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Colchester Institute students get industry experience running Colchester Holiday Inn

PUBLISHED: 19:37 02 March 2018

Megan Bragger, Lois Watson-Whiting and Hayley Wright in the restaurant.   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Megan Bragger, Lois Watson-Whiting and Hayley Wright in the restaurant. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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A group of hands-on hospitality and catering students from Colchester experienced work experience with a difference this week, as they took over the running of one of the town’s hotels.

Emily Berry on reception.   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNEmily Berry on reception. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A group of 19 students from Colchester Institute spent Monday-Thursday running the Colchester Holiday Inn, putting their skills into practice in all areas of the business including general management, reception, housekeeping, room service and serving food and drink.

It formed part of the National Hotel Takeover week, which gets students looking to join the hospitality industry a chance to experience the job first-hand, while hotels can spot talent for the future.

Lottie Ponder in events.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNLottie Ponder in events. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Colchester Holiday Inn general manager Gemma Evangelista said: “It’s surpassed all my expectations – it’s just been brilliant.

“They get involved and do their introduction at college, but to have them involved in the actual day-to-day running of the hotel I think has excited them even more than they thought.

Sky Hogg in a housekeeping role.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSky Hogg in a housekeeping role. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“Our own team has learnt from it – it’s not just the students that have learnt.”

Ms Evangelista said the students were treated like any other member of staff, and had to go through a standard interview process as any employee would before taking on the work.

Students from Colchester Institute will be working at the Holiday inn as part of  hotel take over week.   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNStudents from Colchester Institute will be working at the Holiday inn as part of hotel take over week. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The hotel also said that the work of the students gave a fresh perspective on how the hotel works, as well as inspiring the current team.

Steve Frei, lecturer in hospitality at Colchester Institute, who monitored the students’ progress through the week, said: “The hotel takeover is great for the students as they are getting real experience from current industry professionals.

Students from Colchester Institute will be working at the Holiday inn as part of  hotel take over week.   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNStudents from Colchester Institute will be working at the Holiday inn as part of hotel take over week. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“All students will benefit and be exposed to the real working environment.

“It is up to them to communicate with staff and customers at the hotel, discuss any issues regarding shifts and to ask questions to get the most out of the experience.

Students from Colchester Institute will be working at the Holiday inn as part of  hotel take over week.   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNStudents from Colchester Institute will be working at the Holiday inn as part of hotel take over week. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“Juggling conflicting priorities will become part of life for these students as they develop skills to succeed in the exciting and ever-changing hospitality industry.”

The hotel said it plans to continue monitoring the progress of the students, who are the future of the industry, and plan on hosting another takeover next year.

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