My university course has been so varied and I have discovered many areas within tourism that I am interested in, such as Human Resource Management, Destination Management, Disaster Management…the list goes on!!. I would like to start gaining as much experience as possible and hope to find something I truly enjoy doing. I would like to continue my learning of Spanish also, as I feel that being able to speak another language is important in tourism.
How do you think you have changed and have your travel experiences helped?
Since 2010 I have definitely become more confident and I believe this is down to both the GTTP and travelling. These experiences have allowed me to mix with lots of different people and get involved with a whole range of activities, bringing me out of my shell and making me more open minded. These qualities are now contributing to the enjoyment and success of my university experience as I am participating in many activities and taking advantage of all the great opportunities on offer!
Are you still in touch with any of your GTTP friends from Munich?
Yes! It surprised us all how we only spent four days together, yet bonded so well! Fruzsina Csonka, from Hungary, came to England last year so I was fortunate enough to be able to meet with her again which was fabulous! As for everyone else, we would love a GTTP reunion, however with everyone scattered across the globe it is too difficult. It is nice to see what everyone is up to and how well people are doing via Facebook though.
What advice would you give to yourself back in 2010?
Don’t be so scared! I felt I was quite shy before which stopped me from doing many things, but luckily my teachers pushed me (nicely!) to go for it and I’m so glad they did because it has made me realise that there are so many great things out there to grab….all you need is a little confidence!
* The Cornwall College Group offers Level 2 – 5 qualifications in Travel and Tourism for post secondary school students and has been affiliated with the GTTP for several years to help ensure that academic programs remain relevant for future employers.
Sarah Bruce, teacher at Cornwall College St Austell, said: “The GTTP research project has been a fabulous way for us to make contact with people in the Travel and Tourism industry. It has given the learners the opportunity to develop their skills outside of the classroom and to get a real taste of the varied world of Global Travel and Tourism. It enhances our teaching and delivery of the subject as it gives it gives the learners first hand experience of what it would be like to work in this sector – making the subject more ‘real.’ It is a fabulous project to be part of.”