Hotel Patronus - a Field Project by the Society Oriented Leadership Programme

Yesterday the Leadership Programme (LP) celebrated the completion of the field project, which the students had been working on for the last two months. The closing took place at a wonderful location called Uit je Eigen Stad – a city farm where Rotterdammers can observe, experience and taste fresh farm food. The field project gives students the opportunity to contribute to the growth and development of a local organisation with a societal goal.

It exemplifies one of the ways in which the LP remains socially relevant and contextual. The two coordinators, Ashleigh Woodend and Anastasia Moiseeva, emphasized the fact that leadership skills should not be confined to business and management only but should extend to areas in which we can improve the community and have social impact.

This year, the students worked with Hotel Patronus (HP) – a social enterprise in which youngsters who have come out of youth care receive on-the-job training and a salary at a profit-making hotel. This hotel is currently in its planning phase and is the brainchild of Rotterdammer Xaviera de Jezus, who herself experienced youth care and the difficulties of entering the labour market once leaving that care.

During the event Xaviera de Jezus was joined by two partners also working to develop Hotel Patronus, Bernice Scheurkogel and David-Jan van Gorkom. David-Jan is partner at Uit je Eigen Stad and started the session by telling the audience more about the vision of this social enterprise. This was followed by a presentation by Xaviera and Bernice in which they shared what prompted them to work towards the idea of Hotel Patronus and how significant the contribution of EUC students was for them.

For the past two months, the LP students worked in two teams to develop a marketing strategy that Hotel Patronus could use to attract individuals aged 19- 30. They conducted extensive qualitative and quantitative market research, met and consulted with various stakeholders, including the youth who will work at Hotel Patronus, and applied their academic skills and knowledge.

Team 1 took a bottom-up approach and began by analyzing the unique assets of HP. They went on to identify potential customers and competitors and conducted both qualitative, quantitative and desk research to develop ideas of how HP can best utilize its assets to attract potential customers. The tagline of their research was “Hotel Patronus: Reconciling Opposites” – a theme that was greatly appreciated by Hotel Patronus developers Xaviera and Bernice.  

Team 2 used a structured marketing approach to conduct their research. They applied the 4Ps of the marketing mix (product, price, place, promotion) to frame the output from their qualitative and quantitative research. They collected a significant amount of data by way of a questionnaire and used this to create a profile of the young traveller that Hotel Patronus could appeal to.

The two teams arrived at similar conclusions despite their different approaches, but had some distinguishing aspects, especially in terms of presentation and promotion ideas. Overall, HP will be using both research outcomes to develop their marketing mix and menu of services.

Near the end of the event Anouk Hupkes, founder of De Fakkeltijd and mother to a former Leadership Programme student, and Lieke Zunderdorp, coach and trainer at LosWerkt gave a short address and thanked the students for their hard work. Anouk and Lieke facilitated a number of fun and interactive sessions geared at helping students plan for and reflect on their group processes.

The event closed with Bernice Scheurkogel very generously presenting the LP students and coordinators with vouchers for a stay at Hotel Patronus. How lucky they all are!

While  talking to Gabriel and Ricko, two Rotterdam youth who will likely work at Hotel Patronus, over a very healthy farm lunch, I learnt that they had a good time discussing ideas with EUC students and developing the marketing plan.

It was a pleasure to see that the reconciling opposites motto was valid both because HP wants to attract a wide variety of customers and thus be open to groups that may be perceived by some as opposing, but also because the young people in the project, namely EUC students and HP future youth trainees, come from very different backgrounds while both being part of our future human capital.

We wish HP the best of luck in their endeavours and hope to see the fruits of their hard work very soon!

Hotel Patronus

A Field Project of the Leadership Progamme