At the beginning of November, BBA International Hospitality Business students went on a field trip to Zurich and Geneva, lead by Glion’s Head of International Hotel Development and Finance, Jonathan Humphries. The students were separated into two groups, with one group going for a two-day trip to Zurich, and the other a two-day trip to Geneva as part of their specialization.

The BBA specializations give students the opportunity to tailor their qualification to their own interests and career ambitions. Taken in the final year, studies are focused on a niche curriculum that delivers highly in-demand skills and prepares the student for a leadership career after graduation.

BBA field trip – Zurich

Seeing the industry in action

At the Marriott Zurich Hotel, the students met with Wissam Chelala, a key adviser on the European market within Marriott’s Development Organization. Wissam gave an insightful presentation regarding hotel development covering the key considerations that a project manager needs to be aware of, such as: Do you want to be on that market? Can you find fixed labor? Are you searching for a classic brand of reliability of lifestyle? How many rooms, F&B outlets?

Following the presentation, the students were given a tour of the hotel by Glion Alumnus, Kevin Krattiger.

Exclusive access to a hotel construction site

At the Alex Lake Zurich Apart hotel, students took a tour of a property at the construction stage. Alex Lake is a project development run by Glion finance teacher, Jonathan Humphries, giving the students a unique classroom-industry connection. The students were taken around by one of the architects and shown suites, rooms, an F&B outlet and an automated underground parking system – the first to open in Switzerland.

Witnessing development on a huge scale

After a tour and dinner at Renaissance Zurich, the students visited The Circle, an impressive project developed by Zurich Airport and Swiss life. For the students, this was a great opportunity to get an insight on the way the hospitality industry is headed, towards a real estate focus and cross-sector joint ventures.

Project Director, Beat Pahud, shared a working model of the project, comprising 12 restaurants, office space, two hotels (Hyatt Place & Hyatt Regency) and the biggest conference space in Zurich, at over 5000m2. Expected to open in 2020, The Circle will also provide a kids club, education space, hospital and retail shops.

Focusing on the experience

The Circle development integrates experiential moments across the site. In the retail areas, for example, the developers want to offer more than just a sales space. This approach in-turn attracts like-minded brands with Omega using their store to show how the watches are made, engaging the customer with the process and helping them understand the quality.

Job offers at the end of the trip

The two-day field trip in Zurich gave students unrivalled and exclusive access to a range of real-world properties and development projects, providing insight to support their specialization and bring a real-world connection to their classroom knowledge.

In the final trip to the Courtyard by Marriott, Volker Thamm, Anja Hauser and Jochen Henz gave a presentation on SV Hotels, before taking students on a tour. So impressed were these Marriott representatives, that they even offered the students employment opportunities to apply for!


Group 2 – BBA field trip – Geneva

What better way to start a field trip to Geneva than at the 5-Star Grand Hotel Kempinski on the shores of Lac Leman. Management Trainee, Xavier Prouvenc, gave the students a tour, before Yves de Kerdanet, CEO and Partner at Shaftesbury Asset Management and Marcus Siggelow, Junior Asset Manager at Shaftesbury Asset Management, and Glion graduate, gave a presentation on the role of an asset manager.

The informative presentation gave an insight into the balance of power between owner and operator, and operating and corporate structures. The students gained a better understanding of the position of an owner or asset manager in relation to the hotel operations, and the difference between working with an operator versus an owner.

Treating students as professionals

Studying at Glion is both an education and preparation for a leadership career, and this is why we combine classroom studies with industry exposure, visiting sites and speaking to professionals. At the Kempinski, Thierry Lavalley, General Manager and President of the Geneva Hotel Association, shared his experience of hotel management, discussing:

– What is a good hotel for a General Manager
– What is a good hotel for a hotel asset manager
– The relationship between brand, owner and asset manager
– Location assessment, categorizing pros and cons
– Revenue management

The Kempinski trip finished with a visit to the Geneva Suite, the largest hotel suite in Europe at more than 1,000 sqm and costing 50,000 CHF per night.

Developing a leadership mentality

It is important that Glion graduates go into the world with an open mind as well as expertise – to be a leader you need a global view of the bigger picture. This ethos took the students to the home of the United Nations to meet the Hotels, Catering, Tourism, Sectoral Policies Department of the International Labour Organization.

Students discovered the history, mandate and activities on a tour with Becci Remo, Director of Historical Archives, before attending a presentation on the Hotel and Tourism industry by Technical Officer, Lucie Servoz.

Understanding challenges and opportunities

In a workshop and presentation on sustainable tourism, the students discussed how, as hoteliers, we can improve working conditions and what we should take into consideration when opening a hotel in developing countries. The discussion topics were far reaching and impactful, including:

– The power of tourism as an engine for global poverty reduction in rural areas where the majority of the population lives.
– Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Women represent 60%-70% of the tourism workforce. This provides an important potential to empower women in rural areas that are in the most vulnerable situations.
– Promote all-inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all.

Learning about personalization

At the Nest Living Concept, students had a tour of the construction site followed by a presentation by Tara Wondraczek. The apartments, in the old town of Geneva, are designed by Swiss manufacturer Vitra, with each one different in terms of setting and furniture.

At Base Aparthotels a tour and Presentation by James Fry, Co-Founder & Managing Director, covered their unique version of hospitality – furnished rooms, bikes available for guests, boxes for returning guests to leave their belongings and revenue sharing with onsite F&B outlets.

Insight into the real-world application of sustainability was a key insight at Base, as students learned about their 100% chemical free cleaning process, using only salt and water mixed in the basement of the building. The trip also took in Le Richemond Hotel and Beau Rivage, featuring a spa by Sisley.

Seeing the theory in practice

The hospitality industry is evolving quicker than ever before. Technology, joint ventures, business models and disruptive competition is leaving businesses in need of innovators with skills fit for the market today. This is why Glion puts so much emphasis on real-world experience in our BBA program, particularly during the semester seven specialization.

The combination of studies and exposure to the industry through field trips, projects and internships gives BBA students a unique level of knowledge and expertise that prepares them for successful careers. The result is a highly respected qualification, leadership level knowledge and industry experience that truly sets them apart from the competition.

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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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