Back in November 2019, we shared a live webinar with Vancouver Hospitality instructor, Chantal Jones, and two of her students, Zach and Liz. Read on for a summary of their discussion about the Hospitality program, including field trips, pathways and what it’s like to be a student at CTC.
First, a bit about Chantal Jones
Chantal: I have been in hospitality my entire life, basically. My first job was in housekeeping at a little hotel called the Homestead Hotel, on the side of a highway in a little town called Brendale in Saskatchewan. Eventually I started taking marketing courses and ended up doing more housekeeping all though school and eventually found myself in Vancouver. I had visited before, realized that there’s no snow in December, and decided to stick around in this beautiful city. So here I am. I actually did a co-op program here to start. I worked at the Century Plaza hotel; I did reservations, switchboard, front desk and eventually got myself across the street to the beautiful Wall Centre Hotel, where I found myself a wonderful home and an amazing mentor who saw me through most of my 16-year career there. I did branch out a bit during those 16 years. For a couple of years I was the front office manager at the Westin Bayshore, and I had the opportunity to be the assistant general manager at Amica in West Vancouver, which is a retirement community. Then I returned to the Wall Centre. So when I was at the Sheraton, I went from front desk, to some overnight experience on night audit, (a very awesome experience, that’s where you learn how to be tough) and eventually I was promoted to supervisor and then to assistant front office manager. Assistant front office manager is really where you prove yourself in a hotel career, it’s a tough position. I did that for five years and then, just in time for the 2010 Olympics, we opened the Westin Wall Centre in Richmond, and I was promoted to front office manager. So I got to be the front office manager in the largest hotel in the Olympic host city which was quite amazing. One of the most thrilling and difficult experience of my career, for sure. And eventually I was transferred as director of rooms at the Westin Wall Centre hotel, so that was my most recent experience. I’m fairly fresh out of the industry, I just joined CTC in July, and now here I am with two of my students from my second cohort, so I’m excited to be here!
Zach and Liz, why don’t you tell us a bit about where you’re from and why you joined us here at CTC?
Zach: I’m Zach, and I’m from Bermuda. I actually went to school originally in Nova Scotia, big mistake, because of the blizzard season and that it’s always snowing. So I went home and for a while I was like, “what do I do?!” I got a position at a hotel and that’s kind of why I’m here, that definitely changed my life, in terms of the pathway I wanted to take, so I was there for two seasons and then wanted to come out here and get some extra experience.
Liz: Hi everyone, I’m Liz, I’m from Vietnam. I don’t have a lot of experience in the hotel and restaurant industry, but I’m really interested in learning more about it so that’s why I choose CTC. When I first heard about CTC, I was like, “I have to apply to that school!” because first year is knowledge-based and then the second year you have your co-op which will help you gain experience if you plan to work in a hotel.
Chantal: Canadian Tourism College has been preparing students for exciting careers in travel and tourism for almost 40 years, so this school is very well-established and well-known for it’s high-quality candidates coming out into the industry. Tourism is a huge industry in BC and Vancouver and we have lots of opportunities within the tourism and hospitality sectors in the city and the surrounding areas. CTC is designated by the Private Institutions Branch and meets the standards of the Education Quality Assurance designation. We have travel and tourism, hospitality and flight attendant programs and co-op options are available. Speaking through experience, having done a co-op myself, it’s an excellent opportunity to get that work experience and still be supported by the school.
This is our class down at the Jack Poole Plaza down at the Olympic Torch. We went down there during our restaurant operations services module, checking out different restaurants in the area and seeing the different types of services provided. We believe in hands-on learning, so, getting out into the city and experiencing things for yourself. Especially for some of us who aren’t familiar with the city, it’s important to become familiar with what Vancouver has to offer for our visitors. Visiting hotels, meeting industry professionals and really getting a sense of what is this industry all about.
So we’ve been talking a lot about mountain resorts in the past couple days. We’re currently studying resort management and I’ve been talking a lot about Whistler. So we do take our Hospitality students out to Whistler to see the resort, this is about an hour and a half drive north of the city of Vancouver. It plays a big part in our local industry and it’s a huge attraction not only for visitors going straight to Whistler to ski or snowboard, but also for people stopping in the city of Vancouver on their way there. So I think it’s a great opportunity and I can’t wait to take you guys up there. It’s absolutely stunning and breathtaking, and we’ll have a lot of fun of course doing it because we have a lot of fun doing whatever we do!
