How I am pursuing my dream of combining my passions for hospitality and design?

3 Jul, 2018

Design concepts play an important role in the hospitality industry as it is critical to attract and retain customers.

Discover how EHL student, Savanna Gfeller is pursuing her two passions.

Could you introduce yourself a bit?

I’m Swiss and American, but grew up in Switzerland. I was immersed in the international community in my home town so I kind of feel neither really Swiss or American, yet both at the same time. In my free time you’ll find me wandering around with my camera, cooking or hitting up coffee shops with some friends.

Why did you choose EHL?

I actually wanted to study something design related, like visual communication, interior design or architecture. I ultimately chose to head in another direction and pursue hospitality as I was working in the hospitality industry and really felt comfortable being surrounded by an ever changing and unpredictable environment. One day I would like to combine my interests of design and hospitality. And when I visited EHL, I saw the endless possibilities of hospitality and how the curriculum and environment at EHL could provide me with the tools to pursue whatever I wanted. Now that I am interning in real estate, I have been exposed to hotel architecture and have been involved in the visual marketing of hotel properties. So my interests are already merging even though I haven’t graduated yet.

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You’re currently conducting your internship at the prestigious American real estate company, JLL in their Bangkok based office. Tell us a little bit about it?

I actually hadn’t set myself on finding an internship in Bangkok, let alone Asia, as I did my first operational internship in Tokyo, Japan. Instead I was focused on finding an internship in a field that I was currently interested in. I was drawn to hotel real estate because I wanted to learn what goes into developing and managing hotel’s biggest tangible asset, it’s property. My tasks are varied, as I am interning in both the advisory and investment sales teams. However, both departments involve a lot of research, that means either evaluating data on hand, conducting site inspections or calling up contacts to gather data. Further, I help assemble and compose reports for hotel development, market research, feasibility studies, financial valuations and investor briefings. Recently, I conducted field work with a colleague on a development feasibility study for which I composed the report independently.

What made you want to see a different aspect of hospitality? 

I believe hospitality can be found and applied to nearly any industry in some shape or form. This is what is great about EHL, as hospitality is not seen to be limited to traditional hotel and restaurant occupations. As I am more interested in project related work, development and creating new content rather than managing what is already established, I was keen on discovering another side of hotels and hospitality apart from operations. As I am really enjoying my internship now and have been learning so much, I could imagine continuing in this field upon graduation.

In what way does EHL help you be successful in the real estate industry? And why?

The field of real estate requires knowledge from a variety of fields. People I work with have backgrounds in law, economics, finance and architecture to name a few. So naturally, any background related to real estate can add value. Understanding a hotel and it’s operations is vital for working in the field of hotel real estate, and having studied worked in hospitality for a little time has definitely added insight that I can share.

When looking back at your first months at JLL, what was the most memorable experience to date?

There are many memorable moments. I have had the opportunity to travel with my colleagues for work to destinations such as Krabi and Phuket. But one moment that made me feel a sense of achievement was when I got to put my name on a development report as an author for a project I had worked on autonomously. It’s just a small detail, but I put in many hours of work and being recognized for your hard work really pays off.

Any recommendations for future students?

Once you arrive at EHL you will soon notice that it’s really not about where you come from. The school is a big melting pot of cultures which allows exchange between people who have different ways of thinking. Important is to be open minded and always try to learn from others along the way.

Author: Florence Stupnicki, EHL Bachelor Student 

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