IMHI Class of 2016-2017

IMHI Class of 2016-2017
Class of 2016-2017

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Shangri-La Hotel, Paris: It’s in their nature

By Gabriella de la Torre, MBA in Hospitality Management, Mexico & USA, 2012-2014 2nd Year

“Service which is rendered without joy helps neither the servant nor the served. But all other pleasures and possessions pale into nothingness before service which is rendered in a spirit of joy.” - Mahatma Gandhi

Upon arriving to the employee entrance of the Shangri-La Hotel, Paris we were warmly welcomed by Human Resources Intern, Célia Daude, who led us through the winding passageways and staircases of the back of the house. Walking among the bustling activity of the hotel’s employees, we were greeted by a cascade of shining smiles and Bonjours until arriving to a quiet conference room. Here, Training and Recruitment Assistant, Audrey Bonhomme, shared the history of the hotel brand and its Parisian property and further explained what it means to be part of the Shangri-La family.

Of particular interest was her presentation of one of the company’s most renowned marketing campaigns that features wolves caring for a man in a bitter, cold and desolate environment. This advertisement that highlights the mantra of “treating a stranger as one of one’s own,” served to demonstrate the service qualities that characterize the group’s employees. Furthermore, Ms. Bonhomme explained how this idea of family-like service ultimately determines and shapes the group’s hiring strategies, which focus on finding candidates who embody a spirit of warm authenticity and who are ready and willing to go the extra mile to make their guests feel at home.

After our discussion with Ms. Bonhomme, our two hosts led us on a tour of the five-star property. Originally serving as the home for Napoleon Bonaparte’s grandnephew, Prince Roland, the Shangri-La Hotel, Paris boasts an impressive view of the City of Lights’ most famous monument, the Eiffel Tower. We caught glimpses of this landmark through the windows of the property’s stunning meeting space, the majority of which is registered under the protection of the country’s historical monuments. We were then led through the public spaces, the hotel’s wellness retreat and the many food and beverage outlets, including L’Abeille, the two Michelin star French restaurant. Finally, we had the opportunity to visit two of the property’s 101 rooms, which feature rich textures and fusion of European and Asian décor.

We left the steps of the luxury hotel with a greater understanding of the property’s uniqueness in the Parisian market and a reminder of the value that comes with serving customers with a spirit of joy, reminiscent to that felt when welcoming a loved one into one’s own home.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Project Development and Construction: Hotel Design from a Managerial Perspective

By Ioanna Prousali, MBA in Hospitality Management, Greece, 2014-2014 2nd Year

“When designing a hotel I don’t think about my client, I focus on my client’s client, meaning the person that will use the hotel…” Aurelio Vazquez Duran

In the hospitality industry most of the people involved have a strong belief that we have to provide to our guests a home away from home. But when it comes to hotel design and architecture, a distinguished architect’s opinion: “I do not think that when in a hotel you have to feel “at home”, on the contrary, you have to get the feeling that you are definitely elsewhere…” may summarize the other side’s opinion.

The goal of the Project Development and Construction course is to introduce us to the fascinating world of hotel design and architecture from a managerial perspective. Throughout the lectures, the students learn the steps of development, the construction process, and the involvement of various parties. Architecture and design elements concerning the plans and the drafts are presented. The importance of functionality, sustainability and cost efficiency is also underlined. Hotels are designed from the inside out to ensure the practical functionality and relationship of its parts.

The course’s objective is not to transform us into hotel design and architecture experts. It is something perhaps more simple and relevant to hospitality management. By introducing us to each and every step of the development process through real examples and case studies, we gain the necessary knowledge to be able to efficiently accomplish a hotel construction, conversion or refurbishment.

The same standards underlie the project we have to undertake for the course; a real-time development plan that includes the conversion of an existing historical building into an operational hotel. Working in groups, after reviewing layout plans and undertaking research and feasibility studies, we have to act as consultants and advise the building owner on the most appropriate operating company to contract with for hotel operations and to gain the most beneficial and sustainable return on investment.

According to a renowned architect, all projects are the result of the correct mix of creativity, functionality, originality, innovation and quality. The purpose of the assignment and the course in general is not only to teach us about project construction and development, but also to learn to coordinate and lead people with different ideas, to overcome difficulties, and to be proactive.

Monday, February 17, 2014

CHASE-ing Profits and RevPAR in a Virtual Market

By Gabriella de la Torre, MBA in Hospitality Management, Mexico & USA, 2012-2014 2nd Year

“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.” - C.S. Lewis

One of the required courses as part of our studies is Hospitality Managerial Accounting. Aside from following the textbook and sharing recent case studies from prominent hotel consulting companies, Professor Bob Kastner forces us to learn from experience, specifically through Cornell Hotel Administration Simulation Exercise (CHASE).