Another amazing opportunity that we have coming up in January is to work at the AME conference. The Association of Mineral Exploration BC Roundup is one of the biggest conferences in the city. I actually remember these conferences from my days in the hotels, it would fill up the rooms and was a pretty big deal in the city, and a really great demographic to deal with as well. We will actually be running the registration desk at the Vancouver Convention Centre in January, so it’s a great opportunity for the students to gain experience. Especially so for those students who don’t have any work experience. This is something they can put on their resumes, and they’ll get a certificate from AME as well. But it’s also just an amazing experience; they’ll be assisting to check in over 5,000 delegates for this convention! It’s going to be a be a lot of fun, I know I’m excited, I love line ups! (This comes from my days in the hotel industry, when I worked at the Sheraton Wall Centre. It’s one of the largest hotels in the city so I’m very used to volume) So I’m excited to see you guys in that environment and guide you through that. I’ll be there on the floor with them, guiding them through, training them, it’s gonna be a lot of fun. Again through our partnerships with local businesses and associations we are able to help our students have those great hands-on learning experiences.
Chantal: So, what kind of classes do we have in this Hospitality program? We started off with food operations service, so this is where we talked about restaurants, how they run and how to manage them, their overall operation, and where to open one.
The students receive Food Safe training as well. That’s provided through the school so you can get your Food Safe Certification with us as well. We’ve also done Food Operations Management, which is a lot about cooking, so we were really hungry during this one. While we don’t have a kitchen to do any demos, we did enjoy a lot of Gordon Ramsay and Martha Stewart videos! This is a good opportunity to give students exposure to the food operations business both from the front of the house and the back of the house. Because I think that even if you are going to be working the front of the house in a restaurant—serving, bussing, hostess—it’s really important to understand how the kitchen works. And vice versa, so if you’re working in the kitchen, it’s great to understand how the front of house works, (going back to that teamwork!).
We did Hospitality Sales & Marketing recently as well, so a lot of SWAT analysis, we came up with products to market, the students got to come up with a Hospitality product that they wanted to market and then came up with a competitive analysis. We also just finished Accounting. The Accounting course is largely theory-based, there are some equations, but for the most part we really just want students to have the basis of knowledge, especially if you want to get into a supervisory position, you have to understand income, expenses, and operating decisions. And so we talked a lot about all the different considerations that managers are making on a daily basis in the hospitality industry. The reports, income statements, things like that, how they’re generated, how they’re really used in the industry. It’s really important as a manager to understand all that stuff, because you are definitely held accountable!
So Strata and Microsoft Office Suite Programs and Technology and Business Communications, these are the courses that we’ll be doing soon. Right now we’re doing Resort Management. We’re basically exploring the world of resorts together, and sharing our experiences. So far we’ve covered mountain and ski resorts and we moved onto beaches today, so we were looking at some beautiful destinations around the world. And if you’re considering working in a resort, we’ll talk about operational considerations and also how these sites and resorts are actually developed and all the technical things that have to be considered.
In Organizational Behaviour we’re going to talk a lot about that teamwork aspect, and how survive in an organization, it’s basically all about how we think, and how we behave and things like that.
Hospitality Law is a really important one as well. If you’re in the industry, you need to know how not to get in trouble! So things like not over-serving, and privacy protection. I know there’s been a lot of the things in the news lately about data privacy and personal information privacy and things like that and so we’ll be covering a lot of what we need to know when working in the industry when it comes to the law.
Chantal: Okay, so why do we come to school? To get a job! We have industry experts here at our school who are excited to provide as many opportunities as they can to make connections with industry. These are the connections that we have to help you guys get in there and get jobs. Hospitality is an industry where you can get in at the entry level position and work your way up, and the more experience you have, the better. You don’t necessarily have to have experience to get in, especially for those entry-level positions like switchboard, houseman, room attendant, bellman, things like that. It’s an amazing place to start. The great thing about hotels is no matter what position you start in, you are always getting exposed to other areas. So if you watch and learn, ask questions, and make yourself known, and network, (networking is huge!) you’ll find yourself climbing that ladder, like I did.