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Queenstown Resort College students make it to world finals

Queenstown Resort College students make it to world finals

Four Queenstown Resort College students have been named as finalists in a prestigious global competition after creating a smartphone app concept that acts as a virtual concierge for travellers.

The second-year Hospitality Management Diploma students – Harry Greig, William Clarke, Jesse Raroa-Ward and Willow Lewis – have made it to the final five of the International Accor Hotels Take Off! Competition after battling it out over three rounds against more than 300 international teams.

The achievement is a result of Kiwi ingenuity, teamwork and forward-thinking – plus it’s proof that studying tourism and hospitality can lead to huge opportunities within the tourism industry, QRC chief executive Charlie Phillips says.

The students, who fly all-expenses-paid to Paris next month for the finals, were asked to look at how mobile technologies will transform the hospitality industry and the experience of customers. They’re the only team in the southern hemisphere to make the finals and are up against teams from Switzerland, Thailand, Nigeria and Spain.

In creating an app that acts as a virtual concierge for travellers, the QRC students envisioned a system where users created a profile based on factors such as age and interests, which was then fed into the app and provided the traveller with tailored options for accommodation, transport and activities. They created the concept and app design, and made a video to demonstrate how it works.

Student Harry Grieg thinks the competition shows how important technology is becoming in the hotel industry: “We’ve grown up with this technology, but the implications for the industry are huge, and really exciting.

“Hopefully we can go to Paris and take out top prize, it’s a pretty amazing opportunity to represent Queenstown Resort College, and New Zealand.”

As part of the competition rules, students were not allowed to ask for technical help from their tutors. And while they were able to use the College as a sounding board, the work was done wholly on their own.

Phillips believes making it to the final is a huge achievement, and shows the quality of QRC’s students: “This group did this all under their own steam, we didn’t give them any ideas. It just underlines the calibre of the students here – they really are world-class.

“Competitions like this show how many opportunities there are in the tourism industry,” Phillips adds.

“The tourism industry in New Zealand alone is worth $23.5 billion, and employs one-in-10 New Zealanders. Tourism is a career of the future, particularly for those that have an appropriate qualification.”

The team from QRC fly to Paris on June 17, where they will compete against the four other top teams. At this stage they don’t know what the competition will involve, except that it will continue the theme of digital applications in hospitality.

Two of the students are recipients of a scholarship from the Kiwi hospitality-focused philanthropic trust, SixStar, who are delighted with their achievements.

The top prize is an all-inclusive trip to the destination of the winners’ choosing, where they will be staying at a four- or five-star Accor hotel. There are 15 options to choose from, all based in Europe.


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