This program creates a virtual hotel market complete with seasonality, different customer segments and its own stock market. Each team of four to five students is then in charge of managing their own hotel in this market, competing with other teams for the most room nights sold, the largest profits and the most satisfied guests. As the hotel managers, we are able to determine room rates, marketing and advertising budgets for each particular segment, wages and number of employees, among other variables. Ultimately, by strategically making decisions, each team is able to determine whether it will be budget or upscale hotel in the market and the type of service that each hotel will provide for its respective guests.

When asked about what he expects his students to draw from their experience with CHASE, Professor Kastner highlights the benefits stemming from working in a team and practicing key decision-making that we may experience in the real world.
“The CHASE was originally developed to provide a group dynamic or team building exercise for students and hotel industry participants to engage in topics related to decision making for hotels at the unit level. The use of CHASE in the Hospitality Managerial Accounting course is for students to practice the various managerial topics discussed during the course such as decision-making and the analysis and interpretation of financial information.”
He also explains the valuable insight and practice that can be gained from working with the various financial statements and believes that this virtual exercise complements the Financial Accounting course that students take in their first trimester at IMHI.
“When teaching the Financial Accounting course it is difficult to convey the idea that the financial statements are animated. One of the best things about using the CHASE is that it animates the Income Statement and the Balance Sheet through the quarterly report feedback and provides repetition for students to practice and improve their analytical skills."
Part of the difficulty of this exercise comes in anticipating changes in the market and the decisions of one’s competitors… Just like in the real world. It is through experiencing the different challenges and setbacks that can occur in this virtual world that we have been able to gain a greater understanding of what may await us after graduation. Living the ups and downs and facing the consequences of our mistakes in this game teaches us valuable lessons that will stick with us well into the future.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Away from Cergy, the IMHIs play

By Gabriella de la Torre, MBA in Hospitality Management, Mexico & USA, 2012-2014 2nd Year

“A walk about Paris will provide a lesson in history, beauty, and in the meaning of life.” - Thomas Jefferson 

As a student at ESSEC, there are a multitude of attractions and places to visit just a 40-minute train ride into Paris, and even despite all the deadlines and obligations we have back in Cergy-Pontoise, we are able to find time to explore and enjoy the City of Lights. From museum exhibits to restaurants, IMHI students can benefit from a number of unique experiences that the city has to offer.

Here is a glimpse into a week of exploration for an IMHI student:


In celebration of the Chinese New Year, the Grand Palais, an exhibition hall located on the Champs-Elysées, hosted “Nuit de Chine.” This international soirée featured performances from a Franco-Chinese DJ and a number of up-and-coming food trucks that shared their Chinese delicacies with attendees. The exhibition hall, originally built for the 1900 Universal Exposition, was magnificently draped in linens that also served as projection screens for videos presenting Chinese landscapes and the everyday lives of Chinese people.

We truly enjoyed this modern perspective on China set in such an emblematic and grandiose venue. Fellow IMHI student, Alexandra Apaclla, who is studying Introduction to Mandarin, also relished the chance to further her interest in this particular language and culture.


We embarked on another museum visit, but this time on the other side of the Seine. Particularly known for its collection of works from famous artists including Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet, the Musée d’Orsay extends its opening hours to 9:45 PM every Thursday evening. (This is just one of the many museums that offers free admission to students, a benefit to be taken advantage of!)

Walking through the museum that was once a railway station in the early 1900’s, we saw a multitude of paintings offering a view into different times, places and realities. Along the north side of the building, windows revealed the ebb and flow of the Seine and further beyond, the many lights of the city. After spending some time in the museum, we decided to take a stroll along the river and stumbled upon the Pont des Arts, one of the Seine’s 37 bridges offering yet another unique view of Paris.


After a long day of Managerial Accounting and Strategic Marketing classes, we were famished. We took the train back into Paris and racked our brains for possible dining options. One of us had recently heard of a trendy new burger place located in the 9th district, and so we made our way there in the rainy Parisian evening.

Upon arrival at Le Big Fernand, we saw a long line of customers waiting to order their hamburgés and fries. We finally sat down at the restaurant’s communal tables, rubbing elbows with people from all over the world. Local Parisians and international visitors alike had flocked to Le Big Fernand to try their delicious burgers.

We walked back out in the night with full stomachs, reveling in the many things the city has to offer and putting aside all thoughts of papers, exams and homework assignments… If only for a few moments.