During the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Hotelschool The Hague was proud to be represented at the Holland Heineken House by several students and Alumni. Two students, Elke Jacobse and Mitchell Arnst shared their experience with us.
It was quite a tough selection, out of over 2700 applicants only 800 made it to the first round, from which 220 people were selected. The selection process had three steps: first the application where we had to send our motivation letter and a photo of ourselves. When we passed it, we got invited to do an online personality/capability test and later on at the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam we had one-on-one interviews and photo sessions throughout the day. At the end of the day we received a letter with the invitation to Rio. We noticed that being a Hotelschool The Hague student really helped us through the selection, since we had an idea what Heineken is looking for: people that have a passion for hospitality and who are capable of working under pressure and show professional attitude.
Prior to the Olympic Games we received training to make sure that we represent Heineken to its fullest. That included a set attitude towards guests, the information we were allowed to share, where to go in Rio and which places to avoid. Having such a great training really made us feel safe. We arrived in Rio 4 days before the games started and helped building the bars and restaurant set-up. Heineken was covering our flight to Rio de Janeiro, the hotel at Copacabana beach and our meals throughout the day. On top of which, we were provided 250 bikes to use for the way to the Heineken House and back to the hotel.
Holland Heineken House (HHH) is known for being the best and most celebratory houses of all. While other nations only provide catering and a gallery with the Olympic participants, the HHH also invites famous Dutch artists. The goal of the HHH is to create a home away from home for Dutch people. It was interesting to see the reaction of international guests coming to HHH; I think they really did not expect to have such extravagant and great celebration ceremonies.
The HHH had a lot to offer, besides the basketball field and a swimming pool, several bars, the restaurant, a Panini bar, and a BBQ bar were provided. It was very interesting to see how they created such an environment. The vibe at the house was incredible; especially the ceremonies were very emotional and beautiful.
What they do at the Heineken House is unique compared to other Houses. Nobody else does it like Heineken and it was such a privilege to be part of it.
You almost can’t describe how nice it was. The vibe was amazing; it was a mixture of athletes being extremely focused, excited and relieved. Our experiences from Hotelschool The Hague really helped in regards to etiquette; how to serve people in the right manner, how to manage VIPs, and how to work under pressure. Those who have never really worked in the hospitality industry perceived it much more challenging and tougher than we did.
Heineken really took care of us. We were offered sport sessions in the morning to keep us fit and prepare us for long working hours. Working at the HHH never felt like working, everyone was always in a good mood and we were one big team that always did things outside work together and even went to Handball and Hockey games.
It was eye-opening to see the contrast between rich and poor. While staying at a hotel at Copacabana beach on the 13th floor we were overlooking the Favelas of Rio. During our time in Rio we did a tour through the Favelas with a guide who used to live there.
We would usually get up around noon and sometimes go to the beach before work. We would take the bike from the hotel to the HHH and would have lunch together, then change into our uniforms and start preparing the restaurant. Around 6 PM guests would start to arrive making the house busy until 12 AM. After that we would go for drinks with all colleagues or join the ceremony. The team spirit was great, we were all very motivated and working hard to make the best out of our stay. Even though we had management teams around, we also managed ourselves. Both of us worked in the VIP restaurant, which only catered for people that got invited to the restaurant. It was great that we had learnt at Hotelschool The Hague how to cater VIPs and provide a high-standard service.
Most of my colleagues attended a hotel school and six of us are currently studying at Hotelschool The Hague. Working with all of them was easy, because you knew what they are capable of and it made the work process very smooth. Especially when the King and Queen of the Netherlands came to visit and dined at the VIP restaurant. We, the hotel school students received a lot of positive feedback and were said to have exceeded their expectations. My studies at Hotelschool The Hague definitely gave me a solid knowledge of service standards and work efficiency. Looking back on the experience, I can say that it genuinely enriched me. It was great working in an international environment and applying all my learnings in practice, both the managerial skills as well as the soft skills came in handy.
This article was provided by Hotelschool The Hague. Learn more about their Bachelors and Masters in Hospitality Management.