It’s down to the last details for Hotel and Restaurant Management grad Brittany Stewart

brittany-stewartBrittany Stewart, Hotel and Restaurant Management graduate (Class of 2015), returned to campus on Wednesday to speak with Fleming College students about event planning, education, and gaining real world experience through placement opportunities.

Brittany is the owner of local event planning company Down to the Last Details, where she plans weddings, bridal showers, baby showers, birthdays, holiday parties, and fundraising events. Down to the Last Details has welcomed many Hospitality field placement students to gain real world experience and recently hired Fleming College student Tavlyn Evans as an employee after her placement ended.

On Wednesday, Oct. 11, Hospitality program coordinator Jennifer Rishor welcomed Brittany back to class to discuss her career journey as well as placement opportunities with Down to the Last Details.

“There is no better way to learn about industry ins-and-outs than by working from the ground up,” Jennifer told her students.

Brittany agrees and was happy to spot many familiar faces in the classroom for her guest presentation, as many Hospitality students have already started earning work experience hours through Brittany’s event planning business. Although some event planners are hesitant to take on students due to the 12 to 15 hour event days and hectic schedule, Brittany, who is a certified wedding planner through the Wedding Planners Institute of Canada, welcomes the help and enjoys sharing her knowledge with others.

“I like working with a team. You need someone to talk to and to bounce ideas off of,” said Brittany on the team dynamic of event planning.

Brittany plans events as a sub-contractor for The Ranch Resort in Bethany and Down to the Last Details has a number of corporate clients. She is currently planning a Bridal Show in Peterborough and a fundraiser for the Ashburnham Dog Park. With all that is on the go, Brittany is looking for extra hands to help. “You really end up working as a team base to get things done,” she said.

Her interest in event planning was sparked by the 2001 movie “The Wedding Planner,” and although Brittany claims real event planning is not quite as glamorous as Hollywood portrays it, she did share that real event planners do often smile and pretend to be calm around clients while in the midst of a crisis.

This scenario rang true when Down to the Last Details secured their first contract, which was a destination wedding in Mexico. “The average destination wedding is 20 to 30 people, but we doubled that. I had to start big,” she laughed, recalling that the banquet hall’s air conditioning broke before the reception and she scurried to get it repaired before guests noticed.

With five years of event planning experience now under her belt, including a six-month contract position at Peterborough Musicfest, as well as a Fleming College diploma in Hotel and Restaurant Management and a graduate certificate in Event Management from Algonquin College, Brittany said she is always learning something new. “Every time you have a wedding or event, you’re going to learn from it,” she said.

This includes an array of handy items Brittany has accumulated for a tool belt she wears on event days. “For one wedding, the photographer wanted the bride to walk off the trail in Jackson Park. The bride was laidback and fine with it but her heels were very thin, so I pulled out shoe stoppers from my pack and offered it to her,” said Brittany on the importance of small details when planning an event.

The small details are where Brittany starts with teaching her placement students, which includes proper email etiquette and place settings. “Sometimes you have to go back to the basics.”

Hospitality graduate Alexander Molnar puts passion for travel into action

alexander-molnar-web-photoAlexander Molnar is excited to explore Ontario this fall as a Grad Recruiter for Student Recruitment at Fleming College. Grad Recruiters travel locally and across the province speaking to a variety of audiences – secondary school students, young adults, parents, teachers and school guidance counselors – about Fleming programs, services and facilities.

The travel aspect of the job is well-suited to Alexander because he is a 2017 graduate of Fleming’s two-year Hospitality diploma program, which is aimed at students who want travel, adventure and meeting new people as part of their career plan.

“I am looking forward to being on the road and getting to see the parts of Ontario that I have never seen before,” said the Grad Recruiter. “We live in a beautiful province filled with so many great places and attractions that I have never gotten a chance to fully explore. Although I will be busy talking to folks while I’m out there, I am going to take advantage of every opportunity to visit sites and explore cities.”

His love of exploring is also why Alexander recommends Fleming College to prospective students.

“No matter the course, whether it be in business, trades or arts, all have components outside of your typical classroom,” he said. “One of my favorite days at college was traveling to Toronto with Hospitality and the Tourism students to go see the inside workings of hotels. We got to go underneath the Fairmont Royal York and explore their massive tunnels that run under their facility, as well as visit the penthouse apartment at the Trump Hotel. We got to see what we were getting ourselves into and really immerse ourselves in the world of hospitality. The hands-on and applied learning that Fleming College offers gives you a new way to learn that you won’t get anywhere else.”

