Story #32 Marilieke

How I looked at the hospitality industry when I was young: operational goals

  • 17.10.16

Marilieke Elings (alumna), is director of sales and marketing for Lapithus hotel management, Holiday Inn in Amsterdam and the Crown Plaza in Hoofddorp and this is her #NHTVStory:

”I started studying in 2001, so we were the first students actually that year that started the Hotel Management study of NHTV. The first year was -well for me- quite a special experience to start because I just finished high school. I was very young and we came there all together from different parts of the country but the majority of the people came from the southern part of the Netherlands. Some people had done some different studies already; some people came straight from high school, so we were like a mixture together. There were 90 students at first and we all went for the introduction camp as well, so we were all together for the first three or four days together at the big NHTV. We felt like a group from the beginning.

For the teachers it was their first experience as well to teach Hotel Management. And I think that was what created the bond between the students and teachers because we were all searching for the content of the studies.

We started with Dutch for the first three or four months and then NHTV decided to become an international education, so we swapped to English. The first year we didn’t have international students yet, or maybe one. The second year it was the same, where it is now 50% of all the students are international. It all changed completely. The first year, we didn’t have our own kitchen yet. We went for cooking classes to the Rooi Pannen in Tilburg. We started to create a reception desk and we actually grew on food and beverage as we helped in the cantina, making sandwiches and selling them during lunch hours, so it was completely different than I guess it is right now.

Now I am the director of sales en marketing for the Holiday Inn and as well the Crown Plaza in Hoofddorp, it is part of the Lapithus Hotel Management, which is an owning company.

When I started Hotel Management, I was seventeen years old, so I was very young and I only had experience in restaurant operations and this was my main aim. I was very hospitality driven and I thought, I am going to do this study for four years and then I am able to open up my own restaurant or something. And actually that plan changed over the course of years. In the end I did five years of Hotel Management. My first job was a sales manager function in Brussels, working on international markets. Something completely different than operations, which I couldn’t first see when I was seventeen. My main focus was operations and I didn’t see the whole strategy and the analysis part behind it.

Originally I started and my main goal: opening my own restaurant. Really an operational goal, but this is how I looked at the hospitality industry back then. Now my role, fifteen years later, is much more analytical, focused on profit, revenue and yielding but also working in different industries. I always have to look for new market trends and different segmentation, so it is very strategic and not at all operational anymore.

And that it is what I got to see over the course of years. I started working and it is basically like getting your driver’s license. And that is how I see NHTV. I learned all those tactics and I gained so much information, but I did not know what to do with it.”

As soon as I started working, ‘what i would describe as driving’, I learned the tricks. From then I really understood the whole picture.