Four students in the Hospitality Management program will end their fall term at Vancouver Island University (VIU) on a high note after winning the LinkBC Marketing Case Diploma Category award in a presentation that included some solid business ideas and a humorous approach.
Taylor Doherty and Jonelle Van Rensburg of Nanaimo, and Jerren Hung and Gary Guy, international students from Australia and China respectively, entered the Nov. 4 competition as a second-year student team from the diploma program, travelling to Vancouver to compete with 17 teams from BC universities and colleges.
With just five hours to prepare before judging, the VIU team decided to focus their presentation on solutions for a downtown Vancouver hotel that would attract more business travelers.
Focusing their case study analysis on the Ramada Downtown Vancouver, one of the sponsors in the competition, the four students set about developing a plan, budget and presentation on how to increase the hotel’s share of business travelers coming to the city.
“We were looking at little things they could do to make business people feel more welcome and want to do business while staying there,” said Van Rensburg. Their ideas included updating the hotel’s business centre, upgrading lighting in rooms, and partnering with a gym in the neighbourhood rather than investing in an expensive gym renovation for the hotel.
While other teams presented case studies with budgets in excess of $1 million, VIU’s winning team decided on solutions that would deliver the hotel a solid return on a relatively modest $8,000 budget.
“We weren’t trying to reinvent the wheel, we were just trying to improve on what they already had, and add value,” said Doherty.
All four students were thrilled and surprised with the win, which they viewed as a bonus to an opportunity to learn more about their chosen industry, network, and put their learning to a practical use. They returned to VIU with a plaque and $500 in prize money.
Heng said he thinks the judges appreciated the light-hearted approach his team took in their presentation, backed up by solid research and good ideas.
“I think it was easy to follow along with our presentation, and we also had a lot of humour in ours, which everyone seemed to like,” he said.
“Experiential learning not only connects theory to practice, it gives our students a leg up in working in the industry,” said Peter Briscoe, faculty and chair of the Hospitality Management program. “The preparation they receive at VIU gives them a head start when it comes to being selected and promoted by employers.”
LinkBC is an organization that works to strengthen connections between tourism, hospitality, adventure and culinary students, graduates, faculty and industry. The organization’s mission is to enhance professionalism in BC’s tourism industry.