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Some events teach, some events excite, but the best events are the ones that get you involved and interested. The EM Cup competition is truly one of these types of events. Perrine Simmenauer, a Glion student of French nationality, brought back great stories, pictures and memories from her experience at the two-day European Mise en Place Cup 2016 (EM Cup 2016), held in Maastricht, Netherlands on February 14-15, 2016. The Glion student group took third place in the competition, and according to Perrine’s account of the activities, it was no easy task making that grade.

Interview with Perrine Simmenauer
French student in Semester 7
BA in Hospitality Management with Real Estate and Finance (Honors)

What is the EM Cup?

The EMCup is a competition that draws candidates from European hotel management schools, it is aimed at ambitious, dynamic students who “stand out from the crowd and show courage and entrepreneurship with a great level of commitment.” This annual competition gives students the chance to make a difference with their vision and ideas, and it challenges them to think out of the box about a real life topic. According to their website, “The goal of the EMCup is to create and build long-lasting relationships, provide hands on experience, open up the horizon for education, build a bridge between schools and companies and connect young professionals to the industry.”

Theme: The Silver Wave (Aging Generation Travel Trends and Services)

“It was based around the theme of “The Silver Wave” which is a reference to the growing number of travelers who are silver-haired, the aging Baby-Boomers who are becoming the biggest segment of travelers. The competition challenged us to propose ideas on how the hospitality industry can better cater to the needs of this population.”

Getting Ready for the Competition

“Before the competition we were assigned to do some research and prepare some materials, mainly a video, a paper and a short presentation. The video was just to present our team, the theme and the school. Then, we did a paper about the trends, demographic and specific needs of the aging generations. We also worked on using social media work to engage people on the topic, but this was more challenging than we anticipated. We launched a Facebook page called “GLions EM Cup 2016” using a mascot of the Lion, a symbol of strength. On Facebook we shared articles, photos, etc. through November, December and January. It was very hard to get “likes”, we had to plead with friends to get shares and likes. Our Instagram posts were more popular, sharing pictures of nice properties, of our holidays and other fun stuff, we got good engagement.”

The Competition begins with fun and ice-breakers

“The first day, we saw a lot of inspirational speeches and motivational talks, like TedTalks, there were some amazing speakers. The theme was “Get out of your comfort zone”, so they made us dance! Whenever we would start getting tired, they would make us all dance. The students, the jury, the teachers, everyone danced. At the beginning it was weird, because you don’t know people, but by the end it was fun. It was a good exercise to break down our self-consciousness.

We also took a questionnaire using a program called Mapstell, it’s a personal behavioral style tool. You have to answer some questions and it analyses your behavioral strengths and weaknesses And it gives you a map with colors, each color means something. The profiles are categorized into four types: Decisive, Influential, Stable, and Conscientious. We each had a badge with two colors that were our strongest features, so we knew our neighbors colors and we had to work with that understanding of these strengths.

Then we did some team building, we had to write a two minute speech in a team made up with participants from other schools. It was a good exercise, I was in an all-girl team and they were all really nice. It was Valentine’s Day and we were asked to develop an idea for activities that hotels could implement on Valentine’s Day to create a good feeling for elderly people. We proposed a concept that we named 400 heartbeats. It was a day of activities for older people who may be alone. It involved cooking, for teamwork, interaction with animals, to give and receive love, then a dance class, to bring some energy, and finally a dinner, for a social moment to relax and talk. We presented our concept in front of industry representatives, there were people from Hilton, Intercontinental Hotels Group, Accor and some representatives of local hotel companies like the Doubletree Amsterdam.”

The competition heats up in day 2

“On the second day, we had to present the speech that our team had prepared before arrival. We presented the findings of our paper and research. We used a presentation technique that we’d seen on TED, called “Dance your Phd”. Basically it’s the use of dance or movement to represent what you are saying, to give a better understanding. The speech was limited to two minutes and we had to rehearse a lot to get it right. We had a lot of fun and got feedback from people who enjoyed the presentation style.

Then, we did our second task of the day which was to present a concept (using paper only and a white board) for a new hospitality service concept that caters to the aging population. What we created was a certification like a certification of excellence that you might find on Trip Advisor. This qualification would recognize the quality of services provided for seniors. The idea was to base the award on a questionnaire that would take some of the results from guests, around 50% from guests, and the other 50% from mystery guests that we would hire. So, that would give a fair balance of results both spontaneous and facilitated.

The final round

“The jury selected ten groups based on their evaluation of the previous assignments and the presentations. We were in the top ten. The final round of the competition was a four minute presentation taken from the concept developed during our second speech. We had to come up with a business plan covering marketing, finance, cost, operations and human resources. We didn’t have time to rehearse and the four minutes was hard to guage. About 30 seconds before the end, they would call the time, so we mostly had to improvise. We only had 1h15min to prepare this and no time to rehearse. It went well anyways, feedback was that we had good energy and that our team had a good team spirit. Some teams lacked energy and enthusiasm, but we were very happy to be on stage and quite intense in our energy. In the end, we won third place!”

The value of this event

More than anything, this event was a great networking experience, we met so many people. It was also a good confidence builder. It’s hard to speak in front of people you don’t know, especially for industry people, and in English. We learned a lot about ourselves, we learned how to work better in a team and especially to work with different personalities with the info from the test we took. Overall, it was fun experience.

In terms of socializing, the event was very intense and we finished very late the first night so we all went straight to bed, but after the last day we all went out, everyone, all the representatives, the jury members etc. We had a gala dinner on last evening. The Gala Dinner was nice because the seating places were rotated between courses. It gave us a chance to network and celebrate. We also extended our stay one day before and one day after to explore Amsterdam, which was fun.”

For more information about the EM Cup, see the official website and watch the video of the event!

Photo By: EMCup (https://www.facebook.com/emcup.eu)

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About the author

Glion Institute of Higher Education
Glion Institute of Higher Education is a private Swiss institution offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in hospitality, luxury and event management to an international student body across three campuses in Switzerland and London, UK.
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