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This month we would like to introduce you to María de la Concepción Andrés Senante. She is a 21 year old student at the Hotel Management School in Maastricht. She is Spanish, and currently completing her forth year of the Bachelors degree in Hospitality Management. She’ll graduate in July 2023.

During these four years, she represented the Hotel Management School Maastricht in the following hospitality competitions: the Young Hoteliers Summit, the European Mise en Place Cup and the Sustainable Hospitality Challenge. She was also the President of the Student Council for a year and is the External Coordinator of the HMSM Excellence Program.

Maria has been recently appointed Vice Chair of the HSMAI Europe Student Council.

Q: Why did you choose to study Hospitality Management?

A: To bring happiness to people (…) When I was in high school I realised that I love being around people, but what I love most is to make people happy. I try to help out everybody I can and what is important to me is to make sure everyone has a unique experience. By creating these experiences for people that make them happy is what satisfies me. Hence, I decided to pursue this. With time, I realised, that what I am most passionate about is creating something that attracts people, brings them pleasure and wills them to come back. It became clear to me that studying hospitality management would be a field where I can pursue my passions.

Q: Why are you passionate about hospitality? What makes this industry unique?

A: Making people happy. We dedicate our whole lives to ensuring people are happy. We go above and beyond the call of duty to make sure guests have a unique experience. If one is able to execute this well, people will continue to come back and keep enjoying the experience on offer. This is one of my specific interests in this amazing industry, branding in hospitality. To create concept or product in such a way, that people fall in love and come back to experience it again, is one of the most phenomenal things someone can be part of creating.

Q: What are the biggest challenges as a student in hospitality?

A: I believe that the biggest challenge for a student in the hospitality industry is to complete internships. It is no secret that in this industry, much experience is required, which students try to gain through these internships. However, during these experiences, some students do not get the opportunity to learn and gain the required knowledge. Students have encountered some companies that perceive them as only inexpensive labour and those who can do the jobs that their full-time employees do not want to do, which hinders the students the opportunity to learn and grow as young professionals. [SE1] Students that are completing an internship are eager to learn, want to feel useful and be able to make monitored mistakes. In order to raise the level of experience among the younger generations in the industry, these individuals should be given the opportunity to learn and grow in a supportive environment during their internships.

Q: The hospitality industry – as many others – faces the challenge of attracting and retaining talent. Do you have any thoughts on this that you would like to share with us?

A: I believe this challenge has predominantly emerged due to the motivational challenges that the day-to-day employee faces. There are currently many people in this industry with plenty of intrinsic (or internal) motivation to do the job however the hospitality industries’ extrinsic (or external) motivation for employees is lacking compared to other industries. The intrinsic motivation, such as passion for the industry, is prominent. Unfortunately, the extrinsic motivational factors that should be present in a company such as bonuses, vacation days and paid overtime, are slim. This will become a further issue with the upcoming generations as it is shown that they are not satisfied by any job and expectations will only rise. Companies will need to change their values in order to stay successful. I believe by offering extrinsic motivational factors for employees will result in an overall better performance and is the first step to retaining employees is this industry.

Q: Why did you decide to join the HSMAI Europe Student Council?

A: The HSMAI Student Council is a great way to share ideas with industry leaders and have them hear feedback from a students point of view. Aside from this, creating close connections with other students and professionals positively influences my network in the industry. I personally want to make a change and get further involved in our fabulous industry and I believe that the HSMAI Europe Student Council was and still is the best way to do so.

Q: How is HSMAI Europe Student Council helping your studies/students?

A: Being part of the HSMAI Europe Student Council has broaden my scope by interacting with students in my same field but studying at different educational institutions located all over Europe. This interaction has allowed for the connection of industry professionals to reach our generation for the future of hospitality. It has established a mutually beneficial community for current industry leaders and us, students, to learn from one another and grow the industry as a whole.

Q: What is your dream job when you graduate?

A: I would like to work in a branding department and create innovative brands that challenge and change the hospitality industry, including aspects of circular economy and fully sustainable. The reason I would take this direction is because my dream is to one day create a new hospitality brand for younger generations, that can scalable worldwide and change the way people understand hospitality as a whole. I want to leave behind my legacy in hospitality.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

A: I would like to mention that I truly appreciate the opportunities given to me by the HSMAI Europe Student Council. I was able to attend and organize amazing events such as the Hospitality Unlocked event in Breda and the HSMAI Europe Commercial Strategy Week 2022 in London. It is truly a pleasure to be part of the HSMAI community and I am looking forward to creating more special occasions.

Want to get in touch with Maria or other members of the HSMAI Europe Student Council? Don’t hesitate to reach out to!

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