First Project Meeting

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Project to enhance the skills of EU hotel staff

The opening meeting of this two-year project was held early in November in Dubrovnik, the “pearl of the Mediterranean” in southern Croatia, It was organized by the co-ordinating institution, the Tourism & Catering School, Dubrovnik, and attended by partners from the other participating countries: Italy, Latvia, Romania, Slovenia and the UK.

This new EU project is a spin-off from the latest Tick-Tack software created by Primrose Publishing in Wethersfield, south of Saffron Walden, who are one of the partners. The company has been developing computer software programs for teaching and learning languages for over 30 years and now offers 36 programs covering 50 languages. They are used by universities, schools, companies, and hotels throughout Europe and beyond. Primrose was one of the first to market language programs and the first to offer one for Chinese, developed in collaboration with Cambridge University..

The software for the new project is called “Guest Questions”: three programs containing questions asked by guests at the reception desk in hotels at 3 separate locations: one in a rural village, one at the seaside and one in the mountains at a ski resort. A further program contains 120 questions asked by guests in a restaurant. Altogether there are over 600 questions. They are already in 7 languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Greek. A smartphone app is already available. During the project, all the questions will be put into the other 5 languages of the partners:  Croatian, Hungarian, Latvian, Romanian and Slovenian.

The first creative work of the project is to create “two alternative replies to all these guest questions” and to put them into a software program on DVD and into smartphone apps. Their purpose is to help hotel employees, trainees and students to improve their ability to deal efficiently and courteously with guests who approach them with questions, and to enhance their own language skills. Like much of the material created in the project, they will be in all 12 languages. The program and apps will be released under the name “Front Desk”.

The project will produce guidelines and provide a wealth of valuable insights into cultural sensitivities and differences between different European countries and the principal countries outside Europe where visitors come from, with in-depth guidance on what one should do and say, and what one should avoid doing and saying, in different countries and contexts, and when talking to foreigners.

A web-site will be developed to contain everything that is created during the project including a learning program which will be available on-line and on DVD. It will be in two parts:

  1. material in 12 languages embracing the answers to guest questions;

     giving directions for finding your way in a town; and a set of

     presentations for promoting the hotel.

  1. a series of modules in English for enhancing the skills of hotel managers and senior staff in areas such as staff recruitment, marketing the hotel, international collaboration, managing the staff, and attracting guests.

Three detailed digital maps will be created showing the hotels in the three locations (village, seaside and mountains), with hundreds of points of interest, each with a hyperlink. Clicking on any of them will open a window giving information about it.  They will be three-dimensional maps, which should look stunning, prove hugely motivating and be fun to use.

In the learning program, the user (hotel employee, trainee or student) will be confronted by a guest asking a question in one of the languages. such as “What time is the next bus to the station”, or “Is there a restaurant in the village”. Clicking on the bus-shelter or the restaurant will provide details. The user then has to answer the guest, giving those details “in the language spoken by the guest” – or, failing that, in English. A digital map of a small market town and digital plans of three hotels will also be created.

Project partners:

Tourism and Catering School Dubrovnik (Croatia)

IPSSA Nino Bergese (Italy)

Turiba University (Latvia)

Universitatea Sapientia din Cluj-Napoca (Romania)

Ekonomska šola Murska Sobota (Slovenia)

Primrose Publishing Ltd (UK)