A first of its kind in Malaysia, students of Taylor’s University took over the operational and managerial duties for five days in Holiday Inn Express Kuala Lumpur City Centre during their Step 2.0: Hotel Takeover Programme recently, overcoming difficult situations along the way.
The Taylor’s Step 2.0: Hotel Takeover Programme was first launched last year in partnership with Holiday Inn Express Kuala Lumpur City Centre. There were 38 students from Taylor’s University’s Bachelor of International Hospitality Management and Diploma in Hotel Management who took part in this edition of the programme, which took place from 6th to 10th May 2019. These students were accompanied and trained alongside the hotel’s existing staff who provided hands-on guidance and experience in cultivating students’ skills in customer service, crisis and employee management across various departments such as front-of-house, human resource, finance, housekeeping and more.
A visit from Ms Pauline and Ms Charmaine to check on our progress and experiences
‘Surprise’ simulations were thrown in along the way, such as a power cut, a customer complaint, a stolen television set from a guest room and an armed robbery.
Muhammad Namiq Rameez, a Diploma in Hotel Management student who was appointed as duty manager, recalled how the most challenging simulation was the mystery of stolen television set, in which the students were left to solve on their own. “We were given misinformation on the rough time this occurred, which took us much longer than expected to get to the correct CCTV footage. Eventually we figured out that if we took note of the time readings of the room door lock, we could get an idea of the CCTV timings we should look at,” he said, adding that they solved the mystery in the end.
Grace Tan, a student from the Bachelor of International Hospitality Management who was elected as the ‘General Manager’ highlighted, “Participating in the Hotel Takeover Programme as the ‘General Manager’ gave me an unforgettable experience as I was able to grasp a big picture view on how a hotel is managed. Not just that, it’s a great opportunity for students to be part of this programme as it teaches one to solve problems, cater to customers’ needs and manage relationships among colleagues. The Hotel Takeover Programme is useful because experienced managerial positions got to understand front-of-house tasks - an experience not all internship programmes provide. During the experience, we were exposed to real-life training simulations to gauge how we would react and overcome these situations as ‘hotel personnel’. This gave us the opportunity to communicate as a team, exercise our knowledge and put the right action into place.”
Muhammad Namiq’s and Grace’s duties included handling customer complaints, reviewing reports, conducting morning briefings, floor inspections, and learning the operating system of the hotel. Grace also managed to organise a spring cleaning of the hotel’s lobby, lifts and dining areas.
Diploma in Hotel Management students Kevin, Farel and Jonathan assisting a guest upon check-in at the Front Desk
Professor Dr. Neethiahnanthan Ari Ragavan, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Leisure Management said, “The hospitality, tourism and events sectors are growing at an exponential pace and we pride ourself in matching every stride of this growth. With our dynamic programmes and outlook, Taylor’s leads the way for hospitality education. In the latest QS World University Rankings by Subject, Taylor’s University ranked #14 in the world for Hospitality and Leisure Management discipline, the second in Asia. Our achievement continues to raise the bar in providing a comprehensive education experience for our students, through integrated new learning approaches as well as skills-based methodology to develop holistically balanced graduates - that’s where our Taylor’s Hotel Takeover Programme comes in.”
“Work-integrated learning is an essential component if we’re looking to produce industry-ready graduates who will apply their learnings and someday lead an organisation. This is one of the ways to move towards this new era; by getting students to be more involved in industry-led projects, practical simulations and work placements. At Taylor’s we strive to empower students from an early stage to gain all the knowledge and experience they need because it will definitely be beneficial when they look for jobs in the future,” he added.
Reviewing the CCTV with the hotel’s F&B Manager, after a situation arose where a guest’s belonging was allegedly stolen from the banquet room
The Hotel Takeover Programme was first initiated in 1999 with Holiday Inn Norwich North, which opened up opportunities for over 1,300 students studying and working in the hospitality industry. Seeing the positive impacts of this programme, Holiday Inn Express Kuala Lumpur City Centre initiated a strategic partnership between the hotel and Taylor’s School of Hospitality, Tourism and Events, to form the Step 2.0 : Hotel Takeover Programme.
“The Hotel Takeover Programme doesn’t only equip students with the industry knowledge and training they require but staff from Holiday Inn are also able to understand what today’s students and graduates are lacking, which can be taught or brushed up through the programme. Students are able to ask questions and do practicals whereas staff gets to train and teach; which elevates their passion and improves their skills as well. This programme gives students the opportunity to decide if hospitality is for them, and they can be industry-ready when they graduate,” said Jonathan Lai, General Manager of Holiday Inn Express Kuala Lumpur City Centre.
He added that with the development of Artificial Intelligence which could possibly take over manual labour such as laundry and room service, programmes such as these are even more crucial. “Managerial and leadership skills are needed in the industry, and you can’t learn these from books,” he said.
Set to take place annually, the Hotel Takeover Programme provides opportunities for final year students to be actively involved in and out-of classroom activities. This is in-line with Taylor’s growth as it celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year in providing a holistic education experience that empowers the youth of the world to take their productive place as leaders in the global community. The programme enrolls selected final year students from Bachelor of International Hospitality Management and is a compulsory unit for the Diploma in Hotel Management students. Students who have successfully completed the Taylor’s Hotel Takeover Programme will receive two certificates from Taylor’s University and Holiday Inn Express Kuala Lumpur City Centre.