AN aspiring businesswoman from North Wales has scooped a top international prize after winning an Apprentice-style battle to find the hospitality stars of the future.
Ffion Davies from Lixwm in Flintshire impressed judges at the Eurhodip Convention in Israel, with her plan to market a modern hotel using social media hashtags and an interactive smartphone map.
The 21-year-old, who grew up in her parents’ pub, the Pwll Gwyn in Caerwys, has just graduated with a first class honours degree in Culinary Arts from Grwp Llandrillo Menai College in North Wales.
The former Holywell High school pupil was the only UK student to be granted a place the Eurhodip hospitality and tourism convention, after she beat off stiff competition from scores of entries to the convention’s annual Marianne Muller prize.
Representatives from nine countries each won an all-expenses paid trip to the convention in Tel Aviv, and while there they got to battle it out for first prize.
In an Apprentice-style strategic management task, the student delegates were challenged to promote a fictional hotel and trying to increase its occupancy levels.
Ffion was teamed up with two fellow students, one from Lithuania and one from Kazakhstan, and the trio went on to create the winning submission.
Their idea to call the hotel Plan B and market it on-line with the social media hashtag #PlanB was designed to attract tourists who had arrived in town but had yet to find a place to stay.
They also came up with an interactive map, which tourists could load on to their phones using a QR code printed on leaflets and posters around the town, to find their way to the #PlanB hotel.
Ffion said: “The other teams used methods that have been done before whereas we concentrated on social media and using hash tags and QR codes, which the judges liked.
“We had to write a paper on it and then do a presentation and they said our entry was innovative. It was great to go and to win as well and it’s a brilliant thing to have on my CV now that I’m looking for a job.”
As a winner, Ffion was offered the chance to undertake a six week work placement in France, and was presented with a medal at the final event of the conference.
She said: “It was something I would never normally have the chance to do and it definitely changed me.
“It has taught me so much about communication and team work and certainly left a mark on me.
“It was so interesting to hear all these experts with so much knowledge and experience talking about the hospitality industry.”
Now job hunting within the industry she loves so much, Ffion, who lived in her parent’s pub until she was 13, knows that her background has helped her find her vocation in life.
Ffion said: “I have been working since I was 14, in a bakery, then a pub and helping my dad in his deli, but school was just not for me.
“I did my A levels but wasn’t interested in the topics so didn’t do very well.
“Lucky I got enough grades to start a foundation course at Llandrillo College which I then added a year to in order to get a full degree from the University of Bangor.
“The subject was something I loved and was passionate about and suddenly I knew what I was talking about and didn’t feel stupid in the lessons so I was like a different person.
She added: “At the pub my mum did the front of house and my dad was the chef and he now runs a deli and butchery, I suppose hospitality is just in my blood.”
The Eurohdip Convention is an annual gathering of top industry leaders from the world of hospitality.
One of the convention’s founders, Marianne Muller, left funding in her will for a prize fund to encourage student’s innovation and ability to work in multinational teams.
Delegates are encouraged to demonstrate technical expertise, a spirit of innovation and presentation skills.