Nearly 70 students from the Hotel School at City College Norwich have taken over the Holiday Inn Norwich North over the past 2 days. The College students have been doing all of the tasks associated with running a major, 4 star, city hotel including reception, housekeeping, food preparation and service, with the hotel staff on hand to step in and assist only if required.
The hotel has been running as normal with paying guests and excellent customer service expected at all levels. Students have been working in shifts with different teams covering services from 6am till 11pm to ensure the hotel continues to run smoothly. As the first point of contact with the customer, students on the Hotel Reception Programme have been running the front desk, answering all incoming calls, checking in guests, cutting their key cards, taking payment and directing them to their rooms.
Natalie Gleave, Front Office Manager, Holiday Inn Norwich North said: “The Hotel Takeover has been a great success. The students have really enjoyed it and so too have Holiday Inn staff. It’s been a great experience for everyone concerned. The hotel’s guests during these two days have been really complimentary about the students, with many of them not being able to tell the difference between the permanent staff and the students who have taken over their roles. The students have been a great credit to City College Norwich and preparations have gone really well for a successful finale dinner this evening”.
Head of the City College Norwich Hotel School, Steve Thorpe said: “Real life experiences like this are invaluable to help create a well trained workforce for the future with up to the minute skills. Holiday Inn Norwich North has a long-standing relationship with the Hotel School and they have shown great confidence in our students to take on elements of their business and act as ambassadors for the hotel. This is about giving our students real experiences to prepare them for real jobs.”
Students on the Hospitality Higher Diploma have been in charge of housekeeping and have used this chance to complete an assignment which involves demonstrating how to service a hotel bedroom. They have also been working in food service along with students on the Advanced Diploma who have worked in the Hotel’s Concorde restaurant.
Budding Chefs, studying the Diploma in Professional Cookery, have worked to tight deadlines to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner, cooking for busy business people and Norwich Airport passengers who can’t afford to be kept waiting.
Two days of hard work will culminate on Thursday evening with a dinner cooked, served and presented by students in the hotel’s Lancaster Suite for up to 150 people. This final experience will be a great opportunity for students to gain a better understanding of a banqueting event on a scale not possible in the College’s own Debut restuarant. Members of the public have booked places at the dinner at £12.50 per person with tables for up to ten people available. Many seats have already been taken by parents, lecturers and hotel staff keen to support the event. Dinner will be followed by a charity raffle in aid of Hospitality Action who help people from the Hospitality industry who have fallen on hard times.
Two lucky students have had the opportunity to shadow general manager Devin Grosse for the day and really get an insight into the workings and management of a large hotel. Students have been preparing for this event for several weeks and also made preparatory visits to the Holiday Inn. On 2nd February all students went through the Holiday Inn orientation process as if they were a new member of staff.