Hospitality conference a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity for students

Kayla Ngo and Pancy Feng have put the “international” in their Bachelor of Arts in International Hotel Management program.

The two fourth year students recently returned from Lausanne, Switzerland, where they attended a three-day Young Hospitality Summit.

The annual event is the largest student-run hospitality event in the world, giving students and industry leaders the chance to connect.

This was “a once-in-lifetime opportunity for future hospitality leaders to come together, work collaboratively and exchange new ideas,” says Ngo, whose team placed third (out of 16) at a hospitality-focused case challenge held during the event.

"I appreciated this opportunity of learning, connecting, and I look forward to not where the future leads us, but where we lead the future,” says Feng.

While all fourth-year students in their program were eligible to apply for the summit, Feng and Ngo were selected based on the strength of their application related to solving business problems, academic teamwork and experience in the hotel industry.

An international experience like this is particularly valuable for students looking to build successful careers, says Assist. Prof. Moira McDonald, program head for the BA in International Hotel Management program.

“Global perspectives and cross-cultural competencies are critical, particularly in the hospitality industry where interactions with people from different cultures are commonplace,” she says.

That’s just one of the many skills Feng and Ngo will continue to build this summer as they continue their travels. Both have been accepted into the career development program INSPIRE by international ACCOR hotels and resorts, enabling them to work in Vancouver this summer to begin their internships with the global hospitality leader.

We asked McDonald about the other ways students can benefit from international educational experiences. Here are her top five:

1. Exposure to diverse perspectives: When students travel to a foreign country, including coming to Canada to study, they are exposed to different cultural, social and economic perspectives. This can broaden their understanding of the world, enhance their empathy and adaptability, and improve their ability to work effectively with people from different backgrounds.

2. Networking opportunities: Collaborating with other students from around the world allows students to build connections and establish relationships that can be valuable for their future careers. These relationships can provide access to new job opportunities, knowledge sharing, ongoing support and new friendships.

3. Development of intercultural competencies: International experiences can help students develop their cross-cultural communication, cultural sensitivity and adaptability.

4. Exposure to new business models and practices: Traveling to different countries can expand their understanding of their chosen industry and help them develop innovative solutions to complex problems.

5. Personal growth: An international experience can be a transformative experience for many students, providing opportunities for self-reflection and learning about themselves in new and challenging environments.

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