(MAR. 22)—A student from the College of Home Economics (CHE) Department of Hotel, Restaurant and Institution (DHRIM) emerged as the winner in the 2021 International Council on Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Education (ICHRIE) Hotel Challenge, an online competition that tested participants’ skills in managing a simulated hotel.
Mark Francis Plaza, a 4th year BS HRIM student bested 151 other participants from renowned hospitality institutions all over the world and garnered a score of 181.9, earning not only the top spot but also a $1,000 (around P48,000) prize.
According to Plaza, he learned about the competition through Prof. Raymund Gerard Guerrero of the DHRIM, who encouraged him to join.
Launched in 2019 by American educational company Knowledge Matters, the competition encouraged participants to test their skills at managing a simulated hotel.
Held completely online from Mar. 1 to 12, it was open to college-level students from schools that are institutional members of the ICHRIE.
The ICHRIE is an international nonprofit association working to promote global education, research, service and business in the hospitality and tourism industry. UPD has been part of the ICHRIE through the efforts of ICHRIE’s first Asian and female President Dr. Linda Lagman Hoops, a CHE alumna.
Plaza said for this year’s competition, the simulation — developed in partnership with the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation and Marriott International — was to manage a 10-storey hotel.
Among the participants’ tasks were to set room rates, inventory management, schedule special events like banquets and meetings, and purchasing supplies.
The scores were ranked based on a balanced scorecard that included profitability, customer satisfaction, and employee satisfaction.
Plaza struggled at the competition, juggling classes, an internship, a part-time job and the COVID-19 pandemic, but soon found the task progressively enjoyable and a learning experience. His efforts paid off when he emerged as the winner.
“I want to thank God for good health and giving me strength to balance everything. I thank my family and friends who motivated me during the competition. I am grateful to the faculty of DHRIM for all the learnings through the years that I applied in the competition. I am really grateful for the opportunity and the learnings that I gained. And I hope that more students would be able to experience this kind of hotel simulation, because it is a great avenue to apply the concepts learned about hospitality management. Thank you so much,” he said.