Cross Exposure – Dubai Industry Visit

‘Experience & Qualification will direct you to your destination. Attitude will take you to that destination.’ – Sivaprasad Nair (Pullman JLT Director of Engineering).

During the last week of the April holidays, two third year B.Com Hospitality Management students, Erin Gait and Sasha Mavolwane had the wonderful opportunity of travelling to Dubai.  The main purpose of this vist was for cross exposure with our industry partner, Accor.

Due to the strong relations between Stenden South Africa and Accor, we have numerous interns in Dubai training with Accor as well as students who have graduated from Stenden working with Accor.  Two of these graduates, Chien-Chien Wu and Ashton Edwards and their colleagues shared their experiences with our two students, Erin and Sasha.

Several Accor establishemts were visited during the week long tour.  The first was the Accor corporate office who deal with Accor chains such as Fairmont and Power brands.  Studentsmet with the learning and development department teams and with the Accor Academy team.

On Day 2 the students visited the premium brand hotel – Movenpick JBR. Here students were reminded of the Accor culture which is truly at the heart of all the hotel’s operations. The students met with the hotel’s Director of Talent & Culture, Sales & Marketing Director, Food & Beverage Director, Revenue Management Director, Front Office Manager, Head Chef, Housekeeping Manager and the General Manager. All the above-mentioned department heads detailed their roles and responsibilities in the company as well as advised us, based on their hospitality experiences and knowledge.

Sasha Mavolwane:  “On the third day we visited the Pullman JLT property (also a premium Accor brand). This is more of a business hotel due to their location. During this visit we had an in-depth discussion on front office where the systems and reservations procedures were thoroughly explained to us by the Front Office Manager and his team. We also met with the Director of Housekeeping, Director of Engineering, Revenue Management Director, Human Resources and Reservations Department. The highlight of this visit was the engineering department as it is not a typical department that hospitality students would be exposed to, but the director described his department as the backbone of any hotel and took us to see all the areas his department is responsible for as well as showing how they track the hotels daily utility usage.

The last property visit was to the ultra-luxury brand: Raffles the Palm. This property was covered in gold, crystals, and marble. It the epitome of luxury. From the bellman to the concierge to the seated front office department (something one rarely sees in hospitality) to the butlers. It has so many more offerings since it is an ultra-luxury brand. At this property we met with the Directors of Talent & Culture, Food & Beverage, Front Office, Butler service, Housekeeping, Sales, Revenue, Cluster Commercial Director, and the General manager. They all told us more about what their respective departments do as well as the journeys they took to get there.

The highlight of this visit was the tour that we took of the hotel and its apartments which included several spas, a movie theatre, a ballroom, a huge presidential suite, and the food & beverage outlets that justified why this hotel is ultra luxury.

The highlight of my visit to Dubai was meeting with the various Revenue Managers, as this is the area I’d like to follow within the field of Hospitality”

Erin Gait:  “ On discovering that I would be travelling to Dubai having a cross exposure into the Accor company, I didn’t know what to expect. Dubai had never been a place that I would have planned to travel to as my family love organising more nature-orientated holidays, so big cities never fully appealed to me. I did however know that Dubai is the hospitality hub of the world and is a good location for a career in the industry. I was very excited to be able to have an experience slightly out of my comfort zone while still learning from industry professionals that could help guide my future career.

The cross exposure within the company Accor was an incredible experience. The Middle East, Indian and African head office showed me a different perspective into the different departments from a non-operational side.

The night life in Dubai was incredible and seeing places like the Burj Al Arab and Burj Khalifa were definitely a bucket list check.”