As part of the GBSB Global study curriculum, our MA Hospitality & Tourism students are required to organize a hospitality event off-campus. The students are being held responsible for the entire event – from brainstorming on the initial event idea to handling public relations, resource management, marketing & communications, and financing of the project. The idea is to apply theoretical knowledge obtained in class to real life cases.
This year, however, our MA Hospitality & Tourism cohort had to undergo a great challenge caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic. Having the entire event meticulously planned well in advance, GBSB Global students were faced with the quarantine reality in Madrid, Spain. Due to this situation, hosting the event at a psychical location was not possible anymore, so they had to come up with a contingency plan last minute. GBSB Global asked Tara Aisha Zupp, who was responsible for the event’s operations and eventual online formatting, to answer a few questions about the whole transformation process.
What was the initial idea of the event?
The initial idea of the event was to host a Trivia Night in Khachapuri, a centrally located restaurant in Gran Via, one of Madrid’s most famous streets. Our team had already planned the whole event. We had an agreement, and everything organized with the owners of the place; we had a uniform that we were planning to wear as a team and the screen projector was installed at the venue. We were going to have GBSB Global students join us for a Trivia Night, asking them questions related to Tourism & Sustainability. The place was going to be decorated according to our travel theme, with palm trees and mountains and other exotic items placed around.
We had planned four rounds of different trivia questions. The winner team for each round would have received a free drink coupon, a refill, or a free snack. At the end of the night, the overall game winners would have been announced and received a free day trip to Salamanca (from our BeMadrid sponsor) and a private lesson of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (sponsored by Stealth Gym). The event was planned as a fun night full of quizzing to test our international travel knowledge, and the opportunity to network within our school community and the Madrid tourism industry.
How has COVID-19 quarantine lockdown affected the event? What were the main obstacles that you encountered?
The quarantine shut down all restaurants and bars in Madrid. So, we couldn’t possibly hold an event at Khachapuri anymore. Then, the school proposed to postpone the event until May, but half of people we had on sight decided to leave to their home countries. Obviously, we couldn’t execute the event without them being physically present in Madrid. Besides, everyone was very busy with their studies and other courses, having to finish the GBSB Global Capstone Project, pass the final exams and graduate successfully.
Nadia In-Jung Cho and I, who were responsible for the event’s operations, decided to have a virtual conference with the rest of the group to find a solution to the problem. We could not wait until late May-June or even longer to host the event, so we all agreed on somehow transferring everything to an online format. This option was the most accessible for everyone considering the lockdown circumstances.
Once Nadia and I had strategized how to transform everything into an online format, we got to work very quickly, as there was lots to do. We started prepping for the event all over again, rearranging the marketing plan, revising the guestlist, communicating with all stakeholders, finalizing our sponsorships, and coordinating a new type of operations format: entirely online. As we were working on our own laptops however, technology let us down– halfway through the process my laptop broke and the other one we had didn’t have a working camera. Thus, we had to make the decision to outsource instead. After some research, we got in touch with a professional online Trivia Host in Los Angeles, CA, who agreed to help us out. She was provided with new scripts, sponsorship and stakeholder information.
How did you communicate with the rest of the GBSB Global students?
According to our new online marketing plan, we re-established our Facebook page, sent out correspondences to the entire GBSB Global student body and flyer invitations into the GBSB Global WhatsApp Groups. We got together all the student teams through an RSVP link, inviting them to join the online broadcasting that we were hosting. I then manually assigned team colors to ensure the competitive spirit even in an online format. Furthermore, we asked the players to get creative with their team names and how they were going to be dressed for the event as one group.
All players were accordingly sent their team instructions, and the Event Operations Team kept close track of all information and recorded it manually into excel sheets. At this point, I sent the teams a video instruction of the run-down of the night; to ensure that everything was clear. The way it worked was that the teams had a group call together via Zoom; they were watching the Trivia Night on a private live link and then submitting their answers in the provided private online form.
"The event was truly exciting! I watched it from the beginning till the end and really enjoyed it. The questions were very interesting and catching! Congratulations to the winning teams for your fabulous victory! The organizing team, congratulations on your success! You have made us all proud holding this wonderful and entertaining event. Keep up the good work!"
Dr. Yelena Smirnova; PhD in Management, Professor; Dean of GBSB Global Business School
What was the outcome of the Online Trivia Night?
We actually were enabled to have more people sign up for the event. It was initially planned just for Madrid students, but given the freedom of joining the event online, GBSB Global Barcelona students were also able to participate. On the event night we had 7 creative GBSB Global teams, and the outcome was great! We were able to host the event without any technical problems. Prior to the event we also coordinated within our event team and switched all the prizes from psychical ones to e-vouchers, so everyone who participated still received them. The students had the best time playing the Trivia, and the sponsors were happy with the way we handled the situation last minute.
The Online Trivia Night got a really good feedback from the rest of our classmates, GBSB Global Dean and professors. It was a perfect opportunity to get people to socialize during the quarantine, see each other, and for the school community to get together and have this healthy competitive team spirit! I think this social experience was what we all needed at that time.
GBSB Global Business School is excited to have such an aspiring and solution-driven student cohort on campus. We wanted to personally congratulate each and every one of our students who were working really hard in order to ensure this Trivia Night goes virtually online and takes place regardless of the unexpected situation:
Tara Aisha Zupp and Nadia In-Jung Cho - Operations
Daviti Bakradze and Maha El Johri - Public Relations
Lenny Emy and Pham Tran Thuy My – Finance & Accounting
Caroline Boutaud and Lucie Bardanzellu – Resource Management
Ho Ngoc Trang Dai and Phu Truong Thang – Marketing & Communications
Thomas Rocher and Michael Curtis Charters – Hospitality
Lynn Yu – Trivia Night Host
And Congratulations to the Winning Teams:
1st Place: VEUO
2nd Place: You Can’t Sit With Us
3rd Place: The Raclettes
4th Place: Black Warriors
5th Place: Orange Girls
The online Trivia Night Broadcast is now available here.