Learning outside the classroom is an effective way to put theory into practice, as Curtin students Lexie Edwards and Victor Vermeer discovered when their pitches for innovative stadium tours provided a direct pathway to their professional journey.
It all began with an opportunity presented by Optus Stadium – a student project within the unit Dynamics of Hospitality Industry Management – that involved developing a stadium tour program for the newly built facility.
With parameters outlined and guidance provided by Head of Business Development Mick Doherty, student teams created innovative ideas for a tour program, with the top three groups in the class presenting their ideas to Mr Doherty at the end of the semester.
“The first task was to research a current stadium tour. We chose the Western Australian Cricket Association (WACA) Ground as there aren’t too many case studies to draw from in WA. This allowed us to analyse their tour program and develop ideas for the next part of the project which involved a presentation from Mr Doherty and thorough review of the client brief”, Edwards explains.
“The brief outlined the role the tours would play in the organisation and their overall objectives and goals. Our group utilised this opportunity to develop innovative and interactive tours as the stadium had no history or memorabilia.”
Edwards’ strategy impressed Mr Doherty so much that she recently secured a full-time position at the Stadium as a Park & Tours Coordinator.
“Working at the Stadium has been so much fun! Having worked on the stadium tours basically from August 2017 at Curtin Uni, the transition into this role has been easier as the knowledge and understanding is already there from the assignment. It hasn’t been an easy role, each day challenges pop up as our organisation has many departments, activities and stakeholders. Communication is certainly a key part in making sure Stadium Tours run smoothly.
We have 20 passionate tour leaders delivering our tours program and I’m really enjoying working with them all.”
Victor Vermeer’s group was also selected to present to Mr Doherty, and Vermeer found that the project gave him the chance to truly put theory into practice.
“This project covers so many different segments of the hospitality industry for example research, market segmentation, strategies, pricing/revenue and developing and delivering of offers. With some units, you wonder how these items would implemented in the real world. We were able to implement them straight away during our project”, says Vermeer.
Upon completion of the project, Vermeer was offered a one-month internship, and currently works on a casual basis at the stadium.
“This internship has allowed me to meet many tourism industry members including Tourism WA, Inbound Tourism Operators and accommodation providers. It’s given me a unique insight into the industry, how the relationships in the tourism and hospitality industry work and how the tourism industry in WA operates”, he explains.
Unit coordinator Dr Sean Lee has no doubts that the project was an invaluable experience for all students involved, introducing them to the tasks and challenges they will encounter when they enter the workforce.
“Overall, the feedback from students was extremely positive. Many said they were thrilled and excited to be working with a real-life industry client, especially one like Optus Stadium. It was a way of challenging themselves to put all the academic knowledge they accumulated throughout their degree toward a working and implementable outcome. For many, the idea of actually being able to see their ideas manifest in a real product was most appealing. The formative and consultative nature of the project, with weekly consultations with the teaching staff to build and develop their ideas, was also something that students found helpful and engaging.”