From the Dominican Republic to Sri Lanka, the journey of José Manuel, Junior Commercial Director of the Spanish hotel chain Riu
José Manuel is an international student who was recruited in 2014 through the Outsourced International Recruitment Centre of Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic). Due to graduate in December, he is finishing his end-of-study internship, which he has carried out at the Riu Hotels & Resorts headquarters in Spain as junior commercial director for the implementation of star-rated establishments in the Asiatic continent.
“My previous professional experiences were all internationally orientated but I had otherwise never really considered working in the hotel industry. It was upon noticing the internship vacancy with the Spanish hotel chain, Riu, on LinkedIn, that I started to become interested in this sector. Three interviews later, I was certain that I wanted to join them, not just because this internship presented an opportunity to pave the way towards a position of responsibility in international business, but also because it was a chance to integrate into a family business that prioritises staff training.” explains José Manuel, who has been participating in Riu’s commercial training programme since the end of June (Riu has 105 hotels across 19 countries).
“After training, which enabled me to understand the entire commercial department with its various functions and integration into the company culture, I assumed my duties with the Asian commercial department. I am working on the chain’s development in this continent, starting with Sri Lanka, a country whose tourism industry is currently booming. The challenge lies in adapting and standardising our hotel services in each country without loosing the essence of the Riu brand. It therefore requires an open mind and a great ability to adapt, as well as a willingness to travel extensively in order to monitor the progress of different hotels. I am currently working on prospecting new customers and continuing with our commercial strategy. On a day-to-day basis, I manage hotel occupancy forecasts and new contracts with travel agents.”
At the beginning of August, the first Riu hotel on the Asian continent opened in Ahungalla, Sri Lanka. It was a project that José Manuel was able to follow closely. “Of course I would like to thank my tutor Laura Malone, Pilar Sánchez and the entire commercial team, who guided me throughout this experience and continue supporting me on a daily basis. Carrying through the launch of a 5-star establishment in a country where the chain is not yet established was a real challenge with lots of pressure. I was able to realise it by spending three weeks on-site, following the business operations and meeting with our travel agency partners. The goal of the internship was to train me up for a permanent position in the company. In January I will set off for Mauritius with the mission of maintaining high levels of occupancy in our hotels and ensuring the effective management of our sales and revenue.”
Soon to graduate from the Master’s programme, José Manuel’s final words concern his time at Montpellier BS. “It has been a unique experience; I have met students from all over the world, in a country that I had never previously visited and knew nothing about its language or culture. During my two years at Montpellier, I never felt like an ex-pat, instead I felt as though I were part of a community in which people of all nationalities come together and are integrated as citizens of the world.”