Successful collaberations of the IUBH
a-ja Resort und Hotel GmbH
Trainee Programme for Young Managers
The a-ja concept is new: Holidays should primarily be affordable and comfortable but without excessive luxury. At a-ja, guests decide for themselves what they want to include in their holiday, and then they only pay for what they really want to enjoy and use.
The trainee programme for the development of future managers is also new at a-ja, and the first generation of trainees to complete the programme was celebrated on March 24th 2014 in Warnemünde. On this day, IUBH alumna Maraike Veth was also congratulated for her successful completion of the programme. A-ja is equally pleased about the successful launch of its trainee programme and is always on the look-out for potential candidates, including IUBH graduates.
Interview with Maraike Veth, Graduate of a-ja trainee programme
Ms. Veth, after completing your degree in Hospitality Management at the IUBH you did a one year trainee programme at a-ja in Warnemünde. In which department did you work and what did you learn?
Since I was fortunate enough to be part of the pre-opening team at the a-ja resort I was able to start the trainee programme before the official opening of the hotel. I got to know the hotel managers and did an intensive training programme with them that prepared us to give an optimal welcoming for the incoming staff (and of course the guests) a short time later. During this time, management agreements were also negotiated and trainees were allowed to contribute to this process. We also had a lot of training and team-building seminars. Right from the start, I was part of the management team and had corresponding responsibilities.
Particularly interesting was a meeting with the entrepreneur Horst Rahe, founder of AIDA. He invited us to a lovely lunch in Hamburg and talked to us about his experiences and ideas. Afterward we visited the Deutsche Seereederei (DSR) headquarters in Hamburg and stayed at the Louis C. Jacob hotel. My personal highlight was meeting with our coach, who helped us throughout the trainee programme and was also always available as a contact. Before moving on to operational departments, a personality typology was developed using the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) with which everyone could set their personal development objectives together with the coach.
After the pre-opening phase I started the first half of the trainee programme in the field of logistics, and after six months I switched to gastronomy. In both areas I took care of the daily tasks at hand and also acted as deputy head of the department. In addition to operational tasks I was responsible for quality management and the scheduling plan (roster), became familiar with the inventory management system and trained a team in a-ja standards.
I gained a lot of practical experience of course, and learned a lot of administrative work. Being part of a hotel opening (especially for one with an unusual and new approach) was very exciting and challenging. Looking back, I learned the most about myself, tested my limits and strengthened my resistance to stress.
To what extent could you apply and use what you learned in your studies?
During my studies I learned a lot about business management and business aspects in the hospitality management sector. Due to the combination of theory and practice in my studies I was able to quickly find my way. What I most profited from, however, was learning "to think outside the box". We had a lot of courses where we could let our creativity and ideas run free - of course with a corresponding business plan as the bottom line - in order to represent our position.
What is the most important thing you take away with you from your studies?
On the one hand, all the contacts I was able to make. Especially in the practice phase you get to know people from around the world and these contacts stay intact. The first experience abroad is so important and decisive for one's own career. It's not only a plus for your resume, but also for one's own personal development.
On the other hand, the integration of daily presentations and group discussions is hard to find at other universities. Through these challenges you learn to stick to the essentials and also to find appropriate arguments for on-the -job settings.
What impressed you the most during the traineeship?
How important it is to stand behind a concept and an idea. It is of course easier to sell a certain product or service if you are also 100% behind it. But as an employee you don't always have the luxury to make that decision. Even at a-ja, due to its somewhat unusual hotel experience concept, there are some guests that could not identify themselves with the concept. I found it all the more exciting and fascinating to witness how one could convince initially sceptical guests to shift to a completely opposite opinion and ultimately win them over as fans.
What are you plans for the future?
Since the trainee programme I have changed industries and am now working in project management. For me it is important to get a diversity of perspectives and to learn from different sectors. In the end, the hotel and restaurant business is my passion. I am sure that I will work in these areas again in the future, but for now I want to learn from other fields as well.
Interview with David Monte, Director Pre-Opening
a-ja Hotel und Resort GmbH
Mr. Monte, you have developed an exciting and intense trainee programme for a-ja and Ms. Veth is one of the first graduates. What conclusions can you draw at this point?
Now that the first trainee generation has successfully completed the 12 month programme we can proudly announce that the conceptual content of the programme not only makes sense, but also has long lasting benefits for the trainees. The trainees also had the unique opportunity to shape the opening of one of the most successful holiday hotel concepts in the business. They very quickly took over responsibilities at the department manager level.
After basic training sessions - focusing on AGG, HACCP, brand, product and processes - a personal learning and development plan for every management trainee was worked out by an external coach at the beginning of the trainee programme. To ensure an individualised and targeted assessment of each trainee, the MBTI (personality typology) as well as individual and group coaching are integral parts of the programme.
In addition to a "Train the Trainer" seminar that focuses on the day-to-day task of providing support to staff, trainees can freely select from a wide variety of training modules for example, "Personal Management and Time Management" or "Conducting Employee Appraisal Interviews". Trainees also work on a project which they present to management at the end of the programme.
Very personal support from internal colleagues and external partners rounds off the management trainee programme.
The operational emphasis of the management trainee programme has proven to be particularly successful because participants can have very close contact with guests and staff.
Based on the feedback of the first generation of trainees, short slots focusing on "Administration" and "Spa" were integrated into the programme. Ms. Veth significantly contributed to this optimisation of the programme. The trainee programme is an established and ongoing programme in a-ja Resort Warnemünde as well as for all upcoming a-ja Resorts. Ms. Veth was actively involved with the orientation of the next trainee generation and ensured a smooth transition between departments.
When recruiting graduates for you programme what is important to you, what do you look for?
During their studies IUBH students complete a variety of internships. This practical experience combined with the solid theoretical knowledge taught in each study programme is an outstanding foundation.
The applicant should be inspired to show leadership in the field. As host and holiday advisor, management trainees take on responsibilities early on. It is also very important that the applicant is a team player, because we can only be successful as a collective.
Why did you decide to work with the IUBH?
We decided to collaborate with the IUBH because it is a centre of competence for service management with an outstanding reputation. We are convinced by the professional structure of the university. Since we are a pioneer practicing a revolution in the tourism sector, we are pleased to work together with the "best of the best":
How would you assess how the knowledge Ms. Yeth's brought from her studies was beneficial for practical work place applications? Were you satisfied with the knowledge she had from her study programme?
As an innovative new resort product with a high degree of standardisation and clear business objectives, the business background provided in the IUBH study programmes is of great advantage for securing success at the department manager level. At our "3 Generation Resort" with nearly year-round full capacity, the interplay between theory and practice can be optimally applied. The work at the resort is very guest and employee oriented which allows trainees to also gain in-depth insight into the administrative area. An IUBH degree programme provides sound specialist knowledge that qualifies one to join a-ja as a department head and ideally, after successful completion of the management trainee programme, to pursue a career with us.