My name is Sophie and I am a 4th year International Hospitality Management student at RGU. I was lucky enough to attend the Hospitality Industry Trust (HIT) Scotland conference recently which was such an inspiring day!
Arriving at the Principal Grand Central Hotel, a full breakfast was served including a very impressive ‘Make-Your-Own’ pancake machine (something I am still researching into how I can get this into my everyday life) and if pancakes didn’t take our fancy, there was a chef at the end cooking omelettes. The networking was already beginning and then we were all asked to go into the grand hall.
First up was the introduction to the talent conference, followed by a speech by Sallyann Tindall from Scottish Enterprise. Sallyann highlighted the key aspects of Scottish tourism and key visitors, including the increase of Chinese tourists to Scotland.
Next, Cal Major. A thought-provoking look at the war against plastic. Even though the most famous photos of beach pollution are taken in The Carribean or similar beach destinations, as proven by Cal, Scotland is not exempt from this war. With videos of animals eating plastic and canals filled with bottles, we were reminded we should be doing everything we can to reduce our usage.
After a word from past scholars, we were asked to find our room for the first seminar. With 4 topic options per hour, this was not an easy choice!
Mega Trends in Tourism by 2025: Daniel McIntyre
Daniel McIntyre presented an interesting look into the future. Discussing mega trends such as experience economy, joined up cities, technology to stimulate, smart destinations and evolving travellers. He explained that as an industry we should look forward and build into the future and try and get in-front of the trends. These trends are already starting to gain momentum and with a rise in social media, Daniel’s three key words were fitting; sustainability, technology and connectivity.
A main topic discussed throughout the day was the increased number of tourists from the East, mainly China. These tourists bring new technological requirements and needs such as QR codes and mobile payment apps. They also require experiences, especially those which provide cultural enlightenment, past and present.
Daniel finished his presentation by explaining the future is now, and the industry needs to catch up.
Goal Setting: Cal Major
Next was Cal Major. If anyone knows how to set goals and achieve them, it would be the person who successfully paddle-boarded the length of the UK! Cal was very motivational explaining you can always do more than you think, and if you break your goals into smaller achievable parts, you will be able to tick off more goals and feel like you’re making better progress.
After splitting into groups and creating smaller goals for our organisation surrounding recycling, I decided to take on one of my goals… increasing my confidence in public speaking. I presented my ideas to the room, a very nerve wracking experience but one I will never forget and a goal I am now closer to achieving!
‘Light The Spark’ In your Staff
Blair Bowman then presented his seminar. His clever idea of the Whisky map utilises the London tube system with a different whisky for every stop on the line. This is a simple, yet effective way to get customers who would like to try more variety, without the embarrassment of not knowing what to order.
He also explained that the best form of selling higher price beverages is to have trained staff. Staff need to have tasted the products they are selling to have a passion and knowledge of the drinks and food. If you ‘light the spark’ in your staff, it will only help sales. Look out for his app Qwenchable, as this training app looks set to compete with the traditional WSET training.
Be More Butler: Simeon Rosset
A butler with a motivational message. Believe in yourself and anything is possible! In a world where anything is now possible the answer is YES. A customer will be much happier if you try to accommodate them, even if the answer is no. Have the evidence that you have tried and your service levels will be seen as the best.
After the last seminar, we then heard from Helena Langdon and Rob Forkan. Helena looked at connecting with consumers through the internet and the success that Innocent have had with their social media campagin (check it out if you haven’t already!). Rob made us all tear up with his very inspirational story about his growing success. Both speakers wrapped up with the key topics of the day, the ever-increasing rise of technology and whatever the world throws at you, you can keep going!
Firstly, HIT Scotland. What an inspiring and motivational day surrouded by talented industry leaders. The speakers were captivating and thought-provoking and with the addition of the Andrew Fairlie Scholarship.. something near to my heart after having watched and studied Andrew work to contiously push the boundaries during my time at Gleneagles … I look forward to returning next year, hopefully after applying for a scholarship! Second, to the university, Anne and Craig for organising the day.. a way to not only motivate the fourth year hospitality students with our studies, but also to think about what the future holds as we venture into the world in four months. Many thanks to all.