Edge Hotel School students participate in BLHS2014

John Wagner George Sell Uploaded

They say "he who dares wins".  Well my journey goes something like that. My name is Sunny Basra and my involvement with the event began when I came across the Boutique and Lifestyle Hotel Summit website. As I was in the process of researching for my final year dissertation for the BA (Hons) Hotel Management degree at the EDGE Hotel School, I immediately recognised the intrinsic value of being involved with such an event and the benefits that would inevitably come with our attendance. So I emailed the organisers direct and asked if I could attend, in exchange for for helping out, and to my surprise I got a reply from the vice principal of the school. Was I in trouble? With my head held high, I went to see the vice principal. It went something like this.

VP: "I just found out you contacted the BoHo Summit organisers. Why did you do that?"

Me: "I just thought I'd be cheeky and try to get a free ticket by helping out."

VP: "That is cheeky! Why do you want to go?"

Me: "Two reasons really. Firstly because my dissertation is based around the popularity and characteristics of boutique hotels, so where better to go for research? Secondly, because I can't get over the fact that as the first fully commercialised hotel school in the UK, we should have the opportunity to show what were capable of, and this is the perfect opportunity."

And as they say, the rest is history. What followed was months of careful planning, working closely with my lecturer and mentor Glyn Adams. Recruiting was not easy, especially from my cohort as everyone thought I was crazy going to this event 10 days before our dissertation deadline. 

Ultimately, I ended up with a fantastic team made up of Geanina Lungu, Fatima Bangura, Sam Stratford, Emily Kaye and Emily Bullock, and the BoHo Summit organisers looked after us very well. I believe that as our first ever project with them, we have started a strong relationship that will help future events and future students mutually, fostering a stronger partnership between the industry and its future leaders.

What follows are the accounts of my team, who were instrumental in the success of the event:

The preparation for the summit started months before, when we had a few meetings planning the event, discussing all the important aspects and preparing our marketing material. We toured the hotels to further prepare ourselves for navigating around central London for the tours, which on the day proved to be very useful. Our academic practitioners Glyn Adams and Kelly Vadukar also supported us before and during the event, by offering guidance and making sure we would benefit from this opportunity. 

Day 1
On the first day of events, we had mixed feelings of excitement and nervousness until we were introduced to the hosts Piers Brown and Natalie Taylor. Throughout the day two of us worked alongside Natalie setting up and allocating stands for the exhibitors. Whilst the other four worked with Piers and Boutique Hotel News editor George Sell, showing some of the delegates around a couple of boutique hotels in London, Eccleston Square and Thompson Belgraves. Both as inspiring as each other and bringing their unique spin to the boutique hotel sector.

As the day drew to a close, delegates headed to The Montcalm for cocktails, wine and a chance to network. The room was alive with inspiration, with everyone sharing their thoughts and ideas on the industry. Once all of the delegates had arrived the speed business card swap started, which was a frantic 45 minutes that involved fast-paced conversations and plenty of laughter. After the card swap more drinks and conversation flowed between the delegates in preparation for the next day.

Day 2
We started early, setting up and preparing for the main event. We were allocated jobs such as setting up the stage for the panellists, preparing the reception desk and testing the microphones that would be used later in the day. Around 8:30 we began to greet the guests as they arrived for breakfast while also ensuring the registration process went smoothly. We had to deal with a few unexpected errors such as missing a few name badges, but we managed to handle it promptly. As the delegates were mingling among the exhibitors, the team finished off the final preparations and the summit was then underway. 

The day involved lots of sessions, with international guests speakers from across the boutique hotel sector; including Bill Walshe, CEO Viceroy Hotels; Niki Leondakis, CEO Commune Hotels; Andrew Sangster of hotelanalyst.co.uk and the keynote speaker, John Quilter who "re-booted" his life from a top restaurateur, to becoming the renowned Food Busker and is now working alongside Jamie Oliver and launching his organic coffee company, CRU Coffee.

The sessions varied from a panel interview on the importance of introducing spas into boutique hotels, country house hotels, and the importance of loyalty schemes to boutique hotels. During the lunch break, delegates had the opportunity to speak with exhibitors including us at the EDGE Hotel School stand. Everyone was competing for the best 'tweet' prize by using the #BoHoSummit in their tweets throughout the day. There was also a business card raffle at the end of the day where some amazing prizes were being given to the winning delegates, including a three night stay at the ION Hotel in Iceland. We were very impressed with how everyone worked well together, including the staff of the Montcalm hotel, to make the event was a success ensuring people would want to return the following year.

"The overall experience was extremely beneficial for us, it offered us a different perspective of the events organisational process. Besides the experience we gained, we had lots of fun and hopefully we'll collaborate again in the future."
Geanina Lungu 

"I was glad I took the opportunity to be part of the BOHO summit 2014, an event I will never forget."
Fatima Bangura

"My time at the Boutique and Lifestyle Summit 2014 has been an exhilarating experience." -  Sam Stratford

"For the two days we worked at the 2014 Boutique and Lifestyle Summit, we were constantly on the go and loving every moment."
Emily Kaye

"When the EDGE Hotel School had been invited to be part of the Boutique and Lifestyle Summit 2014 I signed up without hesitation: this was an opportunity not to be missed." -  Emily Bullock



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