Q: What do you get when you mix six nights in the UAE, 12 hotels and an entire class of passionate hospitality students? A: The first-ever Les Roches Postgraduate Diploma Study Trip — organized by the students themselves!
Inspired by the MBA trip to Chicago, this year’s Postgraduate Diploma class decided they wanted their own immersive industry experience. As one student explained, “We’re all career changers, and we were looking for ways to get closer to the industry.” Visiting different hotel properties would provide an opportunity to learn firsthand about the challenges of being a hotelier and to talk with hospitality leaders about how to apply management theory in the real world.
Dubai seemed like an obvious hospitality trip destination for plenty of reasons. As our Postgraduate students reported upon their return, Dubai is:
- One of the fastest-growing cities in the world
- The fourth most visited city after London, Paris and Bangkok
- Home to an average hotel occupancy level of 86.5%, with an average daily rate of USD 291
- Estimated to receive 20 million visitors in 2020
The purpose of the trip may have been to learn, but organizing the trip was itself a learning experience! To pull it off, the Postgraduate Diploma students formed an organizing committee, defined learning objectives, collected quotes and set a budget, contacted hotels, collected payments and booked their own flights plus accommodation. Not bad for a class project!
As a result, this entrepreneurial group of students set off with program manager Mr. Frank Gueuning to spend a week in the UAE. They decided to visit both Fujairah and Dubai to better understand the challenges that these different destinations may face. And they visited 12 hotels, including:
Le Méridien Al Aqah
Radisson Blu Resort, Fujairah
Fairmont Fujairah Beach Resort
Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa
Sheraton Dubai Mall of the Emirates Hotel
Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Media City
Dusit Thani Dubai
Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach
Four Seasons Dubai International Financial Centre
Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates
Kempinski Hotel and Residences Palm Jumeirah
Atlantis the Palm
Visiting several properties in Fujairah, a remote location, gave students the chance to see how hotels market a challenging destination. For example, Le Méridien Al Aqah puts a huge emphasis on service to attract guests. Meanwhile, running an F&B department in an isolated place requires thinking ahead to ensure enough supplies are at hand. At Fairmont, students learned how a hotel without a beach has focused on guests, such as the Emirati market, with other desires. And certainly one of the trip’s highlights was a visit to the Radisson Blu Resort, Fujairah — opened by Postgraduate Diploma program manager Mr. Gueuning himself in 2007.
Upon their return, the Postgraduate Diploma class gave a presentation of their trip to Les Roches students on campus. [quote]It was great to see all the key topics we’ve studied in class and how they work in a practical setting.[/quote] During their trip, the group had a chance to meet with HR directors, F&B directors and hotel general managers. At many properties, they were also accompanied by Les Roches alumni.
The Dubai trip was a whirlwind tour, but it was also a rewarding week of asking questions, exploring the hospitality business and discovering new horizons. And it seems that a new Les Roches Postgraduate tradition has been born!