We are delighted to bring you the latest blog from Professor Peter Jones MBE who is chronicling his personal story of a major innovation in the hotel industry.
“When a plan comes together”
Planning for the Olympics must have a team of thousands. Planning for the Edge Hotel School is on a much more modest scale, yet has some marked similarities. Both have been a long time in the planning, both started as something of a dream and inspiration that is rapidly becoming reality.
It’s not just the preparation of the site and constructing the facilities to the east of London, it is in the planning for the opening, agreeing the layout and design, encouraging sponsorship, handling the media and PR, recruiting staff, planning logistics support, developing a brand identity, marketing and sales, training and rehearsing all leading towards a grand opening and then leaving a lasting legacy.
The similarities do not end there. Both the Olympics and the Edge Hotel School will be staffing the activity literally from scratch, looking to attract staff that share the same ethos and passion for the activity which is in many ways as crucial as completing the buildings. It is the staff that will bring the facility to life, they will make it live and breathe, deliver the function and purpose, work at establishing the service standards and operational styles and make the whole thing a success. The building and facility is important in providing the environment and the physical characteristics, but it is the staff who create the character and the all important relationships with guests and visitors.
In our case staff are not short-term employees and will have additional roles, as role models and ‘masters’ of their professional skills; skills that they are required to pass on to the students who will be in their charge. This will require a different type of individual, individuals who want others to succeed in becoming true professionals, individuals that really care about the future of the industry and individuals who enjoy the buzz and excitement the industry provides. These will be demanding roles, not easy rides for those looking for a quiet time in the country, but for those who really want to make a difference to the industry today and that of the future.
Perhaps the greatest similarity with the Olympics is in the commitment to provide a lasting legacy. A legacy that is also a symbol of a total commitment to improving opportunity. The Edge Hotel School is such a symbol. It is a symbol for the industry of a unique approach to developing the future leaders of the hospitality industry, it is a symbol to education, of innovation that challenges the conventions and norms of higher education and it is a symbol to potential students of a new approach to realising aspiration and ambition by blending the professional and the theoretical into a new type of student experience.
Building that legacy and a symbol of the future, like the Olympics, is on track and on target. The photograph taken some weeks ago shows the construction of the new wing well under way, in the next two weeks the grand staircase will be reinstated in Wivenhoe house and new members of staff will begin to arrive. We still have a long way to go, but it is now that the seeds of the grand plan are really coming together.