Alexander wants to help spread the word about Fleming College because he hadn’t heard of it when starting his post-secondary journey. It was Alexander’s move to Peterborough for Trent University that led him to the local college.

“Coming from Ottawa, the school was new to me when I came to Peterborough,” said Alexander, who switched to Fleming College after the move. “I am so glad I did attend Fleming because the knowledge and experience I gained here I will take with me for the rest of my life.”

The Hospitality graduate praises Fleming as a great school with a friendly campus environment. “All the staff are very approachable and everyone is super friendly,” he said. “Anytime I’ve had a question about classes or need guidance of any sort I’ve always been able to find someone to talk to, whether it’s an instructor or another member of the faculty.”

Alexander gives a special shout-out to the staff at Breaktime, which is credited as his favourite spot on campus. “The ladies there are amazingly nice, always talking to you about your classes or how your day was. They remember you over breaks, even summer, and are the sweetest people,” he said. “Also if you remember your coffee card and get to the free coffee they’ll even do a happy dance for you, which is always great fun.”

Tourism – Global Travel and Hospitality celebrate World Tourism Day

world-tourism-dayToday is World Tourism Day! This day in the United Nations Calendar aims to bring awareness of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value.

“Tourism is so important around the world because it creates employment opportunities and teaches travelers about the different cultures” said Patti Watson, Tourism – Global Travel program coordinator.

“Tourism is wonderful because there is something for everyone to enjoy, at all ages. Whether walking The Great Wall in China, or eating lobster in Halifax or making family memories in Disneyland, the opportunities to explore and try something new are endless,” said Patti.

Patti leads the Travel Based Learning Experience course with Hospitality program coordinator Jennifer Rishor, which features different destinations each year. In April, Hospitality and Tourism – Global Travel students in this course will travel to Jamaica for one week, where they will inspect hotels and resorts, volunteer in the community, visit tourist attractions, and meet local tourism and hospitality industry personnel.

“The Travel Based Learning Experience offers tremendous learning potential for all students. These experiences are designed to introduce students to the destination through both its physical and human geography (topography, history and culture), and to offer a volunteer experience when available” said Jennifer.

The theme of World Tourism Day this year is Tourism for All, which expresses the need for universal accessibility in tourism. This includes accessible tourism for people with disabilities, families with small children, the ageing population, and more. Both program coordinators agree that accessible tourism is an important topic and there is room for improvement in the industry.

“The industry definitely has room to improve in terms of accessibility, as regulations vary widely in foreign countries. There are many disabilities and each person’s needs are a little different, so traveling in un-modified airline seats, hotel rooms and rental cars can prove difficult. It is so important because everyone should be able to enjoy their vacation, whether they are staying local or exploring a new destination.” said Jennifer.

Tyler Lovenuk enjoys the ‘truly global’ hospitality industry

tyler lovenukGrad Highlight: Tyler Lovenuk, Hotel and Restaurant Management, Class of 2013

“Casa de Campo Resort & Villas is a magnificent 7,000 acre resort on the shores of the Caribbean Sea in the Dominican Republic. We have beautiful beaches, amazing dining options and a myriad of activities that you can do while staying with us. My job as Regional Director of Sales, based in Ottawa, is to travel all over and meet with people to get them excited about it, so that they will choose us for their next trip. I also spend a lot of time working with our corporate clients to organize conferences at Casa de Campo with companies from around the world. My most memorable experience thus far would be attending a sold out concert in our 5,000 seat outdoor amphitheatre in Altos de Chavon, our 16th Century Mediterranean village that feels like Italy.

The Hotel and Restaurant Management (since renamed “Hospitality”) program at Fleming has a very hands-on approach. We were given the chance to experience life in the hospitality industry over the course of all three years of the program, which is key because you can’t experience the industry unless you’re seeing with your own eyes how the relationships work between guests and the property where they are staying. My program coordinator always encouraged us to reach out to industry professionals in all aspects of our education.

After graduating from Fleming, I took advantage of the new articulation agreements signed between Colleges Ontario and Ireland. I travelled to Ireland where I completed my Bachelors of Business in Tourism and Hospitality Management at the Athlone Institute of Technology. Combining the hands-on, real world education I received from Fleming, the theoretical and international approach from Ireland and the network of people I met during my studies, I was hired for this amazing resort in the Dominican Republic.

The hospitality industry, in my opinion, is the best industry to be in because it’s the one industry that is truly global. I’ve had the chance to meet people from every corner of the earth and each person brings their own unique story, which adds to the mix. The hospitality program at Fleming encompasses all of it and brings it to the classroom. It prepares students to enter the industry after graduation and prepares them to be the leaders of tomorrow.”