We catch up with Bill Heath, the brains behind Hotel Takeover:

20 Years of Passing on the Passion for Hospitality with Kew Green Hotels Hotel Takeover

Today marks the start of the 20th anniversary of our award-winning scheme “Hotel Takeover”. Beginning at our Holiday Inn Norwich North property, Hotel Takeover has become a global initiative supported by our franchise partner, IHG and we are proud that from its humble beginnings, the programme now offers work experience for thousands of students annually.

Hotel Takeover is a programme which is designed to encourage more young people to work in the hospitality industry. Over the course of one week, the students will run a range of aspects across the hotel – from checking in guests at reception, to serving food and beverages, even running the housekeeping and room service. Students are all shadowed by hotel team members and have the opportunity to gain practical experience of running a busy, fully functioning hotel, to complement their classroom based training.

To celebrate 20 years of Kew Green Hotels passing on the passion for hospitality, we caught up with the founder of the programme, the brains, the father of Hotel Takeover… Bill Heath, General Manager at our Holiday Inn Norwich City property:

Bill, where did Hotel Takeover all begin?

“I came up with the idea and all I had to do was convince a couple of the lecturers at the college to give it a go. I’d already done something similar when I lived in Lancashire which was so much fun and so successful so, of course, I really wanted to do it again with City College. Whilst they were originally a little reticent it turned out to be a great day and it went on from there!”

What is the scheme designed to achieve?

“The scheme has helped to bring Hotels and Hospitality to the forefront of people’s minds. Many of the parents used to think that the catering industry was a ‘dead end’ job, a last resort; but through Hotel Takeover highlighting the career prospects and possibilities, they realised that there are some brilliant opportunities if you work hard.”

What success has the programme seen over the years?

“Some ex-participants have gone on to achieve success within the industry, including our very first student General Manager who now has her own company which specialises in getting young people into hospitality. Other successes include our very own Director of Revenue at Hilton, and a number of student HODs and Head Chefs who have been through the programme.”

We then asked Bill what Hotel Takeover means to him personally:

“It’s a vehicle to get youngsters into our industry. I’m really proud that, last year in particularly, Hotel Takeover was recognised as something we should all be doing and we should all be getting involved in. Without the next generation on-board, especially with Brexit looming, we’ll struggle even more to get people into this amazing industry.

Being recognised and winning the ‘Developing People’ award was also a really proud moment for me as it felt like all of the hard work and effort had finally paid off!”

The “Bigger-Picture”.

In the face of future recruitment challenges, we believe its important for hospitality leaders to think about how we encourage the future generation of young people into a career in Hospitality.  This is not an overnight solution, its about building pipelines of future talent which takes time – but that doesnt mean you cant enjoy the journey!

If you want to get involved with Hotel Takeover – Bill gives you his top tips:

“Get in touch with your local college now! Form the relationship and keep it growing, Hotel Takeover is not about one week a year, it’s about a thriving relationship between your hotel and your local education supplier. Students have to do a minimum of 48 days a year work experience and we can help them to facilitate this whilst looking at the talent coming through, hopefully employing them in the future.”