Norwich hotel and airport set for biggest student takeover as college celebrates hospitality milestone

ColleagueTo mark 100 years of hospitality and catering at City College Norwich, more than 100 students will take part in the most ambitious student takeover yet – which this year has been extended to include Norwich International Airport. 

The week of 24th to 28th February will see a series of firsts for what is believed to the largest student takeover in the UK:

  • The takeover of the Holiday Inn Norwich North will extend to 5 full days, involving around 100 students;
  • 12 travel and tourism students will take over roles at Norwich International Airport and at the airport’s travel agency in the city centre for 3 days;
  • Students will cater for two major functions at the hotel, each for around 300 guests, with the Big Hospitality Conversation and the College’s hospitality centenary gala dinner.

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Since the first hotel takeover in 1998, the number of students involved has grown each year, extending to include not only hospitality and catering but also students on sports, personal fitness training, and travel and tourism courses.  At its heart, the annual takeover remains about working with employers to give students a unique opportunity to experience first-hand what it is like to work in hospitality.

During takeover week staff throughout the 4-star Holiday Inn Norwich North hotel, up to and including General Manager Bill Heath, will take a step back and allow students to take on their jobs, covering everything from reception, to housekeeping, bar management, food preparation, food service and supervisory and management roles.

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As if this was not enough of a challenge (with the students required to maintain the hotel’s usual high standards of service at all times), the takeover students will also be providing catering and front of house service for two major functions:

  • The Big Hospitality Conversation on Thursday 27th February, convened by the British Hospitality Association, will bring together employers from the sector to meet with young people and talk about tackling youth unemployment, the importance of work experience and apprenticeships;
  • The College’s Hospitality and Catering Centenary Gala Dinner on the evening of Thursday 27th February will see 300 guests enjoy a dinner and dance in the Lancaster Suite and will help fundraise for hospitality charity Springboard and City College Norwich’s Student Opportunities Fund.

A stone’s throw from the Holiday Inn Norwich North, travel and tourism students will also be putting their skills to the test as they stage a takeover of Norwich International Airport, on a smaller scale, from Monday 24th to Wednesday 26th February.

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Six students will be putting in some early starts at the airport – with some shifts beginning at 5am – to work on the customer service and information desk, at check-in and boarding.

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Meanwhile six of their fellow students on the Level 3 Diploma in Travel and Tourism will be gaining valuable experience on the sales and bookings side of the business, working at the airport’s travel agency, Travel Norwich Airport, within the airport terminal building and at Castle Mall, Norwich.

Bill Heath, General Manager, Holiday Inn Norwich North, said: “The experience the students gain from this initiative is invaluable in their understanding of the hotel industry.  Nothing beats real, hands-on, work experience and because they’re here for a week they’ll get to see all aspects of how a busy hotel and conference hotel operates from one day to the next.  We are delighted that Andrew and his team from the airport are joining us this year and we look forward to it being a long and enjoyable partnership.”

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Andrew Bell, CEO, Norwich International Airport, commented: “The Airport team is looking forward to welcoming the City College takeover students to Norwich Airport and we hope that this will mark the beginning of a long term association with this excellent initiative.”

Corrienne Peasgood, Principal, City College Norwich, added: “The hotel and airport takeover is one of the best examples of how employers and colleges can work together to develop real learning experiences for students, which is a key part of our commitment as a Gazelle College.  We are very proud of our partnerships with employers, which help support the development of the future workforce whilst ensuring our courses continue to keep pace with changing industry needs.”

Tickets for the College’s Hospitality and Catering Centenary Gala Dinner on Thursday 27th February, which includes a 3-course meal, arrival drink and canapés and a live band, are available now by calling (01603) 773227.  Full payment of £22 per person is required at the time of booking and the last day to book is Wednesday 19th February.

*Photos source: City College Norwich

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